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MA Linguistics

Gain a thorough foundation and background in modern linguistics

Year of entry: 2024 (September)


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2024 (semester dates)

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Linguistics is the scientific study of language.

The MA in Linguistics at York offers a route into linguistic study for those who want to apply and develop their critical analysis and learning skills from other subjects to questions that are central to the study of language. You will engage with both theoretical and empirical approaches, and develop the tools to investigate linguistic questions as a researcher in your own right. Such questions include:

  • What are the properties of the sound systems of language?
  • What is grammatical structure, and what is the extent of cross-linguistic structural variation?
  • How is language used to convey meaning?
  • How do social structures affect language?

World-leading research

Ranked 1st in the UK for the quality of our research - according to the Times Higher Education’s ranking of the latest REF results (2021).

Innovative department

We're joint third in the UK for linguistics, according to the Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024.

Studying phonetics allows me to appreciate the fine details of human speech: the rhythms, intonations, sudden stops and breathy starts. It trains your ear to identify sounds you’ve always heard, yet never really heard before. It equips you with the skills to transcribe these sounds and share them with others. Believe me: after taking phonetics, you'll never view conversation in the same way again.
Daniel, MA Linguistics

Read more on what our students say about us.

Course content

Our programme takes you on an exciting journey of discovery that begins with intensive training in both the core theoretical issues and the practical data analysis techniques of phonetics and phonology, syntax, semantics, and sociolinguistics.

You then choose specialist modules within up to two of these areas, through which you deepen your subject knowledge while also developing your abilities in analysing data, evaluating evidence and the quality of arguments, and articulating your own conclusions. Finally, you design and conduct your own independent linguistic research project for your dissertation.

A research training seminar supports you on your path towards the dissertation, during which you advance your transferable skills in critical reading, research question formulation, research ethics, and presentation to an audience, as well as developing specialist skills in writing in linguistics and the use of digital tools for linguistic research.


Core modules

Semester One
Semester Two

Option modules

You will choose one option module in Semester 1, from:

You will choose two option modules in Semester 2, from:

The full list of options available to you will be confirmed after you begin your course. For further information please get in touch.

If you have covered substantial parts of the taught MA programme in your undergraduate degree, please talk to us about whether our MSc Linguistics programme would be more suitable for you.

Our modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff, and in line with Department/School academic planning.


You'll prepare and write a research dissertation over Semester 2 and the vacation. This will be supervised by a member of staff. You'll submit your dissertation in September.

Topics have ranged from:

  • A phonetic and acoustic analysis of English vowel realisations by a group of adult Hausa immigrants living in Britain
  • Deaccenting in L2
  • An investigation into Long Distance Scrambling: Minimalism, Case and Labelling
  • Argument/adjunct asymmetries in wh-questions in Mandarin Chinese
  • A Probabilistic Semantics for Causality in Counterfactuals
  • Comparative study of written and spoken code-switches in Malaysia
  • Claiming identity in interaction: A discursive analysis

Recent 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 with confidence intricate, complex and unfamiliar linguistic phenomena, discern and analyse relevant patterns in linguistic data, and convey their significance effectively and with appropriate technical conventions.
  • Select and deploy appropriate qualitative and quantitative research methods acquired through the study of the nature and use of language to gain a holistic and multifaceted understanding of linguistic phenomena.
  • Propose creative and principled solutions to linguistic problems, appealing to linguistic theory where appropriate, and contribute them effectively to written reports and presentations.
  • Communicate clearly and effectively at an appropriate level for different audiences the nature and relevance of linguistic questions and controversies, the pivotal significance of language for human cognition, and the ways in which knowledge of language influences behaviour.
  • Apply advanced reasoning and critical perspectives on linguistic and cultural diversity by synthesising and critically engaging with arguments from a variety of standpoints.
  • Create detailed and persuasive, academically and ethically informed, project proposals at a professional level, 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 2024/25

Study modeUK (home)International and EU
Full-time (1 year) £10,590£23,900
Part-time (2 years)
This is the year 1 fee. Fees for future years are subject to confirmation.

Students on a Student Visa are not currently permitted to study part-time at York.

For courses which are longer than one year, the tuition fees quoted are for the first year of study.

  • UK (home) fees may increase in subsequent years (up to a maximum of 2%).
  • International fees may increase in subsequent years in line with the prevailing Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate (up to a maximum of 10%).

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 2024/25 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

Find out more about funding specific to Language and Linguistic Science.

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.

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.

A Research Training module runs in Semester 2, to support your development in academic skills as a linguist in preparation for the dissertation.

All modules, including the Research Training module, offer developmental assessments that do not contribute to your final mark. These provide a chance to practice your skills and gain useful feedback on your progress and understanding, before you take the final assessments. A member of the teaching staff will act as your supervisor throughout the degree, to help guide your studies and monitor progress.


All of our modules have Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) websites where all crucial materials—reading lists, handouts, discussion boards—are 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, corpora of different varieties, and online language-learning materials. 

Teaching location

You will be based in the Department of Language and Linguistic Science on Campus West. Some of your contact hours will be in or close to Vanbrugh College, and all of your teaching will be 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

A range of assessments formats are used, including exercises, essays, and exams. You'll produce 5,000-word essays for your option modules. 

For the Research Training module you'll take one examination, and write a methodological critique of a linguistics research paper.  Finally, you will also complete a research dissertation of up to 12,000 words. You'll also complete exercises and assignments which do not contribute to your final grade that will give you useful feedback on your progression.

A student discussing their work on the computer
The support from the staff, especially those lecturers who I have had contact with, has been excellent. I have always been welcomed into their offices to talk about both academic and personal aspects. During the masters degree, I constantly asked myself a question: and now? what's next? Staff in the department have given me excellent advice and encouraged me to trust myself.
Eloi, MA Linguistics

Read more on what our students say about us.

Careers and skills

On successful completion of the MA in Linguistics programme, you will have gained a solid and detailed grounding in your new field of study, along with the practical and technical skills to carry out original research in this field, guided by some of the world’s foremost experts.

You will develop your confidence and critical skills, equipping you to exercise independent learning in your future career. Our MA provides excellent training for doctoral research. Graduates are also well-equipped to undertake careers in a range of sectors including marketing, publishing, education, government administration, and journalism.

Career opportunities

  • linguist
  • foreign languages teacher
  • clinical and forensic linguist
  • journalist
  • teacher
  • content developer


Transferable skills

  • The capacity to analyse data and evaluate competing interpretations of evidence
  • Development of a hypothesis from the predictions of a theory or model
  • The ability to design a research project and present data
  • Reflective independent learning and time management
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Problem solving
  • Intercultural awareness

Entry requirements

Typical offer
Undergraduate degree 2:1 or equivalent
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 (Academic and Indicator) 7.0, minimum 6.5 in each component
Cambridge CEFR C1 Advanced: 185, with 176 in each component
Oxford ELLT 8, minimum 7 in each component
Duolingo 130, minimum 120 in all other components
LanguageCert SELT C1 with 33/50 in each component
LanguageCert Academic 75 with a minimum of 70 in each component
KITE 495-526, with 459-494 in all other components
Skills for English C1: Pass overall, with Pass 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 haven't 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 online. 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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