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
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
Please see the Unistats data for the various combinations of this programme under the Combinations tab.
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.
Students take 120 credits per year composed of Core, Compulsory and Optional modules.
Core modules: A core module is required for the degree programme, so must always be taken and passed before you move on to the next year of your programme.
Compulsory modules: A compulsory module is required for the degree programme, so must always be taken, and if necessary can be passed by re-taking it alongside the next year of your programme.
Optional modules: These are designed to help students design their own intellectual journey while maintaining a strong grasp of the fundamentals.
Please note that students on the 3-year degree who do not take any language modules as part of their second subject must take modules to the value of at least 15 credits from the list of Strategically Important and Vulnerable Languagues (SILs) listed below during their second and/or third year.
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
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 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.
Studying at SOAS is an absolute joy as well as an enriching experience. I am being taught by two of the most inspirational teachers I have ever met and they challenge me to ‘unpack’ and think more deeply about the issues that I am enthusiastic about.