SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

BA Linguistics and ... (2019 entry)

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  • Combinations
  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


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.

The list of possible subject combinations for the BA Linguistics and... degree is given in the combinations section. SOAS is unique in the UK for being able to offer a range of subject combinations that include the opportunity to study the languages, literature, and cultures of Africa, Asia and the Near and Middle East. The study of linguistics may also be combined with a range of other disciplines in which the School has proven excellence such as music, law, development studies, economics, politics, religious studies, anthropology, art and archaeology and history. SOAS offers students an unparalleled range of options in choosing their second subject of study.

The linguistics component of the combined subject degree 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.

Key Information Set Data

The information for BA, BSc, or LLB programmes refer to data taken from the single subject degrees offered at SOAS; however, due to the unique nature of our programmes many subjects have a separate set of data when they are studied alongside another discipline.  In order to get a full picture of their chosen subject(s) applicants are advised to look at both sets of information where these occur.

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September

Mode of Attendance: Full-time

Entry requirements

  • A language at A-level or equivalent is desirable but not essential.
A Levels:
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

Featured events

3 or 4 years depending on precise combination


Please see the Unistats data for the various combinations of this programme under the Combinations tab.


Chris Lucas
Chris Lucas

Introducing Linguistics

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.


May be combined with:
  • African Studies, TQ51 BA/AFLG
  • Arabic+, QT16 BA/ALG
  • Chinese+, QT11 BA/CHLG
  • Development Studies, LQ93 BA/DVSLG
  • English, QQ31
  • Hebrew+, QQ14 BA/HELG
  • History, QV31 BA/HLG
  • Japanese+, QT12 BA/JLG
  • Japanese Studies, TQ21 BA/JSL
  • Korean+, QTCJ BA/KOLG
  • Korean Studies, TQ14 BA/KOSLG
  • Middle Eastern Studies, TQ61 BA/MESLG
  • Persian+, QTD6 BA/LGP ( + Compulsory Year Abroad which is split between 2 countries)
  • Social Anthropology, LQ61 BA/LGSA
  • South Asian Studies++ (3 Year), TQH1 BA/LGSAS
  • South Asian Studies++ (4 Year), TQ3C BA/SASLiYA
  • South East Asian Studies, TQJD BA/LGSEA
  • Turkish+, QTC6 BA/LGTU

+ 4-year degree with (compulsory) one year spent abroad
++ 3 or 4-year degree with option of one year abroad

Key Information Set data

Click on a combined programme to load KIS data


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 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 obligatory.

All BA students must take modules to the value of 120 credits per 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.

4 year Programme Structure with 30 credits of Linguistics in year 1

Students who are required to take 90 credits of language in their 1st year, take General Linguistics 152900069 as their final module. This imbalance is redressed in the 3rd year (when the year abroad is in the 2nd year) or in the 2nd year (when the year abroad is in the 3rd year) where they will take 150 credits in linguistics and only 30 credits in the language. Please see the structure set out in the Programme Specifications PDF at the bottom of this page for more detailed information.

3 or 4 year Programme Structure that allows for 60 credits of Linguistics per year

Year 1

Core Modules

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

Students will take the following core modules:

Other Subject

Students take 60 credits from their other subject.

Year 2 - Linguistics Pathway

Core Modules

Students will take the following core module:

Module Code Credits Term
Introduction to Phonology 152900070 30 Full Year

AND ONE of these two core modules

Module Code Credits Term
Approaches to Syntax 152900032 15 Term 1
Intermediate Semantics 152900088 15 Term 1
Optional Modules

Choose 15 credits from List A below

Other Subject

Students take 60 credits from their other subject.

Year 3 (or Year 4 for combined degrees with a year abroad)

Guided Options

Students will choose one of these three modules (you may only take one as long as you haven't taken it in Year 2):

Module Code Credits Term
Intermediate Phonology 152900062 15 Term 1
Approaches to Syntax 152900032 15 Term 1
Intermediate Semantics 152900088 15 Term 1

Students must choose one of the following core modules:

Module Code Credits Term
Advanced Syntax 152900033 15 Term 2
Dynamic Syntax 152900093 15 Term 2
Issues in Semantics 152900021 15 Term 2


Choose modules to the value of 30 credits from List A or List B or from the list of Open Options.

Second Subject

List of modules (subject to availability)

List A (Year 2 or Year 3)
Module Code Credits Term
English in the Global World 152900111 1.0
Language, Identity and Society in Africa 155900867 15 Term 1
Language, Society and Communication 152900083 15 Term 1
Morphology 152900036 15 Credits
Topics in Lexical Semantics 152900065 15 Credits
Introduction to Arabic Dialects 155901396 15 Term 2
Issues in World Englishes 152900101 1.0
Intercultural communication and interaction 152900107 0.5
Historical Linguistics 152900037 15 Term 2
Linguistic Typology 152900044 15 Term 2
Introduction to Translation Theory 152900113 15 Term 1
The structure of Bantu languages 155902004 15 Term 2
Identity and social relations in Japanese 155901418 15 Term 1
List B (Year 3 only)

Note: These modules can only be chosen if they have not already been taken

Module Code Credits Term
Issues in Semantics 152900021 15 Term 2
Advanced Syntax 152900033 15 Term 2
Dynamic Syntax 152900093 15 Term 2
Independent Study Project in Linguistics 152900009 30 Full Year

Programme Specification

Important notice

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

Year abroad

If linguistics is studied with a language, the second or third year of the degree is usually spent abroad.

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 modules. Introductory modules are assessed in the end of year exams in May/June. Other modules 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.

Studying a combined honours degree gives students to blend a solid grounding in another discipline or subject area which enables them to place the knowledge they gain as part of their degree within a specific regional, cultural or disciplinary context. 

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

A Student's Perspective

I enjoy the student atmosphere here. The Students’ Union bar and café is cozy and friendly and I’ve enjoyed getting involved in the knitting for peace club. Also I have been impressed by the array of specialists in the department of Linguistics.

Birgul Yilmmaz

Find out more