MSc Applied Linguistics

Focusing on socially relevant linguistics

In Applied Linguistics, we draw on knowledge about language, how it works and how it is used in order to contribute to real life issues.

We examine language use in a variety of social settings (e.g. language use in everyday conversation, in educational settings, in medical settings etc.). We focus on language variability (e.g. bilingualism, accents, dialects, etc.) versus social diversity (e.g. gender, class, ethnicity etc.). We also consider how knowledge about language as it is actually used in real social settings can (be made to) impact on people's lives.

The programme benefits from a long and respected academic tradition. Edinburgh was the first UK university to offer a programme in Applied Linguistics and the first ever School of Applied Linguistics was founded in 1957 by the late Professor Ian Catford.

Video: LEL-What questions are we asking-animation
LEL-What questions are we asking-animation for Online Open Day 2020

Why study Applied Linguistics at Edinburgh?

  • Linguistics & English Language is rated 3rd in the UK by Times Higher Education for the quality and breadth of the research using the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021).
  • We're ranked 2nd in the UK and 4th in the world for linguistics (QS World University Rankings by subject 2023).
  • You will be part of a learning community which includes the largest concentration of language scientists in the UK.
  • Edinburgh was the first UK university to offer a programme in Applied Linguistics.

Programme structure

The programme divides into two parts: a taught component, corresponding to the Diploma, and a dissertation component.

The taught component of the programme divides into two parts. The first part, conveniently termed core courses, introduces you to the basic concepts, issues and methods in Linguistics. This part of the programme is compulsory. In the second part of the taught component, conveniently termed options, you can choose from a pool of available courses and, under guidance, tailor a programme to suit your particular interests.

The dissertation consists of a piece of independent research of around 8,000 words intended to demonstrate knowledge of the literature and research skills in a particular area of Applied Linguistics.

Course options

Compulsory courses

  • Sociolinguistic Research Design
  • Introduction to Discourse Analysis
  • Issues in Applied Linguistics
  • Introduction to Language Research

Optional courses

  • Special Topics in Sociolinguistics
  • Applied Linguistics & Language Teaching
  • Language and Identity in Bilingual Settings
  • Discourse Studies
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Introduction to Phonology and Phonetics
  • Global Englishes
  • Introduction to Syntax
  • Language Variation and Change
  • Introduction to Phonology
  • Introduction to Semantics and Pragmatics

When to apply

We operate a gathered field approach to applications. You may submit your application at any time.

All complete applications that satisfy our minimum entry requirements will be placed on a shortlist and held until the next batch processing deadline. Applications will then be ranked and offers made to the top candidates.

Applications deadlines:

  • 01 December 2021
  • 01 February 2022
  • 01 April 2022

News & reflections from our Language Science community

Recent news

The Centre for Language Evolution in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences has joined other research units to deliver workshops for primary school children during the Midlothian Science Festival Schools Programme 2021.

Dr Jenny Culbertson and Professor Kenny Smith from the Centre for Language Evolution are running their ‘Language Evolves’ workshops to introduce children to the scientific study of language evolution through fun activities.

Read full article

Recent news

The School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences is proud to announce that a recent report on the Bilingualism Matters Centre has revealed its considerable success in driving debate around the benefits of speaking more than one language through media and public engagement activity.

The Centre has generated over 90 media articles internationally and organised hundreds of engagements events, involving audiences over 11,000 participants, since its establishment in 2014.

Read full article

Dina Kucherbayeva (2015)

My MSc experience and degree at The University of Edinburgh helped me to get a job with a competitive salary at the University in Kazakhstan, get promoted to senior lecturer within three years, and obtain a very prestigious scholarship for my PhD studies in Hong Kong.

Studying at Edinburgh was very challenging, but all the hard work, long days and sleepless nights at the library paid off. I learned that time is priceless. I learned how to organise my time effectively and wisely, prioritise tasks and appreciate free time. I became even more organised and disciplined in handling my schedule and everyday routine activities.

Career paths

As well as further postgraduate study, new graduates from this programme have gone on to roles across a variety of sectors.

These roles include:

  • Language Examiner
  • Research Assistant
  • Project Manager
  • English Language Teacher
  • Editor
  • Linguistic Content & Market Manager
  • MA Modern Languages

Connect with us

If you have any programme-specific enquiries please get in touch with the programme director:

Sumin Zhao (Programme director)

Feel free to get in touch with our friendly Postgraduate Office with any questions you might have about academic or English language requirements, course information, enquiries about your application and information on arriving at the University.

Postgraduate Office enquiries:


Visit the MSc Applied Linguistics webpage:

MSc Applied Linguistics

How to apply and fees & funding information:

Degree Finder for MSc Applied Linguistics

Sign up to hear about the latest School events, news and programme updates:

Follow us on social media:

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter | LinkedIn | Forward Thinking blog | TikTok