Undergraduate study - 2024 entry
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MA Linguistics and English Language

UCAS code: QQ31

Duration: 4 years

Delivery: Full-time

School: Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

College: Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Study abroad

Introducing MA Linguistics and English Language

Both Linguistics and English Language have a long history at the University of Edinburgh and our teaching staff have an excellent reputation for research in these areas.

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

As well as being interested in the study of change in English language, we have a strong tradition of investigating different varieties of the language, including:

  • Scots
  • distinct dialects of English
  • international variations

Using techniques from modern linguistics, you will analyse the structure of written and spoken English and will explore how the language has changed in the course of its history.

You can also study modern-day varieties of English and Scots and identify the similarities and differences between the features of English and other languages.

Year 1

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.

Year 2

You will take four further semester-long courses in Linguistics and English Language.

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

You will also have the opportunity to study the structure and history of world languages.

As in Year 1, you will choose from a wide range of option courses outside your primary subject.

Year 3

Over the two honours years, you will take 10 courses (six in Year 3 and four in Year 4).

You will choose from a range of advanced courses across both linguistics and English language, which may include:

  • Child Bilingualism
  • Origins and Evolution of Language
  • Speech Production and Perception
  • Pragmatics
  • Reading Old English
  • Dialects of English in Britain and Ireland
  • Global Englishes
  • Phonological Theory and English Phonology
  • History of Scots

Year 4

You will continue to choose advanced courses according to your interests.

You will also write a dissertation, regarded by many as the most formative experience of their undergraduate studies.

Programme structure

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.

Programme structure (2023/24)

Our facilities

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 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.

Take a virtual tour of the Central Area

Linguistics Society

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.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad in Year 3 through international exchange programmes.

What are my options for going abroad?

How will I learn?

Most courses are taught through a combination of:

  • lectures
  • tutorials
  • 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:

  • coursework
  • exams
  • projects
  • your dissertation

Linguistics graduates work in a wide range of fields, such as:

  • journalism
  • international relations
  • translation
  • marketing
  • 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: ABBB by end of S5 or AABB/AAAAB by end of S6. BBB must be achieved in one year of S4-S6.
  • A Levels: AAA.
  • IB: 37 points with 666 at HL - 34 points with 655 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.

More information for widening access applicants

Required subjects

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.

Find out more about entry requirements

International applicants

We welcome applications from students studying a wide range of international qualifications.

Entry requirements by country

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.

International Foundation Programme

Mature applicants

We welcome applications from mature students and accept a range of qualifications.

Mature applicant 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.


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.

English language requirements

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.

Tuition Fees

Tuition fees for MA Linguistics and English Language

Additional costs



For more information on how much it will cost to study with us and the financial support available see our fees and funding information.

Fees and funding