Explore both the theoretical aspects of the language we use, and acquire the practical ability to speak another language. Any understanding of language enhances our self-awareness, inspiring us to address fundamental questions about our communication as human beings.
Linguistics is an increasingly important subject, impacting on areas in psychology, philosophy, education and artificial intelligence. It has real-world applications in such diverse fields as human rights, computer-assisted language learning, and the study of institutional language in settings like doctor-patient interactions, interviewer-interviewee dialogues, and courtroom exchanges.
You explore a wide range of core topics in linguistics, mastering key concepts in phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics and pragmatics, and also investigate specialist areas including:
- Multilingualism and language impairment
- Language, identity and gender
- Metaphor, irony and style
- Language and the mind
- American languages
You also study up to two of the languages offered at Essex: French, German, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese, completing at least one language to Mastery level. Each of these languages is widely used in the business world, and can take you to a level of near-fluency, and so many of our graduates go on to develop successful global careers with international firms looking for language specialists.
We also offer a month-long summer course with fees paid for by us if you start a language from scratch via the intensive route.
We are 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 and ranked among the top 150 departments on the planet according to the QS World [University] Rankings  for 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.
Our course offers two possibilities for your year abroad. The first allows you to study at one of the prestigious universities with which we have exchange links. You continue to study modules relevant to your course, learning your chosen languages within a country that speaks them.
The second option allows you to work as a language assistant, thereby acquiring valuable professional experience in an international context in addition to earning money.
Whichever option you choose, your year 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
You can also undertake a placement year abroad in which you will gain real world experience of living and working in another country, fully immersed in its language and culture. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
Our expert staff
Our staff are internationally recognised for their language research (REF 2014). Their books dominate the reading lists at other universities. We maintain excellent student-staff ratios, and we integrate language learning with linguistics wherever there is synergy.
In addition to helping you acquire practical foreign language skills, our staff share their expertise with you in the areas of theoretical linguistics, sociolinguistics, applied linguistics, and psycholinguistics.
- Our Languages for All programme offers you the opportunity to study an additional language alongside your course at no extra cost
- 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
- Access to two multimedia language teaching labs which are equipped with state-of-the-art Sanako and Melissi Digital Classroom software, and fitted with computers integrating audio-visual projectors and large screens
- A new 20-position Interpreting Lab
- Extra-curricular activities are available through student societies
Companies and organisations in the UK and abroad are struggling to find university graduates who are fluent in at least one other language, apart from English.
Being an Essex modern languages graduate places you in a very advantageous position. You will be able to speak and write fluently, or to a very competent standard, in up to two languages. Language skills are in scarce supply and can be used in almost any job.
Our graduates become teachers, translators, administrators and journalists. Their valued language skills have enabled them to work in diverse fields including banking, entertainment, media, education and tourism, as well as for a host of UK and international companies. In particular, a degree in modern languages lends itself to a career in education, translation, interpretation, trade, PR, communications, immigration or diplomacy.
For example, one of our recent graduates is now a newspaper editor in Spain, while another teaches modern languages in Southampton.
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
- Great flexibility and choice: You can study up to two languages choosing between French, German, Italian and Spanish from beginner or post-A level standard and Portuguese from post A-level standard.
- We specialise in developing translation, interpreting and subtitling skills at undergraduate level using the latest technology in our multimedia labs.
- Our study abroad opportunities include studying at a partner university, an overseas work placement or undertaking a British Council Language Assistantship
We offer a flexible course structure with a mixture of compulsory and optional modules chosen from lists. The nature of this course is such that your individual programme will differ depending upon your pre-existing language qualifications/ the language(s) you choose to study during your course.
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.
- Teaching takes the form of lectures and seminar sessions or discussion classes
- State-of-the-art technologies and materials create an ideal learning environment
- Examples of practical work include digitally recording dialect speakers in a small traditional fishing community, or scouring digitised child language databanks
- Activities designed to develop your practical language skills, such as role-play and class presentations
- Cultural and social themes are explored through film, music, the internet, theatre and literature
- You’re assessed through a combination of coursework (assignments, essays and tests) and end-of-year examinations.
- Other assessment methods include quizzes, presentations, portfolios, group work, and projects.