Postgraduate study
This course is ideal if you want the flexibility of building your own programme of language study.



The web-based MA Modern English Language offers you the opportunity to follow a wide range of modules from across the expertise of the language section of the School of English.

Therefore, this course is ideal if you do not want to specialise in your language study or if you want the flexibility of building your own programme.

The MA has intakes in September and February.

Key facts

  • The MA courses by web-based distance learning build on the international reputation of the School of English at Nottingham as one of the foremost centres for English Language research in the world.
  • The School of English was ranked 7th in the UK for English in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2018
  • 13th for English by the Complete University Guide 2020
  • 45th in the QS World University 2018 rankings for English Language and Literature
  • 9th in the UK for 'research power' (REF 2014).
  • The course is taught using a course tool software called Moodle. It is also supported by extensive online resources, course materials and teaching.
  • The programme offers an excellent route towards pursuing a PhD.
  • The MA Modern English Language is also available as a taught full- or part-time course within the University.
  • As well as completing this course at a pace that suits you and your other commitments, you have the flexibility to study towards a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits), Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits) or an MA (180 credits, including dissertation). Please note that if you wish to study for a Postgraduate Certificate or Postgraduate Diploma you still need to apply for the full MA; you would then elect to leave the course with the alternative award once studying.

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 web-based MA Modern English Language is taught using the latest advances in online teaching methods and electronic resources.

The course begins with an introductory course in the description of language and training for research, which is followed by options in Applied Linguistics, Literary Linguistics and English Studies.

Typical areas available for choice on this course include:

  • Descriptive Linguistic Analysis
  • English Vocabulary: Teaching and Learning
  • Discourse Analysis
  • Corpus Linguistics
  • Literary Linguistics
  • World Englishes
  • Syllabus Design and Methodology
  • Narratology
  • Language and Gender
  • Intercultural Communication
  • Health Communication 
  • Language and Gender
  • Cognition and Literature
  • Research Methods in Applied Linguistics
  • Psycholinguistics
  • Investigating Health Communication

Please note that all module details are subject to change.

Programme Structure Students take 180 credits worth of modules, including the dissertation element. One credit represents 10 hours of student work. Modules are worth 20 credits, and are classified at level 4 (i.e., intended for students who hold a first degree in an appropriate subject at a suitable standard).

Students are required to take the module Descriptive Linguistic Analysis. This is an entry module which must be successfully completed before continuing with the MA.

Students can choose an additional 100 credits from a range of taught elective modules. 

Towards the end of the course, you will complete a supervised dissertation. 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 course can be taken part-time over 24 to 48 months.

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

Course materials and teaching for this course are available over the Internet. 

All taught modules are assessed by written work of around 4,000 words or equivalent. Tutors provide feedback on practice exercises as preparation, and detailed comments on assignments.

A final 60 credit dissertation completes the MA.

You will have access to many online resources, as well as your own personal tutor for each module that you take. Particular features of the programme include:

  • a theoretical grounding in research methodology and linguistic description
  • one-to-one tuition with expert members of staff
  • innovative and engaging teaching methods
  • access to many online resources
  • great flexibility in course content, optionality, and changes in direction.

All MA students in the School of English join a lively and thriving postgraduate community. As such, you will be invited to attend a voluntary `Summer School` each year, giving you a chance to meet other students in the school face-to-face.

Details of course fees and other costs are available on the School web pages.



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.

Psycholinguistics 1 (20 credits) 

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 in Applied Linguistics (20 credits)  

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, students 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. 

Investigating Health Communication (20 credits) 
This module is intended to introduce students to the rapidly expanding field of health communication. The module focuses on two key areas in the field: narratives of healthcare and healthcare documentation. It will equip students with a high level knowledge of narrative and documentation theory and explore how much of what takes place in healthcare exchanges is governed by the kinds of narratives and documents that are used. Students will also develop and practice skills in identifying and analysing narratives of, and documents relating to, patients, professionals and policy makers. Students will understand how knowledge of healthcare texts can be used to enhance therapeutic interventions and practices across a range of healthcare disciplines. Students will appreciate how healthcare environments, structures and practices are informed by broader, macro-level organisational narratives and policies.
Intercultural Communication (20 credits) 

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. We will examine intercultural interactions in a variety of contexts, e.g. business and other professional encounters, the language of the media, the foreign language classroom, etc.

Literary Linguistics 1 (20 credits) 

This module explores the use of linguistic frameworks to investigate literary texts. Through a series of practical analyses, students 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 students 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.

Literary Linguistics 2 (20 credits) 

This module further explores the use of linguistic frameworks to investigate literary texts. 

World Englishes (20 credits) 

The module will examine the historical and social development of the English language in contexts largely but not exclusively outside the traditional boundaries of Great Britain and the United States. This will involve an examination of language development, nativisation and acculturation in different contexts; social, political and ideological aspects of the phenomenon will be examined. 

Discourse Analysis (20 credits) 

The module looks at various approaches to the study of spoken language. These include structural models based on the work of the Birmingham discourse analysts, as well as more sociolinguistically inspired approaches to conversation analysis and recent developments in spoken corpus linguistics. Each learning unit takes a different kind of discourse and progressively builds up a classification of discourse types or genres. Real spoken data are used throughout, for exemplification and practical analysis tasks. Both quantitative (corpus-based) and qualitative approaches to analysis are covered, and the implications for language pedagogy and other branches of applied linguistics (e.g applications in other professional contexts) are considered.

Vocabulary: Teaching and Learning (20 credits) 

The module will provide a broad overview of vocabulary studies, including description of how vocabulary is used, exploration of the processes of vocabulary acquisition, and discussions of current best practice in teaching pedagogy. Specific issues covered include: what it means to 'know a word'; how many and which words need to be taught; explicit vs. incidental learning of vocabulary and reading; vocabulary learning strategies; and testing vocabulary.

Language and Gender (20 credits) 

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. Students 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.

Syllabus Design and Methodology 1 (20 credits) 

The module will examine the theory and practice of syllabus design. The emphasis is on developing practical strategies and thinking in order to design and teach ELT programmes to meet the needs of specific learners in a specified teaching context. The module explores the relationship between syllabus design and methodology, before going on to a critical appraisal of developments in ELT methodology. This includes the humanistic, social-constructivist and lexical approaches, and communicative methodology. Issues relating to the learner-centred syllabus are also be explored.

Syllabus Design and Methodology 2 (20 credits) 
The module will further examine the theory and practice of syllabus design, building on the knowledge and skills developed in the first module. The emphasis in this advanced course is on developing practical strategies and thinking in relation to a wider range of classroom situations. The student's own teaching environment and context will inform the area of study, and further critical positions are explored.
Narratology (20 credits) 

This module surveys key work in narratology, from literary, stylistic and sociolinguistic perspectives, with each unit written by an area specialist. The module introduces key approaches to the study of narratology and offers students insight into the development of narrative from Chaucer to the present day. The emphasis will be on literary narratives, though comparative exploration of non-literary and narratives will also appear. 

Cognition and Literature (20 credits) 

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. 

Research Methods: Corpus Linguistics (20 credits) 

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 key words. The module will explain basic concepts and illustrate methods through case studies. Through exercises students will have the opportunity to use corpus tools and practice the analysis of data. Students 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, students will complete a small-scale corpus project. This project can function to test ideas that might be further developed in the dissertation.


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

Back to top

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

Please note that distance learning students are charged a standard fee with no differentiation between UK/EU and international students. Fees are paid on a module by module basis.

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, often from a package made up of personal savings, parental loans or contributions, bank loans and support from a trust or charity.

Below you will find a link to the latest information about the main sources of funding open to postgraduate students who wish to study in the School:

Funding for taught postgraduate students

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.


Careers and professional development

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

According to The Times, “English graduates have almost any career path open to them ... All of the big graduate recruiters look for communication skills.” (Clare Dight, ‘Degree Doctor…English’, The Times, 6 April 2006).

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 in English Studies from an institution like 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

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

Consequently – and owing to our reputation for excellence – more than 84% of postgraduates from the School of English enter employment or further study during the first six months after graduation. The average starting salary for postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts was £20,250 with the highest being £33,000.**

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.
**Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2017. Salaries are calculated based on 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 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.

Explore it - Virtual Nottingham
Get in touch
+44 (0)115 951 5559
Make an enquiry


Dr Valerie Durow
School of English
The University of Nottingham
University Park
Arts videos

Arts videos


Student Recruitment Enquiries Centre

The University of Nottingham
King's Meadow Campus
Lenton Lane
Nottingham, NG7 2NR

t: +44 (0) 115 951 5559
w: Frequently asked questions
Make an enquiry