BA English Language

We all use language every day, but how many of us stop to think about it?

The study of language demands discipline, observation, exploration and imagination. Some aspects, like phonology and grammar, ask for particular attention to detail, accuracy and logical argument. Other topics, such as child language development and language variation, demand an ability to collect, analyse and evaluate your own data. Finding out how a language works and how societies communicate combines a unique intellectual challenge with significant practical potential.

Our BA English Language draws on Birmingham’s internationally-renowned strength in corpus linguistics, grammar, stylistics, discourse analysis and applied linguistics. You will be able to tailor the programme to suit your strengths and interests and towards a wide range of careers. The skills you gain will make you a much-sought-after graduate.

Rebecca Bulman

Rebecca Bulman

“I have always been interested in how we use language, both in everyday life and in more formal situations so I chose this degree in order to gain a more in depth understanding of our language. I chose to study here as I really liked the structure of the course and the module choices. Birmingham is a great city and a great university with friendly and helpful academic staff to help whenever you need it.”

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 wide range of interests and specialities.

On this degree programme you will gain a broad knowledge and understanding of the English language. You will engage with the structure and character of English, including phonology, lexis, grammar, and discourse. You will study the ways in which English varies according to time, place and context. You will also discover the processes of learning the language, theories about language, and methodologies and practices of linguistic research.

You will also have the chance to use new resources such as computer-held databases of linguistic data and you will be encouraged to embrace theoretical and technological advances in the study of language.

Why study this course

  • Excellent reputation - English Language has been ranked one of the top departments in the country in the Research Excellence Framework 2014, with over 85% of our academic research judged to be ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’.
  • Broad range of specialisms to explore - Birmingham is internationally famous for its work in corpus linguistics, stylistics, the language of social media, figurative language, and language learning and teaching. You can focus on traditional aspects of the subject, such as grammar, pragmatics, or historical linguistics, but you can also explore newer areas such as Englishes used worldwide, or English used in internet communication.
  • Exciting Year Abroad Opportunities - you will be able to spend either a semester or a year abroad at one of our carefully selected partner universities, where we have close personal ties with academic staff. During your time abroad you will be able to study modules in English Language and related subjects, including topics specific to the place of study. It is possible to attend universities where all the modules offered will be taught in English.
  • Career path option routes - Your personal tutor will guide you through the programme, helping you to select options that will suit your chosen career path. We have four informal routes through the degree programme which will help you into a wide range of different careers from advertising through to management through to speech therapy.
  • A vibrant staff and student community – Our department is very friendly and cohesive, with plenty of extra-curricular opportunities, from working alongside members of staff on their research projects on our Undergraduate Research Scholarships to regular social events such as end-of-term parties, summer balls and visiting writer talks. Recent guests have included short story writer and novelist Bernard MacLaverty, playwright Simon Stephens and poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy. 

Open day talk


The optional modules listed on the website for this programme may unfortunately occasionally be subject to change. As you will appreciate key members of staff may leave the University and this necessitates a review of the modules that are offered. Where the module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you make other choices.

First year

You will be introduced to the descriptive aspects of English, such as its phonology (sound system), morphology (word formation) and grammar in the ‘Sounds, Structures and Words’ module and will examine some of the key theoretical approaches to Language study in ‘Theories of Language’. In your other core modules you will be introduced to corpus linguistics, develop your own writing and begin to explore ways of doing research into English Language: ‘Introduction to Corpus Linguistics’, ‘The Practice of Writing’ and ‘Investigating Language’. You will also take a Module Outside your Main Discipline.

Detailed descriptions of BA English Language first year modules

Second year

Building on your first-year work, two core modules will provide you with a thorough grounding in technical aspects of the language, concentrating on ‘English Phonology and Morphology’ and then ‘English Grammar’.  You will also take a ‘Research Skills in English Language’ module in which you will develop your group and individual research skills and will take another Module Outside your Main Discipline. Your other two modules will be optional from a selection from modules such as:

  • History of the English Language
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Language Acquisition and Literacy
  • Sociolinguistics

Detailed descriptions of BA English Language second year modules

Final Year

The core element of your final year is a research project, either as a 10,000 word Dissertation or 5,000 word Language Investigation, in which you will carry out research in an area of your choosing with staff supervision. Your other final year modules will be options from a range of modules such as:

  • English Language Teaching
  • Discourse and Society
  • Health and Discourse
  • Language in the Workplace
  • Narrative
  • Ordinary Creativity
  • Linguistic Theory
  • Language, Gender and Identity
  • Language and the Mind
  • Words

Detailed descriptions of BA English Language final year modules

Study Abroad opportunities

As a student in the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics you can spend either a semester or a year abroad at one of our carefully selected partner universities, where we have close personal ties with academic staff and a good knowledge of their programme in English Language. Potential destinations include, but are not limited to, the University of Bari, Italy, the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, USA, the University of Melbourne, Australia and the VU Amsterdam, Holland.

Fees and funding

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

  • Home / EU: £9,000
  • Overseas: £13,860

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

For further information on tuition fees, living costs and available financial support, please see our pages on undergraduate fees and funding.

Tuition fees when studying abroad

For those spending a whole academic year abroad (where available):

  • Students who are classed as home/EU for fees purposes are required to pay 15% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £1,350
  • Students who are classed as overseas for fee purposes are required to pay 50% of their normal annual tuition fee; for 2016/17 this will be £6,930

For those studying abroad for just one semester (where available), normal annual tuition fees apply.

Note - Study abroad opportunities vary between courses; please see the course description for details of study abroad options offered.

Entry requirements

Number of A levels required:
Typical offer:
Required subjects and grades:
We prefer an A level in English Language, or English Language and Literature, at grade A. We also consider other candidates who demonstrate an interest in and aptitude for the study of language. In this case, A levels in English Literature or a foreign language - or both- would be an advantage.
General Studies:
not accepted

International baccalaureate update

Please note that we have reviewed our policy on the IB Diploma for 2016 entry and our offers will now focus on performance in Higher Level subjects. For more information and details please read our 2016 IB Diploma requirements.

Additional information:

Other qualifications are considered – learn more about entry requirements

International students:

We welcome applications from international students and invite you to join our vibrant community of over 4500 international students who represent 150 different countries. We accept a range of qualifications, our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

Depending on your chosen course of study, you may also be interested in one of our foundation pathways, which offer specially structured programmes for international students whose qualifications are not accepted for direct entry to UK universities. Further details can be found on Birmingham International Academy web pages.

How to apply

Joint Honours combinations

You can also combine the study of English Language with other disciplines on our  Single Honours English Language and Literature programme, or on the English Language pathway of our Joint Honours English programmes:

Key Information Set (KIS)

Key Information Sets (KIS) are comparable sets of information about full- or part-time undergraduate courses and are designed to meet the information needs of prospective students.

All KIS information has been published on the Unistats website and can also be accessed via the small advert, or ‘widget’, below. On the Unistats website you are able to compare all the KIS data for each course with data for other courses.

The development of Key Information Sets (KIS) formed part of HEFCE’s work to enhance the information that is available about higher education. They give you access to reliable and comparable information in order to help you make informed decisions about what and where to study.

The KIS contains information which prospective students have identified as useful, such as student satisfaction, graduate outcomes, learning and teaching activities, assessment methods, tuition fees and student finance, accommodation and professional accreditation.

University of Birmingham students are part of an academic elite and learn from world-leading experts. We will challenge you to become an independent and self-motivated learner, qualities that are highly sought after by employers.

You will have a diverse learning experience, including:

  • lectures
  • small group tutorials
  • independent study
  • and peer group learning, such as delivering presentations with your classmates


You will have access to a comprehensive support system to help you make the transition to Higher Education.

  • Personal tutors - You will be assigned your own personal tutor who will get to know you as you progress through your studies. They will provide academic support and welfare advice to enable you to make the most of your time here at Birmingham.
  • Transition review - you will undergo a formal transition review during your first year with an academic member of staff. They will see how you are getting on and if there are particular areas where you need support.
  • Academic Skills Centre - the centre aims to help you become a more effective and independent learner through a range of high-quality support services. The centre offers workshops on a range of topics, such as note-taking, reading, academic writing and presentation skills.
  • Academic Writing Advisory Service (AWAS) - the AWAS team will provide guidance on writing essays and dissertations at University-level. You will receive individual support from an academic writing advisor and meet with postgraduate tutors who specialise in particular subjects. Support is given in a variety of ways, such as small-group workshops, online activities, tutorials and email correspondence.
  • Student experience - our Student Experience Team will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.

Assessment methods

Assessments - you will be assessed in a variety of ways to help you transition to a new style of learning. At the beginning of each module, you will be given information on how and when you will be assessed. Assessments methods will vary with each module and could include:

  • coursework, such as essays
  • group and individual presentations
  • and formal exams

Feedback - you will receive feedback on each assessment within four weeks, so you can learn from each assignment. You will also be given feedback on any exams that you take. If you should fail an exam, we will ensure that particularly detailed feedback is provided to help you prepare for future exams.

Studying for an English Language BA at the University of Birmingham is an unparalleled opportunity to engage with a diverse cultural, textual and linguistic discipline, whilst also developing skills in intellectual analysis, critical thinking and articulate expression.

These are skills that last a lifetime and qualify you for many possible careers.

The structure of the English Language programme allows you to pursue many potential career areas by developing relevant skills and expertise that will be relevant to future employers. You will acquire practical skills that you will find just as useful in your future career, including oral presentation, professional documentation, group work and the uses of information technology.

English Language graduates from the University of Birmingham have excellent prospects after graduation. 85% of our graduates go into work or study within six months of graduation, with 70% immediately entering managerial and professional roles, which is amongst the highest percentages for graduate employability in this subject.

Our graduates have started careers with employers including media companies, educational institutions, local councils, publishers, charities and a wide range of large commercial organisations, in roles such as marketing coordinator, editorial assistant, creative advertising account executive, recruitment consultant and parliamentary caseworker. About 26% of English graduates pursue postgraduate study to specialise in an academic area or prepare for careers such as law and teaching.

Developing your career

Employers target University of Birmingham students for their diverse skill-set and our graduate employment statistics have continued to climb at a rate well above national trends. If you make the most of our wide range of opportunities you will be able to develop your career from the moment you arrive.

  • Careers events - we hold events covering careers in teaching, event management, marketing and working with charities to help you meet potential employers and learn more about these sectors.
  • Global Challenge - you can apply to work overseas on an expenses-paid placement during your summer vacation through our Global Challenge initiative.
  • Work experience bursary - we encourage you to apply your skills in the workplace by undertaking internships in the summer. Our work experience bursaries allow you to apply for funding to support you during unpaid internships.
  • Cultural Internships - our innovative Cultural Internships offer graduates the opportunity for a six month paid internship at a leading cultural institution in the West Midlands. These internships will give you professional experience to set you apart in a competitive graduate market. Our current partners include Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery, Birmingham REP, Birmingham Royal Ballet, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Ironbridge Gorge Museums Trust, Library of Birmingham.

There are also internships available at our own cultural assets, such as Winterbourne House, the Lapworth Museum, and the Barber Institute of Fine Arts.

Extra-curricular activities

To enhance your career prospects even further, you will need to think about engaging in some extra-curricular activities to broaden your skills and network of contacts.

  • Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme - our College of Arts and Law Undergraduate Research Scholarship Scheme enables interested students to work on a current academic research project being run by one of our academic researchers. Undergraduate research scholars gain work experience over the summer after their first or second year and have the chance to develop skills in both collaborative and independent research.
  • Personal Skills Award - our employer-endorsed award-winning Personal Skills Award (PSA) recognises your extra-curricular activities, and provides an accredited employability programme designed to improve your career prospects.
  • Guild of Students - there is a vast number of student groups and volunteering opportunities offered by the Guild of Students, which cover a wide variety of interests.

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

Clubs and societies

The Guild has over 200 Societies, community volunteering groups and associations for you to join; they cover every topic and activity that you can think of - there really is something for everyone.

Student Experience Officers

Our Student Experience Officers will help you get the most out of your academic experience. They will offer research opportunities, study skills support and help you prepare for your post-university careers. They will also organise social events, such as field trips, to help you meet fellow students from your course.


Coming to Birmingham 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 culture, 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.

International students

The University of Birmingham has been welcoming international students onto our campus since 1900.

We have one of the largest and most vibrant international student communities in the UK, with 5,000 international students from more than 150 different countries and 31% of our academic staff from overseas.

If you would like further information about entry requirements, how to apply and funding options, then you can visit our international students webpage. You may also wish to take a virtual tour of our campus and watch the video below to hear our international students say their favourite thing about the University of Birmingham.