Applied Linguistics MA


Fact file

MA Applied Linguistics
1 year full-time, 2-3 years part-time
Entry requirements
2.1 (Upper 2nd class hons degree from British University or international equivalent)
Other requirements
Transcripts are required
7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)

If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
Start date
University Park
Tuition fees
You can find fee information on our fees table.


We combine theoretical and ideological dimensions with practical applications.
Read full overview

The School of English at Nottingham has long been at the forefront of research and teaching in the area of applied linguistics.

This MA provides an exciting opportunity to work with leading world figures in the subject and to investigate English language in applied contexts.

You will be introduced to the key ideas and concepts in applied linguistics and provided with thorough training in relevant research methods. This MA provides an excellent route into PhD study after completion of the MA.

The principle of language study that we have established at Nottingham combines theoretical and ideological dimensions with practical applications; with a rigorous and principled approach.

The key features of this course include: a theoretical grounding in research methodology and linguistic description, one-to-one tuition with expert members of staff, teaching informed by active leading-edge researchers in the field, innovative and engaging teaching methods, and access to many online resources and flexibility in course content.

Key facts

  • This MA is convened in the Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics and is among the most popular postgraduate courses of its kind in the UK
  • The School was ranked 7th for English in The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2015
  • In the world top 50 for English Literature, Language and Linguistics (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2014)
  • 9th in the UK for 'research power' (REF 2014)
  • The programme offers an excellent route towards pursuing a PhD
  • Students who wish to apply for an ESRC PhD scholarship can follow the ESRC strand within the programme
  • The MA in Applied Linguistics is also available as a web-based distance learning course
  • For details of ESRC, and other sources of funding, visit the School's website
  • Hear from current students in our School of English Masters student videos

Course details

The MA in Applied Linguistics explores the role of language in human affairs using a variety of approaches, ranging from discourse analysis to corpus linguistics. With a particular focus on research methodology, this programme offers an opportunity for investigating language and communication from an interdisciplinary angle.

You will be taught using the latest advances in teaching methods and electronic resources, as well as small-group and individual tuition.

This course can be taken over one year, full-time (September to September) and part-time over 2 to 3 years.

Many of the modules on this course are optional but you need to take 120 credits’ worth of modules before completing the dissertation.

Most taught modules are assessed by written work of around 3,000 words or equivalent (for a 15-credit module).

Tutors provide detailed comments on assignments. The objective is to provide you with the confidence to work as professional academics, at ease with the conventions of the discipline, and ready to tackle any area of research in applied linguistics.

In the early stages of your dissertation, your supervisor will read through and comment on draft work. The dissertation itself comprises a piece of your own research, assessed by written work of 14,000 words.

This MA is also available as a web-based distance learning course. Please see the English Distance Learning courses website for more information.



The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result, may change from year to year. The following list is therefore subject to change but should give you a flavour of the modules we offer.

Students who wish to apply for an ESRC PhD scholarship after completion of the MA will need to follow the ESRC strand within the course - which will mean a slight change to the structure below. Full details will be given to students on starting the course.

Autumn Semester

1) Typically, students take the module:

Research Methods in Applied Linguistics: Quantitative & Qualitative (15 credits)

The module looks at various approaches of collecting and processing data using both qualitative and quantitative methods of investigation. With a focus on the area of applied linguistics, students will be introduced to the process of hypothesis formulation and testing, issues of interpretation, evaluation and replicability of data and of research results, questionnaire and interview design, data gathering and recording, statistical description and analysis.


2) Students then choose 45 credits from this list of typical modules:

Business and Organisational Communication (15 credits)

The module investigates the multidisciplinary subject of business and organisational communication. It covers a wide range of quantitative and qualitative approaches, examining how individuals and groups use spoken and written communication to get work achieved successfully. The range of methodologies and analytical frameworks for interrogating business and organisational communication include: conversation analysis, corpus linguistics, critical discourse analysis, pragmatics and speech act theory, ethnography and genre analysis. The module also highlights contemporary issues emerging from the field, exploring, for instance, the influence of context, new multi-media technologies and globalisation on communication in commercial domains and organisational environments. The module emphasises how the findings of communicative research can be practically applied in teaching and training materials and in consultancy work.


Grammar in the Classroom (15 credits)

This module examines the role of grammar in language teaching. The first half of the module looks mainly at the issues that have an impact on the practice of grammar teaching. These issues include what second language acquisition research suggests about the utility to the learner of grammar instruction, the position of grammar in a language syllabus and the way in which teaching methodologies have influenced the role of grammar in the classroom. The second part of the module raises questions about the way language teachers look at grammar from a more theoretical perspective, in light of recent developments in systemic functional grammar, corpus linguistics and cognitive linguistics.


Psychology of Language (15 credits)

This module considers three fundamental and interrelated questions about psycholinguistics: 1. acquisition, or how language is acquired; 2. comprehension, or how words, sentences, and discourse are understood; and 3. production, or how words, sentences, and conversations are produced. Potential topics include, but are not limited to: lexical influences on sentence comprehension and production; first and second language acquisition; reading; language disorders (e.g., dyslexia, aphasia).


Intercultural Communication (15 credits)

This module will explore the use of language in interactions between speakers of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds from three different perspectives: Description, Development, and Assessment. With a growing proportion of interactions in the world today taking place between people of diverse cultural backgrounds, it is important to identify and describe language use which may lead to misunderstanding and communicative breakdown. This module will look at ways in which language barriers might be overcome in such interactions, and at the key factors in this process. We will examine intercultural interactions in a variety of contexts, e.g. business and other professional encounters, the language of the media, the language classroom, etc.


Research Methods in Literary Linguistics (15 credits)

This module explores the use of linguistic frameworks to investigate literary texts. Through a series of practical analyses, students will be introduced to a range of linguistic explorations of poetry, prose, and drama from a wide range of historical periods. The course will invite students to use the analyses as an occasion for the critical evaluation of the various approaches to language and literature, to investigate the notions of literariness and interpretation, and to consider the scope and validity of stylistics in relation to literature and literary studies. The range of key research methods and methodologies in stylistics will be studied.


Consciousness in Fiction (15 credits)

The module will explore in depth techniques for the presentation of consciousness in novels and other fictional texts. Students will learn about the linguistic indices associated with the point of view of characters and the various modes available to a writer for the presentation of characters’ thoughts and perceptions. Alongside detailed examinations of narrative texts which portray consciousness, students will also study different theories put forward to explain the nature of writing consciousness in texts. Our stylistic analyses of fictional minds will also aim to account for historical changes in the techniques used for consciousness presentation.


Dickens and Language (15 credits)

Through detailed study of a selection of his novels, this module will examine the language and style of Dickens. It investigates the creation of fictional worlds and techniques of characterization. While the focus is on Dickens, the module introduces stylistic approaches that are of wider applicability (such as approaches to body language in literature or computer-assisted methods of analysis). The module also deals with the reception of Dickens’s novels and assesses Dickens’s literary celebrity in the context of popular culture.


Language Teaching: Speaking & Listening (15 credits)

The main focus of this module is an exploration of teaching methods for listening and speaking in EFL and ESL environments. The components of the module will provide a theoretical and practical focus for the content and organisation of language classes focused on listening and speaking. Students will become familiar with the four strands approach to designing language learning programs. Within this context, participants will be guided towards good practice in English language teaching and learning constructed from current theory, methods, approaches and practices. Students will have the opportunity to observe, plan, prepare and teach listening and speaking activities.



Spring Semester

Students choose 60 credits from the following list of representative modules:

Research Methods: Corpus Linguistics (15 credits)

Corpus linguistics provides methods for the study of collections of electronic texts (written texts, including literary texts, material from the internet, transcripts of spoken language, etc.). This module introduces fundamental corpus methods that include retrieving and interpreting word frequency information, studying patterns of words in the form of concordances, and analysing key words and key semantic domains. The lecture-style content of the module will explain basic concepts and illustrate methods through case studies. Through weekly hands-on sessions students will actively practice the use of corpus software. Throughout the module, students are encouraged to reflect on the applicability of a range of methods to their own areas of interest (e.g. literary linguistics, discourse analysis, ELT, etc.). For the assessment, students will complete a small-scale corpus project on a topic of their own choosing (in consultation with the tutor). This project can function to test ideas that might be further developed in the dissertation.


Language and Gender (15 credits)

The course will explore the relationship between language and gender in spoken interaction and written texts, drawing on key approaches in the areas of discourse analysis, sociolinguistics and pragmatics. The extent to which gender affects the language we produce when interacting with one another in a variety of contexts will be focused on, along with the issue of sexism in language use. Various theoretical paradigms that have been presented to explain language and gender differences will be critically examined, along with gender ideologies which operate in society. Students will be encouraged to combine theoretical thinking with hands-on analyses of data from authentic examples of spoken interaction and from a variety of publications including the popular media. The practical consequences of the discipline in terms of how findings can have a political impact on wider society are also discussed.


English Vocabulary: Teaching & Learning (15 credits)

This module covers the various aspects of knowledge that are required to fluently use a word: meaning, written form, spoken form, grammatical properties, frequency, register, collocation, and association. Practical aspects of teaching vocabulary will also be covered, including vocabulary teaching activities, vocabulary learning strategies, vocabulary testing and the use of corpora.


Group Dynamics and Motivation in the Language Classroom (15 credits)

This module offers an introduction to the main psychological factors and processes that determine the way students learn foreign languages within an institutional (classroom) context. The focus will be on two key issues that have a considerable practical significance: (a) language learning motivation and (b) the internal dynamics of the learner group that can either enhance or hinder the individual members' learning achievement. Key topics to be discussed will include the components of L2 motivation; strategies to increase student motivation; structural and developmental characteristics of the 'good' learner group; group building techniques; effective leadership roles; cooperative language learning. 


Cognition & Literature (15 credits)

This module represents a course in cognitive poetics. It draws on insights developed in cognitive science, especially in psychology and linguistics, in order to develop an understanding of the processes involved in literary reading. The module also develops skills in stylistics and critical theory.


Second Language Acquisition (15 credits)

Arguably the most important subdiscipline for the understanding of language teaching is SLA; therefore, this module will focus on this area to ensure that students have a sound understanding of how language is learned.


Sociolinguistics of Work (15 credits)

This module is intended to familiarise students with theories and applications of sociolinguistics in relation to the context of work. It will cover a range of sociolinguistic, workplace topics, including a focus upon the following: workplace cultures; language and identity, including gender, ethnicity, age, religion/nation and social class; miscommunication; intercultural communication; linguistic politeness and interactional sociolinguistics. The module will emphasise the crucial relationship between social variables, power and communication in the workplace, and demonstrate how recourse to sociolinguistic analysis can illuminate and enhance communication in a range of workplaces.


Assessment in the Language Classroom (15 credits)

The main focus of this module is an exploration of the principles of assessing second language learning. The components of the module will provide theoretical and practical knowledge of assessment techniques that allow for comprehensive treatment of all four skills in the language classroom. The course is premised on the belief that assessment has various purposes and that it is important to design and use classroom assessment methods to serve the intended purposes. Students will become familiar with assessment techniques ranging from controlled to open-ended item types as well as standardized tests and their design, purpose, validity and utility. Students will be given the opportunity to work with numerous assessment methods and consider their implementation in the language classroom. There also will be time devoted to guidelines and practical suggestions for assigning grades.




The final element of the course is a 60 credit dissertation, which students complete over the Summer period.

More information on the above modules is available on the Module Catalogue.

Please note that all modules are subject to change.

Further information about the ESRC scholarship is available on the School page.

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The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.

The modules we offer are inspired by the research interests of our staff and as a result may change for reasons of, for example, research developments or legislation changes. This list is an example of typical modules we offer, not a definitive list.



UK/EU Students

The majority of postgraduate students in the UK fund their own studies, often from a package made up of personal savings, parental loans or contributions, bank loans and support from a trust or charity.

However, financial support and competitive scholarships are available and we encourage applicants to explore all funding opportunities.

Please visit the School's website for the latest information about funding opportunities, including ESRC funding.

The Graduate School website at The University of Nottingham provides more information on internal and external sources of postgraduate funding.


International and EU students

The University of Nottingham offers a range of masters scholarships for international and EU students from a wide variety of countries and areas of study.

Applicants must receive an offer of study before applying for our scholarships. Please note the closing dates of any scholarships you are interested in and make sure you submit your masters course application in good time so that you have the opportunity to apply for them.

The International Office also provides information and advice for international and EU students on financing your degree, living costs, external sources of funding and working during your studies.

Find out more on our scholarships, fees and finance webpages for international applicants.



Our postgraduate students move into an extraordinarily wide range of careers following their time in the School.

According to The Times, “English graduates have almost any career path open to them ... All of the big graduate recruiters look for communication skills.” (Clare Dight, ‘Degree Doctor…English’, The Times, 6 April 2006).

Conducting postgraduate work in the School of English fosters many vital skills and may give you a head start in the job market. Studying at this level allows you to develop qualities of self-discipline and self-motivation that are essential to employment in a wide range of different fields.

We will help you develop your ability to research and process a large amount of information quickly, and to present the results of your research in an articulate and effective way. A postgraduate degree in English from an institution like The University of Nottingham shows potential employers that you are an intelligent, hard-working individual who is bright and flexible enough to undertake any form of specific career training.

Our applicants are among the best in the country, and employers expect the best from our graduates.

Average starting salary and career progression

The University of Nottingham is consistently named as one of the most targeted universities by Britain’s leading graduate employers.*

Consequently – and owing to our reputation for excellence – more than 84% of postgraduates from the School of English enter employment or further study during the first six months after graduation. The average starting salary for postgraduates from the Faculty of Arts was £20,250 with the highest being £33,000.**

* The Graduate Market 2013-2016, High Fliers Research.
**Known destinations of full-time home postgraduates 2014/15. Salaries are calculated based on those in full-time paid employment within the UK.

Career Prospects and Employability

The acquisition of a masters degree demonstrates a high level of knowledge in a specific field. Whether you are using it to enhance your employability, as preparation for further academic research or as a means of vocational training, you may benefit from careers advice as to how you can use your new found skills to their full potential. 

Our Careers and Employability Service will help you do this, working with you to explore your options and inviting you to attend recruitment events where you can meet potential employers, as well as suggesting further development opportunities, such as relevant work experience placements and skills workshops.  

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Graham Hancock
Postgraduate Administrator

School of English
University of Nottingham
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