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MA Phonetics and Phonology

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

Year of entry: 2019


1 year full-time,
2 years part-time

Start date

September 2019 (term dates)

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-class faculty

The Department is part of our Faculty of Arts and Humanities, ranked 34th in the 2019 Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

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. Your core modules will equip you with skills in the data analysis used to provide empirically based evaluation of theoretical claims and hypotheses in phonology. You'll also learn how speech acoustics relates to production and perception in articulatory terms, and will develop your research skills.

Core modules

Option modules

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

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

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 2019/20

Study modeUK/EUInternational
Full-time (1 year)£7,810£17,370
Part-time (2 years)
Fees for subsequent years are subject to confirmation.
year 1 fee
year 1 fee

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

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 additional costs that are not included in your tuition fee such as expenses for accommodation and study materials.

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 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 throughout the Autumn, Spring, and Summer Term teaching periods, to support your development in academic skills as a linguist.

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.

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 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 or close to Vanbrugh College, with some additional teaching in other locations 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. You’ll submit exercises or short essays, or take examinations, for your Autumn Term modules. You'll produce 5,000 word essays for your Spring Term option modules. For the Research Training module you'll take one examination, and write a methodological critique of a linguistics research paper. You will also complete a dissertation.

The support from the staff and lecturers who I had contact with has been excellent. I have always been welcome 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 linguistics 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, teaching English as a foreign language, IT, accountancy, broadcasting, clinical and forensic linguistics, retail management, and other careers.

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 Typical offer

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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