MA English Language and Applied Linguistics

Are you interested in learning how the English language works? How it may be analysed and how you learn languages?

The MA in English Language and Applied Linguistics is a highly flexible programme that allows you to develop expertise in specific areas of linguistics, such as corpus linguistics, literacy linguistics or cognitive linguistics. The programme combines a range of core modules and optional modules to ensure that you develop a solid foundation in the discipline area whilst also having the flexibility to pursue your own specific research interests. This highly flexible programme is ideal for language professional, or for those intending to become language professionals.

The Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics at the University of Birmingham is a world-leading centre of excellence for both teaching and research in English Language and Applied Linguistics.

Ruiqi Ren

Ruiqi Ren

“I chose Birmingham to do my postgraduate because of several reasons. The applied linguistic field in this university is really brilliant and there are lots of amazing teachers here and they are really knowledgeable. Second because I like the campus - I searched online and the reviews were really nice. And after I come here it’s true - it’s really nice. ”

You will study two core modules:

  • Describing Language
  • Research Methods in Applied Linguistics

You will then choose four optional modules from a wide range, giving you the flexibility to focus on areas of language and linguistics which reflect your specific interests. (See module information below).

Each of your taught modules will be assessed by a 4,000 word essay and you will complete the programme with a 15,000-word dissertation on a topic of your choice.

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.

Why study this course

  1. Flexibility – the variety of modules on offer will allow you to specialise and study areas of the discipline which interest you the most. 
  2. Outstanding teaching - members of staff within the Department offer expertise in the use of corpora in various fields, such as English language teaching, historical linguistics, literature, grammar forensic linguistics, language processing and discourse analysis.
  3. Access to fantastic resources - students at Birmingham have free access to the 400 million word Bank of English corpus, and to the hardware, software and data resources held at the Centre for Corpus Research. You will also have access to the resources such as the Academic Writing Advisory Service and the Bank of Assessed Work to help with transitioning to postgraduate studies or if you are returning to the world of academia.
  4. Excellent reputation – The Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. You will be taught by experts in the field, with a range of interests and specialists.
  5. Join a vibrant and active postgraduate community – with conferences, seminars and social events there will never be a dull moment within the Department.


Your two core modules are as follows:

Describing Language

This module provides a grounding in the analysis of the lexis and grammar of English. You will be introduced to essential concepts and terminology in the field, and gain practice in analysing naturally-occurring language using the models (e.g. Systemic-Functional Grammar) discussed. There is some emphasis on the application of such analysis to the study of language in social context.

Research Methods in Applied Linguistics

This module includes a course in methods and approaches to research in Applied Linguistics. 

In the autumn term, you will choose two optional modules from a range which includes:

In the spring term, you will choose three further optional modules from a range which includes:

Please note that

[a] one of your three spring term options will be linked to the Research Methods module for assessment purposes and will appear on your transcript as ‘Research Methods in Applied Linguistics’;

[b] availability of optional modules may vary from year to year.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2016/17:

  • Home/EU: £7,200 full-time; £3,600 part-time
  • Overseas: £14,850 full-time

For part-time students, the above fee quoted is for year one only and tuition fees will also be payable in year two of your programme.

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

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

Entry requirements

We usually require an upper second-class Honours degree, or equivalent, in Applied Linguistics, Linguistics, English Language or another relevant subject (e.g. TEFL/TESL, Translation Studies, English Literature, Communication Studies). Appropriate work experience will also be taken into consideration.

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

You will be able to benefit from having free access to the 450 million word Bank of English corpus, and to the hardware, software and data resources held at the Centre for Corpus Research.

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 for English Language development and skills through the Birmingham International Academy (BIA).

The University has been recognised for its impressive graduate employment, being named ‘University of the Year for Graduate Employment’ in The Times and The Sunday Times Good University Guide 2016.

In addition, the global edition of The New York Times has ranked the University 60th in the world and 9th in UK for post-qualification employability. The rankings illustrate the top 150 universities most frequently selected by global employers and are the result of a survey by French consulting firm Emerging and German consulting firm Trendence.

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. The University also offers a wide range of activities and services to give our students the edge in the job market, including: career planning designed to meet the needs of postgraduates; opportunities to meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs, employer presentations and skills workshops; individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

University of the Year for employability

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.

Birmingham has been transformed into one of Europe's most exciting cities. It is more than somewhere to study; it is somewhere to build a successful future.

Get involved

In addition to the student groups hosted by the Guild of Students, each school runs its own social activities, research fora, seminars and groups for postgraduates.


Coming to Birmingham to study might be your first time living away from home. Our student accommodation will allow you to enjoy your new-found independence in safe, welcoming and sociable surroundings.

The City of Birmingham

One of Europe's most exciting destinations, Birmingham is brimming with life and cultures, making it a wonderful place to live, study and work. Our students fall in love with the city - around 40% of our graduates choose to make Birmingham their home.