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MSc in Applied Linguistics

Why choose this course?

  • Introduces, broadens  and extends your knowledge of key concepts in applied linguistics;
  • Combines theoretical and ideological dimensions with practical applications;
  • Elective modules are taught by tutors expert in the field;
  • Provides a basis in research skills and is particularly suitable if you wish to pursue a phD programme  after completion

Start date(s):October and April

Duration: Part-time 2-3 years

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. 

Intake: Approximately 10 per year

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

Applicants for the programme should also have a minimum of two years, full-time teaching experience. 

International students whose native language is not English and have not completed a full degree programme taught in English, will 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.

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

The overall aim of the programme is to provide students with a grounding in key linguistic concepts and models so that these can be applied in the analysis of a range of naturally occurring spoken and written data. Specifically, it aims to provide students with a solid foundation in the structure of  the English language. The programme provides opportunities for the application of theoretical linguistic concepts and to develop expertise in at least two specific areas of Applied Linguistics. It also provides a basis in research skills and methods to enable students to  undertake further research, whilst encouraging and promoting students’ learning, personal development and self-awareness. The programme develops the capacity for reflective, critical and independent thought and action in relation to their studies.

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:

Number of credits: 20

Module content: This  module provides a selective introduction to different aspects of English grammar, both written and spoken; equips students with methods of description and  analysis of English;introduces students  to methodological tools  which will allow them to investigate grammatical patterns and uses; helps students to explore a range of relationships between grammar  and other aspects of linguistics, e.g. lexis, semantics, text analysis and  gives students insights into the relationship between the study of grammar and its application in various fields, e.g. language pedagogy, and translation studies.

The module extends students knowledge of English grammar as applied to speech and writing. In considering written grammar, extensive reference will be made to functional grammar. In considering spoken grammar, extensive reference will be made to Carter and Mccarthy’s Cambridge Grammar of English. Specifically the module introduces grammatical terms and definitions; explores aspects of syntax; explores the relationship between syntax and semantics (ideology, metaphor, loanwords, variations in grammar, global English, gender, language variety, dialect, ethnicity); explores beyond the sentence (discourse analysis) and explores grammar and applications (pedagogy, translation)

Assessment: Assessment is via a written assignment of 4,000 words plus appendices to be submitted at the end of the teaching period (see assessment package for exact date). For their assignment, students choose a specific topic or piece of linguistic data to research or analyse according to the tools suggested in the units, under the guidance of the module tutor.                         

Essential Reading

Bloor, T & Bloor, M (2004) An Introduction to Functional Grammar Hodder Arnold

Carter, R, Hughes, R, & McCarthy  M (2000) Exploring Grammar in Context  Cambridge University Press

Carter, R (2005) Language and Creativity Routledge

Thompson, Geoff (2004 2nd edn) Introducing Functional Grammar London: Hodde

Number of credits: 20                                              

Module content:
This module provides a selective introduction to different aspects of lexis; introduces students  to methodological tools (including corpus tools and techniques) which will allow them to investigate word meanings, patterns and uses;explores a range of relationships between lexis and other aspects of linguistics, e.g. grammar, semantics, text analysis; develops  understanding of the role of models and paradigms in lexical research and  provides insights into the relationship between the study of lexis and its application in various fields, e.g. lexicography, language pedagogy, and translation studies.

The module  introduces:

  • lexis (terms and definitions: what is a ‘word’; exploring what ‘knowing/learning a word’ entails);

  • Within the word (internal constituents of words - morphology)

  • Methodology (corpus analysis)

  • Dictionaries (selection and categorical organisation of word types, trends in dictionary design, evaluation; concepts underlying the dictionary: main principles: word lists, families, headwords, derivatives and terminology)

  • Beyond the word (multi-word-units, chunks, collocation, fixed expressions, idioms; colligation, lexico-grammar)

  • Words and meaning (ideology, lexical relations, metaphor,  loanwords, terminology, variations in lexis (global English, gender, language variety, dialect, ethnicity)

  • Applications (lexicography, pedagogy, translation)

Assessment: Assessment is via a written assignment of 4,000 words plus appendices, to be submitted at the end of TP1 (see assessment package for exact date). For their assignment, participants choose a specific topic or piece of linguistic data to research or analyse according to the tools suggested in the units, under the guidance of the module tutor.                  

Essential and Indicative Reading

Singleton, D. 2000. Language and the Lexicon: An Introduction  London: OUP.

Biber D. Conrad S. and Rippon R. 1998 Corpus Linguistics.CUP (esp Appendix pp281-296).

Hunston, S. 2002. Corpora in Applied Linguistics. Cambridge. CUP.

Willis, D. 2003. Rules, Patterns and Words: Grammar and Lexis in Language Teaching. Cambridge: CUP.

Number of credits: 20

Module content: 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.

Method of Assessment: Research project of 4000 words, chosen by the student from a selection of set topics. (100%)

Number of credits: 60        
                                

Module content: Students will demonstrate their ability to design, conduct and report the results of a research project in the subject domain relevant to their Master programme. They will work independently, under the guidance of a supervisor. Preparing a Masters dissertation is a complex exercise which will strengthen and test various subject-specific and transferable research skills, including research methodology and academic writing.

There will be a free choice of topic to be researched (subject to approval by programme tutor) related to the programme.

Method of Assessment: Master Dissertation of 15,000 words

Elective modules:

Number of credits: 20


Module content:

  • History and background of corpus linguistics

  • Corpus design and creation: data selection, design, copyright, acquisition, computer input

  • Corpus tools: frequency, concordance, collocation, grammatical tagging and parsing

  • Corpus analysis techniques and interpretation of results

  • Applications of corpus linguistics (lexicography, translation, language teaching)

  • Case study of one application in more detail

  • Designing a practical project and carrying it out

  • Latest developments and future possibilities

This module aims to:

  • help sutdents  to understand the history, methodology, and academic and practical goals of corpus linguistics

  • give participants insights into various issues involved in corpus creation (size, design, data selection, copyright, data acquisition, computer input)

  • introduce participants to the main analytical tools and techniques of corpus linguistics (frequency, concordance, collocation, grammatical tagging and parsing, etc)

  • provide participants with a grasp of the basic linguistic disciplines involved in interpreting the analytical results (morphology, lexis, semantics, lexico-grammar, syntax, pragmatics, text analysis, discourse analysis, and genre analysis)

  • enable participants to apply these disciplines to the analysis of linguistic data

  • develop participants’ understanding of the role of models and paradigms in linguistic research

  • provide a selective introduction to various applications of corpus linguistics (lexicography, translation, language teaching, etc)

  • look more closely at one of the applications (lexicography, translation, language teaching, etc)

  • allow participants to practice using corpora and corpus tools in a linguistic project

  • to enable participants to reflect on the nature of the linguistic data, the tools and methodology, and the analyses and interpretations

  • to motivate participants to develop corpora, tools, and methodologies for more effective linguistic analyses and applications

Assessment:
a) a written assignment of 2,000 words. For their assignment, participants choose a specific topic or piece of linguistic data to research or analyse according to the tools suggested in the units, under the guidance of the module tutor. Proposals for assignments and texts for analysis can, if the participant wishes, be vetted at a preparatory stage by the tutor. 50%.

b) a practical project, involving all the steps from corpus design and creation to use of tools, analysis and interpretation, aimed at investigating one aspect of a linguistic model, enhancing translation, or enriching language teaching or learning. The report on this project will be of 2000 words.50%.

Essential Reading

Barnbrook, G. (1996) Language and Computers. Edinburgh: EUP

Biber D., Conrad S., and Rippon R. (1998) Corpus Linguistics  Cambridge: CUP

Hunston, S. (2002) Corpora in Applied Linguistics. Cambridge: CUP.

Kennedy, G. D. (1998) An Introduction to Corpus Linguistics. Harlow: Longman.

Stubbs, M. (1996) Text and Corpus Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell

Module Content:

a) Literary linguistic theories  and methods  
This part of the course will examine principles of literary linguistic analysis and theory, including core topics such as modality, transitivity, speech act analysis, representation of speech and thought; politeness theory and presupposition and cognitive poetics, and their application to written texts across a range of genres.

b) Application of  literary linguistic theories and methods 
This part of the course will be concerned with the application of literary linguistic theory and method to a specific set of texts.  

Method of Assessment: By 3000 word Essay (75%) and  text analysis 25%

Essential Reading

Clark, Urszula & McRae, John (2004)   ‘Stylistics’  in A Handbook of Applied Linguistics, eds. Alan Davies & Catherine Elder. Oxford: Blackwell 2004

Culpepper, Jonathan (2001) Language and Characterisation London: Longman

Fowler, R. (1996) 2nd Edn Linguistic Criticism  Oxford: Oxford University Press

Number of credits: 20

Module content: This module:                                                           

  • Develops  methods of description and analysis in  linguistic variation and change;

  • Introduces methodological tools and their application in the context of linguistic variation and change; 

  • Develops understanding of the role of models and paradigms in sociolinguistic  research;

  • Analyzes linguistic and extra-linguistic factors which influence or trigger a language to change.

a) Why do languages change?  
This part of the course will look at sociolinguistic factors such as class, gender, region, bilingualism and language contact, which can lead to a distinct use of a certain language by certain groups of speakers and thus contribute to the ongoing process of linguistic change and development.

b) Case Studies 
This part of the course will analyze linguistic variation and change in different variants of English and other varieties.

Method of Assessment: By 4000 word Essay 100% to be submitted at the end of the teaching period (see assessment package for exact date).

Essential Reading

Chamber, J.K. & Trudgill, Peter & Schilling-Estes, Natalie (eds.) (2002) The handbook of language variation and change. Oxford: Blackwell

Chamber, J.K. (1995) Sociolinguistic theory. Linguistic variation and its social significance. Oxford: Blackwell

Heine, Bernd & Kuteva, Tania (2005) Language Contact and Grammatical Change. Cambridge: CUP

For this module there is a pre-requisite of at least  2 years’ teaching experience.

Many teachers start out on their language teaching careers teaching in an institution where there are set syllabuses and/or course books to be followed. But even at classroom level there are decisions that teachers need to take that concern content of lessons and involve appraisal and evaluation of the existing syllabus or course book. Some institutions run short courses and involve teachers in the management and design of these. With ESP courses and special groups, the ability to design and evaluate suitable courses (often very fast) is essential. Selecting a course book, writing or commissioning course materials, designing a language project, assessing language teaching provision, planning a future curriculum – all these situations demand professionals with a wide repertoire of course and material design skills and an understanding of the underlying theoretical principles and practical issues of innovation and implementation.

For this module there is a pre-requisite of at least  2 years’ teaching experience.

This is a module which encourages you, as a teacher, to account for what you are currently doing in your classroom is seen as an empowering starting point. This is one reason why it can be a good idea to take the Methodology course at the beginning of the MSc. You start by looking in and articulating a personal methodology. You are then in a position to look out and explore a theoretical perspective.

The units encourage you to begin a process of action research in order to increase your understanding of what lies behind the numerous decisions and choices that face a classroom teacher. This constructive and critical process establishes a theoretical perspective, and at the same time encourages an interest in and awareness of a range of issues related to a pedagogic environment that facilitates learning.

Several of the units incorporate a section which highlights a piece of action research from a previous MSc participant. These are included primarily to give you a taster of action research, and help get you started on the process of exploring your own teaching context.

Modules are delivered via a variety of innovative and engaging teaching methods. There are also opportunities for interactive learning under a tutor’s guidance. The taught modules are assessed by course work. The taught element of the programme is complemented by a 15,000 word dissertation leading to the award of the MSc.
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.
This course helps you to develop team working skills, presentation and communication skills, as well as research and report writing skills. Your IT skills will also benefit from use of our newly refurbished IT Facilities. Graduate opportunities include research; teaching; working in the media; public relations and a host of other opportunities requiring excellent communication skills.

Fees & funding

Fees & funding

Find out about tuition fees and funding for Postgraduate Study.

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

Student Life

Student Life

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Learning & teaching facilities

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