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MA Forensic Phonetics

Learn how to apply linguistics, phonetics and acoustics to legal investigations and proceedings

Year of entry: 2022 (September)
Show year of entry: 2023


1 year full-time

Start date

September 2022 (term dates)

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in the UK for Linguistics

QS World Rankings by Subject 2022

Our MA in Forensic Phonetics combines general linguistic-phonetic theory and method with extensive practical experience in analysis of forensic materials.

You'll learn about theoretical and methodological problems in performing forensic speech and audio analysis. The course also enables you to perform original research in speaker comparison and speech content analysis.

The MA provides you with the necessary skills for further work in the forensic domain and related employment. It is also excellent preparation for a PhD in phonetics, sociolinguistics, language variation and change, or acoustics.

Course content

You'll study a general introduction to linguistics, phonetics and acoustics, and will be introduced to forensic applications in those areas, with a focus on case work in speaker identification.

You'll then expand your knowledge and skills in speech analysis, and perform detailed work on a variety of recorded materials using a range of practical methods. 

Across the year you'll study a Research Training module. You'll complete the programme with a dissertation over the summer and the vacation.

Areas of the MA overlap with those central to speech and recording technology, and you'll have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience of the latest generation of automatic speaker recognition software used in banking and law enforcement, made available through the Department’s partnership with Nuance and Aculab.


You will take a selection of modules, examples of which may include:

You will take a Research Training module:

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.
Our course structures are changing in September 2023. Find out more about how this course may be affected.


You'll prepare and write a 12,500- to 15,000-word dissertation over the summer and the vacation. This will be supervised by a member of staff. 

Recent topics for a dissertation have included:

  • Electronic voice disguise: witness anonymity
  • The phonetics of distress
  • The use of hesitation markers
  • The effects of ANC technology in mobile phones and effects of listener age on perceived guilt

More MA dissertation topics

The York approach

Every course at York is built on a distinctive set of learning outcomes. These will give you a clear understanding of what you will be able to accomplish at the end of the course and help you explain what you can offer employers. Our academics identify the knowledge, skills, and experiences you'll need upon graduation and then design the course to get you there.

Students who complete this course will be able to:

  • Approach intricate, complex and unfamiliar phonetic and linguistic phenomena with confidence, and convey their significance effectively and with appropriate technical conventions.
  • Select and deploy appropriate qualitative and quantitative research methods acquired through the study of forensic speech science to gain a holistic and multifaceted critical understanding of research in the field.
  • Propose creative and principled solutions to forensic problems, appealing to phonetic and linguistic theory where appropriate, and contribute them effectively to written reports.
  • Communicate the nature and relevance of forensic questions and controversies clearly and effectively, at an appropriate level for different audiences.
  • Demonstrate an in-depth, systematic understanding of the role and responsibilities of the forensic speech scientist as an expert witness
  • Use specialist equipment and software for the purposes of recording and analysing speech, and autonomously manage the use of this equipment with due respect to professional guidelines and best practice.
  • Create detailed and persuasive academically and ethically informed project proposals, and initiate, develop and complete a substantial independent research project.
  • Manage their own development as researchers and professionals, demonstrating the ability to reflect on their own practice and on feedback received, and seeking assistance where appropriate.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2022/23

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £9,750£20,940

Students on a Student Visa (formerly Tier 4 Visa) are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

Fees information

UK (home) or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK (home) or international student. Check your fee status

Find out more information about tuition fees and how to pay them.

Funding information

Discover your funding options to help with tuition fees and living costs.

We'll confirm more funding opportunities for students joining us in 2022/23 throughout the year.

If you've successfully completed an undergraduate degree at York you could be eligible for a 10% Masters fee discount.

Funding opportunities

Departmental funding

Living costs

You can use our living costs guide to help plan your budget. It covers additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

World-class faculty

The Department is part of York's Faculty of Arts and Humanities, ranked 45th in the 2021 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

Teaching and assessment

You’ll work with world‐leading academics who’ll challenge you to think independently and excel in all that you do. Our approach to teaching will provide you with the knowledge, opportunities, and support you need to grow and succeed in a global workplace.

Teaching format

You'll be taught with a mixture of lectures, seminars, workshops and practical training. You'll have approximately three contact hours a week for each module. For some modules you’ll complete collaborative group work outside your classes. You’ll be set essential reading, and will complete weekly assigned exercises.


All of our modules have Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) websites where all crucial materials — reading lists, handouts, discussion boards — are always accessible.

We have our own departmental e-Lab for the teaching and study time of our students. Here you will have access to a variety of resources, including specialist linguistics software, collections of text and speech, and online language-learning materials. Our Forensic Speech Science Lab houses specialist software for analysis of speech and audio recordings.

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Language and Linguistic Science on Campus West. Most of your contact hours will be in Vanbrugh College, with some additional teaching on Campus West.

About our campus

Our beautiful green campus offers a student-friendly setting in which to live and study, within easy reach of the action in the city centre. It's easy to get around campus - everything is within walking or pedalling distance, or you can always use the fast and frequent bus service.

Assessment and feedback

You'll complete a variety of assessments, from lab reports, exams, presentations, transcriptions and analysis of speech samples, to case reports and 1,500- or 2,500-word essays. You'll also complete exercises and assignments which do not contribute to your final grade that will give you useful feedback on your progression.

Analysing a soundwave on a computer

Careers and skills

Our graduates have gone on to employment with police services and forensic laboratories, and have become academic researchers. This programme provides you with the requisite skills, understanding and knowledge to work effectively and increase your employability in forensic domains as well as in related fields such as the police, emergency call services and security services. The MA qualification will enable you to apply for membership of the International Association for Forensic Phonetics and Acoustics (IAFPA).

Career opportunities

  • Academic researcher
  • Computing and software developer
  • Emergency services officer
  • Forensic speech analyst
  • Police
  • Security services officer

Transferable skills

  • Research design
  • The ability to read, use and present technical material
  • Data analysis using qualitative, quantitative and statistical methods
  • Graphic and statistical presentation of data
  • Writing professional reports
  • Communication skills in team work and small group work
  • Time management
  • Intercultural awareness

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2.1 or equivalent; in most circumstances a background in phonetics is required
Other international qualifications Equivalent qualifications from your country

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. We accept the following qualifications:

Minimum requirement
IELTS 7.0, minimum 6.5 in each component
C1 Advanced and C2 Proficiency 185, minimum 176 in each component
PTE Academic 67, minimum 61 in each component
TOEFL 96, minimum 23 in each component
Trinity ISE III Distinction in all component

For more information see our postgraduate English language requirements.

If you've not met our English language requirements

You may be eligible for one of our pre-sessional English language courses. These courses will provide you with the level of English needed to meet the conditions of your offer.

The length of course you need to take depends on your current English language test scores and how much you need to improve to reach our English language requirements.

After you've accepted your offer to study at York, we'll confirm which pre-sessional course you should apply to via You@York.


You can apply and send all your documentation electronically through our online system. You don’t need to complete your application all at once: you can start it, save it and finish it later.

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Department of Language and Linguistic Science

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