Postgraduate study
In this innovative degree programme, you will be introduced to key linguistics concepts and research on professional communication, as well as the means to apply these practically to enhance workplace practice.
MA Professional Communication
2-3 years part-time
Entry requirements
A good first degree, with at least second class honours (or international equivalent)
Other requirements
Evidence of relevant personal, professional and educational experience can also be taken into account, but where this is in lieu of an appropriate academic qualification, a case will need to made for exceptional entry to be considered on behalf of Quality & Standards Committee.
6.5 (no less than 6.0 in each element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses may be available
Start date
September and February
UK/EU fees
£9,450 - Terms apply
International fees
£9,450 - Terms apply
Web-based Distance Learning

 School of English




The School of English at Nottingham has long been at the forefront of linguistic research on professional communication, with a focus on practical applications. We have a strong track record in providing evidence-based training in this area, through workshops and online courses delivered by our Linguistic Profiling for Professionals business unit. This web-based MA brings together this wide-ranging experience to create a contemporary MA, relevant to all those with an interest in professional communication.

You will be introduced to key ideas and concepts in applied linguistics and given the opportunity to analyse a range of media, from the huge variety of face-to-face interactions, remote conferencing and written communications that make up our workplace interactions, all sourced from authentic datasets. You will have access to interactive online modules, which you can progress through at a pace to suit your own needs. You will also have opportunities to interact and work with leading researchers in the field in developing your evidence-based understanding of workplace communication.

You will develop core analytical skills and enhance your knowledge, understanding and performance of communication in the workplace. The MA will also provide you with thorough training in research methods to enable you to design and conduct a study in an area of your choosing.

The Professional Communication postgraduate programmes are designed to provide an alternative to masters programmes in traditional areas of business, management and communication studies, by providing working professionals with a unique opportunity to study workplace communication from an evidence-based, linguistic perspective. Our courses allow you to study while you work, providing the skills to carry out practical projects on particular aspects of your workplace practice, as well as reflect on your own workplace communication, with practical ideas on how to effect change.

The programmes have been specifically designed to provide flexible, postgraduate study in business management, leadership and professional communication, without the requirement for a background in accounting, finance and economics. Studying via distance-learning allows practising managers, as well as those looking to move in to new a career, to work with research-active academic staff, as well as with their fellow students, through on-line and interactive learning environments to develop new skills, as well as a critical understanding of the role of professional communication within organisations. Working across a range of management disciplines – with research-based data from real workplaces and cutting-edge research across the world – you will be relating theory to practice, adding value and experience not only to you and your personal development goals, but also to your own organisation.

Applicants who are interested in starting with the PG Certificate in Professional Communication may transfer to the PG Diploma/MA in Professional Communication if they decide to extend their studies, or may use their credits as an accreditation of prior learning if applying for the PG Diploma/MA at a later stage.

The MA has intakes in September and February.

Entry requirements:
2.1 (Upper 2nd class hons degree or equivalent)

6.5 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available

Key facts

  • You will be taught using the latest advances in online teaching methods and electronic resources. This is an innovative online programme, featuring a learning journal, interactive quizzes and tasks, as well as scheduled contact time with academic tutors through interactive media.
  • Teaching is informed by active researchers in the field and the course content is regularly reviewed to ensure it remains relevant to the changing global business environment.
  • This MA is convened by academic staff in the Linguistic Profiling for Professionals unit ( in the Centre for research in Applied Linguistics, based in the School of English, giving you unique access to specialists in professional communication and the latest research in this field.
  • 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 see the ‘Related Courses’ below if you wish to sign up for the PG Cert or PG Diploma.
  • 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.

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 programme operates on a modular basis, starting with a preparatory module on Professional Communication at Work (20 credits). This outlines the key concepts, frameworks and ideas you will use throughout your degree, a significant component of which will be linguistic research methodologies.

You then take the following modules, each of which explore a particular aspect of professional communication and give a comprehensive understanding of the latest research in their respective fields:

  • Effective Communication for Business Leaders (20 credits)
  • Intercultural Business Communication (20 credits)
  • Language, Gender and Professional Communication (20 credits)
  • Digital Communication for the Professions (20 credits)
  • Research Methods for Professional Communication (20 credits)

Towards the end of your studies, you will complete a supervised dissertation, enabling you to design a study around a professional communication topic of your choice. 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. Prior to your project-based dissertation you will undertake the Research Methods in Professional Communication module(20 credits), which will give an in-depth understanding of how to design a rigorous research project and the various analytic methods that can be applied, ranging from discourse analysis to corpus linguistics.

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.

The dissertation module is assessed by written work of 14,000 words.

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

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



Over the two year course students will be required to complete the following modules:

Professional Communication at Work

The module explores language as it is used within the professional setting of work, focusing in particular on the crucial role played by discourse in people’s professional lives.

Through the employment of a variety of contemporary frameworks for examining discourse and communication strategies, including linguistic ethnography, interactional sociolinguistics and conversation analysis, students will have the opportunity to analyse communication as it is used in real-life professional contexts. The spoken and written interactions explored in the module will come from a wide range of occupational settings, including offices, factories, and healthcare and government institutions.

The module offers a practical and rich resource for the analysis of workplace talk. Students will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of the different communicative strategies involved in the establishment of rapport, decision-making and conflict management.

The module, thus, aims to address relevant and contemporary issues relating to language use at work, offering students with the chance to explore the role played by discourse in this important sphere of social life.
Effective Communication for Business Leaders

The module explores the interrelationship between language and leadership at work, shedding light on how leadership identities become enacted through discourse in a wide range of professional settings.

Using a variety of analytic methods and data sources, students will have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of different leadership styles and also different communicative means through which leadership is enacted through talk. Particular focus will be placed on topics such as: the delegation of tasks, negotiations and decision-making as well as conflict management and miscommunication.

The module draws upon real-life data and explores a number of socially-situated interactions, including face-to-face exchanges and written communication. By relying on such real-life instances of interaction, the module aims to provide students with an opportunity to explore the crucial role played by discourse in determining social and institutional affairs.

Intercultural Business Communication

The module investigates the multidisciplinary subject of intercultural business communication. With a growing proportion of business 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.

 The module 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. It covers a wide range of quantitative and qualitative approaches, examining how individuals and groups use spoken and written communication to get work achieved successfully.

 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 emphasises how the findings of communicative research can be practically applied in examining the intercultural workplace and other multicultural business interactions.
Language, Gender and Professional Communication

The module will examine the relationship between language and gender in professional communication, drawing on key approaches in the areas of discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and pragmatics. Using a variety of linguistic tools, students will analyse language as social practice in a range of spoken, written and computer-mediated contexts and in a variety of areas, such as business, politics, healthcare and the law.

The module explores contemporary issues, such as sexism in professional contexts and critically overviews theoretical paradigms on sex differences and gender stereotypes in the professions. Examples of topics to be covered are: Gender in workplace interaction, gender and leadership, intersections between gender, ethnicity and class, gender ideologies in the media, performativity and sexuality and finally misogyny and cyberhate in digital contexts. Students will be encouraged to combine theoretical thinking with hands-on analyses of authentic empirical data, including recent examples from (online) media. We conclude by reflecting on the practical consequences of the discipline in terms of how research can have a political impact on wider society and public policy.
Digital Communication for the Professions

Digital technologies are now central to the ways that most modern day organisations operate, and this influence continues to grow apace. Advancements in digital communicative technologies, particularly since the early 1990s, have enabled organisations of all types and sizes across the globe to communicate and actually ‘do’ business more effectively and efficiently. These technological developments, which range from text messaging and email, to blogging and mobile apps, have brought with them new styles of communication. Given the growing influence of digital technologies, not only in organisations but in society more generally, it is important to understand and indeed critique such technologies and the communicative styles that they produce.

This module explores the phenomenon of digital communication in professional contexts. It will introduce the communicative practices that take place over a variety of digital platforms (for example: telephone, email, websites, adverts, social media) across a rich array of professional domains (for example: call centres, online shopping, healthcare and even payday lenders!). We will ask (and answer) questions like: how do people use digital communications to communicate more efficiently at work? How do advertisers use language and image to target their adverts at particular online consumers? How do people create positive personal and professional identities when using social media? And what role do digital technologies play in enabling online anti-social behaviour (i.e. flaming, trolling and cyber-bullying)?

In answering these and other questions, this module will also introduce a range of flexible methodological and theoretical approaches that can be used to produce more sophisticated insights into digital communication across a variety of platforms and in more or less any professional environment. This type of close linguistic analysis, guided by these approaches and introduced throughout the module, can equip students with the analytical tools and knowledge to design and carry out their own investigation of professional digital communication. Moreover, this module has a strong focus on how such approaches might be applied in the real world to help modern day organisations to harness the potential (and avoid the some of the pitfalls) of digital technologies in their own communication.
Research Methods for Professional Communication

This module looks at methods for collecting and analysing data from workplace communication, giving an overview of quantitative, corpus linguistic and qualitative approaches and the linguistic theories that underpin them. The course will incorporate practical guidance on conducting fieldwork, research ethics, collecting and storing linguistic data (including digital texts and the recording of video/audio data) and methods for transcription. Corpus methods introduced will include the retrieval and interpretation of word frequency information, identification of word patterns in the form of concordances, and the analysis of key words. Qualitative methods addressed will include linguistic ethnographic approaches, discourse analysis, critical discourse analysis, conversation analysis and multimodal approaches.

Participants on the course are given the opportunity to reflect on the applicability of these various methods to their own areas of interest in professional communication, which can be further developed for the project-based dissertation.


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

The Government offers  postgraduate student loans for students studying a taught or research masters course. Applicants must ordinarily live in England or the EU.  Student loans are also available for students from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.

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 your course application is submitted in good 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 2017. 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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