English Language and Linguistics

MLitt, Postgraduate Certificate


The MLitt English Language and Linguistics offers students the opportunity to study the intricate workings of language and explore its central role in society.

We investigate how language works, how people use it, what people use it for, where it came from and how it changes. The range of research expertise represented by the three dedicated members of staff teaching on the course are reflected in a comprehensive suite of modules that include cognitive, sociolinguistic, historical, evolutionary, and discourse analytical topics.


Key information

  • Degree type: MLitt, Postgraduate Certificate
  • Study methods: Part-time, Full-time
  • Duration: Full-time: MLitt-12 months, PG Diploma-9 months, PG Certificate-3 months Part-time: MLitt-27 months, PG Diploma-21 months, PG Certificate-9 months
  • Start date: September
  • Course Director: Dr Bethan Benwell | Dr Andrew Smith
Download course leaflet

Dr Andrew Smith or Dr Bethan Benwell School of Arts & Humanities
Division of Literature & Languages
University of Stirling
+44 (0) 1786 467516 or 467976 www.stir.ac.uk/arts-humanities/graduate-study/

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Course objectives

Students will be expected to graduate with a knowledge of contemporary linguistic theories, including both generative and cognitive approaches to linguistic description, and the contexts in which these theories arose.

They will also acquire knowledge and understanding in specialist selected areas of study (e.g. Old and Middle English, historical, social and regional varieties of English, language and cognition, discourse analysis and evolutionary linguistics), including critical understanding of research in these areas.

They will be able to apply a variety of descriptive linguistic tools to language data and linguistic theories to selected specialist areas of study within English Language and Linguistics, according to their areas of interest.

They will learn to plan and manage a Research Project under supervision, undertaking independent research, including keeping track of relevant developments in the chosen field(s) and being able to set them in an appropriate context; they will be able to structure and communicate ideas effectively; gather, evaluate and organise information from multiple sources; and engage with other researchers by writing, debating, and delivering oral and written presentations.


What makes us different?

World-class library and teaching facilities

Studying for a degree means learning in different ways; managing your own time; conducting research; mastering new computer skills. We have the facilities and advice on hand to help you do all this - and do it well.

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Life at Stirling

Of the many reasons students come to Stirling, such as academic reputation and research standards, one factor is always cited: the outstanding beauty of the University's Stirling campus.

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Entry requirements

Academic requirements

A minimum of a second class Honours degree (2.1 preferred) or equivalent in a relevant subject.  Applicants without these formal qualifications but with significant appropriate/relevant work/life experience are encouraged to apply.

Sample of work (e.g. English Essay) is required.

English language requirements

If English is not your first language you must have one of the following qualifications as evidence of your English language skills:

  • IELTS: 6.0 with 5.5 minimum in each skill
  • Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE): Grade C
  • Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE): Grade C
  • Pearson Test of English (Academic): 54 with 51 in each component
  • IBT TOEFL: 80 with no subtest less than 17

For more information go to English language requirements

If you don’t meet the required score you may be able to register for one of our pre-sessional English courses. To register you must hold a conditional offer for your course and have an IELTS score 0.5 or 1.0 below the required standard. View our range of pre-sessional courses.

Application procedure

Use the online enquiry service to find out more or to request a prospectus.

If you are ready to apply you can fill out an online application form now.

For more information, contact Dr Andrew Smith or Dr. Bethan Benwell in Literature and Languages. For general enquiries and information on application deadlines, contact Alison Scott.

Structure and teaching

Delivery and assessment

Teaching takes place in the form of small group tutorials, occasional lectures, and sometimes lab sessions, depending on the module taken. All modules offer close and careful supervision, but students are expected to take proper responsibility for their studies.

Assessment is via module coursework and the dissertation. Each module is assessed by means of one assignment, some of which may involve practical research investigations. The most significant piece of work on the course will be a 15,000-word dissertation, written during the Summer under supervision.


Academic Year 2015/16

Full Time


Sounds and Words (20)

Sentences and Meaning (20)

One of: Language and Cognition (20); Old and Middle English (20); Language Learning Theory and Research (20)


Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities (audit only)


Three of:

Sociolinguistics and Varieties of English (20),
Historical Linguistics and the History of English (20),
Evolutionary Linguistics (20),
Corpus Linguistics in Language Teaching and Research (20)
(with bespoke skills training)

Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities (audit only)


Dissertation (60)


Part Time


Sounds and Words (20)

Sentences and Meaning (20)

Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities (audit only)


Two of:

Sociolinguistics and Varieties of English (20),
Historical Linguistics and the History of English (20),
Evolutionary Linguistics (20),
Corpus Linguistics in Language Teaching and Research (20)
(with bespoke skills training)

Training for Masters in the Arts and Humanities (audit only)


Two of:  

Language and Cognition (20),
Old and Middle English (20),
Language Learning Theory and Research (20)


Dissertation (60)

Recommended reading

You will be given detailed set reading lists at the start of each semester by each module convenor.

Modes of study

Face-to-face, campus-based seminars and lectures; one-to-one guidance and supervision with tutors. Online content (in the form of study resources, lecture slides, discussion boards) is available via Succeed, the University of Stirling's chosen online learning environment.

Study method

Part-time; Full-time

Why Stirling?



In REF2014 Stirling was placed 6th in Scotland and 45th in the UK with almost three quarters of research activity rated either world-leading or internationally excellent.


Over half of our submissions in the latest Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) were found to be ‘Internationally Excellent’ or ‘World-leading’.

Dr Andrew Smith was the recipient of the university’s RATE teaching award in 2011 for ‘most inspiring tutor’.

More details on the research interests and publications of staff can be found here: http://www.ell.stir.ac.uk/English_Language_and_Linguistics_at_Stirling/Staff.html


The English language grouping at Stirling (and staff in the cognate discipline of English Language Teaching in the School of Education) offers between them a strong and varied set of expertise in linguistic topics, from Historical Linguistics to Evolutionary Linguistics and from Discourse Analysis to Corpus Linguistics. The breadth and range of topics make this an ideal introductory Master's to the subject of Linguistics.  

Our students

As a UK Linguistic Consultant for an American healthcare research company, I analyse pre-recorded and transcribed conversations of patient-doctor interactions. Each study involves collecting conversational data from around 30 medical appointments, all of which are focused around the same particular condition, for example asthma. The aim of this data collection is to access ‘real-life’ natural conversation between patients and doctors.

Working alongside the main project team who are based in the United States, I analyse linguistic concepts such as the lexicon (which is used to describe symptoms and specific treatments), turn-taking, power-relationships, conceptual metaphors, and figurative language. I also comment upon British cultural references used by both patients and doctors to ensure these are understood fully by the international team and clients. I turn this analysis into a report with actionable insights, which is then presented to the client (pharmaceutical companies) who uses this research to support the marketing and commercialization of pharmaceutical brands in the UK.

The MLitt in English Language and Linguistics at Stirling provided me with the range of critical skills that I need to be able to carry out this work. Having graduated with an undergraduate degree in Linguistics from the University of Aberdeen, the MLitt helped me to build upon my previous understanding of language, allowing me to narrow down my research interests. In particular, the Sociolinguistics and Language and Cognition courses enabled me to gain the ability to apply abstract linguistic concepts to real-world applications. Language and Cognition heightened my awareness of the widespread conceptual metaphors that exist in medical discourse to describe illnesses and treatments whilst from Sociolinguistics I gained the practical research skills to carry out qualitative and quantitative analysis of spoken and written language.

Beth Harvey, 2013 graduate


Our staff

Dr Bethan Benwell is the co-author of the best-selling Discourse and Identity which was shortlisted for the BAAL book prize in 2007.


Careers and employability

Career opportunities

Postgraduate degrees in English Language and Linguistics are much sought-after by students across the world, providing a grounding in theories and methods essential for a range of research and teaching careers in disciplines including English Studies, Education, English as a Foreign Language and English for Specific Purposes.

Students with postgraduate degrees in English Language and Linguistics are prized for their excellent communication and problem-solving skills, and their ability to analyse and synthesise information rapidly and accurately. They are generally very adaptable and go on to a wide range of careers in all sectors of the economy, such as: private and public sector management and research, marketing and advertising, government administration, journalism, banking and finance, speech therapy.

Former graduates from the MLitt have gone on to, for instance, Linguistics Research (in the Healthcare sector) and further study in Speech Therapy (for which a Master's in Linguistics was a prerequisite).

In a recent report, graduates of English were as likely (if not more) to be in professional or managerial jobs three to three and a half years after graduation than graduates in other subjects (including science and social science subjects). Almost fifty percent of English graduates pursue further education within three years of graduating from their undergraduate degree, often as a route to a professional career, such as teaching or law.


Your MLitt in English Language and Linguistics will provide you with important transferable skills which you will be able to make use of throughout your career. Our course will help you develop your oral and written communication skills so that you can engage in confident and informed debate with a range of audiences. You will be able to design, plan and manage your own independent research projects; you will develop your skills in collecting, analysing and interpreting information, and will be able to structure, contextualise and communicate your ideas and findings effectively.

You will play an active part in our regular Language Research Group meetings, which discuss articles on important and controversial linguistic topics. You will have the opportunity to introduce articles of your choice to the group and will develop important skills in leading and managing open-ended discussions.

Skills you can develop through this course

An MLitt in English Language and Linguistics is acknowledged by potential employers as providing important skills, such as motivation, intelligence and the ability to meet deadlines. Although English is not a specifically vocational degree it offers a number of important transferable skills, such as the ability to write clearly, effectively, accurately and persuasively.

Seminar discussion and oral presentations (required by many of our modules) help to develop your spoken communication skills. The critical and reflexive study of a variety of texts (literary and non-literary) teaches you how to analyse and interpret complex information and to apply abstract concepts and theories. Our criteria for assessment also require students to be able to synthesise conclusions, to assimilate existing research and to construct and defend an argument clearly and cogently.

Throughout their degrees, our students are also trained to use library and bibliographic resources effectively and appropriately, to reference accurately, and to present their work professionally. All of these skills are essential to many kinds of work, which is why so many employers recognise the value of a MLitt in English Language and Linguistics.

Online application process

Please choose a start date and study method from the drop-down list below, and click the Apply Now button below to begin the online application process. (Please make sure you have consulted the Postgraduate Study pages on the University website and the Online Application Guidance Notes before continuing).



2016/17 Overseas £12,450
2016/17 Home/EU £4,500
2015/16 Overseas £11,900
2015/16 Home/EU £4,500

You should expect to pay fees for every year you are in attendance and be aware fees are subject to revision and may increase annually. Students on programmes of study of more than one year should take this into account when applying.

Scholarships & funding

information on possible sources of funding

The University of Stirling is offering any UK or European Union student with a First Class Honours degree (or equivalent) a £2,000 scholarship to study full-time on any taught Master's course or £1,000 for part-time study. Further information on the scholarships is available here.

Scholarship finder
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