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Key information

Please note: the Distance Learning Research Degree programme for Forensic Linguistics is currently full.

Registration dates: There are two registration dates a year: 1 October, 1 April, with no application deadlines. 

The distance learning programme is only available by part time study so the thesis submission date is a minimum of four years and maximum of six years from the enrolment date.

Fees (2017/18):   

UK/EU students: £4,600 per year 
International students: £7,300 per year 

Fees (2018/19):    

UK/EU students: £TBC 
International students: £7,450 per year  

Residency requirement:
There is a residency requirement of a minimum of 8 consecutive weeks in the final year of study.

This innovative distance learning research degree programme in the area of Applied Linguistics builds upon our extensive experience in providing distance learning PhD programmes.

This programme aims to

  • deepen your knowledge of key issues at the forefront of the interdisciplinary field of applied linguistics;

  • enhance your knowledge of a range of research traditions, methods and techniques relevant to your academic and professional development;

  • enable you to design and implement a research project that makes an original contribution to the field of applied linguistics in terms of new knowledge, applications or understanding;

  • encourage and promote learning, personal development and self-awareness;

  • develop the capacity for reflective, critical and independent thought and action in relation to your studies.

The programme is designed to meet the needs of individual students. You will be given a individually-tailored learning pathway, in consulation with the Programme Director and potential supervisor, based on previous experience and qualifications.

During the first two years (of the part-time programme), all students will complete core Research Methods training. Depending on prior experience a student also may be asked to complete a subject specific element from the areas of Applied Linguistics, Forensic Linguistics and TESOL. This will give practice in carrying out a small-scale, subject-specfic research project.

All students must submit a qualifying report before the end of their second year in order to be admitted to the award of either MPhil or PhD.

Students who successfully complete the qualifying report will then study Academic Preparation and complete a 60,000 word thesis.

Subject-specific elements in TESOL: Course and Materials Design, Methodology, Analysis of Written Discourse, Analysis of Spoken Interaction, Grammar and Lexis.

Subject-specific elements in Applied Linguistics: Analysis of Spoken and Written Discourse, Corpus Linguistics, Grammar, Lexis, Literary Linguistics, Language Variation and Change.

Subject-specific elements - in Forensic Linguistics: Introduction to Forensic Linguistics (by distance learning or by summer school); Linguistic investigation and evidence, Linguistic disadvantage in legal contexts.

Applicants should:
  • Possess a Masters degree from a UK university or hold an equivalent qualification. An overall merit or equivalent, with merit in the dissertation is normally required. 
  • Have the required skills and experience
  • Submit a full research proposal (typically 8-12 pages) on a relevant subject (see 'How To Apply'). 

Language requirements:

Non-native speakers of English are normally required to satisfy the following minimum English language requirements:

  • IELTS: 6.5 (minimum 6.5 in writing and reading and minimum 6.0 in speaking and listening)
  • TOEFL iBT:  93 (minimum 26 in writing, 22 in speaking, 19 in listening, 18 in reading) 
  • Pearson Academic: 63 (minimum 63 in writing and speaking, and 57 in reading and listening)
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade B
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE): Grade A
Research Methods underpins the whole programme.  You will be introduced to the key research traditions in applied linguistics, to research ethics, to the main research methods used to collect data and to the principles and practice of data analysis.  You will be expected to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of a range of research methods and this will be assessed through a portfolio submission.   

Apply by completing the Postgraduate research application form including:

  • A research proposal outline (see below).
  • 2 written references
  • Photocopies of your first and Masters degree certificates and a transcript of your grades
  • Evidence of an approved English language qualification (if required)

Your application and proposal will be reviewed by the School’s Research Committee - you will then be notified of the outcome.

The Research Proposal (8-12 pages)

A research proposal outline is required which should contain: 

  • The topic of your research

  • The research setting (the socio-cultural and/or physical context)

  • The proposed research questions (no more than 4)

  • The reasons why your research is important – please explain (a)why you want to undertake this research, (b) how it relates to existing research and (c) what makes it original.

  • The areas of the literature you intend to consult

  • The methods of data collection you intend to use

  • Arrangements you need to make for data collection (possible problems of accessing the research site, for example)

  • Any ethical issues you need to address (if your research involves human participants)

  • A list of references you have consulted so far

Contacting a supervisor

Finding an appropriate supervisor who is an expert in your chosen area of research is an essential part of the application process. We recommend that you look at the research centre pages and staff directory pages which will enable you to determine whether there is a good match between your research interests and LSS.    

If there is a member of staff whose research interest matches your own, we recommend that you contact them directly with a copy of your research proposal and discuss this further with them. In addition to contacting a prospective supervisor you also need to submit a formal application. If you are successful in identifying a supervisor through this method it is essential that you indicate this on your application form.  Please be advised that a formal decision on your application can only be made once the formal application has been submitted via the online form.

For information on how to apply please contact:

Mr Dan Thomson, LSS Research Manager
Email: lss_research@aston.ac.uk
Tel: +44 (0)121 204 3972

For information on the structure of the programme please contact Programme Director Dr Sue Garton