MA Language, Culture and Communication

Are you interested in understanding and critiquing the ways in which language is used in politics, the media, and intercultural communication?

This course is intended for those who wish to upgrade their professional and academic standing in discourse studies, linguistics, semiotics, and/or intercultural communication. It is particularly well-suited for students with backgrounds in linguistics, communication and related fields who want to move into higher education, journalism, and research into the role of communication in media, politics and society.

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.

 

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

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

You will also choose two optional modules from a wide range.

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

  • During the autumn term, all students will be offered preliminary training in corpus linguistics, introducing you to one or more of the main English language corpora (e.g. the British National Corpus) – invaluable collections of authentic language data against which theory, intuition and pedagogic materials can be measured.
  • You will also be offered a course in Academic Writing. Those whose first language is not English are particularly encouraged to follow this course

Assessment

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, and this will count as your assignment for Research Methods in Applied Linguistics.

You will also complete a 15,000-word dissertation.

Why study this course

  • Flexibility – the variety of modules on offer will allow you to specialise and study areas of the discipline which interest you the most.
  • Excellent reputation – The Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics is one of the oldest and largest of its kind in the country. The University has also been ranked as one of the world's top 50 institutions to study English Language and Literature in the 2017 QS World Rankings.
  • Access to fantastic 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 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.
  • Range of teaching and research expertise – Staff in the Department research, publish and teach across a wide range of areas. They have particularly strong teaching and research interests in corpus research, discourse analysis, stylistics, English language teaching, applied linguistics, everyday creativity, metaphor, multimodality, new media, historical linguistics, and the politics of English language.
  • Join a vibrant and active postgraduate community – with conferences, seminars and social events, there is always something happening in the Department.

Modules

You will study five core modules:

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.
Assessment: 2 x 2,000-word essays

Discourse, Culture and Communication

This module explores the interaction between discourse and ‘culture’. Various definitions of ‘culture’ are outlined in relation to other theoretical concepts (e.g. ideology), and you will be introduced to models of analysis for spoken and written discourse. These models are applied to sample texts, with a view to examining issues and problems of communication within and across cultural boundaries. You will be encouraged to explore the relevance of approaches to discourse and ‘culture’ to professional contexts.  
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Intercultural Communication

In today’s ‘global world’, it is increasingly necessary to communicate successfully across cultural boundaries of language, style and value. 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 25 years. In attempting to address such questions, we will hope to draw upon the variety of students’ own cultural backgrounds as a basis for discussion and contrastive analysis. There will be some scope for negotiating content in response to students’ interests, but some of the topics we might explore include: definitions and dimensions of 'culture'; stereotyping the other (and the self?); culture and communication; identity and ‘cultures within cultures’; intercultural mediation; and language(s), discourse(s) and globalisation(s).
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Social and Multimodal Aspects of Communication

The aim of this module is to provide an overview of major issues in the areas of Sociolinguistics and Multimodal Communication, with reference to new theories that take into consideration a diversity of communicative modes – language, image, music, sound texture and gesture. One half of the course will introduce and discuss concepts and issues in the field of Sociolinguistics; the other will explore new ways of understanding and analysing multimodal communication.
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

Research Methods in Applied Linguistics

This module aims to provide you with a grounding in methods and approaches to research in Applied Linguistics. 
Assessment: 4,000-word essay

You will also choose two optional modules from a range which may include the following:

In the spring term -

  • Cognitive Linguistics and Language Learning
  • Corpus Assisted Language Learning
  • Corpus Linguistics
  • English as a Global Language
  • Issues and Approaches in English for Academic Purposes
  • Language and Gesture
  • Language and New Media
  • Language and the Senses
  • Language, Gender and Identity
  • Psycholinguistics in TESOL
  • Teacher Training
  • Vocabulary and Phraseology

For more information, see our English Language and Applied Linguistics module descriptions.

Please note that one of your two 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’.


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.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19:

  • UK/EU: £9,000 full-time
  • International: £17,010 full-time

Fee status

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

We can also confirm that EU students who are already studying at the University of Birmingham or who have an offer to start their studies in the 2018-19 academic year will continue to be charged the UK fee rate applicable at the time, provided this continues to be permitted by UK law. The UK Government has also confirmed that students from the EU applying to courses starting in the 2018-19 academic year will not see any changes to their loan eligibility or fee status. This guarantee will apply for the full duration of the course, even if the course finishes after the UK has left the EU.

Paying your fees

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 English Language, Media Studies, Journalism, Communication Studies or another relevant subject (e.g. Linguistics, Translation Studies, TEFL/TESL, English Literature). 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

Modules are typically delivered via weekly two-hour seminars. You will also receive one-to-one supervision to support you in the development of your dissertation.

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).

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 tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive 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.

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 Applied Linguistics

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.

Many of our graduates enter roles for which their programme has prepared them, such as teaching and lecturing; others use their transferable skills in a wide range of occupations including journalism, marketing and events.

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

The Guild of Students hosts over 250 student groups and societies to suit a wide range of interests. These include the Postgraduate and Mature Students Association which runs a regular and varied programme of events specifically tailored to postgraduate students.

In addition, you will find that each Department runs its own social activities, research fora and student groups.

Accommodation

We offer accommodation for postgraduates on or near to campus, although many of our students also choose to live privately in student accommodation, shared houses or flats. If you do choose to live in private accommodation, the University has dedicated support services to help you to find properties from accredited landlords.

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.