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MA Linguistics / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

Our MA Linguistics master's course is a flexible programme that aims to explore the breadth and the depth of linguistics.

It builds on the widest range of teaching and research expertise, covering all aspects of theoretical and descriptive linguistics, including:

  • phonetics
  • phonology
  • morphology
  • syntax
  • semantics
  • pragmatics
  • discourse and conversation analysis
  • typology
  • historical linguistics
  • sociolinguistics
  • cognitive linguistics and psycholinguistics
  • computational and corpus linguistics
  • field linguistics
  • the documentation and description of endangered languages.

Our teaching staff work on various practical applications of linguistics (eg language codification and language policy, institutional language, language in the community, forensic linguistics).

Our internationally-recognised expertise encompasses a breadth of languages, including English and other Germanic languages, Romance languages, Russian, Polish, Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Kurdish and other Iranian languages, Amerindian languages, languages of South Asia, indigenous languages of Australia and historical languages such as Old English, Old Saxon and Old Norse.

You will receive a solid foundation for linguistic study in three out of four core units: 

  • Grammatical Theory (compulsory);
  • Phonetics and Phonology (compulsory);
  • Semantics and Pragmatics;
  • The Sociolinguistics of English.

The remainder of the course allows you to make the most of what our staff have to offer.

You can either take a variety of course units in different areas, including Forensic Linguistics, or specialise in one of the following pathways: Phonetics and Phonology, Sociolinguistics, Syntax and Semantics, Typology or Romani Linguistics.


We aim to:

  • give you a grounding in breadth and depth in Linguistics, by exploring the central features of linguistic theory: its history, objectives, principal theoretical frameworks, methodologies, contested areas and uncontested results;
  • enable you to gain experience of excellence in teaching and learning at an advanced level, in an environment that is also home to world-leading research in Linguistics.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a variety of teaching methods.

Core course units and other MA-specific course units are typically taught as seminars, in a small group, combining lectures with discussion. Many units also have practical tutorials that will help you prepare for individual research projects.

Directed Readings involve individual or small group meetings during which pre-set readings on a particular topic are discussed.

The enhanced Level 3 undergraduate course units combine lectures or seminars, depending on the aim of the course unit, with more optional tutorials.

The aim across all teaching forms is to create the opportunity for intensive scholarly work, with areas of focus determined by students and your individual interests, which can be investigated in considerable depth.

Linguistics staff

You can see a list of our academic staff on the Linguistics and English Language website .

Coursework and assessment

Course units are assessed at the end of the semester during which they are offered.

All taught course units except Introduction to Grammatical Theory and Phonetics and Phonology are assessed by examined coursework only.

All course units include formative assessments to ensure interim feedback during the semester.

Course unit details

You will undertake units totalling 180 credits. Core and optional units combine to make 120 credits, with the remaining 60 credits allocated to the dissertation.

This MA consists of the following elements:

  • compulsory core course units - Introduction to Grammatical Theory (15 credits), Phonetics and Phonology (15 credits), and at least two of the following: Semantics and Pragmatics (15 credits), Psycholinguistics (15 credits) and The Sociolinguistics of English (15 credits).
  • Research Methods (15 credits); [Research Methods and NOT Research Methods I]
  • optional course units (45 credits altogether);
  • dissertation (60 credits).

Subject to Programme Director approval at the beginning of the academic year, it might be possible to waive some of the mandatory requirements if you can provide evidence of relevant previous knowledge and competencies. In borderline cases, you may be asked to take a proficiency test in Welcome Week.

The optional course units can be selected to follow specialised pathways, which include Sociolinguistics, Phonetics and Phonology, Syntax and Semantics, Typology, and Romani Linguistics. Please note that individual optional units that are part of our programme may not be available in any given year.

Some course units may take the form of Directed Reading units, which are individual or small group seminars about set readings on a particular topic. These are available after consultation with an appropriate member of staff and the Programme Director.

One or two course units may also be taken from a list of MA course units available in certain other subject areas, or from a list of enhanced Level 3 undergraduate course units in Linguistics and English Language, which supplement the MA-specific course units on offer.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Research Methods (Linguistics) LELA60000 15 Mandatory
Introduction to Grammatical Theory LELA70041 15 Mandatory
Phonetics and Phonology I LELA70061 15 Mandatory
Psycholinguistics LELA60082 15 Optional
English Phonology Past and Present LELA60441 15 Optional
Topics in Language Development LELA60671 15 Optional
Topics in Romance Linguistics LELA62002 15 Optional
Semantics and Pragmatics LELA62021 15 Optional
Topics in the Study of Meaning LELA70032 15 Optional
Introduction to Grammatical Theory LELA70041 15 Optional
The Sociolinguistics of English LELA70232 15 Optional
Language Contact LELA70291 15 Optional
Directed Reading LELA70502 15 Optional
The Study of the Speech Community: Manchester English LELA70522 15 Optional
Minimalist Syntax LELA70971 15 Optional
Directed Reading LELA71121 15 Optional
Forensic Linguistics LELA71632 15 Optional
Displaying 10 of 17 course units

What our students say

My MA at Manchester was a challenging but very enjoyable and valuable experience that gave me the opportunity to work with enthusiastic and inspiring staff.

I've developed skills that have proved useful in my current role as research assistant at the University's Multilingual Manchester project, and the master's experience has helped me prepare for a PhD in Linguistics.

Leonie Gaiser


You will have access to innovative resources, including our psycholinguistics and phonetics laboratories, with facilities for signal analysis, speech synthesis, laryngography and electropalatography, computing facilities for speech analysis and one of the largest collections of linguistics texts in the UK.

Find out more on the Facilities page.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service. Email: