UCAS code: Q100
Duration: 4 years
School: Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences
Introducing MA Linguistics
Linguistics examines how language works. It describes how sounds, words, sentences and conversations combine to express and create meaning.
It also studies:
- the uses of language in everyday life
- the ways in which language varies across society and evolves over time
- how language is mastered by children
Linguistics has a long history at the University of Edinburgh, and our teaching staff have an excellent reputation for research in this area.
Linguistics is a new subject for nearly all undergraduates, so you will not need any prior knowledge at the beginning of the programme.
You will take two semester-long introductory courses:
- Linguistics and English Language 1A offers a brief introduction to the study of language in general and of English in particular.
- Linguistics and English Language 1B will help you develop the tools and knowledge needed to investigate the different subsystems of language in a systematic way.
In this year, you will also be introduced to the study of:
- aspects of regional and social variations of language in general (and the English language in particular)
- semantics and pragmatics
In addition, you will choose from a wide range of option courses outside your primary subject.
You will take four further semester-long courses.
They look at:
- linguistic theory and the structure of English
- the speech sounds of the world's languages and empirical methods
- variation in the languages of the world
- the history of English
As in Year 1, you will choose from a wide range of option courses outside your primary subject.
Over the two honours years, you will take 10 courses (six in Year 3 and four in Year 4), and write a dissertation in Year 4.
Courses you can take may include:
- Child Bilingualism
- Origins and Evolution of Language
- Speech Production and Perception
- History of Linguistics
- Phonological Theory
- Language Variation and Change
You will continue to choose advanced courses according to your interests (see Year 3).
You will also work on your honours dissertation. The dissertation is a substantial piece of your own work and is regarded by many as the most formative experience of their undergraduate studies.
Find out more about the compulsory and optional courses in this degree programme.
To give you an idea of what you will study on this programme, we publish the latest available information. However, please note this may not be for your year of entry, but for a different academic year.
Lectures and seminars take place in the University's Central Area. Other teaching will take place in the linguistics computer labs and other facilities located in the University's Central Area.
You may also use the School's:
- recording studios
- perception experiment laboratory
- eye tracking laboratory
You will also have access to the University's libraries and computer facilities.
Take a virtual tour
You can take a closer look at the University’s Central Area and explore our facilities on the University's Virtual Visit site.
LingSoc, the Linguistics and English Language Society, is a society for appreciation, study and conversation of language.
The society was created by students who wanted to provide a forum for Linguistics and English Language to provide support, friendship and a community. It is a great way to meet like-minded people and get involved in your subject outside of the classroom.
There are opportunities to study abroad in Year 3 through international exchange programmes.
How will I learn?
Most courses are taught through a combination of:
- some small-group project work
You will also do some independent practical work in Year 2 and more independent study in Year 3 and Year 4.
How will I be assessed?
During Years 1 and 2 you will undergo continuous assessment through tests and assignments.
In Years 3 and 4, you will be assessed through:
- your dissertation
Linguistics graduates work in a wide range of fields, such as:
- international relations
- social research
Recent graduates have taken up funded places on MSc programmes or have found employment in speech technology research.
A linguistics qualification is also a good foundation for careers in professions such as:
- speech and language therapy
- adult literacy
- teaching English as a foreign language
Standard entry requirement
The standard entry requirement is:
- SQA Highers: AABB by end of S5 or AAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
- A Levels: AAA.
- IB: 36 points with 665 at HL.
Minimum entry requirement
The minimum entry requirement for widening access applicants is:
- SQA Highers: ABBB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
- A Levels: ABB.
- IB: 34 points with 655 at HL.
The grades used to meet our entry requirements must include:
- SQA: Highers: no specific Higher subjects required. National 5s: English at C.
- A Levels: no specific A Level subjects required. GCSEs: English at C or 4.
- IB: HL: no specific subjects required. SL: English at 5.
We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.
International Foundation Programme
If you are an international student and your school qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to the University you may be eligible for admission to this degree programme through our International Foundation Programme.
We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.
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.
SQA, GCSE and IB
For SQA, GCSE and IB students, unless a higher level is specified in the stated entry requirements, a pass is required in English at the following grades or higher:
- SQA National 5 at C
- GCSE at C or 4
- Level 2 Certificate at C
- IB Standard Level at 5 (English ab initio is not accepted for entry)
English language tests
We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified:
- IELTS Academic: total 6.5 with at least 5.5 in each component.
- TOEFL-iBT (including Home Edition): total 92 with at least 20 in each component. We do not accept TOEFL MyBest Score to meet our English language requirements.
- C1 Advanced (CAE) / C2 Proficiency (CPE): total 176 with at least 162 in each component.
- Trinity ISE: ISE II with distinctions in all four components.
- PTE Academic: total 62 with at least 54 in each component.
(Revised 29 August 2023 to remove PTE Academic Online)
We also accept a wider range of international qualifications and tests.
English language qualifications must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the degree you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, PTE Academic, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.
This information is part of a government initiative to enhance the material that higher education institutions provide about their degree programmes.
It is one of many sources of information which will enable you to make an informed decision on what and where to study.
Please note that some programmes do not have Discover Uni data available.
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3 degrees in Linguistics
- Linguistics (MA) Q100
- Linguistics and English Language (MA) QQ31
- Linguistics and Social Anthropology (MA) QL16
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