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Applied Linguistics

MPhil/PhD

Application options include:

Full-time Part-time
On campus

Course 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 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.

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.

Key information

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Highlights

  • Entry Requirements Entry Requirements

    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.

    English language 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 and funding requirements

    If you are not from the UK and you do not already have residency here, 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: Student visa
    • Courses of less than six months' duration: Standard Visitor visa

    International students who require a Student visa should apply for our full-time courses as these qualify for Student visa sponsorship. If you are living in the UK on a Student visa, you will not be eligible to enrol as a student on Birkbeck's part-time courses (with the exception of some modules).

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

    Please also visit the international section of our website to find out more about relevant visa and funding requirements by country.

    Please note students receiving US Federal Aid are only able to apply for in-person, on-campus programmes which will have no elements of online study.

  • Fees Fees

    Fees

    Applied Linguistics MPhil/PhD: 7 years part-time or 4 years full-time, on campus, starting in academic year 2023-24 or 2024-25

    Academic year 2023–24, starting October 2023, January 2024, April 2024

    Part-time home students: £2,500 per year
    Full-time home students: £4,712 per year
    Part-time international students: £7,165 per year
    Full-time international students: £14,175 per year

    Academic year 2024–25, starting October 2024, January 2025, April 2025

    To be confirmed

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

    If you’ve studied at Birkbeck before and successfully completed an award with us, take advantage of our Lifelong Learning Guarantee to gain a discount on the tuition fee of this course.

    Fees and finance

    PhD students resident in England can apply for government loans of over £26,000 to cover the cost of tuition fees, maintenance and other study-related costs.

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

    We offer a range of studentships and funding options to support your research.

    Discover the financial support available to you to help with your studies at Birkbeck.

    International scholarships

    We provide a range of scholarships for eligible international students, including our Global Future Scholarship. Discover if you are eligible for a scholarship.

  • Our research culture Our research culture

    Our research culture

    Our academic staff are concerned with real-life issues in which language and communication play a central role rather than conventional descriptive or theoretical linguistics, or research and teaching of syntax, morphology, phonology, phonetics or linguistics of a particular language.

    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 PhD seminars and at appropriate College, university and external venues, such as 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.

    Find out more about our student support and facilities and our vibrant research culture.

    What is it like to be a PhD student with us? Read a PhD student's blog.

  • How to apply How to apply

    How to apply

    Follow these steps to apply to an MPhil/PhD research degree at Birkbeck:

    1. Check that you meet the entry requirements, including English language requirements, as described on this page.
    2. Find a potential supervisor for your MPhil/PhD research. You can look at the Find a Supervisor area on this page for an overview, or search our Experts’ Database or browse our staff pages for more in-depth information. You may also find it helpful to view the research projects of our current students
    3. Contact the academic member of staff - or the department they teach in - for an informal discussion about your research interests and to establish if they are willing and able to supervise your research. (Please note: finding a potential supervisor does not guarantee admission to the research degree, as this decision is made using your whole application.) Find out more about the supervisory relationship and how your supervisor will support your research.
    4. Draft a research proposal. This needs to demonstrate your knowledge of the field, the specific research questions you wish to pursue, and how your ideas will lead to the creation of new knowledge and understanding. Find out more about writing a research proposal.
    5. Apply directly to Birkbeck, using the online application link on this page. All research students are initially registered on an MPhil and then upgrade to a PhD after making sufficient progress. Find out more about the application process, writing a research proposal and the timeframe.

    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 funding, you will need to apply by certain deadlines. Consult the websites of relevant bodies for details.

    Apply for your course

    Apply for your course using the apply now button in the key information section.

  • Finding a supervisor Finding a supervisor

    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. 

    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.
    • Jackie Jia Lou, BA, MSc, PhD: language, space and place; linguistic and semiotic landscapes; urban discourse; transnational migration; sociolinguistic ethnography.
    • 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.
    • Professor 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.
    • Professor 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.