Taught course

Communication and Applied Linguistics (Distance Learning)

University of Portsmouth · School of Languages and Applied Linguistics

Entry requirements

A good honours degree in a relevant subject. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

Months of entry

January, September

Course content

Why take this course?

This course is designed to produce highly competent communicators for the modern business and media world. Combining the theory with the practice of communication, it has a distinctive vocational orientation and focuses on English as the medium of communication.

The course can be studied through campus-based learning or through distance learning.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Study the nature and function of communication in the modern world, so you will be able to produce text (written, spoken, printed and broadcast) for different purposes
  • Better understand and use modern communication technologies

What opportunities might it lead to?

The course is designed for graduates from any discipline who wish to work in business, commerce and the media as highly competent communicators. The course combines the theory of communication with the practice of communication, has a distinctive vocational orientation and focuses on English as the medium of communication.

Module Details

MA Communication and Applied Linguistics balances theory and practice and features units that have a high degree of professional relevance and training.

The course is structured on the basis of core units and optional units.


  • Theory and Practice of Communication: This unit deals examines communication theory and practice in a range of contexts. Students will use various analytical tools to examine different areas of communication (e.g. corporate communication, mass communication and semiotics. Through engaging with this unit, students can gain a practical understanding of communication which they can apply to their professional lives.
  • Analysing Discourse: This unit introduces various analytical tools (e.g. appraisal, speech acts, modality, metaphors, transitivity, cohesion, theme-rheme) which are valuable in the analysis of authentic discourses and texts (e.g. courtroom discourse, social media, educational science texts, newspaper texts, political speeches, advertisements, etc.). The importance of context in any analysis is emphasised.
  • Dissertation: Students undertake a piece of significant research, reported and analysed in an appropriate manner in an area of professional relevance. A research proposal will be produced in the first instance and supervision from a tutor will be available throughout the process.

2 options:

  • Technical Communication: This unit is designed to develop students’ ability to communicate technical information effectively to specific audiences. It will examine a range of factors that can influence the effectiveness of communication and provide strategies to overcome communication problems.
  • Intercultural Communication: This unit deals with intercultural communication issues in a global setting. Students can benefit from an awareness of the various factors including cultural factors, which influence communication in order to improve their own knowledge and practice of communication.
  • World Englishes: The English language has always been characterised by dynamic change and hybridity, and this is particularly evident in the current era of globalisation. In this unit students will study, discuss and reflect upon the geo-historical, political, ideological and pedagogical aspects of the relocation of English out of Britain, the many varieties that have emerged as a result, as well as the role(s) of English as a global lingua franca.
  • Using Technology & Corpora in Language Teaching & Research: The aim of this unit is for students to see how they can make use of technology both as language teachers and language researchers. In particular the unit will focus on the technological affordances of the internet and corpus linguistics. Students will develop a set of transferable skills relating to the technologies used and they will develop their analytical and critical skills through the discussion and appraisal of how these technologies are applied.
  • Second Language Acquisition: This unit reviews relevant research on the topic of SLA and builds on students’ previous experience of language learning, applying this to areas such as individual differences and types of learning, as well as to more formal approaches to SLA.
  • Professional Portfolio: This unit offers students the opportunity to profile their degree to their own professional and/or personal interests, allowing students the chance to study areas not covered elsewhere in the curriculum. Students negotiate an area for study and then pursue this with the support of a supervisor.

Please note. All optional units are subject to staff availability and student demand.

Exit levels

The credit system creates a flexible framework in which you can graduate with one of the following awards, depending on the number of credits gained:

  • MA Communication and Applied Linguistics (four core units plus the research management and dissertation units) 180 credits
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Communication and Applied Linguistics: 120 credits
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Communication and Applied Linguistics: 60 credits

Programme Assessment

Full time study is one full academic year, consisting of a taught part from October to June and a research part, in which the dissertation is written, from June to September. Part time students study for a period of two years. The dissertation is written in the summer period of the second year of study.

There are no formal examinations. A variety of different assessment methods are used which include essays, projects, portfolios, presentations and your dissertation. The research management unit will prepare you for your dissertation and you will be allocated a dissertation supervisor who will oversee your work throughout the process. You will also be encouraged to start thinking about it from the start of the course and submit a series of interim documents.

Student Destinations

Graduates will be able to progress to jobs in the public and private sectors in various areas of communication including, advertising, publishing, human resources departments, in higher education in their own country or elsewhere, or continue on to undertake doctoral research. Possession of a Masters qualification is often viewed as a requirement for promotion to a more responsible position where you may already be working.

Fees and funding

UK students
Distance learning: £2,000 p/a* *Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.
International students
Distance learning: £2,000 p/a* *Tuition fee is subject to annual increase.

Qualification and course duration


distance learning
36 months

Course contact details

Admissions Team
0)23 9284 5566