Postgraduate study

English Language MSc, Certificate, Diploma

Awards: MSc, Certificate, Diploma

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

Programme website: English Language

This intensive programme will enable you to delve deeper into the structure of the English language’s:

  • phonology
  • syntax and semantics
  • modern and historical development

Joining an internationally-acclaimed centre for research and teaching in the linguistic study of English, you will explore in depth a global language with a rich history and great social and geographical variation.

You will be taught by world-leading experts who will give you a detailed awareness of the ways in which English is used in Britain and around the world.

This programme comprises two semesters of taught courses, followed by a dissertation.

The programme focuses initially on the structure of English, and also offers option courses on aspects of the history of English, on current varieties of the language and on a good number of approaches to the study of the language and English linguistics.

Compulsory courses

  • Introduction to Language Research
  • Introduction to Phonology
  • Introduction to Syntax
  • History of the English Language

Optional courses

Optional courses previously offered include:

  • Cognitive Linguistics
  • Current Issues in Phonology
  • Current Issues in Syntax
  • Diachronic Linguistics
  • Early Germanic Dialects
  • Global Englishes
  • Historical Phonology
  • Introduction to Discourse Analysis
  • Introduction to Morphology
  • Introduction to Sociolinguistics
  • Language Variation & Change
  • Middle English
  • Pragmatics
  • Reading Old English
  • Scots & Scottish English
  • Sociolinguistic Research Design
  • Stylistics

You can also choose optional courses from a wide range of other areas of linguistic study.

You may 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.

You will understand how contemporary research approaches the linguistic study of English.

You will gain and enhance the following professional/subject-specific/practical skills:

  • analytical skills (ability to construct, re-construct, critically evaluate an argument)
  • organisational skills (ability to complete a project, setting up research goals, identifying necessary means and ways to completion)
  • critical thinking (ability to select and evaluate the relevant data and theories)
  • writing (how to convey purpose, motivation, method, results, and interpretation in written form)

The programme will also prepare students for further study (PhD) in English Language.

This programme has been designed to help you progress your career as an English language specialist.

Many graduates go on to complete a PhD and become academics, or work as researchers in English language related publishing.

The programme is popular with teachers of English language who wish to strengthen their knowledge and skills in the structure and history of English, and return to education.

The analytical skills you develop and the research training you receive will be valuable in a wide range of careers.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in linguistics or English Language with linguistics.

We will also consider honours degrees in modern or classical languages or in humanities such as English literature or history if your application demonstrates a particular interest in the linguistics of English.

Students from China

This degree is Band B.

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:

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
  • your tuition fee status

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

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD

We operate a gathered field approach to applications for the MSc English Language.

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.

Applications are held for processing over five deadlines:

Round Application deadline Places awarded
1 23 October 2020 21 December 2020
2 01 December 2020 29 January 2021
3 01 February 2021 31 March 2021
4 01 April 2021 31 May 2021
5 01 June 2021 30 July 2021

To be considered, your application must include transcripts and an academic reference by the set deadline.

Applications will not be accepted after the final deadline.

Supporting documentation and referees

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 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
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD