Taught course

English Language and English Linguistics

University of Glasgow · School of Critical Studies

Entry requirements

We normally expect applicants to have obtained a 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification (for example, GPA 3.0 or above). Please include a 200-word statement on why you wish to take the MSc in English Language and Linguistics; a sample of your own written work (approx. 2,000 words). This can be from a previous degree you have completed. You are required to submit material that is entirely your own original work, except where clearly indicated. We also require at least one academic reference. Further information regarding academic entry requirements: student.recruitment@glasgow.ac.uk

Months of entry


Course content

You will combine advanced study in historical and modern aspects of English language and English linguistics. This programme provides career opportunities in research, teaching, publishing and lexicography among others. It is a research training Masters in line with Arts & Humanities Research Council practice and is an accredited part of the training programme of the Economic & Social Research Council Scottish Doctoral Training Centre.

Key facts

· MSc: 12 months full-time; 24 months part-time

· Contact: Dr Rachel Smith: critstudies-pgenquiries@glasgow.ac.uk

Why Glasgow

· You will have access to Glasgow’s Special Collections, which has a large collection of medieval and renaissance manuscripts and early printed books.

· You will also have access to professional standard equipment for the analysis of speech data in the University’s Phonetics Lab.

Programme Structure

You will learn through a combination of lectures, regular supervisions, formative essay writing and attendance at supplementary classes and seminars. Assessment includes a portfolio of essays.

You will undertake a number of core courses in historical and modern English language and English linguistics, including

· Phonetics and phonology

· Sociolinguistics

· Lexicography, lexicology and semantics

· Discourse analysis and grammar

· English philology

· Dialectology.

You can also take courses on offer in some MLitt programmes in the College of Arts, for example, Medieval & Renaissance Studies, Classics.

You will take courses in research skills and methods.

The second half of the programme is dedicated to your individual dissertation work, under the guidance of two assigned supervisors.

Core and Optional Courses

The components covered in Semester 1 provide a high level overview of core topics in English Language and English Linguistics. You will study current issues in these fields, which will provide the basis for independent empirical research in your chosen specified areas in Semester 2.

Phonetics and Phonology
In this component you will gain an overview articulatory phonetics, practical phonetics, acoustic phonetics, speech perception, clinical phonetics and phonological theories. Emphasis throughout the course is on the practical application of phonetics and phonetic theory to the analysis of speech data, and in particular, on accents of English/languages of the UK, with specific attention to the accent(s)/languages which they intend to study further.

In this component you will explore the interface between language and society and how these drive linguistic variation and change. We will discuss influences on speech such as age, geography and the media, as well as the language system itself. By examining empirical analyses of natural speech data conducted by key researchers in the field, you will learn core concepts associated with this field of study. By the end of the course you will be able to say what people are doing when they speak, and why.

Discourse Studies
This component focuses on written texts, examining models of discourse which provide practical insights into the structure and cognitive processing of these texts. You will study a number of approaches and will look critically at the models suggested by well-known text linguists, stylisticians and (critical) discourse analysts. Teaching on this module includes work on discourse structures, stylistic analysis, cognitive processing of texts, narrative and non-narrative texts, socio-political analysis of texts

English Historical Linguistics
This component aims to give students a thorough grounding in English historical linguistics, appropriate for further study at postgraduate level. Discussion focuses on the principles of language change with reference to all levels of language (grammar, lexicon and transmission), on issues of evidence, on new resources (such as the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary) and on the historiography of English historical linguistics. Students also study the language of specified texts from a variety of periods in the history of the English.

Medieval English Studies
This component offers students the chance to engage critically with the evidence for the English language from the medieval period. Discussion focuses on the ways in which texts from these periods reflect cultural and historical developments, i.e. how textual form reflects social function. Elements include a survey of current issues in book history relevant to the period, of the history of verse and prose styles, and of the interface between philological and literary study. The afterlives of medieval English texts in later centuries are also discussed. Students also undertake close study of a selection of key literary texts from the Old and Middle English periods.

This component invites students to engage critically with current issues in name-studies. Topics covered include the origins and development of names of places and of people in England and Scotland, to investigate the special properties of names as lexical items, and to examine the function of names in contemporary discourse and literature. The course focuses in particular on the contribution onomastics can make to historical, demographic, literary and linguistic studies.

This component offers students an introduction to historical and modern dialectology, with special reference to English and Scots. A short history of dialectological studies is offered, including an introduction to the Linguistic Atlases of Late Mediaeval English (and associated projects), and to the major modern surveys: Wright’s Grammar and Dictionary from the late nineteenth century, and twentieth-century surveys such as the Survey of English Dialects, the Linguistic Survey of Scotland, and various surveys of English in North America. Students are introduced to current issues in dialectology, including its relationship to modern linguistic theories of variation and change, and undertake close study of a selection of written and spoken (transcribed) texts.


From April to September, students work on a short dissertation (15,000 words) linking directly to work undertaken in Semester 2 with their supervisors. The Dissertation can be an end in itself, but it is envisaged that it can also act as a pilot-study for, or a component part of, a subsequent doctoral thesis.

Career Prospects

Career opportunities include teaching, publishing, digital analysis, journalism and lexicography. You can take advantage of opportunities to establish or advance your career as a writer or editor, or to work in museums, schools or academia. Other graduates have used their specialist knowledge to gain positions in the media or in business.

Information for international students

IELTS 7.0 (with no subtest less than 7.0) iBT TOEFL 100 (with no subtest lower than 24) Cambridge ESOL Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) - A minimum or Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

Fees and funding

UK students
International students


Qualification and course duration


part time
24 months
full time
12 months


AssessmentWhat kind of work will I be doing? (proportionally)
Written coursework / continuous assessment66
Dissertation34 (15000 words)

Course contact details