Postgraduate study
We combine theoretical and ideological dimensions with practical applications.
MA Applied Linguistics
1 year full-time, 2-3 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (Upper 2nd class honours undergraduate degree or international equivalent) in English language/literature or a related arts or humanities subject
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
UK/EU fees
£7,290 - Terms apply
International fees
£17,910 - Terms apply
University Park



The School of English at Nottingham has long been at the forefront of research and teaching in the area of applied linguistics.

This MA provides an exciting opportunity to work with leading world figures in the subject and to investigate English language in applied contexts.

You will be introduced to the key ideas and concepts in applied linguistics and provided with thorough training in relevant research methods. This MA provides an excellent route into PhD study after completion of the MA.

The principle of language study that we have established at Nottingham combines theoretical and ideological dimensions with practical applications; with a rigorous and principled approach.

The key features of this course include: a theoretical grounding in research methodology and linguistic description, one-to-one tuition with expert members of staff, teaching informed by active leading-edge researchers in the field, innovative and engaging teaching methods, and access to many online resources and flexibility in course content.

Key facts


You will be taught using the latest advances in teaching methods and electronic resources. Principle features of the masters programme include:

  • seminar group teaching
  • group and one-to-one tuition with academic members of staff
  • teaching informed by active researchers
  • access to a variety of on-line resources
  • flexible course content
  • a theoretical grounding in research methodology and linguistic description

Please Note:

This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies.  Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.


Full course details

The MA in Applied Linguistics explores the role of language in human affairs using a variety of approaches, ranging from discourse analysis to corpus linguistics and psycholinguistics. With a particular focus on research methodology, this programme offers an opportunity for investigating language and communication from an interdisciplinary angle.
The course is designed to give students an advanced knowledge of the relevant state of scholarship in language study, pedagogy and linguistics, while also broadening their ability to apply and develop theoretical models and frameworks in language study.

This course can be taken over one year, full-time (September to September) and part-time over two to three years.

Typical subjects covered on this course include:

  • research methods in applied linguistics
  • communication
  • language, gender and sexuality
  • vocabulary
  • second language acquisition
  • cognition and literature
  • corpus linguistics
  • sociolinguistics
  • dramatic discourse
  • narratology
  • psycholinguistics

Most taught modules are assessed by written work of varying format and length commensurate with content and weighting. Tutors provide detailed comments on assignments. The objective is to provide you with the confidence to work as professional academics, at ease with the conventions of the discipline, and ready to tackle any area of research in applied linguistics.

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a supervised dissertation of 14,000 words. This is a major piece of advanced independent research, which you will undertake with the supervision of a specialist in your chosen area. We will provide you with advice and guidance while you select and refine your area of study, and offer close supervision and support as you complete your research and your MA.

This MA is also available as a web-based distance learning course. Please see the English Distance Learning courses website for more information.



The following is a sample of typical modules that we offer, not a definitive list. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change, for example due to curriculum developments.

You will take the following compulsory modules:

Advanced Research Methods in Applied Linguistics: Quantitative & Qualitative Methods

The module looks at various approaches of collecting and processing data using both qualitative and quantitative methods of investigation. With a focus on the area of applied linguistics, you will be introduced to the process of hypothesis formulation and testing, issues of interpretation, evaluation and replicability of data and of research results, questionnaire and interview design, data gathering and recording, statistical description and analysis.

The final element of the course is a 14,000 word dissertation, which students complete over the summer period. You will be provided with guidance and and advice to help you complete your independent research in a specialist area of your choosing.

You must then take a further 100 credits from the following list of modules, with each module being worth 20 credits:

Business & Organisational Communication

The module investigates the multidisciplinary subject of business and organisational communication. It covers a wide range of quantitative and qualitative approaches, examining how individuals and groups use spoken and written communication to achieve success in the workplace. The range of methodologies and analytical frameworks for interrogating business and organisational communication include: conversation analysis, corpus linguistics, critical discourse analysis, pragmatics and speech act theory, ethnography, and genre analysis.

The module also highlights contemporary issues emerging from the field, exploring, for instance, the influence of context, new multi-media technologies and globalisation on communication in commercial domains and organisational environments. The module emphasises how the findings of communicative research can be practically applied in teaching and training materials and in consultancy work.

Cognition & Literature

This module represents a course in cognitive poetics. It draws on insights developed in cognitive science, especially in psychology and linguistics, in order to develop an understanding of the processes involved in literary reading. The module also develops skills in stylistics and critical theory.

Consciousness in Fiction

The module will explore in depth techniques for the presentation of consciousness in novels and other fictional texts. You will learn about the linguistic indices associated with the point of view of characters and the various modes available to a writer for the presentation of characters’ thoughts and perceptions.

Alongside detailed examinations of narrative texts which portray consciousness, you will also study different theories put forward to explain the nature of writing consciousness in texts. Our stylistic analyses of fictional minds will also aim to account for historical changes in the techniques used for consciousness presentation.

Dramatic Discourse

This module explores the relationship between language and drama. Taking a multi-faceted approach, drawing on facets of linguistic analysis from stylistics, discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, the module considers the role of language in moving dramatic scripts from page to stage, exploring aspects of characterisation (such as identity, power and provocation), the role of language in story-telling on stage and the 'management' of performance through stage directions. Working with a range of texts from the early modern period to the present day, the module investigates the role of language in shaping character, dialogue, interaction, and staging.

English Vocabulary: Teaching & Learning

This module covers the various aspects of knowledge that are required to fluently use a word: meaning, written form, spoken form, grammatical properties, frequency, register, collocation, and association. Practical aspects of teaching vocabulary will also be covered including vocabulary teaching activities, vocabulary learning strategies, vocabulary testing, and the use of corpora.

Group Dynamics & Motivation in the Language Classroom

This module offers an introduction to the main psychological factors and processes that determine the way students learn foreign languages within an institutional (classroom) context. The focus will be on two key issues that have a considerable practical significance: language learning motivation, and the internal dynamics of the learner group that can either enhance or hinder the individual members' learning achievement.

Key topics to be discussed will include the components of L2 motivation; strategies to increase student motivation; structural and developmental characteristics of the 'good' learner group; group building techniques; effective leadership roles; cooperative language learning.

Intercultural Communication

This module will explore the use of language in interactions between speakers of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds from three different perspectives: description, development, and assessment. With a growing proportion of interactions in the world today taking place between people of diverse cultural backgrounds, it is important to identify and describe language use which may lead to misunderstanding and communicative breakdown.

This module will look at ways in which language barriers might be overcome in such interactions, and at the key factors in this process. You will examine intercultural interactions in a variety of contexts, for example: business and other professional encounters, the language of the media, and the language classroom, etc

Language, Gender and Sexuality

The module will explore the relationship between language and gender in spoken interaction and written texts, drawing on key approaches in the areas of discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and pragmatics. The extent to which gender affects the language we produce when interacting with one another in a variety of contexts will be focused on, along with the issue of sexism in language use. Various theoretical paradigms that have been presented to explain language and gender differences will be critically examined, along with gender ideologies which operate in society.

You will be encouraged to combine theoretical thinking with hands-on analyses of data from authentic examples of spoken interaction and from a variety of publications including the popular media. The practical consequences of the discipline in terms of how findings can have a political impact on wider society are also discussed.

Language Teaching: Speaking & Listening

The main focus of this module is an exploration of teaching methods for listening and speaking in EFL and ESL environments. The components of the module will provide a theoretical and practical focus for the content and organisation of language classes focused on listening and speaking.

You will become familiar with the four strands approach to designing language learning programs. Within this context, participants will be guided towards good practice in English language teaching and learning constructed from current theory, methods, approaches and practices. You will have the opportunity to observe, plan, prepare, and teach listening and speaking activities.

This module surveys key work in narratology, from literary, stylistic and sociolinguistic perspectives. Combining a consideration of ideological and theoretical issues in narratology with methodological approaches from other areas of linguistic study such as pragmatics, discourse analysis and cognitive poetics, the module explores narratological analysis in relation to both literary and non-literary narratives.
Psychology of Language
This module considers three fundamental and interrelated questions about psycholinguistics: 1. acquisition, or how language is acquired; 2. comprehension, or how words, sentences, and discourse are understood; and 3. production, or how words, sentences, and conversations are produced. Potential topics include, but are not limited to: lexical influences on sentence comprehension and production; first and second language acquisition; reading; language disorders (e.g., dyslexia, aphasia). 
Research Methods: Corpus Linguistics

Corpus linguistics provides methods for the study of collections of electronic texts (written texts including literary texts, material from the internet, transcripts of spoken language, etc.). This module introduces fundamental corpus methods that include retrieving and interpreting word frequency information, studying patterns of words in the form of concordances, and analysing keywords and key semantic domains.

This module introduces fundamental corpus methods that include retrieving and interpreting word frequency information, studying patterns of words in the form of concordances, and analysing keywords and key semantic domains. Through weekly hands-on sessions you will actively practice the use of corpus software. Throughout the module, you are encouraged to reflect on the applicability of a range of methods to their own areas of interest (e.g. literary linguistics, discourse analysis, ELT, etc.).

For the assessment, you will complete a small-scale corpus project on a topic of your own choosing (in consultation with the tutor). This project can function to test ideas that might be further developed in your dissertation.

Research Methods in Literary Linguistics

This module explores the use of linguistic frameworks to investigate literary texts. Through a series of practical analyses, you will be introduced to a range of linguistic explorations of poetry, prose, and drama from a wide range of historical periods.

The course will invite you to use the analyses as an occasion for the critical evaluation of the various approaches to language and literature, to investigate the notions of literariness and interpretation, and to consider the scope and validity of stylistics in relation to literature and literary studies. The range of key research methods and methodologies in stylistics will be studied.

Scientific Study of Literature

Albert Einstein tells us that 'science is nothing more than a refinement of everyday thinking'. In the Scientific Study of Literature you will look at this refined thinking—the 'scientific method'—and how it can be used to understand 'literariness'.

You will look initially at the historical relationship between “science” and 'literature'; at what constitutes the scientific method; and, importantly, you will also explore the kinds of literary questions to which this method can be applied. You will then survey a range of scientific methodologies, including eye-tracking, corpus linguistics tools, and the use of EDA and EMG (which measure 'arousal' in readers), exploring how they can be used to investigate literary texts and readers' responses to them. Through this work, you will acquire the necessary skills to develop hypotheses and test them, with the aim of designing and carrying out your own literary experiments.

Second Language Acquisition

Arguably the most important subdiscipline for the understanding of language teaching is SLA. The module focuses on this area to ensure that you have a sound understanding of how language is learned.

Sociolinguistics of Work

This module is intended to familiarise you with theories and applications of sociolinguistics in relation to a work context. It will cover a range of sociolinguistic, workplace topics, including a focus upon the following: workplace cultures, language and identity, including gender, ethnicity, age, religion/nation and social class, miscommunication, intercultural communication, linguistic politeness, and interactional sociolinguistics.

The module will emphasise the crucial relationship between social variables, power and communication in the workplace, and demonstrate how recourse to sociolinguistic analysis can illuminate and enhance communication in a range of workplaces.


More information on the above modules is available in the Module Catalogue.

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The above is a sample of the typical modules that we offer but is not intended to be construed and/or relied upon as a definitive list of the modules that will be available in any given year. Due to the passage of time between commencement of the course and subsequent years of the course, modules may change due to developments in the curriculum and information is provided for indicative purposes only.


Fees and funding

UK/EU Students

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, however, financial support and competitive scholarships are available and we encourage applicants to explore all funding opportunities.

Please visit the school's website for the latest information about funding opportunities, including ESRC funding.

The Graduate School website at the University of Nottingham provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.

Government loans for masters courses

Masters student loans of up to £10,906 are available for taught and research masters courses. Applicants must ordinarily live in the UK or EU.

International and EU students

Masters scholarships are available for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study. You must already have an offer to study at Nottingham to apply. Please note closing dates to ensure you apply for your course with enough time.

Information and advice on funding your degree, living costs and working while you study is available on our website, as well as country-specific resources.

Students should check the eligibility requirements with their funding body before enrolling on a part-time course.  

Careers and professional development

Our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers following their time in the school.

Conducting postgraduate work in the School of English fosters many vital skills and may give you a head start in the job market. Studying at this level allows you to develop qualities of self-discipline and self-motivation that are essential to employment in a wide range of different fields.

We will help you develop your ability to research and process a large amount of information quickly, and to present the results of your research in an articulate and effective way. A postgraduate degree from the School of English at the University of Nottingham shows potential employers that you are an intelligent, hard-working individual who is bright and flexible enough to undertake any form of specific career training.

Our applicants are among the best in the country, and employers expect the best from our graduates.

Average starting salary and career progression

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers.*

In 2016, 94.1% of postgraduates from the School of English who were available for employment had secured work or further study within six months of graduation. The average starting salary was £21,333 with the highest being £22,000.**

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research
** Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2015/16. Salaries are calculated based on the median of those in full-time paid employment within the UK

Career Prospects and Employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice from the dedicated Faculty of Arts careers team as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential.

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.


This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

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Graham Hancock
Postgraduate Administrator

School of English
University of Nottingham
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