Postgraduate study

Evolution of Language and Cognition To be confirmed

Awards: To be confirmed

Funding opportunities

Joining the world-leading Centre for Language Evolution (CLE), you will investigate the origins and evolution of human language, tackling questions such as ‘what is it that makes us human?’, ‘how did our brains evolve?’ and ‘what are the origins of human language?’

The CLE is at the cutting edge of research in this area and one of the world’s biggest research groups working on language evolution. You will have the opportunity to become involved with the unit’s research effort, and to make your own contribution to this dynamic field through your dissertation.

The programme focuses on a treatment of language as a dynamic evolving system, bringing together origins, acquisition and change.

It provides a broad introduction to the field of language evolution and can form the basis for further (typically PhD) study for those wishing to continue their research.

The programme draws on many disciplines in the University, including archaeology, biology, linguistics, neuroscience, informatics, philosophy and psychology.

The programme involves two taught semesters and your own research dissertation. Compulsory courses (in addition to the dissertation) provide a solid foundation, while optional courses allow you to explore your own areas of interest.

The taught element is delivered through a mix of lectures, tutorials, seminars and practical sessions. Assessment is by written/project work and examination.

Compulsory courses:

  • Current Issues in Language Evolution
  • Foundations of Evolution
  • Origins and Evolution of Language
  • Simulating Language
  • Language Evolution in the Lab
  • Univariate Statistics and Methodology Using R
  • Universals of Language MSc

Option courses may include:

  • Computer Programming for Speech and Language Processing
  • Diachronic Linguistics
  • Dialogue
  • First Language Acquisition
  • Human Evolution
  • Introduction to Phonology and Phonetics
  • Sociolinguistic Research Design
  • Introduction to Syntax
  • Language Behaviours, Brains and Cognition: Principles and Approaches
  • Psychology of Language Learning

You may also be able to take a course from other degree programmes in the School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences, and in some cases from elsewhere in the University.

On successful completion of this programme, you will have gained:

  • a comprehensive synthesis of the most recent scientific findings relating to the origins and evolution of human language
  • a firm basis for subsequent advanced specialised research
  • a broad awareness of issues and findings in the evolution of language and cognitive evolution across participating single-subject disciplines

This programme provides solid grounding for further research in many associated areas, such as linguistics, cognitive sciences and human evolution.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in linguistics, psychology, cognitive science, computer science or biology.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT: total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • PTE Academic: total 67 (at least 61 in each of the "Communicative Skills" sections)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.*

(*Revised 8/11/2018 to provide more accurate information on English language qualifications expiry dates. Revised 22/03/2019 to provide more accurate/comprehensive information.)

Find out more about our language requirements:

Read our general information on tuition fees and studying costs:

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact: pplspg@ed.ac.uk
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD

References

You will be asked to add contact details for your referees. We will email them with information on how to upload their reference directly to your online application. Alternatively, they can email their comments to:

Personal statement

In addition to the supporting documents requested on the application form, you should include a personal statement detailing the background of your interest and why you are attracted to the programme.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact: pplspg@ed.ac.uk
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD