Postgraduate study

Evolution of Language and Cognition MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

I chose this MSc because it is one of the oldest and most respected places to study language evolution, with a centre and masters programme dedicated exclusively to the area. It is academically rigorous and broad in the topics it covers and skills it teaches. As I hope to go on to undertake a PhD, it has equipped me very well with the required academic skills and knowledge.

Miranda Stocks MSc Evolution of Language, 2017
Miranda Stocks               MSc Evolution of Language, 2017

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?
  • 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
  • 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

Option courses

Option courses may include:

  • Universals of Language
  • 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
  • Univariate Statistics and Methodology Using R

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, with permission of the Programme Director.

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 in the scientific study of human behaviour, which provides the ideal basis for further research in many associated areas, including linguistics, cognitive science and human evolution.

Recent graduates have gone on to roles in teaching (following further training), journalism and translation services for companies such as:

  • Pearson Education
  • BPD Training
  • ITWeb

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

For 2021 entry we will accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:

  • IELTS: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 23 in each module). We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • 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 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.

Find out more about our language requirements:

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MSc1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MSc2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

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
  • your tuition fee status

Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Director, Professor Simon Kirby
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact: Simon.Kirby@ed.ac.uk
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD
Programme start date Application deadline
13 September 2021 1 June 2021

We operate a gathered field approach to applications for MSc Evolution of Language and Cognition.

This means that all complete applications that satisfy our minimum entry requirements will be held until the nearest deadline. The admissions panel will meet to consider all applications received together after that date.

To be considered as having met the deadline your application must include transcripts and an academic reference.

Applications are held for processing over four deadlines:

Round Application deadline Places awarded
1 01 December 2020 29 January 2021
2 01 February 2021 31 March 2021
3 01 April 2021 31 May 2021
4 01 June 2021 30 July 2021

Applications will not be accepted after the final deadline.

Supporting documents and references

Applications must be complete with all supporting documentation to be passed on for consideration, this includes references.

Please ensure that you inform referees of any deadline you wish to meet.

You must submit one reference with your application.

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, referees 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

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