Undergraduate study - 2018 entry

Subject area: Linguistics

Why choose Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh?

  • We are ranked third in the world by the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2016 and fifth in the UK by the Complete University Guide 2017.

  • In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, our linguistics research was rated best in the UK.

  • We achieve high student satisfaction. Students find the course intellectually stimulating and describe staff as enthusiastic about what they are teaching (Unistats).

  • We have the largest concentration of university language scientists in the UK.

Study abroad

It’s brilliant how approachable, flexible and helpful the lecturers and tutors are. You always feel that if you have any academic problem, you can talk to them about it and they’ll be happy to help.

Amy Hawkins MA (Hons) Linguistics graduate
Amy Hawkins MA (Hons) Linguistics graduate

Linguistics examines how language works, describing 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 it varies across society and evolves over time, and how it is mastered by children.

Linguistics can be studied as part of a combined honours programme with a range of other subjects. 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 require no prior knowledge at the beginning of the programme.

Year 1

You will take our carefully designed introductory course, which introduces you to the principles of theoretical linguistics.

You will also study the way we learn language, the regional and social variations of language in general, and of the English language in particular, and methods of communication.

If you are studying English language as part of a joint honours programme you will also take courses from your other subject area.

Year 2

You will take four further semester-long courses (two in the case of some joint honours programmes) looking at linguistic theory and research techniques, the structure of spoken and written English and other languages, and at the evolution of language and the patterns of linguistic change as it has occurred in and beyond the UK.

Year 3

You will study compulsory courses and choose from a range of advanced linguistics courses such as Child Bilingualism, Origins and Evolution of Language, Speech Production and Perception and Pragmatics. If you are studying a joint honours in linguistics with a language you will spend Year 3 studying or working abroad.

Year 4

In Year 4 you will continue to choose specialist courses according to your interests. You will also take a specialised research training course before starting your honours dissertation, regarded by many as the most formative experience of their undergraduate studies.

Are there additional costs?


Our facilities

Teaching will take place in the linguistics computer labs and other teaching facilities located within the University's Central Area. You can also use the School's recording studio, perception experiment laboratory and the Eyetracking Lab, which is run jointly with the School of Informatics. You will also have access to the University's libraries and computer facilities.

Study abroad

There are opportunities to study abroad through Erasmus or the University's international exchange programme.

How will I learn?

Most courses are taught through a combination of lectures, tutorials and 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 and your dissertation.

A linguistics qualification is a good foundation for professions such as speech therapy or adult literacy, or for teaching English as a foreign language. Linguistics graduates work in a wide range of other fields such as journalism, international relations, translation, marketing and social research. Recent graduates have taken up funded places on MSc programmes or have found employment in speech technology research.