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Study Linguistics, why & how to study

Linguistics looks at language in a unique way. If A Level English left you wanting to explore it in greater depth, then a Linguistics degree could be for you.

Hand writing on a blackboard in an language english class

Discover undergraduate Linguistics at Queen Mary University of London – ranked 3rd in London for Linguistics (Complete University Guide Subject League Table 2021).

CONTENTS

  1. What’s Linguistics?

  2. What Linguistics degrees can you study?

  3. What do you need to get onto a Linguistics degree?

  4. What topics does a Linguistics degree cover?

  5. How will you be assessed?

  6. Why study Linguistics?

  7. What do Linguistics graduates earn?

  8. What jobs can you get as a Linguistics graduate?

  9. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  10. Similar subjects to Linguistics

  11. Have any questions?

What’s Linguistics?

People often think Linguistics involves learning languages. In fact, it's about understanding the workings of language. Why is it that we have different languages? Why do they change over time? What is the best way to learn or teach a language? How does the language of literature differ from other kinds of language?

A Linguistics degree connects the study of language to real-world problems and their solutions. It can therefore prepare you for a variety of careers.

What Linguistics degrees can you study?

Undergraduate degrees in Linguistics include many related combinations. The most popular are Linguistics with English Language, English Literature or a modern language:

  • Experimental Linguistics BSc
  • Linguistics BA
  • Linguistics and Deaf Studies BA
  • Linguistics with Arabic BA
  • Psychology and Linguistics MSci

Options may include an integrated foundation year, sandwich placement or study abroad.

What do you need to get onto a Linguistics degree?

Most undergraduate Linguistics courses ask for 96–165 UCAS points. Not every university will base their offer on UCAS points and some courses may have lower or higher requirements. Qualifications may include:

  • A Levels: A*AA–CCC
  • BTECs: D*D*D*–MMM (A Levels may also be required)
  • Scottish Highers: AAAAA–BCCCC (Advanced Highers: AAB)
  • International Baccalaureate: 42–24

Good subjects to have studied include:

  • English language or literature, other language subjects, essay-based subjects or maths at A Level (or equivalent)

Experience that would look good on your application:

  • Although not required, work experience could involve shadowing a language teacher, English or TESOL tutor, or a speech and language therapist
  • Learning another language
  • Furthering your knowledge through books, podcasts such as Lingthusiasm or Accentricity, or checking out online courses or MOOCs
  • Summer schools, if eligible, such as UNIQ or Sutton Trust

Other requirements for this subject include:

  • Pass in the practical element of science if taken at A Level
  • Interview and entry assessments may be required by some universities

What topics does a Linguistics degree cover?

Typical modules for courses in this subject include:

  • Children's language development
  • Gender, sex and language
  • Historical linguistics
  • Introduction to generative grammar
  • Introduction to phonetics and phonology
  • Language acquisition
  • Language variation and change
  • Psychology of language processing and learning
  • Semantics and pragmatics
  • Sounds and structure
  • Syntax

How will you be assessed?

Assessments are usually carried out by a mixture of the following, and will vary from module to module.

  • Coursework
  • Essays
  • Exams, including short answer questions, essays and data analysis
  • Group projects
  • Oral presentations
  • Poster sessions
  • Reports
  • Short tests including aural (listening) and oral (spoken) assessments
  • A dissertation or project report is usually a final year option

Why study Linguistics?

Through a Linguistics degree, you'll delve deep into human language and consider its impact on many areas of life, from psychology to artificial intelligence.

Career-specific skills:

  • Understanding of the roots of language, including its development in children, cultural usage and change
  • Skills in communication, including syntax, semantics, phonetics, phonology and sociolinguistics

Transferable skills:

  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Data analysis
  • Effective communication
  • IT skills
  • Presentation
  • Problem solving
  • Project management
  • Statistics

What do Linguistics graduates earn?

Linguistics graduates can expect an entry-level salary of around £19,000–£23,000.

Linguists can undertake postgraduate training to become a speech and language therapist. Should you choose this career, as a newly qualified therapist you’d start at just over £25,600 (NHS Band 5). If you become a team leader or clinical lead, your income could increase to between £40,000–£53,200 (Band 7 to 8a).

Or you could choose to stay in academia and push forward the tech frontier. A senior research associate in computational linguistics could be paid £35,000–£40,900, while senior research fellows or lecturers could have an income of £53,000–£60,000.

What jobs can you get as a Linguistics graduate?

A Linguistics degree cultivates expertise that’s valued in careers such as education, language teaching (especially the multimillion-pound English language teaching industry), information technology, management, creative arts and the mass media. Some roles will require further qualifications.

  • Civil servant (fast stream)
  • Computational linguist
  • Counsellor
  • Information manager
  • Information architect
  • Interpreter or translator
  • Lexicographer
  • Magazine editor
  • Marketing executive
  • Media researcher
  • Publisher
  • Recruitment consultant
  • Social researcher
  • Social worker
  • Solicitor
  • Speech and language therapist
  • Teacher
  • TESOL tutor

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

If you have a first degree in Linguistics or a related discipline, you can take a graduate-entry pre-registration course to qualify as a speech and language therapist. You could also pursue teacher training, which may include a PGCE, to become a school teacher. Many graduates of Linguistics continue their studies and become specialists in certain areas.

Examples of postgraduate degrees include:

  • Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching MSc
  • Comparative Literature and Critical Translation MSt
  • Computation, Cognition and Language PhD
  • Linguistics MPhil/PhD
  • Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics DPhil
  • Translation Studies MA

Similar subjects to Linguistics

If you’re interested in language and communication, you could also consider these subjects:

Have any questions?

Ask our experts! You can email ask@thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk with your question about studying Linguistics – we’ll be happy to hear from you.

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