• Status: Fully Approved
  • Start date: October 2016, January 2017 or April 2017
  • Duration:

    MPhil: 2 years part-time or 1 year full-time

    PhD: 5 years part-time or 3 years full-time

  • Attendance:

    You will be asked to attend research workshops in your first year and research seminar presentations throughout the programme.

Programme overview

Applied linguistics aims to investigate real-world phenomena in which language plays a central role. At MPhil/PhD level, we aim for you to make the transition into a fully fledged, independent academic researcher, with the skills necessary to present your research orally as well as in writing, in addition to pushing back the frontiers of knowledge. Such independence is achieved on the basis of a full appreciation of the hallmarks of good scholarship, such as original thought, the proper use of references and background material, appropriate use of methodology and accountable reporting procedures, and it is these priorities that we aim to impart to our students.

Once equipped with the generic and discipline-specific tools for carrying out research, you will pursue your particular research interests, supported by regular meetings with your supervisor and presentations and attendance at MPhil/PhD seminars.

Current research centres around: bilingualism and multilingualism; child language development; second language acquisition; psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics; sociolinguistics; cross-cultural pragmatics; discourse and conversation analysis; intercultural communication; language teaching; and translation theory.

To find out more, read our programme handbook.

How to apply

A critical element in judging applications for postgraduate study in applied linguistics and communication is our assessment of the fit between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more members of the department. We strongly recommend that, before applying, you carefully read the departmental website, giving particular attention to the research descriptions provided on individual staff web pages. Many applicants have found it useful to correspond with individual staff members before applying, but this is not required. Please note that we cannot estimate the probability of being admitted before you have applied. Our admission decisions are based on the complete application, including the information supplied in your personal statement and details of your past academic and professional experiences, which is considered by multiple members of the faculty.

Finding a supervisor

  • Professor Jean-Marc Dewaele, LicPhilRom, LicDroitEurop&Internat, PhD: second language acquisition; interlanguage; individual differences, multilingualism and emotion; sociopragmatics; psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics in foreign language production.
  • Professor Penelope Gardner-Chloros, MA, MA, PhD: bilingualism; sociolinguistics; sociolinguistics of French and modern Greek; codeswitching; language contact; tu/vous terms of address; comparisons between linguistics and history of art.
  • Professor Marjorie Lorch, BA, PhD: neurolinguistics; psycholinguistics; cross-linguistic studies of language use and language disorders; brain structure and language behaviour; nineteenth-century study of the language faculty.
  • Lisa J. McEntee-Atalianis, BA, PhD: aphasia; sign language/deaf studies and sociolinguistics; ethnolinguistic vitality; social psychological studies in Cyprus and the autochthonous Greek-Orthodox community of Istanbul; language policy and discourse practices in a London agency of the United Nations; sign language/deaf studies; sociolinguistics of the Greek diaspora; institutional/workplace discourse and identity; English as a global language.
  • Bojana Petric, BA, MA, PhD: academic discourse, genre analysis, source use and citing, academic/professional literacies, disciplinary/interdisciplinary socialisation, EAP/ESP materials and course design, writer voice and identity, writing for international academic publishing, writing development and writing pedagogy, language teacher identity, teacher cognition, language teaching materials, advanced language capacities, qualitative approaches to the study of language learning and teaching.
  • Kazuya Saito, BA, MA, PhD: second language acquisition; second and foreign language teaching; individual differences in second language acquisition; phonetics; speech production.
  • Rachelle Vessey, BA, MA, PhD: language ideologies; language and the media; language policy; discourse analysis; corpus linguistics; Canadian studies.
  • Professor Zhu Hua, BEng, MA, PhD: cross-cultural pragmatics; intercultural communication; acquisition and development of pragmatics in young children; phonological awareness; cross-linguistic studies of phonological development and disorder.

Your research topic

All research students accepted will initially be registered as MPhil students. Transfer to PhD registration will normally take place when you have carried out a preliminary analysis of data.

The Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication is committed to the promotion and publication of high-quality research. You will be expected to actively engage in the dissemination of your work via the departmental PhD seminars and at appropriate College, university and external venues, such as the Birkbeck College Applied Linguistics Society, the British Association for Applied Linguistics meetings and other forums. You will also be encouraged to publish work in appropriate journals and will be given guidance in doing so.

You will be required to present a seminar on your own research at least once a year.

The progress of research students is monitored through an annual review, usually held in June. You will be required to present an annual report on the progress of your work and discuss your plans for completion with your supervisors and the chair of the review panel.

Application deadlines and interviews

You can apply at any time during the year. Entry months for the programme are October, January and April of each year.

If you wish to apply for a scholarship, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

Online application

Applied Linguistics (MPhil / PhD) (Part-time)

Applied Linguistics (MPhil / PhD) (Full-time)

Why study this course at Birkbeck?

  • The Department of Applied Linguistics and Communication was established in 1965, making it the first department in England to focus on the study of applied linguistics. It has contributed greatly to the field over the years and remains the only department of applied linguistics in the University of London.
  • The department is an Institutional Member of the British Association of Applied Linguistics and an affiliated member of the International Association of Applied Linguistics (AILA).
  • It houses the Centre for Multilingual and Multicultural Research, and the International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (Taylor and Francis).
  • The department has developed a distinctive academic identity and helped to redefine the field as a social science. It is not a department of conventional descriptive or theoretical linguistics, and does not engage in research and teaching of syntax, morphology, phonology, phonetics or linguistics of a particular language. Rather, it is concerned with real-life issues in which language and communication play a central role.
  • What is it like to be a PhD student in our department? Read a PhD student's blog.
  • Get more information on studying and researching linguistics at Birkbeck and our PhD route options.
  • Watch videos of our students discussing their experience of studying and researching at Birkbeck.

Entry requirements

A good Master's degree in a relevant subject.

Some relevant work experience is desirable, but not essential.

A good research proposal will also be required.

International entry requirements

If English is not your first language or you have not previously studied in English, our usual requirement is the equivalent of an International English Language Testing System (IELTS Academic Test) score of 6.5, with not less than 6.0 in each of the sub-tests.

If you don't meet the minimum IELTS requirement, we offer pre-sessional English courses, foundation programmes and language support services to help you improve your English language skills and get your place at Birkbeck.

Visit the International section of our website to find out more about our English language entry requirements and relevant requirements by country.


Part-time home/EU students: £ 2187 pa
Full-time home/EU students: £ 4121 pa
Part-time overseas students: £ 6050 pa
Full-time overseas students: £ 11995 pa

Payment and Fees Discounts

Flexible finance: pay your fees in monthly instalments at no extra cost. Enrol early to spread your costs and reduce your monthly payments.

Fees discounts: If you are a member of a union that is recognised by the Trades Union Congress (TUC), you may apply for a 10% discount off your tuition fees.

Research Funding

Our School attracts funding for studentships that ensure researchers of the highest standard can pursue their research with us.

Find out more about other research funding opportunities at Birkbeck.

Careers and employability

Find out more about the destinations of graduates in this subject.

We offer a comprehensive Careers and Employability Service to help you advance your career, while our in-house, professional recruitment consultancy, Birkbeck Talent, works with London’s top employers to help you gain work experience that fits in with your evening studies.

Our research

Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research-intensive institutions. Our cutting-edge scholarship informs public policy, achieves scientific advances, supports the economy, promotes culture and the arts, and makes a positive difference to society.

Birkbeck’s research excellence was confirmed in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, which placed Birkbeck 30th in the UK for research, with 73% of our research rated world-leading or internationally excellent.

In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), Modern Languages and Linguistics achieved 100% for a research environment conducive to producing research of the highest quality, while 73% of our research was recognised as world-leading or internationally excellent.

Read about Birkbeck research that crosses disciplines and focuses on pressing questions within the social sciences and humanities.

Research resources

You will be given training in research methods, and will also have access to a wide range of generic research training courses offered by the College Research School and the Bloomsbury Postgraduate Skills Network. You will also have the opportunity to present your work annually for discussion by fellow students and staff at seminars.

Find out more about our student support and facilities.

Read more about our vibrant research culture.