MA Linguistics

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Research Methods I (Linguistics)

Unit code LELA60001
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Linguistics & English Language
Available as a free choice unit? No


This course is designed to equip you with advanced skills in conducting and presenting linguistic research. The focus is on methods of data collection, on the relationship between empirical evidence and theoretical models, and on the key academic genres through which linguists communicate their ideas and findings to a professional audience: the abstract, the paper, and the review.


The principal aims of the course unit are as follows:

• to survey current techniques of data collection across a variety of linguistic disciplines

• to address foundational methodological issues concerning the relationship between empirical evidence and theoretical models

• to introduce and provide practice in the writing conventions and main academic genres in linguistics


Week 1. Welcome and overview. Writing conventions in linguistics.

Week 2. Literature searches and literature reviews.

Week 3. Writing a review.

Week 4. Writing an abstract¿.

Week 5. Writing a paper.

Week 6. Building theories, testing hypotheses.

Week 7. Linguistic Data 1: Fieldwork data.

Week 8. Linguistic Data 2: Sociolinguistic data.

Week 9. Linguistic Data 3: Experimental data.

Week 10. Linguistic Data 4: Historical data.

Week 11. Planning your MA dissertation.

Teaching and learning methods

  • one 90-minute plenary session per week
  • attendance at no fewer than three of the Linguistics and English Language seminars during the semester

Knowledge and understanding

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • understand the range of data collection techniques available to linguists and select appropriate methods for specific research projects
  • understand the problems surrounding the relationship between evidence and theory in linguistics (empirical content, falsification, criteria for theory choice, theoretical underdetermination, description, explanation)

Intellectual skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • assess the extent to which a piece of evidence supports or challenges a theoretical model in linguistics
  • evaluate the fit between research questions and data collection methods in linguistics

Practical skills

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  •  use bibliographic databases in linguistics
  • follow academic writing conventions in linguistics
  • write an essay, abstract, and review in linguistics
  • select and apply appropriate methods of data collection

Transferable skills and personal qualities

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  • summarize and present research findings in a concise and effective manner
  • reflect critically on the relationship between empirical evidence and theoretical models

Assessment methods

Book review: 2000 words (50%)

Paper abstract: 500 words (30%)

Seminar review: 1000 words (20%)

Feedback methods

Comments made during class discussion regarding the relevance and coherence of student responses or participation in discussion.  (In other words, you should be able to judge from the discussion which ideas are better or worse.)

Written comments on the coursework, plus face-to-face discussion if desired (on the understanding that this deanonymizes the marking).

Study hours

Scheduled activity hours
Lectures 20.5
Independent study hours
Independent study 129.5

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Daniele Leggio Unit coordinator

Additional notes

Bauer, Laurie. 2007. The linguistic student's handbook. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Green, Georgia & James L. Morgan. 2002. Practical guide to syntactic analysis, 2nd edn. Stanford: CSLI Publications.

Macaulay, Monica. 2011. Surviving linguistics: a guide for graduate students, 2nd edn. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Press.

Podesva, Robert J. & Devyani Sharma (eds.). 2013. Research methods in linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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