City scape

English Language & Linguistics

Training in postgraduate level research skills in English language and linguistics.

The programme provides training in postgraduate level research skills in English language and linguistics. The programme is specifically designed to develop students' knowledge in the various areas of language and linguistics (e.g. syntax, semantics, langauge acquisition, discourse among others), and also to afford students the opportunity to focus the development of their research skills on and within their chosen sub-discipline.

Based within the School of Communication, the programme is distinctive in its breadth, offering modules in core theoretical generative linguistics as well as modules in conversation and discourse analysis with special focus on the study of English. The programme team includes experts in the various areas of linguistic research with PhDs from top universities in the world. The members of the team are all actively involved in research on a variety of topics. Language acquisition and multilingualism are core overlapping research interests of the group as a whole. The team also benefits from links to research groups in other universities in the UK, Australia and the US and has established a series of research seminars which bring in speakers from the UK, Ireland and overseas. The programme team has strong links with speech and language therapy and several of the team members are involved in research with clinical applications regarding language and communication disorders.

The programme will thus be particularly relevant to:
• students with an undergraduate background in language and linguistics who are interested in progressing to a Masters and/or PhD level;
• students with an interest in the theoretical study of the English language and human language more generally;
• teachers of English as a Foreign Language who wish to gain a Masters level qualification for career development and enhancement;
• language professionals, such as speech and language therapists, who wish to specialise in theoretical linguistics and develop their analytical and research skills in language and linguistics.

Entry requirements

Entry conditions
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University's General Entrance Requirements. For general entrance requirements go to:

Entry Requirements
Normally, at least an Honours in a relevant degree.

English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for this course is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. Trinity ISE: Pass at level III also meets this requirement for Tier 4 visa purposes.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.


The course is taught during the day and it normally requires attendance to classes over 2 or 3 days a week. The timetable changes every year and the course director can be contacted to gain more information about this.

Careers or further progression

Career options
The programme develops students knowledge in the study of language and can hence lead to the following career options:
• PhD in Linguistics
• Publishing
• Teaching

Many of our past graduates have chosen this course as a first stepping stone towards a career in Speech and Language Therapy.
There are also other generic and transferable skills that the student will develop from studying a linguistics degree.
They include:
• the ability to construct and manage an argument;
• working as a team to achieve common goals;
• the ability to recognise and solve problems;
• using initiative and working independently;
• self-management with the ability to carry out personal reflection;
• time management and organisation skills.

Further enquiries

Faculty Office
T: +44 (0)28 9036 6184
Course Director: Dr Jacopo Romoli
T: +44 (0)28 9036 6861

Subjects taught

Here is a guide to the subjects studied on this course.
Courses are continually reviewed to take advantage of new teaching approaches and developments in research, industry and the professions. Please be aware that modules may change for your year of entry. The exact modules available and their order may vary depending on course updates, staff availability, timetabling and student demand. Please contact the course team for the most up to date module list.

Year one
Structure and History of English
Year: 1
Status: C
The module provides a thorough overview of the structure and the history of the English language from 500 BC until the present. It also raises critical awareness by the students of core concepts used in the analysis of language change. Furthermore, it presents in detail a wide array of morpho-phonological, syntactic and semantic changes in the history of English. During this module, students will learn to use descriptive tools in order to observe and describe language change phenomena in the morphology, syntax and semantics of English. in addition to that, students will have to critically evaluate cutting-edge research and advanced scholarship in the area of historical linguistics and engage creatively with current issues in the field.

English & Comparative Syntax
Year: 1
Status: C
Syntax is a rapidly developing discipline with many unsolved problems which are subject to hot debates in the literature. This module focuses on the current discussions in syntactic theorizing introducing students to work at the cutting edge of theoretical syntax with special reference to the syntax of English.

Language Acquisition
Year: 1
Status: C
This module covers current theoretical and methodological issues in first and second language acquisition research.

Semantics and Pragmatics
Year: 1
Status: C
Semantics is an important area in theoretical linguistics. This module builds on the descriptive understanding of linguistic and non-linguistic meaning developed in Year one and it aims to further and deepen the study of this components of our linguistics knowledge, knowledge of word and sentence meaning.

Spoken Discourse
Year: 1
Status: C
This module aims to develop students' understanding of the details of specific theoretical approaches to the analysis of spoken discourse and also to facilitate students' engagement with current epistemological and methodological debates.

Year: 1
Status: C
The Communication dissertation aims to enable students to design and carry out an independent piece of research. It is intended that this will strengthen their ability to interpret and apply research data to a work environment. The research will focus in depth on one area of communication.

Bryman, A. (2012). Social Research Methods 4th ed, China: Oxford University Press.
Henn, M., Weinstein, M., Foard, N. (2009). A Critical Introduction to Social Research, Wiltshire: Sage Publications Ltd.
McQueen, R., Knussen, C. (2002). Research Methods for Social Science: An Introduction, Harlow: Pearson Education.

Creswell, J.W. (2009). Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative & Mixed Methods Approach. (3 ed) (2009). USA: Sage.
Davies, M.B. (2007). Doing a Successful Research Project using Quantitative or Quantitative Methods. China: Palgrave Macmillan.
Dawson, C. (2009). Introduction to Research Methods: A Practical Guide to Anyone Undertaking a Research Project (4th ed). Trowbridge, Wiltshire: How to Books Ltd.
Foster, J.J. (2001). Data Analysis for Windows ? Using SPSS, London: Sage. Greenhalgh, T. How to Read a Paper: The Basics of Evidence-based Medicine (3rd), UK: Blackwell Publishing Ltd.
Hart, C. (2002). Doing a Literature Review, London: Sage.
Matthew, B., Ross L. (2010). Research Methods: A Practical Guide for the Social Sciences. Italy: Pearson Education Ltd.
Silverman, D. (2010). Doing Qualitative Research, London: Sage.
Wray, A., Trott, K., Bloomer, A. (2003). Projects in Linguistics: A Practical Guide to Researching Language, London: Arnold.
Wrench, J.S., Thomas-Maddox, C., Richmond, V.P., McCroskey, J.C. (2008). Quantitative Research Methods for Communication. USA: Oxford University Press.

Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
This module introduces students to the study of Microvariation in syntax and phonology at an advanced level

Linguistics Interfaces
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
This module supports the students' abilities of knowledge transfer and application by engaging students in current debates of linguistic interface issues and how they might solve problems which have previously created challenges for non-integrated approaches in traditional framework of generative grammar.

Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
It is generally accepted that the majority of the world's population speaks more than one language and that the monolingual situation is now rather uncommon. This module focuses on recent advances on multilingualism and introduces post-graduate students to topical current theoretical debates. Apart from its interest for theories of language acquisition, a more sophisticated understanding of the phenomenon of multilingualism can assist teachers, speech and language therapists and other language professionals when they have to deal with multilingual children and adults. This module focuses on recent advances on multilingualism and introduces post-graduate students to topical current theoretical debates. The module can also be delivered as a stand-alone CPPD module for language professionals that wish to advance their knowledge on aspects of multilingual development.

Formal pragmatics
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
The module introduces students to the concepts and methods of semantics and pragmatics. The main emphasis is on understanding the nature of the semantic enterprise, in order that students can work from a thoroughly grounded framework in selecting various analytic concepts for use within their future research work.

Advanced Discourse: Theory and Practice
Status: O
Year: 1
This module is optional
This module enables students to develop a critical understanding of and the analytic practices of Conversation Analysis through an in depth examination of advanced topics in CA.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: September 2018

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!