MA Critical Discourse, Culture and Communication

The course is intended for those who wish to upgrade their professional and academic standing in critical discourse studies, media studies, and/or intercultural communication. It is particularly suitable for students/researchers who want to move into higher education, journalism, and research into the role of communication in media and society.

Course fact file

Type of Course: Taught

Study Options: Full time

Duration: 1 year full-time

Start date: September 2014


You will study five core modules [full descriptions available below]:

  • Describing Language
  • Discourse Culture and Communication
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Research Methods in Applied Linguistics
  • Social and Multimodal Aspects of Communication

You will also choose one optional module and complete a 15,000-word dissertation.

In addition, there are two non-assessed components in the programme:

  • All students will take a short course – Introduction to the Bank of English – which introduces you to the 400 million-word Cobuild Bank of English corpus, an invaluable collection of authentic language data against which theory, intuition and pedagogic materials can be measured
  • You may also take a course in Academic Writing. Those whose first language is not English are particularly encouraged to follow this course.

You will do a total of six assessed pieces of coursework over the year. For assessment purposes, one of the modules you take during the spring term will be ‘linked’ with the Research Methods module – that is, you will produce a piece of work in the field covered by that module, but with a particular focus on research methods.


You will study five core modules:

Describing Language

This module includes the study of lexis and of Systemic-Functional grammar. This gives you the tools to describe and analyse language in a range of settings.

Discourse Culture and Communication

This module covers aspects of how spoken and written discourse is organised, how it varies, and how it may be described and analysed. There is a strong focus on issues of culture and communication and on the critical interpretation of texts.

Intercultural Communication

The aim of this module is to provide an overview of the major issues in the area of Intercultural Communication, with particular reference to developments in the last 20 years. In today's global world, it is necessary to communicate successfully across cultural boundaries of languages, styles and values. This module will address these questions, using participants' cultural background as the basis for contrastive analysis in terms of language difference, pragmatics, social semiotics and visual communication.

Research Methods in Applied Linguistics

This module includes a course in methods and approaches to research in Applied Linguistics. In addition, students select one option from the range on offer and apply what they have learned to a small research project.

Social and Multimodal Aspects of Communication

This module aims to provide an overview of the major issues in the area of Sociolinguistics and Multimodal Communication, with particular reference to new theories that takes into consideration a diversity of communicative modes – language, image, music, sound, texture and gesture. The perspective taken in this course assumes that communication always happens in a social context and is always multimodal. The first part of the course will discuss the main theoretical approaches to language placed in the social world. The second part will explore new ways of understanding and analysing multimodal communication.

You will also choose one optional module from a range which may include the following:

  • Business English
  • Computer Assisted Language Learning
  • Cognitive Linguistics and Language Learning
  • Corpus Linguistics
  • English as a Global Language
  • English for Specific/Academic Purposes
  • Genre Analysis
  • Language and Literature
  • Language and New Media
  • Language and Politics
  • Management of Innovation
  • Media Literacy
  • Teacher Training
  • Teaching Young Learners

Please note that availability of optional modules may vary from year to year.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2015/16 are as follows:

  • Home/EU: £6,840 full-time
  • Overseas: £14,140 full-time

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments.

Eligibility for Home/EU or Overseas fees can be verified with Admissions. Learn more about fees for international students

Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships

Scholarships to cover fees and/or maintenance costs may be available. To discover whether you are eligible for any award across the University, and to start your funding application, please visit the University's Postgraduate Funding Database.

International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home government.

University of Birmingham graduates may be entitled to a fee reduction through the College of Arts and Law Alumni Bursary scheme.

Entry requirements

Learn more about entry requirements

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now


Ms Sheila Brady
Postgraduate Administrator
Tel: +44 (0)121 414 3239/5695/5696
Fax: +44 (0)121 414 3298

Related news and events

Learning and teaching

As an English language student, you will be able to benefit from having free access to the 450 million word Bank of English corpus.

You will also become part of, and contribute to, the vibrant international community of the College of Arts and Law Graduate School, which offers dedicated research resources and a supportive working environment. Our team of academic and operational staff are on hand to offer support and advice to all postgraduate students within the College.

Support with academic writing

As a postgraduate student in the College of Arts and Law, you have access to the Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) which aims to help your transition from undergraduate to taught Masters level, or back into academia after time away. The service offers guidance on writing assignments and dissertations for your MA/MSc programme with individual support from an academic writing advisor via tutorials, email and the provision of online materials.

International students can access support through the English for International Students Unit (EISU).


The University of Birmingham has been ranked 8th in the UK and 60th in the world for post-qualification employability in the latest global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by the employability skills training offered through the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

Birmingham?s English Language and Applied Linguistics postgraduates develop a broad range of transferable skills that are highly valued by employers, particularly in relation to verbal and written communication. They also develop crucial skills in organisation, time management, analysis and interpretation of information.

Over the past five years, over 92% of English Language and Applied Linguistics postgraduates were in work and/or further study six months after graduation. Some of our graduates enter roles for which their programme has prepared them, such as translation, interpreting or teaching; others use their transferable skills in a wide range of occupations including journalism, marketing, publishing and media.