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Guide to studying Linguistics

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).


  1. What's Linguistics?

  2. Why study Linguistics?

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

  4. What do graduates do and earn?
  5. What qualifications do you need?

  6. What degrees can you study?

  7. How will you be assessed?

  8. What are the postgraduate opportunities?

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.

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.

Read our five reasons to study Linguistics for more information on why you might choose to study this subject area.

What jobs can you get as a Linguistics graduate?

Graduates of Linguistics have gone on to various successful careers, from speech therapists and English language teachers to generic roles in management and public relations.

A Linguistics degree cultivates skills in data analysis and presentation, critical thinking and the use of statistics and IT. This expertise is valuable for careers in education, language teaching (especially the multi-million pound English language teaching industry), speech therapy, as well as information technology, management, the mass media, creative arts, social work and counselling.

What do graduates do and earn?

In the infographic below, the first table shows what graduates of Linguistics have gone on to do in the months after their graduation.

The second table shows the average salaries of undergraduate Linguistics students entering employment. The three skill levels – high, medium and low – reflect the UK's Standard Occupational Classification's major groups 1–3, 4–6 and 7–9 respectively. 

Source: HESA Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18

What qualifications do you need? 

There are no standard A Level (or equivalent) requirements for Linguistics courses. Grades and subject requirements differ depending on the university or college and course. Make sure you confirm what they are for your chosen institution.

What degrees can you study?

  • Linguistics BA Hons
  • Linguistics (Study Abroad) BA Hons

There are many related courses, the most popular of which are Linguistics combined with English Language, English Literature, Creative Writing or a modern language.

How will you be assessed?

Coursework assignments include reports, essays, short tests, poster sessions and oral presentations.

Formal examinations include short answer questions, essays and data analysis.

Students are often required to produce final year project reports and dissertations.

What are the postgraduate opportunities?

  • Language and Linguistics MA
  • Linguistics MPhil/PhD
  • Applied Linguistics (by thesis and coursework) MPhil/PhD

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