SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

MA Linguistics (2020 entry)

  • 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 language may differ from each other.

MA Linguistics at SOAS is a modular programme which combines the intensive study of the core areas of formal linguistics - phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics - with a choice of options in different areas of the discipline. The programme is run on a modular basis to suit the needs of the following four categories of students: 

  • Those with a degree in linguistics who wish to pursue more regional and language-based study;
  • Those with a degree in linguistics who wish to pursue more research-oriented topics before proceeding to a research degree;
  • Those with little or no previous training in linguistics who wish to acquire a knowledge of the discipline;
  • Those with little or no previous training in linguistics who wish to take the degree as a conversion course before; proceeding to a research degree.

The programme can be taken full time over one calendar year or part time over two or three years (daytime only.) The taught part of the programme consists of core lectures which introduce basic concepts, theory and methodology; and additional seminars which extend the core material into other areas. A 10,000-word dissertation written over the summer offers students the opportunity to develop original research in an area of special interest. 

MA Linguistics is for students who would like to acquire general postgraduate-level training in formal linguistics (perhaps as preparation for further training or research).

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings

Start of programme: September intake only

Mode of Attendance: Full-time or Part-time

Entry requirements

  • We will consider all applications with 2:ii (or international equivalent) or higher. In addition to degree classification we take into account other elements of the application including supporting statement and references.
  • Interview Policy: Candidates with ‘non-standard’ qualifications usually invited

Featured events

One calendar year (full-time), two or three years (part-time, daytime only)



Students on the MA Linguistics take 180 credits, 60 of which are a dissertation and a 120 from taught modules. Students should follow the programme structure set out below.

Students also attend the Research Foundations Seminar.  Students may choose 30 credits from the list of approved language open options.


All students take the dissertation module

Module Code Credits Term
Dissertation in Linguistics 15PLIC999 60 Full Year

For students without a background in Linguistics

Core Modules

Students without a background in linguistics take the following two modules:

Module Code Credits Term
Introduction to the Study of Language 15PLIC008 30 Full Year
Research methods in linguistics 1 15PLIH060 15 Term 1
Guided Options

Students without a background in linguistics take modules to the value of 45 credits from List A below PLUS another 30 credits from either the Open Options list OR List A 

For students with a background in Linguistics

Core Module

Students with a background in linguistics will take the following module:

Module Code Credits Term
Research methods in linguistics 1 15PLIH060 15 Term 1
Guided Options

Students with a background in linguistics will take modules to the value of 45 credits from List A below And another 30 credits from either the Open Options list or List A and B below

List A - Linguistics Modules

Module Code Credits Term
Historical Linguistics (Masters) 15PLIH020 15 Term 2
Language, Society and Communication (Masters) 15PLIH004 15 Term 1
Linguistic Typology (Masters) 15PLIH015 15 Term 2
Research methods in linguistics 2 15PLIH061 15 Term 2
Translating Cultures 1 15PJKH019 15 Term 2
Translation Technology 15PLIH049 15 Term 1
Working with language consultants 15PLIH062 15 Term 2
Language Planning and Policy 15PLIH032 15 Term 2
Language support and revitalisation 15PLIH033 15 Term 2
Issues in Semantics (Masters) 15PLIH012 15 Term 2


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

Teaching & Learning

  • Acquiring a solid foundation in the ‘core’ areas of theoretical linguistics, syntax, phonology and semantics.
  • Familiarity with the basic concepts and assumptions of different theoretical frameworks in the discipline, and the ability to critically question and evaluate these assumptions.
  • Familiarity with the relevant conventions and methodology applicable to work with both raw linguistic data and linguistic descriptions.
  • Opportunity to specialise in the area of interest.
  • The student will have the opportunity of gaining knowledge or further knowledge of one or more Asian, Middle Eastern and African languages.
Intellectual (thinking) skills
  • The ability to formulate appropriate linguistic problems, propose and evaluate analyses and present evidence (for and/or against) these analyses.
  • 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
  • Practising research techniques in specialised research libraries and through consultant work.
  • Retrieving and selecting information from a variety of linguistic sources such as specialised papers and reference grammars.
  • Student will 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.
Transferrable skills
  • Training in locating materials and using research sources (library holdings, ‘raw’ language data, periodicals, internet).
  • Structuring and communicating ideas effectively in writing
  • Questioning, understanding and evaluating competing proposals


An MA in Linguistics from SOAS equips students with essential skills such as competency in language skills and intercultural awareness and understanding. Postgraduate students gain linguistic and cultural expertise enabling them to continue in the field of research or to seek professional and management careers.

MA Linguistics graduates leave SOAS with a portfolio of widely transferable skills which employers seek, including 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.  A postgraduate degree is a valuable experience that provides students with a body of work and a diverse range of skills that they can use to market themselves with when they graduate.

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