SOAS University of London

Department of Linguistics, School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

MA Linguistics (2021 entry)

Select year of entry: 2022 2021

  • Structure
  • Teaching and Learning
  • Employment


Overview and entry requirements

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. 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.

The MA Linguistics programme is run on a modular basis to suit the needs of: 

  • 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 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). The programme can be taken full-time or part-time.

See Department of Linguistics

Why study Linguistics at SOAS

  • UK Top 10 in the 2021 QS World University Rankings
  • SOAS is unique in the UK for offering 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
  • unrivalled staff expertise in the UK and worldwide in a wide range of Asian, African, Middle Eastern and Australian languages
  • access to SOAS’s library, one of the UK’s five dedicated national research libraries
  • dedicated Linguistics Resource Room, with computers, sound-proofed recording booth, video and audio editing facilities

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 credits are from a dissertation and 120 credits from taught modules. 

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
Approaches to Phonology 15PLIH069 15 Term 1
Approaches to Syntax 15PLIH068 15 Term 1
Historical Linguistics (Masters) 15PLIH020 15 Term 2
Introduction to Language Documentation and Description 15PLIH024 15 Term 1
Issues in Semantics (Masters) 15PLIH012 15 Term 2
Language Planning and Policy 15PLIH032 15 Term 2
Language, Society and Communication (Masters) 15PLIH004 15 Term 1
Language support and revitalisation 15PLIH033 15 Term 2
Linguistic Typology (Masters) 15PLIH015 15 Term 2
Meaning and Interpretation (PG) 15PLIH070 15 Term 1
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


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

The MA Linguistics 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. 

Learning outcome

  • 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

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.



Graduates of the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics leave SOAS not only with linguistic and cultural expertise, but also with skills in written and oral communication, analysis and problem solving.

Recent School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics graduates have been hired by:

  • Africa Matters
  • Amnesty International
  • Arab British Chamber of Commerce
  • BBC World Service
  • British High Commission
  • Council for British Research in the Levant
  • Department for International Development
  • Edelman
  • Embassy of Jordan
  • Ernst & Young
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Google
  • Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies
  • Middle East Eye
  • Saïd Foundation
  • TalkAbout Speech Therapy
  • The Black Curriculum
  • The Telegraph
  • United Nations Development Programme
  • UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency
  • Wall Street Journal

Find out about our Careers Service.

A Student's Perspective

I think the variety at SOAS is one of its strongest aspects – simply being a student at SOAS has taught me a lot about cultures and has given me the opportunity to meet so many great people.

Lialin Rotem-Stibbe

Find out more