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Applied Linguistics PgCert (Distance Learning)

Start date
October, December, February, April, July
18 months
Course Type
Postgraduate, Continuing professional development, Distance learning, Taught

Fees for October 2023 to July 2024:
£1,220 per module

Fees for October 2024:
£1,260 per module
More detail.

This programme is for teachers of English wishing to upgrade their professional knowledge, and those who are interested in the application of language research to language teaching.

Delivered part-time and by distance learning, the programme allows you to study alongside other commitments. You will be provided with a set of interactive course materials to complete in part-time, self-study mode over a period of 18 months.

Once you have completed the Postgraduate Certificate, you will be eligible to proceed to the MA Applied Linguistics by Distance Learning.

Scholarships for 2024 entry

The University of Birmingham is proud to offer a range of scholarships for our postgraduate programmes. With a scholarship pot worth over £2 million, we are committed to alleviating financial barriers to support you in taking your next steps.

Each scholarship has its own specific deadlines and eligibility criteria. Please familiarise yourself with the information on individual scholarship webpages prior to submitting an application.

Explore our scholarships


Why study this course?

  • Flexibility – we have multiple start dates throughout the year so you have the option of choosing when to commence your studies with us. You can study at home, in your own time and at your own pace, so you can combine achieving a qualification with other commitments. You also have the benefit of developing your career without having to leave employment.
  • Study from anywhere in the world - You can access the online course material from anywhere in the world, so if you change jobs or even move countries, it is possible to continue your studies.
  • Real life application – you can begin to apply new knowledge and insights to your working life whilst you are still studying. Many students choose to tackle work-related topics in their dissertations.
  • Opportunity to attend our summer school – you will be able to attend one of our summer schools in Birmingham and/or Japan to learn more about the discipline and meet with academics and other students on the programme. We also run on-line training events such as inductions and workshops for our students.
  • Access to excellent resources – You will also have free access to a range of online resources and corpora 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. We also have an extensive and growing range of books and journals available through the University’s online library.
  • Personal tutor – As a distance student you will have your own personal tutor whose job it is to guide and support you through the programme. He or she will be on hand to answer questions regarding the content of your programme and give advice on what to read and on writing your assignments.
  • Excellent reputation – The Department of English Language and Linguistics is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. The distance programmes have been running for more than twenty five years and have gained an excellent reputation. The online materials have been developed by experts in the field with a range of research interests and specialisms. The University has also been ranked as one of the world's top 50 institutions to study Linguistics in the 2024 QS World University Rankings.

Frequently asked questions | Enquiries


You will study two core modules and one optional module.

Core modules

You will study two core modules:


This module will allow you to consider the relationship between language and society, i.e. the interaction between the social domain on one hand and the linguistic domain on the other. The module will also examine the ways in which language varies, both according to the user and the way it is used, the purpose and context in which language is used and its social implications. These relationships are multi-faceted and highly complex, but may be seen in two overarching general principles: (i) the recognition that language is fundamentally a social phenomenon; (ii) that language is subject to change and variation.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Discourse Analysis

This module will introduce you to key concepts in spoken and written discourse, techniques of analysis, and the pedagogic applications of these. We will be looking at the characteristics of written and spoken discourse and how they differ from one another. These differences should have a significant impact on the way teachers treat language in the classroom. We will learn that the written form is not simply ‘spoken language written down’ and that the differences between these two forms are a lot more complex than you might imagine.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Optional modules

You will also choose one optional module from a range which typically includes:

Corpus Linguistics

This module considers a number of issues in corpus linguistics, including: the compilation of a corpus; the information to be gained from concordance lines and collocational information, and how this can be interpreted; the implications for theories of language of observations made from a corpus; contrasting approaches to corpora, and the theoretical assumptions behind each; current applications of corpora, mainly language teaching and/or translation, but also stylistics, ideology and forensic linguistics; possible future directions in corpus linguistics.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Functional Grammar

This module introduces the principles of systemic functional grammar and analysis of text from a systemic perspective, as a means of revealing the meaning, communicative functionality and rhetorical purposes of language. It also considers the various applications of this approach to linguistics.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment


The study of lexis is the study of vocabulary in all its different aspects. Vocabulary is typically seen as individual words, whereas lexis is a somewhat wider concept and consists of collocations, phraseology and formulaic expressions.

You will start by considering questions such as; what is a word, what isn’t a word, where does a word stop and a phrase begin? The module also looks at the mental lexicon, how words are stored in the brain and how the mental lexicon works.

The module also covers topics such as: how words are used to label and order things; how culturally specific this area of study can be; the relationship between words and their meaning; the process of word formation; the importance and ubiquity of multiword units, lexicalised sequences and lexical bundles; and the implications that findings of recent corpus based research have for the teaching of lexis.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Second Language Acquisition

This module introduces the main theoretical concepts and research findings underlying second language acquisition and the implication these have for classroom practice. It covers some of the key theories regarding how people think languages are learnt and by extension how they are best taught. It explores the ways and the extent to which these theories will apply to the your own and other teaching situations. The later parts of the module consider issues associated with the complex nature of the classroom environment and how that influences learning and also learner characteristics, learning styles and strategies, etc., all of which influence the way in which languages are learnt.
Assessment: 4,000-word assignment

Please note that the optional module information listed on the website for this programme is intended to be indicative, and the availability of optional modules may vary from year to year. Where a module is no longer available we will let you know as soon as we can and help you to make other choices.


This programme is charged per module.

  • Fees for 20-credit modules for students starting from October 2023 - July 2024: £1,220 per module
  • Fees for 20-credit modules for students starting from October 2024 - July 2025: £1,260 per module
  • Students who start between October 2023 and July 2024 will continue to pay module fees at the rates shown here throughout the duration of this course. An invoice will be issued for each module, at the time that you register onto that module.
  • A fee is also payable for the dissertation (worth 60 credits) and this is charged at the applicable rate for the academic year in which it is submitted. As a guide, dissertation fees are £3,780 for October 2024 entry.

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.

How To Apply

Application deadlines for this programme are as follows – 

Entry point: 1 October – application deadline 1 September 
Entry point: 1 December - application deadline 1 November 
Entry point: 1 February – application deadline 1 January 
Entry point: 1 April  – application deadline 1 March 
Entry point: 1 July  – application deadline 1 June 

Please note: Deferral requests for this programme will be considered on a case-by-case basis and will not normally be permitted for more than one calendar year from the start date originally applied for. 

Making your application

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate taught programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the taught programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

We usually ask for a good Honours degree, or overseas equivalent, or equivalent professional experience. Please provide details of any current and/or previous employment in your application; it is always helpful to include a current CV but please complete the relevant sections of the online application form as well.

International/EU students

Academic requirements: We accept a range of qualifications from different countries - use our handy guide below to see what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements: standard language requirements apply for this course - IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.5 in any band. If you are made an offer of a place to study and you do not meet the language requirement, you have the option to enrol on our English for Academic Purposes Presessional Course - if you successfully complete the course, you will be able to fulfil the language requirement without retaking a language qualification.

IELTS 6.5 with no less than 6.5 in any band is equivalent to:

  • TOEFL: 88 overall with no less than 22 in any band
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE): Academic 67 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced - minimum overall score of 176, with no less than 176 in any component

Learn more about international entry requirements

International Requirements

Our study materials are produced by academic staff in our department and are available online through the University's 'virtual learning environment', Canvas.

They contain aims and objectives, text, audio and video teaching material, reading lists, summaries of readings, activities and commentaries, discussion and reflection tasks, indexes and details of assignments required. On joining you are provided with an online induction pack which includes a course handbook that introduces you to the team, provides details of their roles and expertise and gives all the contact information you will need including email addresses so that if you have any difficulties or questions you will know who to contact for help and guidance.

Although much of the course is delivered through the virtual learning environment, support is always available. You will have a personal tutor to guide you and answer any questions, and you will be able to consult academic staff in Birmingham via video software such as Zoom or Teams.

We also run week-long face-to-face seminars in the summer. These are free, and open to all distance learning Applied Linguistics students.

Each module represents up to 200 hours of study time, including preparatory reading, assignment preparation and independent study.

This programme is designed to contribute to your professional development and enhance your career prospects.

Our 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.

Many of our graduates enter roles, or progress to more senior roles, in fields for which their programme has prepared them, such as teaching, teacher training and lecturing.