Language is fundamental to our thoughts, our relationships, and our civilisations. Through language, we transmit knowledge, from inviting someone for coffee, to promoting the latest scientific theory, to settling global political disputes.
This course will allow you to explore a variety of aspects of linguistics up to a very high level of expertise. In your first year, you will be acquainted with some of the fundamental aspects of the study of language, such as the description and analysis of sounds, words and sentences, the investigation of language in its social setting, and how language is situated and develops in the mind and in the brain.
You also have the opportunity to begin a specialism in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). In the second year, you begin to specialise towards those areas that you are most interested in and, if your specialism includes TEFL, you will learn how to design, deliver and evaluate language classes and assessments. You then have the option of taking the third year to go abroad or do a placement year. In your third year (if you continue with your studies without this option) or the fourth (if you do spend a year on one of these activities), you will develop your specialism further and be acquainted with the cutting edge of current research in your area. You will also do an independent research project under the guidance and supervision of one of our expert members of staff, and write a dissertation about this project.
In the final year, you will take a number of modules from our Postgraduate offering, in order to further develop your chosen area of specialism. You will receive further training on research methods, and be able to conduct small-scale research projects, using our state-of-the art lab facilities (including eye tracking, EEG, sound analysis and reaction time paradigms).
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 five-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 four-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.
You will pay 15% tuition fees to Essex for your year abroad year. You won’t pay any tuition fees to your host university.
Alternatively, you can spend your third year on a placement year with an external organisation, where you learn about a particular sector, company or job role, apply your academic knowledge in a practical working environment, and receive inspiration for future career pathways. You will be responsible for finding your placement, but with support and guidance provided by both your department and our Employability and Careers Centre.
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 can learn a modern language as part of your course
- You’ll have the opportunity to study a certificate in Teaching English as a Foreign Language as part of your degree.
- We’re Top 10 in the UK for our research quality (REF 2014) – be part of our thriving research culture.
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.