Up to four years full-time or seven years part-time
Regular meetings with your supervisor(s)
Other entry years for this course2018
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 through good scholarship, which includes original thought, the proper use of references, background material, methodology and accountable reporting procedures.
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.
An MPhil/PhD is an advanced postgraduate research degree that requires original research and the submission of a substantial dissertation of 60,000 to 100,000 words. At Birkbeck, you are initially registered on an MPhil and you upgrade to a PhD after satisfactory progress in the first year or two. You need to find a suitable academic supervisor at Birkbeck, who can offer the requisite expertise to guide and support you through your research. Find out more about undertaking a research degree at Birkbeck.
In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework, 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. Our current research centres around: bilingualism and multilingualism; child language development; second language acquisition; psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics; corpus linguistics; sociolinguistics; cross-cultural pragmatics; discourse and conversation analysis; intercultural communication; language teaching; and translation theory.
- Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked third best in London and 11th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2015-16 World University Subject Rankings.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
We welcome a wide range of qualifications, from the UK and abroad, and we will also consider your non-academic achievements.
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.
We are committed to doing everything we can to help you finance your studies.
FeesPart-time home/EU students: £ 2226 pa
Full-time home/EU students: £ 4195 pa
Part-time overseas students: £ 6050 pa
Full-time overseas students: £ 11995 pa
Fees and finance
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.
The School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy 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.
Our Research Culture
Birkbeck is a world-leading research university with a vibrant, interdisciplinary research culture and a welcoming, supportive community of researchers.
Our Research Culture
Training and methodology
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.
You will be asked to attend research workshops in your first year and research seminar presentations throughout the programme.
PhD student experience
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.
What is it like to be a PhD student in our department? Read a PhD student's blog.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck.
How to apply
You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link.
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.
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.
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.
Finding a supervisor
Finding the right supervisor for your research is important: we offer supervision in over 40 subject areas and in interdisciplinary combinations.
Finding a supervisor
A crucial factor in assessing applications for postgraduate study in applied linguistics and communication is the correlation between the applicant’s intellectual and research interests and those of one or more potential supervisors within the department.
Find out more about the research interests of our academics:
- 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.
- : language ideologies; language and the media; language policy; discourse analysis; corpus linguistics; Canadian studies. , BA, MA, PhD
- 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.
Fees and payment
With government loans for undergraduate and postgraduate study, fantastic financial support packages and flexible payment options, there’s never been a better time to study at Birkbeck.
Evening study explained
Birkbeck is London’s only specialist provider of evening higher education. With classes held 6pm-9pm, your days are free to study, work, volunteer, or just do your own thing.
Birkbeck is one of the world’s leading research universities. Discover more about our vibrant, intellectually challenging and exciting research culture.
Birkbeck is committed to doing everything we can to help you finance your studies. Find out about what is available, how to apply and the advice and support we provide.
The Birkbeck experience
Birkbeck is different: our classes are held in the evening, so your days are free - to study, work, volunteer or just do your own thing.
Careers and employability
Our free Careers and Employability Service provides comprehensive careers advice, events and information services for current students, both in person and online, and for recent Birkbeck graduates.
Life at Birkbeck
Birkbeck offers a unique combination of evening study and a matchless central London location, right in the geographic and academic centre of the city, giving you exceptional opportunities.
Birkbeck Graduate Research School (BGRS)
The Birkbeck Graduate Research School (BGRS) offers support, training and a warm welcome to Birkbeck's vibrant community of MPhil/PhD researchers.
How to apply
Once you've found the course that's right for you, here's what to do next to get your place at Birkbeck. We can give you the advice and support you need.
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