SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

BA Linguistics and ... (2020 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:

+ 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.

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.

Year 1

Core Module

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

Students will take the following core module:

Module Code Credits Term
Introduction to Linguistics 152900116 15 Term 1
Languages of the World 152900118 15 Term 2
Sounds, grammar and meaning in language 152900119 15 Term 2
Language, Learning and Writing 152900117 15 Term 1
Guided Options

Choose 15 credits from List A or Open Options

Other Subject

Students take 60 credits from their other subject.

Year 2 - Linguistics Pathway

Core Module

Students will take the following core module:

Module Code Credits Term
Approaches to Syntax 152900032 15 Term 1
Introduction to Research 152900121 15 Term 2
Meaning and Interpretation 152900100 15 Term 1
Guided Options

Choose 15 credits from List A or Open Options 

Other Subject

Students take 60 credits from their other subject.

Year 2 - Translation Pathway

Core Module

Students will take the following core modules:

Module Code Credits Term
Introduction to Translation Theory 152900113 15 Term 1
Introduction to Research 152900121 15 Term 2
Translating Cultures 1 15PJKH019 15 Term 2
Understanding Texts 152900123 15 Term 1
Guided Options

Choose 15 credits from List A or Open Options

Other Subject

Students take 60 credits from their other subject.

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

Core Module

Students will take the following module:

Module Code Credits Term
Advanced Topics in Linguistics 152900115 15 Term 1
Independent Study Project in Linguistics 152900009 30 Full Year
Guided Options

Choose 15 credits from List A or Open Options 

Other Subject

Students take 60 credits from their other subject.

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

Core Module

Students will take a 30 credit Translation Project as the core module

Module Code Credits Term
Translation Technology 155906738 15 Term 1
Guided Options

Choose 15 credits from List A or Open Options 

Other Subject

Students take 60 credits from their other subject.


Students will take modules to the value of 15 credits from List B, plus a further 30 credits from List A and/or List B and/or from the Strategically Important and Vulnerable Languages list.

Second Subject

Students will take 60 credits in their second subject.

List of modules (subject to availability)

List A (Year 2 or Year 3)
Module Code Credits Term
Meaning and Interpretation 152900100 15 Term 1
Intermediate Phonology 152900062 15
English in the Global World 152900111 1.0
Language, Society and Communication 152900083 15 Term 1
Arabic Dialects A 155901396 15 Term 1
Intercultural communication and interaction 152900107 0.5
Introduction to Translation Theory 152900113 15 Term 1
Philosophies of Language 158000196 15 Term 1
Fieldwork methods in language and culture 155901417 15 Term 2
List B (Year 3 only)
Module Code Credits Term
Historical Linguistics 152900037 15 Term 2
Linguistic Typology 152900044 15 Term 2
Independent Study Project in Linguistics 152900009 30 Full Year
List of Strategically Important and Vulnerable Languages (SILs) (Year 2 or 3)
Module Code Credits Term
Amharic 1 A 155906036 15 Term 1
Amharic 1 B 155906037 15 Term 2
Amharic 2 155900378 30 Full Year
Hausa 1 A 155906040 15 Term 1
Hausa 1 B 155906041 15 Term 2
Hausa 2(a) intermediate 155900324 30 Full Year
Somali 1 A 155906034 15 Term 1
Somali 1 B 155906035 15 Term 2
Somali 2 155900811 30 Full Year
Swahili 1 A 155906044 15 Term 1
Swahili 1 B 155906045 15 Term 2
Swahili 2a Intermediate 155900986 30 Full Year
Yoruba 1 A 155906038 15 Term 1
Yoruba 1 B 155906039 15 Term 2
Yoruba 2 155900935 30 Full Year
Zulu 1 A 155906042 15 Term 1
Zulu 1 B 155906043 15 Term 2
Zulu 2 155900851 30 Full Year
Persian 1 A 155906048 15 Term 1
Persian 1 B 155906049 15 Term 2
Turkish 1 A 155906046 15 Term 1
Turkish 1 B 155906047 15 Term 2
Hebrew 1 A 155906052 15 Term 1
Hebrew 1 B 155906053 15 Term 2
Bengali Language 1 A 155906054 15 Term 1
Bengali Language 1 B 155906055 15 Term 2
Bengali Language 2 155900492 30 Full Year
Hindi Language 1 A 155906056 15 Term 1
Hindi Language 1 B 155906057 15 Term 2
Hindi Language 2 155901183 30 Full Year
Nepali Language 1 A 155906060 15 Term 2
Nepali Language 1 B 155906061 15 Term 2
Nepali Language 2 155900609 30 Full Year
Burmese Language 1 A 155906070 15 Term 1
Burmese Language 1 B 155906071 15 Term 2
Burmese Language 2 155900997 30 Full Year
Sanskrit Language 1 A 155906064 15 Term 1
Sanskrit Language 1 B 155906065 15 Term 2
Urdu Language 1 A 155906058 15 Term 1
Urdu Language 1 B 155906059 15 Term 2
Urdu Language 2 155900513 30 Full Year
Indonesian Language 1 A 155906066 15 Term 1
Indonesian Language 1 B 155906067 15 Term 2
Indonesian Language 2 155901022 30 Full Year
Thai Language 1 A 155906072 15 Term 1
Thai Language 1 B 155906073 15 Term 2
Thai Language 2 155901367 30 Full Year
Vietnamese Language 1 A 155906068 15 Term 1
Vietnamese Language 1 B 155906069 15 Term 2
Vietnamese Language 2 155900705 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

The MA in Advanced Chinese Studies is a programme unique in its comprehensive integration of Chinese-language materials with interdisciplinary studies of the history, society, and culture of China.


Find out more