Linguistics

 

What courses? Linguistics; language & linguistics; European languages; English language studies; language learning; sociolinguistics; teaching English as a foreign language.

What do you come out with? A BA, very occasionally a BSc if studied in certain combined honours programmes.

Why do it? "Linguistics is the study of language as a uniquely human ability and means of communication. You will learn about how speech sounds work, how linguistic strings are structured, how words relate to thoughts, how we acquire one or more languages, how we take turns in conversation, how we convey meanings in speech or writing, how language may reflect or reinforce identities, power relationships and ideologies, and so on. With a degree in linguistics you may pursue careers in education, the media, publishing, management and consulting, speech therapy, lexicography (dictionary-building), information technology and many other fields." - Professor Elena Semino, professor of linguistics and verbal art, University of Lancaster

What's it about? Words. In simple terms: the way they sound, the way we put them together and their meanings. Linguistics is essentially the scientific study of natural language. In degree form it is comprised of modules with cryptic names such as semantics, morphology, syntax and phonology. But you’ll also explore how language works in the human mind and society at large. With a mix of art, literature, science and philosophy chucked in. Oh and grammar too. The universities with good English literature departments are the most likely to have a linguistic arm. York has a large department with ten BA programmes and joint honours on offer. It covers the usual topics and also specialises in language variation and change and psycholinguistics. At Queen Mary’s school of language, linguistics and film, they focus on the grammatical, meaning-related and sound structures of language in general. Lancaster has a large linguistics department, covering all the linguistic bases but with a smattering of more unusual options such as discourse analysis and corporate communications.

Study options: Three years full-time, or four years if studied with a foreign language, allowing for a year abroad. Most places offer courses in combination with modern languages, literature or history. The course is usually assessed relatively equal between exams and coursework.

What will I need to do it? No specific subject is required, but many universities ask for an A-level in at least one of the following: English language, English lang & lit, and either a foreign or classical language because you’ll have a background understanding of how languages work and are structured. UCL would be pleased to see English, maths, or any science-related subjects too. At York and Essex you are only required to take a language A-level if your degree is combined with that language. As for A-level grades, they vary widely, but at Lancaster you will need AAB, AAB-BBB at Manchester, and BB (with an additional AS) at Essex.

What are my job prospects? Because language is relevant to nearly every aspect of our lives, the application of linguistic skills can be very broad. Many graduates will enter teaching – especially English as a first or foreign language – or speech therapy, the civil service, advertising and the media. Immediate prospects aren’t brilliant, however – according to The Times’ Good University Guide 2012, ten per cent of graduates are unemployed six months after leaving university. Despite this, around 30 per cent do land themselves graduate jobs straight away, earning an average salary of just over £18,000.

Where’s best to do it? Lancaster came top in the Complete University Guide 2012, followed by Oxford, Edinburgh and UCL. Students at Cambridge were most satisfied with their course, and Oxford, York St John and York all fared well in this area too.

Related degrees: English; classics; French; Spanish; Italian; German.

News
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
people
Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Life and Style
tech
PROMOTED VIDEO
Extras
indybest
News
Joel Grey, now 82, won several awards for his role in Cabaret
people
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness