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MA Language Documentation and Description

SOAS University of London

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Course options

  • Qualification

    MA - Master of Arts

  • Location

    SOAS, University of London

  • Study mode

    Full time

  • Start date


  • Duration

    1 year

Course summary


The MA programme in Language Documentation and Description is intended for students who wish to specialise in the documentation and description of languages, with a focus on minority and endangered languages. This specialist MA is characterised by an integrated core of subject offerings that are oriented around issues in language documentation and description, plus a series of options in linguistics, applied linguistics, and language studies.

The programme is formulated with two main pathways:

MA Language Documentation and Description [Language Support and Revitalisation] provides an introductory overview of the study of language as well as modules geared at enabling students to support endangered and minority language communities in a number of ways. This pathway is open to students with or without a background in linguistics.

MA Language Documentation and Description [Field Linguistics] provides students with a sound knowledge of state-of-the-art methods and technology for language documentation and description with an emphasis on endangered and minority languages. This pathway is open to students who already hold an undergraduate major in linguistics/applied linguistics, or an MA in linguistics.

Teaching & Learning


Familiarity with the basic concepts and assumptions of different theoretical frameworks in the discipline, and the ability to critically question and evaluate these assumptions.
Acquiring a solid foundation in ‘core’ areas of language documentation.
Familiarity with the relevant conventions and methodology applicable to work with both raw linguistic data and existing linguistic descriptions.

Intellectual (thinking) skills

The ability to formulate appropriate linguistic problems, propose and evaluate analyses and present evidence (for and/or against) these analyses.
Knowledge of how to assess data and evidence critically from the literature and original sources, how to formulate analyses and arguments within the system of concepts and assumptions in the discipline, how to solve problems of conflicting sources and conflicting interpretations.

Subject-based practical skills

Practising research techniques in specialised research libraries and through consultant work.
Retrieving and selecting information from a variety of linguistic sources.
Students should be familiar with the relevant conventions and methodology applicable to work with recording, transcribing and analyzing linguistic data.

Transferrable skills

Training in locating materials and using research sources (library holdings, ‘raw’ language data, periodicals, and the internet).
Structuring and communicating ideas effectively in writing
Questioning, understanding and evaluating competing proposals.

Tuition fees

Students living in United States
(international fees)

£ 20,930per year

Tuition fees shown are for indicative purposes and may vary. Please check with the institution for most up to date details.

University information

SOAS University of London

  • University League Table


  • Campus address

    SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, Camden, WC1H 0XG, England

SOAS is one of the leading centres for international foundation and pre-master’s study in the UK, bringing 35 years' expertise to innovative programmes.
The programmes allow students to create their own pathway to a degree by combining options from social sciences, humanities and business/ economics.
SOAS is one of the UK's most international universities, with around half of SOAS' students coming from outside the UK.

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