Postgraduate study
Edinburgh: Extraordinary futures await.

English Language MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time, Part-time

Funding opportunities

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

Key research areas

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.

The MSc in English Language at the University of Edinburgh is unrivalled in its scope. The range of courses on the English Language that you may take is unique to this degree and reflects the broad range of research interests amongst the staff in our school, all of whom are world-leading experts in their fields.

Linguistics & English Language at Edinburgh 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?

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.

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?

This programme provides an understanding of how contemporary research approaches the linguistic study of English and you can customise your learning in areas you are most passionate about.

It provides an excellent preparation for further research and knowledge as an English language specialist, whether you choose to pursue this further in academic research or in a professional career.

Reputation, relevance and employability

Edinburgh has a proud and distinguished place in the teaching of the linguistic study of English.

Our Linguistics and English Language department is home to academics 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 the dissertation itself will be carried out between April and August.

Core courses

The core courses are:

  • Introduction to Syntax
  • Introduction to Phonology OR Introduction to Phonology and Phonetics

Optional courses

The optional courses can be selected to tailor the programme to your interests and you can select 40 credits from the English Language shortlist (may vary from year to year), such as:

  • Statistics and Quantitative Methods
  • Reading Old English
  • Scots and Scottish English
  • Dialects of English in Britain and Ireland
  • Language Variation and Change
  • Historical Linguistics
  • Cognitive Linguistics
  • Historical Phonology

You will select a further 50 credits from Level 11 courses in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.

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, subject to availability and 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.

How will I learn

Most courses are taught by a combination of live and pre-recorded lectures and seminars/tutorials. 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
MScEnglish Language1 YearFull-timeProgramme structure 2023/24

This programme provides you with an understanding of how contemporary research approaches the linguistic study of English.

On successful completion of this programme, you will have gained and enhanced the following 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)
  • transferable skills in written and verbal communication, group and teamwork, computing, programming and numeracy, time and project management
  • the ability to work as an independent researcher and as part of a team

This is the ideal programme for deepening your involvement in English language, giving you a grounding in further study (PhD), or developing an academic career in English language.

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 programmes also teaches a broad range of transferable skills applicable to a wide range of modern jobs, such as:

  • work in archives
  • English language related publishing

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.

*Careers Service

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 key courses have you taken 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:

pplspgoffce@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 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

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
MScEnglish Language1 YearFull-timeTuition fees
MScEnglish Language2 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 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 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

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 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