Course overview

In the MA Forensic Linguistics programme at Aston University, you will be taught by members of the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL), the world's biggest grouping of forensic linguists. Our course is designed to help you explore cutting-edge research and practical applications.

With a £6M UK government grant, we've expanded our capabilities to ensure you receive top-notch expertise. Guided by experienced academics, you will delve into various topics, from identifying authors to addressing online abuse.

Engage in real case work, collaborate on research projects and attend seminars to boost your skills. Whether you're looking for a career in policing, intelligence, cybersecurity or academia, our programme equips you with the tools to make a difference.

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Arabella Graves MA Forensic Linguistics

“The course is fantastic because it brings together theory and practical application with fascinating real-life data collected by the Institute. The teaching is excellent, and the inspiring passion of the tutors is contagious! I really felt like they were investing in each of us throughout the year. It has been the most exciting year of my study to date.”

Read more

Arabella Graves
MA Forensic Linguistics
Behavioural analyst, Norges Bank Investment Management

Why Forensic Linguistics at Aston University?

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100% satisfaction
100% of students were satisfied overall with the quality of their course (MA Forensic Linguistics; PTES, 2023)
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Unique access
Our strong connections with the police provide you with unique access to real-world data for your studies and research projects
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Clear academics
100% of students agreed that staff were good at explaining things (MA Forensic Linguistics; PTES, 2023)
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Our full attention
We were ranked 5th in the UK for ‘student to staff ratio’ (English; Guardian, 2024)
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Intellectually stimulating
100% of students agreed that their course was intellectually stimulating (MA Forensic Linguistics, PTES, 2023)
Student satisfaction
World-leading research
Learn from members of the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL), the biggest grouping of forensic linguists in the world

Course description

MA Forensic Linguistics

Our MA Forensic Linguistics programme blends advanced linguistic study with practical legal applications, guided by world-leading experts at the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics.

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What we will provide
First-class teaching in the UK’s second-largest city, delivered by a diverse array of staff who will inspire and excite you. You will benefit from applied learning, research-informed teaching and authentic assessment.

We are also an Adobe Creative Campus meaning you will have access to top-notch software licenses, including Adobe and Solidworks, commonly used in industry.

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What you will provide
It is important you learn how to adapt a growth mindset to your studies – understanding that intelligence and success come from applying yourself, a willingness to learn and an ambition and drive to excel.

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What skills we teach
In our MA Forensic Linguistics programme, we nurture advanced linguistic analysis skills specific to legal contexts. You will refine critical analysis, evidence interpretation and communication abilities, gaining practical insights into police investigations and courtroom procedures. Graduates emerge as articulate communicators, ready to contribute meaningfully to justice systems and related fields.

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Career prospects
As an Aston University Forensic Linguistics graduate, you will be ready for exciting jobs in law enforcement, intelligence, cybersecurity and teaching. With skills in language analysis, you will do well in roles like investigating crimes, analysing legal matters and helping with language research, making a difference worldwide.

How you will learn

On the MA Forensic Linguistics programme at Aston University, you will engage in a blend of lectures, interactive seminars and group work, enriched by opportunities for individual research and practical experiences. Our programme is distinguished by its direct links to the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL), offering you unparalleled access to a series of events, workshops and an annual conference aimed at enhancing justice through language analysis.

As part of the optional extra-curricular casework group, you will have the chance to delve into genuine cases, exploring various linguistic challenges and contributing to real-world applications of forensic linguistics. This initiative aligns with our commitment to providing hands-on learning experiences that prepare students for impactful careers in the field.

At the start of your course, you will be allocated a personal tutor who can offer individual study advice and guidance. You will also benefit from access to the University Library's extensive collection of over 25,000 books and electronic journals. Aston University's virtual learning environment supports your journey, providing resources like lecture slides, e-books and online journals.

What you will learn

The MA Forensic Linguistics programme offers a comprehensive exploration of linguistic analysis within legal contexts. You will delve into English language structures and descriptions for forensic applications, applying theoretical linguistic concepts and developing expertise in forensic linguistics. Additionally, the programme lays a foundation in research skills and methods crucial for further research and practice in forensic linguistics.

In the taught stage, you will deepen your understanding of advanced linguistic concepts, theories and models relevant to forensic analysis. You will hone analytical skills for interpreting linguistic data in legal contexts and learn to communicate complex linguistic analyses effectively, preparing you for research and professional practice in forensic linguistics.

In the dissertation phase, you will complete a research project on a forensic linguistics topic of your choice, showcasing your ability to conduct independent research with a clear consideration of ethics, theory and methods.

Lauren Morgan MA Forensic Linguistics graduate

Real-world impact

Lauren Morgan loved the “hands-on tasks” and real-world impact of the programme, especially her work with the National Crime Agency in the Practical Applications in Forensic Linguistics module.

Course objectives

  1. Offers a solid foundation in English language structure and description for forensic applications.
  2. Provides opportunities to apply theoretical linguistic concepts and develop expertise in forensic linguistics.
  3. Lays a foundation in research skills and methods for further research and practice in forensic linguistics.
  4. Fosters learning, personal development and self-awareness.
  5. Enhances your ability for reflective, critical and independent work in forensic linguistics.


Modules and learning outcomes

Taught stage modules

In the taught stage you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
Analysing Discourse
You will undertake an exploration of text and discourse analysis, covering major theories and methodologies. This module enables informed methodological choices for your analyses, enhancing understanding of written and spoken discourse across various settings, and guiding you in evaluating research techniques and their application in your projects.
Research Methods
Equip yourself to critically evaluate research and conduct your own, adhering to ethical standards. This module develops your ability to assess research methods' effectiveness, choose suitable methods for your work (especially your dissertation), understand different research paradigms, appreciate research ethics and apply forensic linguistic evidence approaches.
Linguistics in Legal Contexts
This module introduces key forensic linguistics research methods, focusing on language-law relationships. Learn methodological tools for forensic contexts, enhance linguistic description skills and conduct analyses of language in legal settings. Gain insights into the impact of linguistic choices and structures within legal contexts.
Language as Evidence
Dive into investigative forensic linguistics, enhancing your data collection and analysis skills in forensic contexts. You will learn to produce and critique expert witness reports, deepen your understanding of legal text interactions and sharpen your linguistic analysis and description skills.
Practical Applications in Forensic Linguistics
Enhance your forensic linguistic abilities, focusing on ethical data collection and analysis. You will independently develop projects or reports, applying academic research in professional settings, and refine your skills in analysing language within legal contexts under time constraints.
Corpus Linguistics
Gain advanced digital analysis skills to investigate large linguistic datasets. Learn corpus linguistics theories and methods, enhancing your digital literacy. These skills are applicable to academic research and various professional contexts.

Dissertation stage modules

In the dissertation stage you will study the following core modules:

Module TitleCredits
You will undertake an independent research project relevant to your masters programme, demonstrating your ability to design, conduct and report findings. Guided by a supervisor, this complex exercise will strengthen and test various subject-specific and transferable skills, including research methodology and academic writing.

Programme outcomes

On successful completion of both the taught and dissertation stage, you will be able to:

  • Systematically understand and critically assess methods for describing and analysing English grammar, lexis and discourse, including relevant linguistic models and traditions of analysis, especially as applied to natural language data in legal and forensic contexts.
  • Comprehensively grasp the current issues, methods and practices in forensic linguistics to undertake advanced research in the area.
  • Recognise and appreciate the ethical considerations involved in conducting research in forensic linguistics.
  • Demonstrate self-direction and originality in addressing and resolving problems, and act autonomously in planning and executing linguistic analysis tasks at a professional or equivalent level.
  • Appreciate the issues surrounding the legal admissibility of forensic linguistic evidence from a scientific perspective.

We may update our courses to reflect best practices and academic developments. If we do, we’ll let you know of any changes at the earliest opportunity by updating our course webpages. If you have already received an offer, we’ll write to you directly to let you know of the changes.


Entry requirements

One of the following:

  • 2:1 (upper second-class honours) degree in English language, linguistics or a related subject
  • Equivalent overseas degree recognised by Aston University (see international students tab below for more information)

Subject specific requirements

Transcripts must indicate some studies of linguistics.

Applicants must also provide evidence of mathematics – grade C/4 or above at GCSE (or equivalent)

You will also need to provide:

  • A professional reference
    • If you are a current student or recent graduate (within the last 2-3 years), we will ask for an academic reference
    • If you are currently employed and not a recent graduate, we will ask for a professional reference
  • An official academic transcript of your university grades to date
  • A completed application form.

Aston University is a diverse, close community and welcomes international students on many of our postgraduate programmes. Students from over 120 countries choose to study with us every year. Based in the centre of Birmingham, Aston is not only a great place to study but also a great place to live.

Qualifications in your country

For details of equivalent qualifications in your country, use our area pages below:

English language requirements

Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to provide evidence of an English language qualification.

English language requirements

How to apply

Aston University provides a range of opportunities for international students to join our community and study on our campus. A key part of our strategy is our relationships with teaching partners, providing multiple pathways to Aston.

Aston’s professional work placements can improve your chance of securing a graduate job. Placements give you experience, confidence and opportunities and, as an Aston student, you’ll be better prepared for your future career. One of the great things about Aston is our focus on employability. Our close links with businesses, industries and professions make this possible.

Find out more about applying

Post-study work visa

Aston University welcomed the creation of a new Graduate Immigration Route which enables international students to remain in the UK for two years after you complete your studies to find work. This new post-study work visa applies to international students completing full-time undergraduate and postgraduate courses.

Graduate Immigration Route

Pathway programmes

If you don’t meet our entry requirements, we have a range of pathway programmes offered by our partner, ONCAMPUS Aston, which you can complete to progress onto one of our degrees.

We recognise the value of extensive professional experience. If you do not have the academic qualifications but have extensive and relevant professional experience and a proven ability to succeed, we would welcome your application.

The information contained on this website details the typical entry requirements for this course for the most commonly offered qualifications.

Applicants with alternative qualifications may wish to enquire with the relevant admissions teams prior to application whether or not their qualifications are deemed acceptable. For less commonly encountered qualifications this will be judged on a case-by-case basis in consultation with the academic admissions tutor.


Speak to our Admissions Team

If you have any questions about the application process please get in touch with our postgraduate admissions team:


Call: 0121 204 3200 (Please note this line is open Monday-Friday between 09:30-16:30)

Dr Nicci MacLeod Forensic Linguistics

Meet your programme director

Dr Nicci MacLeod
Programme Director, MA Forensic Linguistics

If you have any questions about the course or modules you will be studying, you can get in touch via email and I will be happy to answer your queries.

Fees and scholarships

Course fees

UK students

Annual tuition fees:£11,850

International students

Annual tuition fees:£22,750

More information on fees

The United Kingdom government has confirmed that European Union (EU), other European Economic Area (EEA) and Swiss nationals commencing academic courses in England from August 2021 will no longer be charged the same tuition rates as UK students.

Tuition fees for students are reviewed annually and may increase in subsequent years in line with inflation linked to the Retail Price Index (RPI) to take account of the University’s increased costs of delivering the Programme. Any such increase shall always be in accordance with the law. When undertaking a placement year, a placement year fee applies.


At Aston University we are committed to supporting the most talented and hardworking students to achieve their potential by providing a range of scholarships to help lower tuition and living costs.


The programme will be assessed through a combination of individual and group coursework, projects, presentations and practical assessments.

Career prospects

The transferable skills that our Forensic Linguistics programme provides mean that our graduates are successful in finding employment in a wide range of roles such as:

  • Intelligence researcher
  • Behavioural analyst
  • Senior lecturer
  • Intelligence officer
  • Trainee investigator
  • English teacher
  • Intelligence analyst
  • Research associate
  • Trainee detective constable

Our graduates have gone on to work at organisations such as: Aston University, West Midlands Police, Surrey Police, Ministry of Finance of Republic of Indonesia, Royal Air Force, Norges Bank Investment Management, University of Birmingham and South Yorkshire Police.

Lizzie Hay MA Forensic Linguistics student

Enjoyable, exciting and fulfilling

Elizabeth Hay credits Aston University’s MA Forensic Linguistics programme for providing "invaluable" skills that have shaped her current role as an intelligence researcher.

Our graduates achieve amazing things all over the world – whether it’s setting up their own businesses, landing jobs with high profile organisations, or making real differences within their communities.

Hear from our graduates


Be part of our community

Once you have joined us at Aston University, you’ll always be part of our community, even beyond graduation.

Frequently asked questions

Why study Forensic Linguistics at Aston University?

Studying Forensic Linguistics at Aston University offers you unique opportunities to explore language analysis for justice. Led by the world's largest group of forensic linguists, you will engage in intellectually stimulating coursework. The programme boasts a 100% satisfaction rate (PTES, 2023), reflecting its high-quality teaching and supportive environment.

You will benefit from extensive research partnerships, real-world case work and professional development opportunities. This prepares you for careers in policing, intelligence, security and academia. Collaborations with prestigious organisations enrich your academic studies and provide practical experiences.

Joining Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics puts you at the forefront of linguistic analysis in justice delivery. Focused on improving justice through language analysis, you will gain a deeper understanding of forensic contexts. You will contribute to real-world applications and develop skills to tackle linguistic challenges, becoming a sought-after professional in forensic linguistics.

How will I benefit from unique access to real world data and expertise?

Studying MA Forensic Linguistics with us here at the Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL) will give you unparalleled access to genuine forensic data and expertise. Members of the Institute – the largest team of forensic linguists anywhere in the world - frequently undertake forensic linguistic casework and often appear as expert witnesses in court. Cases have related to murder, blackmail, rape, child abuse and terrorism, for clients including the National Crime Agency, the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the Criminal Cases Review Commission.

As well as working on policing investigations with the Metropolitan Police, Police Scotland and numerous other forces, our experts have also worked with numerous criminal defence teams and on significant civil disputes, including the biggest arbitration case in history, which found against the Russian government for $50billion.

Our casework feeds directly into the teaching that you will receive on the MA Forensic Linguistics programme, giving you truly unparalleled experience of working on genuine cases with genuine forensic linguists.

Outside of your timetabled modules we even run optional casework groups where students can gain hands on experience of undertaking linguistic analysis and producing an expert report for an external client. Our students this year are looking at a case involving authorship analysis of a cigarette case inscription alleged by its owner to be the work of T. E. Lawrence (‘Lawrence of Arabia’). Last year students investigated fresh allegations about the authorship of the infamous Zodiac Killer writings of the late 1960s.

Read more

Why should I study my postgraduate degree at Aston University?

There are lots of benefits of studying a postgraduate degree at Aston University.

Watch this video from MBA student, Monique, who talks about just a few of them:

Is Birmingham a good place to study?

Our campus is based in the centre of Birmingham, the youngest major city in Europe and a great place to live, work and study.

  • Great music and entertainment with a vibrant nightlife. Bars, clubs, pubs, live music, festivals, concerts. Whatever your tastes, there's something here for everyone.
  • Fantastic food. Birmingham's diverse community means you can try anything from the famous Balti triangle, the Chinese Quarter, high street chains, halal and vegan food, and Michelin-star dining.
  • World-class shopping. The Bullring and Grand Central is a shopper's paradise. From the world's biggest Primark to luxury brands at the Mailbox.
  • Arts and culture. Museums, galleries, theatres, concerts and Birmingham's art collection is as wide as it is impressive - not to be missed.
  • Green, open spaces. One of the greenest cities in Europe, Birmingham has hundreds of publicly accessible parks and green spaces across the city.
  • Sporting action. Birmingham has some of the most exciting venues for watching or participating in sport in the UK.

Discover Birmingham

What will my timetable look like?

We understand how important it is to know your timetable in advance for planning around work, childcare, or other responsibilities. Here's some basic guidance on what to expect regarding your student timetable.

Full-time programmes
As a rough estimate, full-time postgraduate students in the College of Business and Social Sciences should expect to spend about 12-15 hours per week in lectures and on-campus seminars. This is in addition to independent study, and there may be additional guided learning activities during certain weeks. The exact distribution of these hours will vary depending on your course and module choices.
Part-time programmes
Part-time students will have fewer weekly on-campus hours compared to full-time students. This reduction is proportional to the number of modules you're enrolled in.
Timetable availability
Complete timetables are usually released shortly before the start of your programme. This timing is necessary to ensure that we accommodate all course requirements and that rooms are allocated based on the number of students likely to enrol on each programme. We aim to provide these timetables as early as possible, to assist you in your planning.

As your induction week approaches, you will be sent more information about your timetable via email, and you will be able to access your timetable by logging into MyAstonPortal. For any further queries or information regarding your timetable, you can reach out to your programme director or the Student Support team.

Online/distance learning programmes
The above information also applies to students enrolled in online/distance learning programmes. Please note that both full-time and part-time distance learning students are still required to attend scheduled synchronous learning sessions.


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