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MSc Forensic Linguistics 

Why choose this course?

  • Only current MSc available in Forensic Linguistics by distance learning
  • The Centre for Forensic Linguistics offers a unique blend of academic and applied experience
  • Special entry route for practitioners with no previous experience of linguistics.

Entry Requirements:

Normally a good UK Honours Degree (minimum of an upper second class) in English, Linguistics or a related discipline or an overseas degree recognised by Aston University, plus two references.

For those without a relevant prior qualification in linguistics or English, there is a route onto the programme involving an Introduction to Linguistics module.  You will normally need a good UK Honours Degree (minimum of an upper second class) or an overseas degree recognised by Aston University, plus two references.

International students whose native language is not English and have not completed a full degree programme taught in English, will also need to obtain:

An IELTS score of 6.5 overall, with a minimum of 7 in writing and minimum of 6 in speaking, listening and reading.

Duration: Part-time: 2-3 years

Start date(s): October

Distance learning available: the normal duration of part-time PG taught programmes is 3 years although up to 5 years may be possible in some circumstances and with payment of a continuation fee.

There are multiple routes of exit from the programme, allowing you to study to the level you wish and graduate with: an Aston University Certificate (with 20 credits), an Aston University Diploma (with 40 credits), a Postgraduate Certificate (with 60 credits), a Postgraduate Diploma (with 120 credits) or with the full MSc in Forensic Linguistics.

Intake: Approximately 10 per year

Fees for 2014/2015*: 
UK/EU and Overseas: £7,900  
(£2000 continuation fee per year applicable after three years on the programme)

*These figures have not been confirmed, but they are expected to be approximately as stated.

Apply for this course online

This MSc in Forensic Linguistics is a flexible programme to suit academic linguists and forensic professionals. It can be studied wholly as a distance learning course from anywhere in the world and from time to time we may also offer short and week-long courses to supplement your module learning For those without a relevant prior qualification in linguistics or English language there is a route onto the programme involving an Introduction to Linguistics module.
Sample module options: The following module descriptions are indications only - the modules on offer and the content of the modules is subject to change.

Core modules:

This module provides you with a general introduction to forensic linguistics and covers two areas: the language of the law and language as evidence. In Language of the Law we will look at both legal language – its grammar and lexis as exemplified in documents: statutes, insurance schedules, temporary restraining orders jury instructions – and the language of the legal process, from the moment a suspect is cautioned, through police interviews and statement making to courtroom trial. The second part of the course - Language as evidence - will look at the role of the linguist as expert witness. Examples from real cases will be used to examine the techniques of the forensic phonetician and the forensic linguist.

This module is compulsory if you do not have some background in linguistics. It will introduce you to context-based understanding of written and spoken discourse. We will look at a variety of approaches to analysing written and spoken discourse, including genre and register; systemic functional grammar; patterns and signals; critical discourse analysis, ethnography of communication, interactional sociolinguistics, conversation analysis, pragmatics. These approaches will then be applied to the analysis of spoken and written discourse in a variety of contexts such as classroom interaction, cross-cultural communication, media discourse and some forensic areas. The introductory module in forensic linguistics can, if you wish, be studied in part by attendance at ‘The International Summer School in Forensic Linguistic Analysis.’

 This module aims to introduce students to context-based understanding of written and spoken discourse. It will provide students with a grounding in the major theories and methodologies of discourse analysis, and provide practical experience of their application. It will enable students to make informed methodological choices when conducting their own analyses.

The module will provide students with an introduction to the fundamentals of text analysis, beginning with a consideration of the nature of ‘text’ and ‘discourse’, and of differences between written and spoken text. We will then look at some of the key traditions and approaches to discourse analysis, such as genre and register, systemic functional grammar, pragmatics, conversation analysis and critical discourse analysis. These approaches will be applied to the analysis of spoken and written discourse in a variety of contexts such as classroom interaction, cross-cultural communication and media discourse.

Elective modules:

This module provides you with a general introduction to forensic linguistics and covers two areas: the language of the law and language as evidence. In Language of the Law we will look at both legal language – its grammar and lexis as exemplified in documents: statutes, insurance schedules, temporary restraining orders jury instructions – and the language of the legal process, from the moment a suspect is cautioned, thought police interviews and statement making to courtroom trial. The second part of the course - Language as evidence - will look at the role of the linguist as expert witness. Examples from real cases will be used to examine the techniques of the forensic phonetician and the forensic linguist.

This module provides you with an introduction to forms of language disadvantage in forensic and legal contexts. Contexts include the point of arrest, during investigative interview and in courtroom interactions. Forms of disadvantage considered include being a non-native speaker, being deaf or partially deaf and requiring sign-interpretation, being a child or vulnerable adult. Strategies to overcome disadvantage include legal interpretation and translation (including signing), intermediaries and other special measures designed to protect the linguistically and psychologically vulnerable.

This module introduces you to the broader legal context providing some information and history of the three main world legal systems (Roman law, Common law and Shari’ah law) but concentrating on the Common law system as practised in the UK context. From this, the development of legal language will be examined and described from oral to written traditions across different types of legal texts. Finally you will be introduced to the language reform initiatives in the law and encouraged to evaluate their success and reasons for their success and limitations.

This module introduces you to language practice in the judicial contexts. It introduces you to linguistic research over the communication of legal rights, the linguistic analysis of police and other investigative interviews and the linguistic analysis of courtroom interaction. A variety of research and linguistic methods will be examined and applied to different texts.

Learning and teaching is through online lectures and extensive self-directed reading. Typical module assessment involves a 4000 word academic analysis of data collected by the student.
The course is for students interested in a career in research in this important and growing area, or those whose existing careers would be advanced by specialised training. The  course is also an excellent foundation for studies at PhD level.
You will have access to:
  • Our Virtual Learning Environment – Blackboard – to support your studies, including Blackboard discussion groups
  • The University Library, including over 25,000 books and a wide range of electronic journals.  The library has special provision in place to help part time and distance learning students access their resources: www.aston.ac.uk/lis/studentinfo/parttime
  • University wide facilities such as the Careers Service, Students’ Advice Centre, Students’ Jobshop, Counselling Service, Sports Facilities, and Chaplaincy.

Student support - we're with you all the way

Student support - we're with you all the way

We offer a range of support services to ensure your time here is a success in academic, social and personal terms.

Scholarships and bursaries

Scholarships and bursaries

Learning & teaching facilities

Find out more about how you'll learn and be assessed at Aston and about our extensive academic support & facilities.

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