Applied Linguistics and Communication (MA)

This unique Master's in applied linguistics and communication is taught by leading specialists in multilingualism and multiculturalism. Applied linguistics has been taught at Birkbeck since 1965, making this one of the oldest departments in the world. The most recent external examination of our programme reported that ‘there are very high levels of professionalism and real quality in teaching. Students taking this course are getting the best in terms of professional practice and support. They are also allowed to develop their own interests and demonstrate independence of both skills and knowledge.’

The core modules introduce you to qualitative and quantitative research methods for undertaking your own empirical and/or theoretical research into language and language behaviour in the form of an extended literature review or dissertation, and to sub-domains of applied linguistics such as first and second language acquisition, intercultural communication, language pedagogy and assessment, language impairment, language policy and language and identity. You are also able to choose from a suite of option modules.

The programme is also unique in offering you a choice between two dissertation pathways: an empirical research investigation of an aspect of language teaching and learning or an independent library-based project on a relevant topic of your choice.

The programme is suitable for people who wish to further their career prospects and professional development, and those who have an interest in doctoral research and aspire to work in higher education. The MA is an internationally recognised higher professional qualification.

Highlights

  • Arts and humanities courses at Birkbeck are ranked fourth best in London and 18th in the UK in the Times Higher Education 2017-2018 World University Subject Rankings.
  • 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.
  • We have a multimedia library and computing facilities. Birkbeck Library has a large holding of books, as well as over 40 current print journal subscriptions in the subject area, with an additional 100 available electronically. We are located within walking distance of libraries at the Institute of Education, School of Oriental and African Studies, University College London and Senate House, as well as the British Library and British Museum.
  • There is an active student-run Linguistics Society, which hosts events and speakers throughout the year, and organises an annual Postgraduate Student Research Conference every summer. In addition, the Centre for Multilingual and Multicultural Research hosts a lecture series given by international visiting scholars. Birkbeck also actively collaborates with the larger community of applied linguists throughout University of London colleges. 
  • Read a blog post by Professor Penelope Gardner-Chloros that considers what linguistics is. 

Course structure

You take two core modules, Research Methods and Design and Introduction to Applied Linguistics (worth 30 credits each).

You then either choose two option modules (worth 30 credits each) and complete a 12,000-15,000-word dissertation (worth 60 credits), or choose three option modules (worth 30 credits each) and complete a 4500-5000-word independent literature review (worth 30 credits).

Module groups

You will have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of modules in the course of your study. Please note that the list of option modules is only indicative and not all modules are available every year. Please check with the programme administrator which option modules are available in each academic year.

To find out more, read our programme handbook.

Sample timetable

PDF document icon ALC MA Timetable 2018-19.pdf — PDF document, 71 KB (72835 bytes)
  • Entry Requirements

    Entry requirements

    Usually an upper second-class honours degree or above, or overseas equivalent, in a relevant subject and/or professional training and expertise.

    You will be asked to undertake a short admissions task of no more than 500 words, to support your application.

    You must also provide one academic reference.

    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.

    Visa requirements

    If you are not from the European Economic Area (EEA) and/or Switzerland and you are coming to study in the UK, you may need to apply for a visa.

    The visa you apply for varies according to the length of your course:

    • Courses of more than six months’ duration.
    • Courses of less than six months’ duration.
    • Pre-sessional English language courses.

    International students who require a Tier 4 visa should apply for our three-year evening study BA/BSc/LLB degrees, as these are classified as full-time study and qualify for student visa status. If you are living in the UK on a Tier 4 visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck’s part-time evening study degrees.

    For full information, read our visa information for international students page.

    Credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL)

    If you have studied at university previously, you may have accumulated credits through the modules you studied. It may be possible to transfer these credits from your previous study to Birkbeck or another institution. You should discuss this with the Programme Director when you are making your application.

    Find out more about credits and Accredited Prior Learning (APL).

  • Fees

    Fees

    Part-time home/EU students: £4075 pa
    Full-time home/EU students: £8175 pa
    Part-time international students: £7425 pa
    Full-time international students: £14850 pa

    Students are charged a tuition fee in each year of their programme. Tuition fees for students continuing on their programme in following years may be subject to annual inflationary increases. For more information, please see the College Fees Policy.

  • Teaching and assessment

    Teaching

    At Birkbeck, almost all of our courses are taught in the evening and our teaching is designed to support students who are juggling evening study with work and other daytime commitments. We actively encourage innovative and engaging ways of teaching, to ensure our students have the best learning experience. In the 2017 Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), the government’s system for rating university teaching, Birkbeck was allocated a Silver award.

    Teaching may include formal lectures, seminars, and practical classes and tutorials. Formal lectures are used in most degree programmes to give an overview of a particular field of study. They aim to provide the stimulus and the starting point for deeper exploration of the subject during your own personal reading. Seminars give you the chance to explore a specific aspect of your subject in depth and to discuss and exchange ideas with fellow students. They typically require preparatory study.

    Our distance-learning and blended-learning courses and modules are self-directed and we will provide you with interactive learning opportunities and encourage you to collaborate and engage via various learning technologies. These courses involve limited or no face-to-face contact between students and module tutors.

    In addition, you will have access to pastoral support via a named Personal Tutor.

    Methods of teaching on this course

    Lectures, seminars, workshops and student presentations (for some option modules).

    Key teaching staff on this programme

    Contact hours

    On our taught courses, you will have scheduled teaching and study sessions each year. Alongside this, you will also undertake assessment activities and independent learning outside of class. Depending on the modules you take, you may also have additional scheduled academic activities, such as tutorials, dissertation supervision, practical classes, visits and fieldtrips.

    On our taught courses, the actual amount of time you spend in the classroom and in contact with your lecturers will depend on your course, the option modules you select and when you undertake your final-year project.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, discussion, collaboration and interaction with your lecturers and fellow students are encouraged and enabled through various learning technologies, but you may have limited or no face-to-face contact with your module tutors.

    Timetables

    Timetables are usually available from September onwards and you can access your personalised timetable via your My Birkbeck Profile online (if you have been invited to enrol).

    Indicative class size

    Class sizes vary, depending on your course, the module you are undertaking, and the method of teaching. For example, lectures are presented to larger groups, whereas seminars usually consist of small, interactive groups led by a tutor.

    Independent learning

    On our taught courses, much of your time outside of class will be spent on self-directed, independent learning, including preparing for classes and following up afterwards. This will usually include, but is not limited to, reading books and journal articles, undertaking research, working on coursework and assignments, and preparing for presentations and assessments.

    Independent learning is absolutely vital to your success as a student. Everyone is different, and the study time required varies topic by topic, but, as a guide, expect to schedule up to five hours of self-study for each hour of teaching.

    On our distance-learning and blended-learning courses, the emphasis is very much on independent, self-directed learning and you will be expected to manage your own learning, with the support of your module tutors and various learning technologies.

    Study skills and additional support

    Birkbeck offers study and learning support to undergraduate and postgraduate students to help them succeed. Our Learning Development Service can help you in the following areas:

    • academic skills (including planning your workload, research, writing, exam preparation and writing a dissertation)
    • written English (including structure, punctuation and grammar)
    • numerical skills (basic mathematics and statistics).

    Our Disability and Dyslexia Service can support you if you have additional learning needs resulting from a disability or from dyslexia.

    Our Counselling Service can support you if you are struggling with emotional or psychological difficulties during your studies.

    Our Mental Health Advisory Service can support you if you are experiencing short- or long-term mental health difficulties during your studies.

    Assessment

    Assessment is an integral part of your university studies and usually consists of a combination of coursework and examinations, although this will vary from course to course - on some of our courses, assessment is entirely by coursework. The methods of assessment on this course are specified below under 'Methods of assessment on this course'. You will need to allow time to complete coursework and prepare for exams.

    Where a course has unseen written examinations, these may be held termly, but, on the majority of our courses, exams are usually taken in the Summer term, during May to June. Exams may be held at other times of the year as well. In most cases, exams are held during the day on a weekday - if you have daytime commitments, you will need to make arrangements for daytime attendance - but some exams are held in the evening. Exam timetables are published online.

    Find out more about assessment at Birkbeck, including guidance on assessment, feedback and our assessment offences policy.

    Methods of assessment on this course

    Coursework, including a dissertation of 12,000-15,000 words or an independent literature review of 4500-5000 words.

  • Careers and employability

    Careers and employability

    Graduates can pursue careers in education, local government and the charity sector, public relations and the media, marketing and lexicography. Possible professions include English as a second language (ESOL) teacher, lexicographer, or speech and language therapist. This degree can also be useful in becoming a Civil Service fast streamer, primary school teacher, or translator.

    Find out more about these professions.

    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.

  • How to apply

    How to apply

    You apply directly to Birkbeck for this course, using the online application link.

    Birkbeck can give you all of the information and help you need to complete your application form.

    Application deadlines and interviews

    We recommend you apply as early as possible. Later applications may also be considered, subject to availability of places.