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MA Phonetics and Phonology

Explore the meaning of the languages of the world through their sounds

2018/19 entry


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2018 (term dates)

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Our MA in Phonetics and Phonology will give you the opportunity to consider the fine details of everyday speech, and the information that these convey. You can study the sounds and sound patterns of the languages of the world from cognitive and social angles, combining theory and data. You can explore why sounds of language change over time and why we have different accents, and investigate how we learn the phonologies of our first and second languages. 

You'll learn about a broad range of topics within the field, and will be equipped with the necessary skills to develop your own original research. You'll learn how to collect and analyse phonetic and phonological data, and how to use it to answer theoretical questions. You'll gain practical training in essential skills for phoneticians and phonologists, as well as a firm grounding in theory.
Taught by a diverse group of researchers, you'll draw on traditional and time-tested methods of analysis, as well as cutting-edge technological advances. Our research combines a focus on careful data analysis with a strong interest in theoretical questions. We are recognised experts in our field, with specialisms in language change, acquisition, prosody, spoken interaction and sociophonetics.

World-leading research

We are 2nd in the UK for world-leading linguistics research (Times Higher Education, REF 2014).

Choose modules to suit your interests

We offer modules on articulatory and impressionistic phonetics, bilingualism, learning mechanisms in phonological development, and prosody of English, among others.

The core modules provide good grounding in the prevalent theories and research methods, and the optional modules cover a comprehensive set of specific areas, so there is a great deal of freedom to specialise further during the course. The faculty and staff at York are enthusiastic and knowledgeable. They go out of their way to help students and make the programme a really enjoyable experience.
Yinglun Sun, MA in Phonetics and Phonology

Course content

In Autumn Term you'll consolidate your background in phonetics and phonology, as well as quantitative data analysis. You'll take three 10-credit core modules and an elective module (also for 10 credits). The Spring Term allows you to focus on particular subfields within phonetics and phonology and develop your own specialism, and you'll choose two option modules (for 20 credits each). You'll study the Research Training module across all three terms, and complete your dissertation over the summer vacation. You'll take 180 credits overall.


You'll take three core modules and one 10-credit option module in Autumn Term. You'll take two 20-credit option modules in Spring Term. You'll take the Research Training module throughout all terms.

Core modules

Advanced Phonology (10 credits)

This module will equip you with skills in the data analysis used to provide empirically based evaluation of theoretical claims and hypotheses in phonology.

Advanced Phonetics (10 credits)

You'll learn how speech acoustics relates to production and perception in articulatory terms. You'll develop the ability to reason about speech based on a range of phonetic evidence, and using theoretical as well as practical tools.

Quantitative Methods (10 credits)

This module will give you a firm grounding in the theory and practice of quantitative data analysis, which you will be able to use in your own research.

Research Training (20 credits) 

This module is taught by various members of staff with combined expertise in a range of linguistics research skills. You'll cover research design and writing skills in linguistics, and will have subject-specific workshops. You’ll be able to develop and present research plans, and you’ll learn how to communicate your research to others.

Option modules

Two option modules (20 credits each) which may include the following:

Articulatory and Impressionistic Phonetics

You'll gain thorough training in the skills of articulatory and impressionistic phonetics, including the production of the sounds of the IPA chart, and you'll learn the skills and principles of impressionistic listening and phonetic transcription.


This module reviews bilingual development. You'll study topics such as: the controversy over 'one system vs. two' in bilingual acquisition, the effect of bilingualism on cognition, code-switching in children and adults, and aspects of bilingual education.

Learning Mechanisms in Phonological Development 

This module provides an in-depth understanding of how a linguistic system can be seen to be constructed by the individual child, based on general capacities for implicit and explicit memory, together with speech perception and production. You'll be introduced to the idea of action as a basis for learning, and will be able to relate Dynamic Systems theory to phonological development.


You'll develop practical skills in the study of phonological variation and change, focusing on auditory and acoustic analysis of various English dialects. You'll learn experimental and basic statistical methods for investigating sound structure and sound change.

Prosody of English 

This module will introduce you to the main topics of prosody in spoken English, drawing on both phonetics and phonology, and equip you with the knowledge and ability to analyse prosodic aspects of spoken English both phonetically and phonologically.

One option module (10 credits) from a range of linguistics options:

Language Variation and Change (10 credits)

Semantics (10 credits)

Syntax (10 credits)

Psycholinguistics (10 credits)

Language Acquisition (10 credits)

Please note, modules may change to reflect the latest academic thinking and expertise of our staff.


In Summer Term and over the vacation you'll prepare and complete your dissertation of between 8,000 and 10,000 words (80 credits), supervised by a member of staff. You'll submit your dissertation in September.

Topics have ranged from:

  • Production and Perception of Smiling Voice
  • Evidential Verb Forms in Bulgarian
  • Negative Polarity Items in Mandarin Chinese
  • Quality-sensitive Accent in Tokyo Japanese
  • The Intonation of Punjabi English
  • Variability of Formant Measurements

More recent MA dissertation topics.

Fees and funding

Annual tuition fees for 2018/19

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year)£7,580£16,780
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee

Fees information

UK/EU or international fees? The level of fee that you will be asked to pay depends on whether you're classed as a UK/EU or international student.

Funding information

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

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

Home/EU students

International students

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 accommodation costs and estimated social costs.

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.

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. Find out more about our approach to teaching and learning.

Teaching format

You'll be taught with a mixture of practical training lab sessions, ear training classes, lectures, seminars, and workshops. 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.

You’ll also spend approximately one hour a week in Autumn Term on the Research Training module, which will then increase to two hours in Spring and Summer Terms.

As you study modules you’ll take part in assessments that do not contribute to your final mark, instead giving useful feedback on your progress and understanding. A member of the teaching staff will act as your supervisor throughout the degree, to help guide your studies and monitor progress.

We encourage you to be an active part of the research community here at York. You'll have the opportunity to interact with researchers, and to attend departmental events where you can broaden your view of phonetics, phonology and linguistics in general.


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, 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. Most of your contact hours will be in Vanbrugh College, with some additional teaching on Campus West.

Course location

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 submit exercises or essays, or take an examination for your core modules. You'll produce 5,000 word essays for your option modules. For the Research Training module you'll take one examination, complete a short review of a research article, and write a 1,000 word review of a colloquium talk. You'll also complete a dissertation.

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

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

Our graduates have an excellent record of pursuing fulfilling paths after graduation, often going directly into employment. Their work spans advertising, retail management, teaching English as a foreign language, IT, accountancy, broadcasting, clinical and forensic linguistics.

Apart from your knowledge of linguistics, you will leave with the confidence and skills that come from successfully completing a demanding course and participating fully in university life.

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

Career opportunities

  • Marketing and communications
  • Publishing
  • Broadcasting and journalism
  • Academic research and higher/further education
  • Local government and public service
  • Finance and accountancy
  • Teaching
  • Clinical and forensic linguistics
  • Law
  • Software development

Transferable skills

  • The capacity to analyse data and evaluate competing interpretations of evidence
  • You'll be able to develop 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

Qualification Grade

You should have, or be about to complete, a 2:1 undergraduate degree or equivalent qualification, which should include formal training in phonetics and phonology.

If you are unsure about your eligibility, or want an informal chat about whether this course would be suitable for you, please contact us.

English language

If English isn't your first language you may need to provide evidence of your English language ability. Visit general guidance on international entry requirements or email for further details for this course.

  • IELTS: 7.0, with a minimum of 7.0 in Writing and Speaking and no less than 5.5 in all other components
  • PTE: 67, with a minimum of 67 in Writing and Speaking and no less than 51 in all other components
  • CAE and CPE (from January 2015): 185, with a minimum of 185 in Writing and Speaking and no less than 162 in all other components
  • CAE (before January 2015): 75, with 'Very Good' in Writing
  • CPE (before January 2015): B
  • TOEFL: 96, with a minimum of 24 in Writing and Speaking, 17 in Listening and 18 in Reading
  • Trinity ISE: level 3 with Distinction in all components


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.

Apply for this course

Next steps

Contact us

Get in touch if you have any questions

Geoff Krause Postgraduate Administrator

Learn more

Department of Language and Linguistic Science

Related courses

If you are new to the field or have only minimal prior background:

If you have considerable prior background we offer other specialist MA programmes:

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