Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics
BA Linguistics (2018 entry)
Not open for 2019 entry
Teaching and Learning
Not open for 2019 entry
We will not be accepting students onto this programme for September 2019 entry. If you are interested in studying Linguistics at SOAS, please look at our joint degree pages, or email the Undergraduate Linguistics Convenor, Dr Chris Lucas (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 modules 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 modules in other departments.
Programme Code: Q100 BA/LG
Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings
Start of programme: September
Mode of Attendance: Full-time
A language at A-level or equivalent is desirable but not essential.
35 (665 at HL)
View alternative entry requirements
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
In an increasingly interconnected and multilingual world, an understanding of how languages work, both as systems of meaning and as cultural artefacts, has never been more crucial. Dr Christopher Lucas, Senior Lecturer in Arabic Linguistics, explains what is involved in a BA in Linguistics (single or joint honours).
What does the course involve?
With our undergraduate programmes in Linguistics at SOAS, we give students the tools to understand how the world’s languages differ and how they are similar, how they relate historically and interact today, and above all how they are structured – how sounds combine to form words, how words combine to form syntactic structures, and how syntactic structures translate into the meanings we want to convey. Linguistics takes you beyond merely speaking a language, and helps you see how languages, in all their diversity, actually function.
What is special about the programme at SOAS?
What makes Linguistics at SOAS unique is the unrivalled expertise of our staff in a wide range of Asian, African, Middle Eastern and Australian languages. In most departments offering Linguistics degrees in the UK and worldwide, the language expertise of the teaching and research staff is heavily focused on English and a handful of major European languages.
What kind of students will the course appeal to?
SOAS, and Linguistics at SOAS, is all about appreciating the diversity of cultures beyond Europe and the English-speaking world. Anyone who has a particular interest in the language(s) of a country or region in Asia, Africa or the Middle East will feel very much at home studying Linguistics at SOAS. More generally, Linguistics is the ideal subject for those who are interested in human culture and psychology, but who enjoy approaching questions about our world within in a systematic, precise, logical intellectual framework.
What facilities are available?
In addition to SOAS’s wonderful library (one of the UK’s five dedicated national research libraries), with its extensive collections of books on Linguistics and the languages of Asia, Africa and the Middle East, SOAS offers a dedicated Linguistics Resource Room, with computers, a sound-proofed recording booth, video and audio editing facilities, and more.
Can you recommend a good book to read on Linguistics?
Linguistics is such a varied and wide-ranging subject, it’s hard to recommend just one! So here are two, written by two of the most famous linguists working today, with two very different approaches to how we should understand language. Read them both and see which approach you prefer!
Don’t Sleep, There Are Snakes by Daniel Everett tells the fascinating story of the author’s many years of fieldwork studying the language of the Pirahã people of Amazonia. We also learn how, through his work with the Pirahã, Everett became convinced that the fundamental ideas of the world’s most influential linguist, Noam Chomsky, were flawed.
The Language Instinct by Steven Pinker, by contrast, is an accessible and entertaining introduction to those big ideas of Chomsky’s, as well as a surprisingly comprehensive overview of many of the most important and interesting topics that linguists collectively investigate.
What do students do after graduating?
After graduating, quite a few of our students go on to further study of Linguistics at the Masters and PhD level, whether at SOAS or elsewhere. Many others take up jobs in professions directly related to Linguistics, such as speech and language therapy, translation, or teaching English as a foreign language. Others still find that the highly transferable skills acquired through the study of Linguistics – above all the ability to study complex datasets and argue for the most elegant account of those data – mean that they are well qualified for work in a range of graduate professions, such as working in government, consulting, marketing, or NGOs.
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 modules 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 modules are available. Among the introductory modules in linguistics, Introduction to Phonology and Introduction to Grammatical Structure are core modules (i.e. modules which students must satisfactorily complete and pass in the summer examinations before being permitted to proceed to the next year of their degree). Compulsory modules are obligatory.
All BA Students take 120 credits each year. Over the course of the degree, single-subject degree students take a minimum of 270 credits in linguistics and combined subject degree students take a minimum of 150 credits in linguistics.
Core modules must be passed in order to proceed to the following year of study.
The information on the programme page reflects the intended programme structure against the given academic session. If you are a current student you can find structure information on the previous year link at the top of the page or through your Department. Please read the important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules.
Teaching and Learning
Teaching & Learning
Each module 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 module. Introductory modules are assessed in the end of year exams in May/June. Other modules may involve written examinations, practical tests, coursework, essays or a combination of these.
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.