[skip to content]

Department of Linguistics

BA Linguistics

Programme Code: Q100 BA/LG Duration: 3 years


2015 Entry Requirements

  • A Levels: AAB
  • A Level language desirable but not essential
  • IB: 35 (6/6/5)
  • Access to HE: Minimum of 30 Level 3 Credits at Distinction
  • Scottish Highers: AAABB
  • Scottish Advanced Highers: AAB
  • Irish LC: 340 points from 5 Higher level subjects at grade C1 or above
  • Advanced Placement: 4 4 5 (Two semesters - UCAS Group A) plus US HSGD with GPA 3.0
  • Euro Bacc: 80%
  • French Bacc: 14/20
  • German Abitur: 2.0
  • Italy DES: 80/100
  • Austria Mat: 2.0
  • Polish Mat: Overall 75% including 3 extended level subjects

Minimum Entry Requirements: A language at A-level or equivalent is desirable but not essential.

Interview Policy: Candidates with ‘non-standard’ qualifications usually invited

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Modern linguistics is the scientific study of all aspects of the world’s languages from their sound systems and grammatical structure through to the interaction of language with culture, the study of meaning in language, and the use of language in modern technology. Linguists try to establish what types of structures are shared by different languages and the extent to which languages may differ from each other.

BA Linguistics is designed to develop a comprehensive understanding of the way that languages are universally structured and trains students to master all the basic skills necessary for the analysis of different sound systems and semantics (the study of meaning in language). In addition, students may also take units dealing with language and social communication (focusing on the interaction of language and social groups), morphology (the structure of words), historical linguistics (the historical development of languages), phonetics and the structure of an African or Asian language.

Linguistics can be taken as a single-subject BA degree or a combined subject degree. In the single subject degree, students primarily study linguistics, with the option of taking up to three non-linguistic units in other departments.


Learn a language as part of this programme

Degree programmes at SOAS - including this one - can include language courses in more than forty African and Asian languages. It is SOAS students’ command of an African or Asian language which sets SOAS apart from other universities.

In linguistics, the introductory courses introduce key concepts in semantics, syntax, phonology and phonetics, and lay the foundation for work in succeeding years when intermediate, advanced and more specialised optional courses are available. Among the introductory courses in linguistics, Introduction to Phonology and Introduction to Grammatical Structure are core courses (i.e. courses which students must satisfactorily complete and pass in the summer examinations before being permitted to proceed to the next year of their degree). Compulsory units are obligatory.

All BA Students take 4 units per year. Over the course of the degree, single-subject degree students take a minimum of 9 units in linguistics and combined subject degree students take a minimum of 5 units in linguistics.

Year 1
Core Courses

Core courses must be passed in order to proceed to the following year of study.

Open Option

Students choose 1 Open Option unit from another department.

Year 2
Core Courses

Core courses must be passed in order to proceed to the following year of study.

1.5 Other Units

Students choose courses to the value of 1.5 Units from List A.

Open Option

Students choose 1 Open Option unit from another department.

Year 3
Compulsory Courses

Choose courses to the value of 1 unit from the following options.

1.5 Other Units

Students choose courses to the value of 1.5 units from List A or B.

Open Option

Students choose 1 Open Option unit from another department.

List A (courses for year 2 or 3)

NB: Language in Africa is also available in year 1; available in year 3 only by permission of the Associate Dean Learning & Teaching.

List B (courses for year 3 only)

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Each unit generally involves a 2-hour lecture and a tutorial, a 1-hour small-group discussion class each week. The tutorial is intended for further discussion of points made in the lecture and for the development of linguistic problem-solving skills.

Assessment varies according to the nature of the unit. Introductory courses are assessed in the end of year exams in May/June. Other units may involve written examinations, practical tests, course work, essays or a combination of these.

SOAS Library

SOAS Library is one of the world's most important academic libraries for the study of Africa, Asia and the Middle East, attracting scholars from all over the world. The Library houses over 1.2 million volumes, together with significant archival holdings, special collections and a growing network of electronic resources.


SOAS BA Linguistics students gain the ability to engage in analytical thought, to carry out research-like work on unfamiliar data and to control and understand the use of language. Graduates leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise, but also with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek in many professional and management careers, both in business and in the public sector. These include written and oral communication skills, attention to detail,analytical and problem-solving skills, and the ability to research, amass and order information from a variety of sources.

For more information about Graduate Destinations from this department, please visit the Careers Service website.

A Student's Perspective

I think the variety at SOAS is one of it’s strongest aspects – simply being a student at SOAS has taught me a lot about cultures and has given me the opportunity to meet so many great people.

Lialin Rotem-Stibbe