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The University of Southampton
Modern Languages and LinguisticsPart of Humanities


Linguistics is the study of language in all its forms. It explores the many different facets of language, from the physical properties of the sound waves in speech, to the social context in which conversations are embedded. The various sub-branches of linguistics focus on a range of different aspects of language. General disciplines such as syntax or phonetics (the sounds of language), focus on formal aspects of language, while other specialist disciplines such as sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, or discourse analysis investigate how linguistic systems interact with larger social or cognitive structures. A Linguistics degree from Southampton will give you the opportunity to explore these complementary aspects in depth.

Lecturers teach and research across a range of sub-disciplines including:

•         Sociolinguistics, Language Variation and Global Englishes

•         Language Acquisition and Psycholinguistics

•         Applied Linguistics and English Language Teaching

•         Phonetics, Phonology, Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics

You can find out more about our faculty specialisms here.

Linguistics at Southampton

At Southampton there are two options for studying linguistics, either as a Single Honours course on our BA in English Language and Linguistics, or as a Joint Honours course where you will combine linguistics with another subject; often a foreign language.

Single Honours: BA English Language and Linguistics

If you choose this program, you will focus on Linguistics with no foreign language entry requirement and no need to study a foreign language once you arrive (although these will be open to you as optional modules). Over the course of your degree, you will develop a deep understanding of linguistics as well as the tools and abilities necessary to conduct your own linguistic analyses.

Core modules will introduce you to the core theoretical disciplines such as syntax, phonetics, morphology, semantics, and discourse analysis. As you progress, you will be able to apply these skills and analytical techniques in more specialist modules such as sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics or second language acquisition. We offer expertise in a broad range of disciplines so there is scope to tailor your degree to your particular interests.

students in lecture

Joint Honours: combined with one or more foreign languages

A large proportion of students in Modern Languages follow some courses in linguistics. As a modern languages student, a deeper understanding of language and how it works, both within the mind and within society, is very useful. You will then be able to better understand the specific language(s) you are studying, by using the tools your have acquired and which are necessary for the in-depth study of any language.

At Southampton, you will focus on how languages are structured, develop, learned and how they relate to social and political issues in the countries in which they are spoken. You will be able to follow courses in general linguistics (eg syntax – the study of the structure of sentences) and courses in the linguistic study of the languages on offer (eg language variation in the Hispanic-speaking world). Linguistics is studied in combination with one or two languages, and you can either choose to take some courses in linguistics and others in one of the other 'fields of study', or you can choose to specialise in linguistics alongside your language(s) and do most of your courses in linguistics. If so, you might opt to do a ‘tracked’ degree in Linguistic Studies (eg French and German Linguistic Studies; Spanish Linguistic Studies).

Structure of the degree:

Language learning

Language learning is organised as a series of language stages, which operate independently from your year of study. This means that in your first year you begin at the stage most appropriate for you. At each stage the courses are designed to develop your skills in spoken and written language and to enable you to make steady and rapid progress. You will have regular discussion classes with native speakers, as well as classes based on the use of written materials together with excellent facilities.

The first year

The first year will be a foundation for your further study. You will follow a language course, which will develop the four fundamental practical skills of reading and writing, listening and speaking. In linguistics you will be encouraged to think about the different ways to approach the subject and the broader contexts in which you could situate it.

The second year

In your second year, you will develop your practical language skills to a high level of proficiency particularly in relation to text handling and oral communication.

The third year - year abroad

Your third year will normally be spent abroad in a country where your chosen language is spoken, whether in Europe or further afield. During this year, you will normally carry out an investigative project on a current local issue, with the guidance of a tutor.

The final year

This year involves more specialised studies, and gives you more independence. You will follow an advanced language course, and also choose a number of subject courses.

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