The University of Southampton

LING6039 Extended Dissertation in Linguistics

Module Overview

In this module you will develop and demonstrate your understanding of advanced level topics in linguistics by planning, managing and undertaking a substantial research project. This culminates in a 20,000-word dissertation.

Aims and Objectives

Module Aims

• undertake an extended piece of independent research, with guidance from a supervisor; • develop a theoretical framework and research design relating to your chosen topic; • choose, apply and evaluate a range of relevant research procedures; • make an original contribution to linguistic theory and/or language acquisition theory; • prepare for progression to doctoral research in linguistics or other professional activities in which independent research is a component.

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the topic you have selected in your chosen field of study;
  • key theoretical approaches applicable to this topic;
  • research design appropriate for your area of study;
  • how your area of study contributes to current theoretical understandings of the human language faculty.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • use information technology appropriately to support and present your research;
  • compose under deadline conditions an extended piece of writing which is logically structured, coherently argued, and clearly written, supported by a detailed bibliography;
  • demonstrate interpersonal skills whilst working with others in the investigation of problems, and in the presentation of arguments and evidence
  • work with greater autonomy.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate specific, as well as general, research skills, such as information retrieval and library searches and internet resources;
  • apply empirical techniques where appropriate, showing an awareness of the processes required to address ethical considerations involved in relevant areas of linguistic research;
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • develop a sustained argument over an extended piece of work;
  • critically assess the existing literature on your chosen subject area, including both primary and secondary sources, potentially from various theoretical perspectives;
  • design, implement and evaluate a medium-sized research project in language acquisition/linguistic theory;
  • demonstrate originality of thought and approach which extends beyond a simple synthesis of secondary materials.


a. Module Overview The dissertation is an extended piece of work of approximately 20,000 words, which results from independent research on a topic in language acquisition and/or linguistic theory, depending on your chosen degree and expertise based on your other module choices. The dissertation gives you the opportunity to explore a topic of particular interest to you in greater depth than is possible within the scope of a taught module. b. Module Syllabus Your topic will be agreed with course tutors, and you will be allocated a supervisor accordingly.

Special Features

The extended dissertation for research-focused linguistics degrees is a longer piece than is usual for normal taught Masters programmes. As an exercise in independent study in advanced linguistics topics it will serve as excellent preparation for a doctoral degree, developing your ability to work independently as a researcher.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

You will learn primarily through extensive research and independent study on your chosen topic and theoretical framework. You are expected to spend 726 hours on this independent study during the course of the module. This will be accompanied by regular group meetings with the module coordinator (totalling 6 hours) and individual tutorials with your dissertation supervisor (totalling 18 hours). Group meetings (in which all Masters students in Linguistics, Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching participate) provide a forum for discussion of possible topics, for presentation of work in progress, and for addressing issues of common concern regarding project design, fieldwork methods, data analysis and dissertation writing. In the early individual supervisions the scope of the project and design and methodology for investigation of the topic are agreed, and the structure of the finished dissertation is discussed. Later meetings require you to have prepared sections of the work.

Independent Study726
Total study time750

Resources & Reading list

Walliman, N (2005). Your Research Project: A step by step guide for the first-time researcher. 

Rasinger, S (2008). Quantitative Research in Linguistics: An Introduction. 

Wray, A., Trott, K. and Bloomer, A. (1998). Projects in Linguistics: A Practical Guide to Researching Language. 

Litosseliti, L (2010). Research Methods in Linguistics. 

Bell, J (1999). Doing Your Research Project: A guide for first-time researchers in education and social science. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Dissertation  (20000 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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