What is the range of sounds found in human languages? Which of those sounds are used by English to construct words? How are words combined to form meaningful sentences in English, and are the same patterns of combination found in other languages? How does society and social pressure affect the way we speak? How do different varieties of English evolve? These are some of the questions you will address in the course.
Language is central to all human activity from important negotiations between nation states to spontaneous conversations in cafés. Through your study of language, you come to understand the nature of human social life.
Foundational modules in the first and second year will teach you how to analyse linguistic sound systems, word structure, sentence structure, meaning and language use, and apply your knowledge to the analysis of English. You will then be able to make informed choices about areas of English or Linguistics you want to study in greater depth through study options, such as:
- Varieties of English
- Language, Mind and Communication
- Conversation and Social Interaction
- Child Language Acquisition
- American Languages
We are a leading UK university for language and linguistics research (REF 2014), a place where talented students become part of an academic community in which the majority of research is rated ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’, placing us firmly within the top 10 departments in the UK. You have an opportunity to study different kinds of linguistics from structural linguistics to applied and experimental linguistics.
If you want a global outlook, are interested in human communication, and want to study for a degree with real-world practical value in a world-class department, welcome to Essex.
Your education extends beyond the university campus. We support you in expanding your education through offering the opportunity to spend a year or a term studying abroad at one of our partner universities. The four-year version of our degree allows you to spend the third year abroad or employed on a placement abroad, while otherwise remaining identical to the three-year course.
Studying abroad allows you to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised.
If you spend a full year abroad you’ll only pay 15% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university
On a placement year you can gain relevant work experience within an external business, giving you a competitive edge in the graduate job market and providing you with key contacts within the industry. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our placements team.
If you complete a placement year you’ll only pay 20% of your usual tuition fee to Essex for that year.
Our expert staff
Our staff maintain excellent student-staff ratios with capped language-specific seminars.
In theoretical linguistics, Kyle Jerro and Hannah Gibson work on the structure of words and sentences, focusing on English and other languages while Faith Chiu, Yuni Kim and Nancy Kula work on sound structure.
In sociolinguistics, Peter Patrick, Rebecca Clift, Enam Al Wer and Ella Jeffries all work on different aspects of how language varies, and investigate which factors cause such variation. Peter is also involved in language rights, and offers expert opinions in asylum cases where language is used to determine origin.
In applied linguistics, Florence Myles, Monika Schmid, Hassan Khajavy, Karen Roehr-Brackin and Adela Gánem-Gutiérrez focus on the learning of second and further languages, whilst Tracey Costley, Christina Gkonou and Neophytos Mitsigkas focus on issues to do with the classroom teaching of English as a foreign language.
In psycholinguistics, Claire Delle Luche and Laurie Lawyer use experimental techniques such as eyetracking and EEG to understand how children learn language, how adults process language, and what happens when language ability is impaired by brain disorders or other factors (e.g. hearing impairment).
In all of these areas, we combine a theoretical approach with high-level, qualitative and quantitative, empirical and experimental technique; in particular, we have a strong interest in recent developments in inferential statistics.
The study of linguistics provides the opportunity for plenty of hands-on experience as well as theoretical work. You might be studying texts, listening to interviews, or analysing sounds, so we provide extensive facilities to allow you to fully engage with a wide variety of linguistic methods:
- Our ‘Visual World’ Experimental Lab records response times and eye movements when individuals are presented with pictures and videos
- Our Eye-Tracking Lab monitors eye movement of individuals performing tasks
- Our Psycholinguistics Lab measures how long it takes individuals to react to words, texts and sounds
- Our Linguistics Lab has specialist equipment to analyse sound
- An exciting programme of research seminars and other events
- Our Albert Sloman Library houses a strong collection of books, journals, electronic resources and major archives
- Our Languages for All programme offers you the opportunity to study an additional language alongside your course at no extra cost
- Meet other language enthusiasts through our student-run Linguistics Society
Studying language and linguistics allows you to develop your research and IT skills by collecting and analysing linguistic data using state-of-the-art technology, and a combination of team-work and independent projects enhances your communication, problem-solving, and management skills.
Our graduates have gone on to have careers in a wide variety of fields, including teaching, journalism, advertising, marketing, travel, communications, publishing, speech and language therapy, and business administration.
For example, some of our department’s recent graduates have gone on to work for a wide range of high-profile companies including:
- The British Council
- English in Action
- Cambridge University Press
- Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
- Royal Bank of Scotland
- Norfolk Constabulary
We also work with the University’s Student Development Team to help you find out about further work experience, internships, placements, and voluntary opportunities.
Why we’re great
- You’ll have the opportunity to study a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language as part of your degree.
- You are taught by lecturers who are internationally recognised for their language and linguistics research.
- In your final year, all your modules are optional so you can tailor your degree to suit your interests and career goals.
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of core/compulsory modules, and optional modules chosen from lists.
Our research-led teaching is continually evolving to address the latest challenges and breakthroughs in the field. The course content is therefore reviewed on an annual basis to ensure our courses remain up-to-date so modules listed are subject to change.
Teaching and learning disclaimer
Following the impact of the pandemic, we made changes to our teaching and assessment to ensure our current students could continue with their studies uninterrupted and safely. These changes included courses being taught through blended delivery, normally including some face-to-face teaching, online provision, or a combination of both across the year.
The teaching and assessment methods listed show what is currently approved for 2022 entry; changes may be necessary if, by the beginning of this course, we need to adapt the way we’re delivering them due to the external environment, and to allow you to continue to receive the best education possible safely and seamlessly.
On your year abroad, you have the opportunity to experience other cultures and languages, to broaden your degree socially and academically, and to demonstrate to employers that you are mature, adaptable, and organised. The rest of your course remains identical to the three-year degree.
- Teaching is arranged to allow freedom in how you organise your learning experience
- Examples of practical work include digitally recording dialect speakers in a small traditional fishing community, or scouring digitised child language databanks
- Other teaching methods include lectures, demonstrations and learning by teaching others
- You’re assessed through a combination of coursework (assignments, essays and tests) and end-of-year examinations.
- Weighted 50% coursework and 50% exams depending on which modules you choose.
- Other assessment methods include quizzes, presentations, portfolios, group work, and projects.