BA (Hons) Linguistics

UCAS code Typical offer Length
Q101 AAB (See full entry requirements) 3 years full-time
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Language is a window on the human mind. Through the study of Linguistics, you will learn to understand and interpret what can be seen through it. You'll study syntax, semantics, phonetics, phonology and sociolinguistics under the guidance of world-leading academics. Our hands-on approach means you'll engage with theory and practical exploration from day one. You'll develop skills of analysis and problem solving through the scientific study of language, the very essence of what makes us human.

Course overview

Why study Linguistics at York?

This course of study offers unparalleled coverage of the field of linguistics. Modules are taught by world-leading academics in the core areas of syntax, phonetics and phonology, semantics, and sociolinguistics and in sub-fields including forensic phonetics, historical linguistics, child language, second language acquisition, and morphology. You will engage with linguistics both at the conceptual level and the detailed level of raw linguistic data.

Our challenging combination of theory and practice is designed to stimulate your critical thinking skills, foster your originality, and enable you to become a uniquely skilled analytical thinker and problem-solver.

One of the things I really enjoyed about the degree at York was the breadth of linguistics modules available. Also, students are able to specialise towards the end of their degrees in the things they are specifically interested in.

Hannah, BA English Language and Linguistics

A top teaching and research community

We are a leading centre for research in linguistics, and the strength and diversity of our research is reflected in our teaching. We have been rated 2nd in the UK for ‘world-leading’ research (Research Excellence Framework), a world top 100 linguistics department (QS rankings, 2018), and 9th in the UK for linguistics (Times Good University Guide, 2017).

An external reviewer commented: "There are many very interesting and innovative courses that are unique to York, or where York is leading the way. The teaching quality is extremely impressive, and the courses allow all students to achieve their potential."

Course content

What you'll study

The course builds from developing core linguistic skills in the first year to applying these skills in advanced-level modules according to your own intellectual interests by the final year. There are opportunities to customise your course throughout the programme of study.

  • In the first year, alongside the core linguistics modules, you can choose to study a new language, develop your skills in a language you already know, add one or two English Language modules, or even try electives in other departments.
  • In the second year, you'll apply your core linguistic knowledge to new types of linguistic data, such as child language or regional varieties of English. At the same time, you will gain deeper theoretical knowledge in the core areas that you choose to pursue.
  • In the final year, you can choose freely from a wide range of modules that allow you to become proficient in all aspects of managing small-scale linguistic analysis projects, from identifying the research questions, to communicating the findings.

The skills you develop through studying linguistics—such as data analysis and critical thinking—are readily transferrable to the workplace.

What modules are offered

Stage one (first year), 6 modules

Four compulsory linguistics modules:

  • Introduction to phonetics and phonology
  • Introduction to syntax
  • Introduction to sociolinguistics
  • Introduction to semantics

Your choice of two further modules from among: English Language modules (Understanding English Grammar, History of English I), or electives*

Stage two (second year), 6 modules

One compulsory module:

  • Introduction to Language Acquisition

Your choice of five further modules, including at least one of:

  • Intermediate phonetics and phonology
  • Intermediate syntax

Module choices include: Linguistics modules such as Intermediate Semantics, Intermediate Language Variation and Change, and Morphology; English Language modules (e.g., History of English II); Languages for All (LFA) modules; or an elective*

Stage three (final year), 6 modules

Six linguistics modules of your choice (up to two electives*)

A wide range of choices is offered, including modules such as Language as Action, Forensic Phonetics, Psycholinguistics, Formal Syntactic Theory, Bilingualism, Neurolinguistics. See our current final-year offerings for a typical full range. (Note that module offerings vary from year to year. Not every module is offered every year.)

*An elective is a module from another department. All electives are offered subject to departmental approval and timetable availability. Certain language courses offered by Languages for All (LFA) may also be taken as electives, but there are restrictions on which LFA levels can be taken in which stage of your degree. Ask us for details.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct;
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work;
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts;
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.


How you'll be taught

Our focus at York is on individual learning: we believe that effective learning happens best through a combination of presentation of the core content in the classroom followed by individual or small-group reflection and consolidation. Modes of teaching and dissemination vary over the degree, to meet the demands of each stage. Together, the different teaching formats equip you to be an effective independent learner.

  • First year: Linguistics is a new subject for everyone, so the first year focuses on learning the tools of linguistic study. We facilitate this through large lectures (some with over 100 students), accompanied by set work to put your new skills into practice. Regular back-up sessions in smaller groups (15–20 students) provide opportunities to discuss progress, resolve problems, and expand upon the set exercises.
  • Second year: Modules typically have more interactive classroom activities, such as group presentations or practical sessions, in addition to lectures. Weekly seminars for each module provide a forum for discussion of core knowledge and its application beyond the specific classroom topic. Advance preparation for seminar discussion is essential, and may include library-based research.
  • Final year: Most teaching takes place in smaller groups. The key content of some modules revolves around substantial reading lists of primary research papers that will challenge and stimulate. Other modules are lab-based, involving phonetic or grammatical analysis of corpora. You'll still go to lectures, but students may take a primary role in presenting the content, through reports on a topic researched in advance.  Students may opt to write a dissertation, and will receive individual supervision on their dissertation project.

All of our modules have associated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) sites where all crucial materials—reading lists, handouts, discussion boards—are always accessible via the internet. Most first-year modules provide additional self-study practice exercises on the VLE.

Some modules have lab-based seminars for developing skills in various kinds of linguistic analysis software, or for accessing electronic corprora of linguistic data. We have our own departmental e-Lab for the teaching and study time of our students.

A high amount of independent research is encouraged, with the staff always on hand to guide you if you feel like you're getting lost! It's this that really made the degree work for me.

Emily, BA English Language and Linguistics, 2012

How much study time is expected?

Throughout the course, you will typically spend 12 hours per teaching week in the classroom. You should expect to devote at least 30 additional hours a week to independent study, which will include completing set exercises, reading and digesting assigned papers, researching projects, writing and revising coursework, and preparing for assessments. Twice a year, in the middle of the autumn and spring terms, we have a reading week, which is devoted to independent study. You will receive guidance on your goals for each reading week.

How you'll spend your time

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Lectures and seminars228 hours
156 hours
180 hours
Independent study972 hours
1044 hours
1020 hours


How you'll be assessed

The main assessment types on the Linguistics degree are exams and coursework. Within these two broad types you will encounter many variations customised to the content of each module. Types of coursework range from short sets of exercises, to 5,000-word essays, to group projects in which you work in a team to research and present a topic. Some of our advanced phonetics or phonology modules require spoken (oral) or listening (aural) skills, and may include oral and aural assessments. In most modules, the final mark is made up of the marks from more than one type of assessment.

What about practice or 'mock' assessments?

At York, assessments that count towards your final mark are called 'summative' assessments, but all modules also include 'formative' work — work that will help you to practice or develop skills for the summative assessment. Some modules (particularly in the first year) include a formative exam midway through the year. Other modules include formative exercises, a formative essay, or some opportunity to get feedback on the development and progress of a piece of summative work.

What kind of feedback will I get?

Instructors provide feedback in a variety of forms, according to the needs of the specific module. It may consist of written feedback on work that you have handed in, in-class discussion of common problems on a particular assignment, model answers, one-on-one discussion of research projects, or online responses to questions posted on the module discussion board.

Adjustments for students with disabilities

We can make appropriate adjustments to assessment procedures for students with disabilities. See the University's disability support pages for further details.

Percentage of the course assessed by coursework and exams

Year 1Year 2Year 3
Written exams60%59%54%
Practical exams0%3%3%


Careers and employability

Effective communication, critical thinking and project management skills are central to most careers. The study of linguistics at York equips you with these skills and others, which translate readily into any work context.

Our graduates

Our graduates have an excellent record of pursuing fulfilling paths after graduation.

Apart from their knowledge of linguistics, our alumni have the confidence and skills that come from successfully completing a demanding course and participating fully in university life.

Career paths

There are specialist careers that lead directly from a linguistics degree, after additional postgraduate training, including:

  • clinical linguistics (Speech and Language Therapy)
  • forensic linguistics (including Forensic Speech Science)
  • academic research and higher/further education
  • teaching (primary and secondary)

Our graduates are not limited to these specialist paths, however. Ongoing contact with our alumni well after graduation shows that they are equipped to pursue rewarding careers across a broad range of professional fields, including:

  • marketing and communications
  • publishing
  • broadcasting and journalism
  • local government and public service
  • finance and accountancy
  • and many more ... 

Find out more about how we can help make you more employable 


How to apply

All applications must be made through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

Prospective applicants should also read through the university's Undergraduate Prospectus. You can choose to view the prospectus online, download a PDF copy, or request a printed version.

Visit our department

We run a series of Open Days and Visit Days throughout the year, which will provide you with an opportunity to visit the University and the Department and talk to staff about the courses and your interests. We also have an undergraduate admissions tutor who is happy to answer any questions you may have.

International students

We welcome applications from international applicants, who wish to join the growing body of international students in our Department.

Entry requirements

A levels

Our typical offer is AAB, but some ABB offers will be made (see our typical offers page). We do not require any specific subject choices at A Level, and include all subjects in our standard offer.

International Baccalaureate

34 points

Scottish Highers / Advanced Highers


Irish Leaving Certificate



BTEC National Diploma or QCF BTEC Extended Diploma with DDD.

European Baccalaureate

80% overall average

Other qualifications

Pre-U: D3,D3,M2

Access to HE: Obtain Access to HE Diploma with 36 credits at Distinction and 9 credits at Merit or higher

Other qualifications are accepted by the University, please contact Undergraduate Admissions

English Language Requirements

  • IELTS: 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in all units
  • Pearson PTE Academic: 61 overall with 51 in all parts
  • Cambridge Advanced English (CAE): grade A
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): grade C
  • GCSE/O level English Language (as a first language): grade C

See also the University's information page for English language requirements.

Any questions?

Feel free to contact our admissions tutors:

Dr Tamar Keren-Portnoy,
Dr Ann Taylor

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