MA Applied Linguistics (Distance Learning)

Start date
February, April, July, October or December
30 months part-time
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.

Are you interested in the relationship between language and society? Do you want to learn more about how vocabulary works and the difference between spoken and written language? 

Our MA in Applied Linguistics is intended for anyone interested in the application of language research to language pedagogy, and for teachers of English who wish to upgrade their professional standing.

Studying this programme by distance learning, you will be provided with a set of interactive course materials to complete in part-time, self-study mode over a period of at least 30 months.

We also offer a full-time, on-campus programme over one year. For more information see Applied Linguistics MA.

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.
  • Real life application – you can begin to apply new knowledge and insights to your working life whilst you are still studying. Many students even 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 have 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 have access to online 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 – your personal tutor 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 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.


You will study three core modules:


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. In this module 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 whole area of study can be
  • The relationship between words and their meaning, e.g. synonymy, antonym etc.
  • The process of word formation and how words actually appear in the language and how they are coined
  • We also consider the importance and ubiquity of multiword units, lexicalised sequences and lexical bundles
  • The implications that findings of recent corpus based research have for the teaching of lexis.

Assessment: 4,000-word essay


This module offers advanced studies in Sociolinguistics – which are mainly concerned with the relationship between linguistics and social domains. You will 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 essay

Discourse Analysis

This module provides an introduction to key concepts in spoken and written discourse, techniques of analysis, and pedagogic applications of these. The module will enable you to discuss the differences between spoken and written discourse, and those between language use inside the classroom and that in the world outside. You will also be able to analyse and describe spoken and classroom discourse and textual patterns which occur frequently in English, and critically assess the relevance of text and discourse analysis to language teaching. Ultimately, the module will enable you to apply techniques of discourse analysis appropriately to your own pedagogic practice.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Optional modules

You will also choose three optional modules from a range which typically includes:

  • Corpus Linguistics
  • English Language Teaching Management
  • Functional Grammar
  • Language and New Media
  • Language Teaching Methodology
  • Language Testing
  • Multimodal Communication
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Pedagogic Grammar
  • Second Language Acquisition
  • Syllabus and Materials Design
  • Teaching Language to Young Learners

For more information, see our distance learning module descriptions.


In addition to your taught modules, you will conduct a piece of independent research with the support of a supervisor, culminating in a 15,000-word dissertation.

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

The deadline for applications is one calendar month ahead of your desired entry date, to allow adequate time for your application to be processed. Application deadlines for this programme are as follows:

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

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 in a relevant subject, or overseas equivalent. However, when considering your application, we look at your qualifications and work experience as well as your academic credentials. If your first degree is in an unrelated subject but you have relevant professional experience you may well be eligible for the course. For this reason, it is important to 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 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

Course delivery

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

They contain aims and objectives, reading lists, summaries of readings, activities and commentaries, discussion and reflection tasks, indexes and details of assignments required. On joining you are provided with 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 and dissertation supervisor to guide you and answer any questions, and you will be able to consult academic staff in Birmingham via Skype.

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.

Distance learning in the College of Arts and Law

For more information on distance learning including answers to frequently asked questions, student experiences and funding opportunities, please see our distance learning website

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver local support.

In addition to a range of campus-based events and workshops, Careers Network provides extensive online resources, and comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: English Language and Linguistics

Birmingham's English Language and 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.

Many of our graduates enter roles for which their programme has prepared them, such as becoming a language analyst or data scientist. Others use their transferable skills in a wide range of occupations including teaching, research administration and events.