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Department of Linguistics

MA Linguistics and Language

Duration: Two calendar years (full-time)


Minimum Entry Requirements: Upper-second class degree (or equivalent)

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

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Who is this programme for?:

The programme is run on a modular basis to suit students with little or no training in linguistics who:

  • Wish to acquire a more profound knowledge of the discipline or take the degree as a conversion course before proceeding to a research degree.
  • Are looking to gain a working knowledge of an Asian, Middle Eastern or African language.

This two-year programme is meant for students who wish to combine rigorous training in the discipline of linguistics, with the intensive study of one or more African or Asian languages. At the end of the programme students will be able to embark on professional careers in language-related fields with emphasis on the region in which the language chosen for the programme is spoken. They will also be able to undertake further study, e.g. for a research degree in linguistics.

The programme is built on the MA Linguistics and includes all parts of this programme (4 units). In addition, it includes 4 units of language study, delivered by relevant departments in the Faculty of Languages and Cultures, resulting in a unique two-year programme. Languages are available at Beginners' or Intermediate level. For some languages, a special research period in the country where the language is spoken may be included. Please click on the links below to view the webpages for further information.

The languages offered in 2014/15 are Japanese, Korean and Arabic


The MA Linguistics and Language consists of three components: core courses, optional courses and dissertation research.

Students take seven full units of taught courses and write a 10,000 word dissertation on the topic of their choice in linguistics in consultation with the supervisor. Three units are taken in the Linguistics department, and four units are taken in other SOAS departments and involve the practical study of a language at any level. Students also attend the weekly Research Training Seminar in Year 1.

Pathway A

2 units of Linguistics and 2 units of Language in year 1 and year 2

Year One
2 half-unit courses from the list of options available in the department, with at least one chosen from:
Two units of language courses taken from language departments. Courses to be confirmed.
Year Two
Courses to the value of 1 unit chosen from the list of options available in the Linguistics department – Term 1 and 2

2 units of language courses taken from language departments

Pathway B

1 unit of Linguistics, 3 units of Language in Year 1; 3 units of Linguistics, 1 unit of Language in Year 2

Year One
1 half-unit course from the list of options available in the Linguistics department – Term 1 or 2 3 units of Arabic language
Year Two
Courses to the value of 1.5 unit chosen from the list of options available in the Linguistics Department – Term 1 or 2. At least one of the options must be taken from:

Programme Specification

Teaching & Learning

Teaching & Learning

Programme Aims
  • To provide students with knowledge of the discipline of linguistics
    and research methodology in the study of language, both from a theoretical
    and practical viewpoint
  • To provide students with sufficient transferable skills to enable them to
    function in other professional environments related to language
  • To provide either a further qualification in linguistics or a preparation for
    research (MPhil/PhD) study. By the end of the course students are able to
    pursue further research or training, at either PhD or professional level
  • To provide the opportunity of studying one or more Asian, Middle Eastern and African languages. By the end of the course students are able to have an intermediate-level command of at least one language
Learning Outcomes
  1. Acquiring a solid foundation in the ‘core’ areas of theoretical linguistics, syntax, phonology and semantics
  2. Familiarity with the basic concepts and assumptions of different theoretical
    frameworks in the discipline, and the ability to critically question and evaluate
    these assumptions
  3. Familiarity with the relevant conventions and methodology applicable to working
    with both raw linguistic data and linguistic descriptions
  4. Opportunity to specialise in the area of interest
  5. The student will have the opportunity to gain knowledge (or further knowledge) of one or more Asian, Middle Eastern or African languages
Intellectual (thinking) skills

Having completed the programme, students should have:

  1. The ability to formulate appropriate linguistic problems, propose and evaluate
    analyses and present evidence (for and/or against) these analyses
  2. Knowledge of how to assess data and evidence critically from the literature
    and original sources, how to formulate analyses and arguments within the
    system of concepts and assumptions in the discipline, how to solve problems
    of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations
Subject-based practical skills

Having completed the programme, students should be able to:

  1. Practise research techniques in specialised research libraries and through
    consultant work
  2. Retrieve and select information from a variety of linguistic sources such
    as specialised papers and reference grammars
  3. Have strong practical language skills which will help them in any context where the language is used and which will also be of benefit if they need to learn another language in the future
Transferable skills

Having completed the programme, students should be able to:

  1. Locate materials and use research sources (library holdings,
    ‘raw’ language data, periodicals, internet)
  2. Structure and communicate ideas effectively in writing
  3. Question, understand and evaluate competing proposals


Many linguistics graduates continue their studies and go to do a PhD, either at SOAS or elsewhere. Others work in the domains of education, translation, information and media technology, journalism, publishing, consultancy for law and medicine, product-naming companies, as well as governmental organisations concerned with language planning, language policy and foreign affairs.

A Student's Perspective

It is a quirky university making it stand out from all the rest, being extremely culturally diverse and welcoming towards students from all backgrounds.

Emma Young