Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

Phonetics MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

On this programme you will learn the core phonetic topics of speech production, speech acoustics, and speech perception, and will learn how phonetics relates to many other language-related disciplines.

Key research areas

This programme will help you gain intellectual and practical skills to engage in phonetics research. Linguistics and English language at Edinburgh has access to a wide breadth of research themes, with the greatest theoretical depth that you will find anywhere. This programme gives you the flexibility to choose courses and research topics to suit your academic interests and goals, alongside studying the core courses in phonetics.

The department has multiple overlapping research groups, covering everything from meaning and grammar to language evolution. This programme is unique in allowing you freedom to draw on these resources.

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).

What will I learn?

You will learn the core phonetic topics of:

  • speech production
  • speech acoustics
  • speech perception

You will also learn how phonetics relates to many other language-related disciplines.

The programme has a strong practical emphasis and will provide you with an intensive grounding in:

  • phonetics and related disciplines
  • its methodologies
  • research questions
  • techniques of research

You can also take advantage of the interdisciplinary department and draw on teaching and research both elsewhere in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences and within other relevant Schools.

Is this MSc for me?

Students graduating from our programme will understand basic anatomy and physiology of speaking and hearing, phonetic typology, current theories of phonetics and its relationship to phonology and other parts of grammar, and how to test these theories using empirical data.

We offer a strong focus on practical skills: you will learn how to elicit and collect phonetic data, the mechanisms involved in recording sound, how to measure and analyse acoustic components of speech, how to create and analyse perceptual experiments, as well as core elements of scripting and statistical analysis.

It is designed primarily for graduates wishing to continue studying phonetics at PhD level, and for those wishing to use phonetics as a tool for investigation in related fields, including historical linguistics, phonology, developmental linguistics, psychology and speech technology.

Reputation, relevance and employability

Edinburgh has a proud and distinguished place in the teaching of phonetics, it was the first university in Scotland and second in the UK to establish a phonetics department. Our department is now home to one of the largest concentration of language scientists in the UK who are leading research into a wide range of topics.

You will benefit from the breadth and strength of the interdisciplinary academic community at Edinburgh, having the opportunity to select option courses and attend research seminars across different disciplines.

Our students’ research projects are often published in academic or professional journals.

Our programme has an excellent reputation amongst employers and further research opportunities. Many of our graduates have gone onto PhD training and we have a high academic job placement record.

Find out more about our community

The School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences is home to a large, supportive and active student community, hosting events and activities throughout the year which you can join. As a postgraduate student you will have access to a range of research resources, state-of-the-art facilities research seminars and reading groups.

This programme contains two semesters of taught core courses and optional courses followed by a dissertation.

The taught courses and their assessments take place between September to December (Semester 1) and January to April (Semester 2). Planning for the dissertation will take place until April and carried out between April and August.

Core courses

The core courses are:

  • Introduction to Phonology and Phonetics
  • Phonetics and Laboratory Phonology
  • Speech Production and Perception
  • Research Ethics Training in Linguistics and English Language
  • Statistics and Quantitative Methods

Optional courses

The optional courses offer you the opportunity to explore areas of your interest. Examples of optional courses are:

  • First Language acquisition
  • Second language acquisition
  • Historical phonology
  • Linguistic fieldwork and language description
  • Computer programming for speech and language processing
  • Origins and evolution of language
  • Dialects of English in Britain and Ireland
  • Language variation and change
  • Phonological theory
  • Speech processing
  • Guided Research in Linguistics and English language
  • Online experiments for language scientists
  • Or any other course available to MSc students subject to approval from the programme director

Dissertation

The dissertation involves writing a research project in close collaboration with an expert supervisor.

You will produce a written report, similar to an academic journal article; indeed, some dissertations are published as journal articles.

The empirical work and writing takes place between April and August and will be due in August.

Past examples of dissertation topics include:

  • Test for Mandarin Periodicity at Different Speech Rates
  • The influence of Linguistic Experience and Psychophysical Factors on the Perception of Tone
  • The Voice quality distinction in Dinka Songs

How will I learn?

Most courses are taught by a combination of live and pre-recorded lectures, seminars/tutorials and lab practicals. The number of contact hours and the teaching format will depend to some extent on the option courses chosen.

After classes finish in April, you will spend all your time working independently on coursework, exam revision and on your dissertation. When you carry out your supervised dissertation research, you will receive guidance from your supervisor through one-to-one meetings, comments on written work and email communication.

Find out more about compulsory and optional courses

We link to the latest information available. Please note that this may be for a previous academic year and should be considered indicative.

AwardTitleDurationStudy mode
MScPhonetics1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

On successful completion of this programme you will gain all of the intellectual and practical skills to engage in phonetics research, either for its own sake, or as part of research in another sub-area of linguistics, speech technology or speech pathology.

You will understand:

  • basic anatomy and physiology of speaking and hearing
  • phonetic typology
  • current theories of phonetics and its relationship to phonology and other parts of grammar
  • how to test these theories using empirical data

We offer a strong focus on practical skills. You will learn:

  • how to elicit and collect phonetic data
  • the mechanisms involved in recording sound
  • how to measure and analyse acoustic components of speech
  • how to create and analyse perceptual experiments
  • core elements of scripting and statistical analysis

You will also gain transferable skills such as:

  • written and verbal communication, group and teamwork, computing, programming and numeracy, time and project management
  • ability to work as an independent researcher and as part of a team

This course is primarily as a conversion course if you are looking to do serious postgraduate work in:

  • phonetics
  • speech pathology
  • speech processing
  • forensic linguistics
  • related fields

You will also receive training in practical skills, for example statistics and computational techniques, which could be relevant for a variety of different fields such as:

  • Speech technology
  • Speech pathology

Careers Service

Our award-winning Careers Service plays an essential part in your wider student experience at the University, providing:

  • tailored advice
  • individual guidance and personal assistance
  • internships and networking opportunities (with employers from local organisations to top multinationals)
  • access to the experience of our worldwide alumni network

We invest in your future beyond the end of your degree. Studying at the University of Edinburgh will lay the foundations for your future success, whatever shape that takes.

Your application and personal statement allow us to make sure that you and your chosen MSc are good matches for each other, and that you will have a productive and successful year at Edinburgh.

We strongly recommend you apply as early as possible. You should avoid applying to more than one degree. Applicants who can demonstrate their understanding and commitment to a specific programme are preferred.

Personal statements

When applying you should include a personal statement detailing your academic abilities and your reasons for applying for the programme

The personal statement helps us decide whether you are right for the MSc programme you have selected, but just as importantly, it helps us decide whether the MSc programme is right for you.

Your personal statement should include:

  • What makes this particular MSc programme interesting for you?
  • What are the most important things you want to gain from the MSc programme?
  • What are the key courses you have taken and that are relevant for this specific programme and what are your academic abilities?
  • Any other information which you feel will help us ensure that you are a good match to your intended MSc programme.

A good personal statement can make a big difference to the admissions process as it may be the only opportunity to explain why you are an ideal candidate for the programme.

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:

pplspgoffice@ed.ac.uk

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

These entry requirements are for the 2024/25 academic year and requirements for future academic years may differ. Entry requirements for the 2025/26 academic year will be published on 1 Oct 2024.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in linguistics, psychology, computer science or a related field.

###Students from China

This degree is Band C.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

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

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.

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 (non-MESC).

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
MScPhonetics1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScPhonetics2 YearsPart-timeTuition fees

There are a number of highly competitive scholarships and funding options available to MSc students.

Deadlines for funding applications vary for each funding source - please make sure to check the specific deadlines for the funding opportunities you wish to apply for and make sure that you submit your application in good time.

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 MSc Phonetics.

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 will not be accepted after the final deadline.

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

Applications are held for processing over the following deadlines:

Round Application deadline Places awarded
1 30 November 2023 01 February 2024
2 01 February 2024 02 April 2024
3 03 April 2024 29 May 2024

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.

Please read through the ‘Important application information’ section on this page before applying.

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