Postgraduate study

Linguistics MSc

Awards: MSc

Funding opportunities

Programme website: Linguistics

This programme gives you all of the intellectual and practical skills to engage in linguistics research, either by itself, or as part of cross-disciplinary research.

We offer a strong focus on theoretical understanding, drawing on the expertise of the department which is particularly strong in theory development.

Additionally, you will acquire the necessary empirical skills to complement your theoretical understanding.


In the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014), Linguistics research at Edinburgh is ranked 1st in Scotland and 2nd in the UK (Times Higher Education, Modern Languages and Linguistics, Rank order by GPA).

Key aims and skills

The key aims of the programme are to:

  • provide integrated specialist knowledge in core areas of linguistics
  • establish a foundation for advanced research in those areas
  • provide a comprehensive understanding of the basic principles of research in theoretical and descriptive linguistics
  • develop analytical skills in an interdisciplinary context

Graduates from our programme will understand how to:

  • analyse key data in core areas of linguistics
  • theorise such data
  • exploit empirical methods to test their theories

These skills provide a firm foundation for further PhD study, either in linguistics or in a related discipline that makes heavy use of core linguistics (for example, Developmental Linguistics, Sociolinguistics).

Who this programme is for

This programme is best suited to applicants whose academic background is in:

  • linguistics
  • English language
  • philology
  • cognitive science

It is also suitable for applicants from other academic backgrounds looking for a conversion course that will provide an intensive foundation in linguistics.

This programme is not suitable for applicants wishing to pursue supplementary training in the areas of translation studies or teaching English as a foreign language.

If you do not have a background in linguistics you will be required to take the following core courses:

  • Introduction to Phonology
  • Introduction to Language Research
  • Introduction to Syntax

If you have a background in linguistics, you may be exempted from any or all of the courses at the Programme Director’s discretion.

You will also choose, under the guidance of the Programme Director, additional course options from an approved list of courses.

In total, you will take 120 credits of courses. It is possible to take up to 20 credits of MSc Philosophy and Psychology courses, subject to the Programme Director’s approval.

Graduates from this programme will understand how contemporary research approaches the study of language.

You will acquire and enhance the following professional, subject-specific and practical skills:

  • general 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 of completion)
  • team or group work skills (presentations, class discussions)
  • critical thinking skills (ability to select and evaluate the relevant data, such as experimental evidence or evidence from secondary sources)
  • writing skills (how to convey purpose, motivation, method, results, and interpretation in written form)

This MSc can lead to a variety of career options depending upon your chosen focus.

These entry requirements are for the 2022/23 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2023/24 academic year will be published on 3 October 2022.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in theoretical linguistics, applied linguistics, modern languages, English language, cognitive science or psychology.

Students from China

This degree is Band C.

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 Academic: total 7.0 with at least 6.5 in each component.
  • TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 100 with at least 23 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
  • C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 185 with at least 176 in each component.
  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with passes in all four components.
  • PTE Academic: total 70 with at least 62 in each component.

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, Trinity ISE or PTE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

(*Revised 17 November 2021 to add accepted PTE Academic qualifications.)

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:

  • Programme Director, Dr Michael Ramsammy
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact:
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD

We operate a gathered field approach to applications for this MSc.

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 three deadlines:

Round Application deadline Places awarded
1 01 December 31 January
2 01 April 31 May
3 01 June 01 August

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 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.

We expect you to have a good understanding of the field you propose to study.

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

Further information

  • Programme Director, Dr Michael Ramsammy
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 651 5002
  • Contact:
  • PPLS Postgraduate Office
  • Dugald Stewart Building
  • 3 Charles Street
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AD