The MPhil is offered by the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (DTAL) within the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages as a full-time period of research and introduces students to research skills and specialist knowledge.
The course aims:
(a) to provide students with necessary background in linguistic theory and related topics at intermediate and advanced level using a range of approaches and methodologies;
(b) to give students the opportunity to acquire expertise in their specific research interests in part by offering the opportunity of specialisation through pathways in the linguistics of particular languages (e.g. English, Romance, Celtic etc.); or areas such as Applied Linguistics;
(c) to provide foundations for continuation to PhD research;
(d) to offer the opportunity to participate in research culture within and beyond the Faculty, by attending and contributing to graduate seminars and reading groups;
(e) to develop the research skills required to conduct independent study such as:
By the end of the programme students will have developed:
(a) a deeper knowledge and understanding of linguistic theories and problems addressed in cutting-edge research in theoretical and applied linguistics and related areas;
(b) the skill of critically assessing current research and methods in theoretical and applied linguistics and related areas;
(c) the methodological and other technical skills necessary for research in their chosen area;
(d) improved presentation skills through presenting their research in progress;
(e) the skills and confidence to engage in scholarly debate.
These outcomes are achieved through participation in lectures, research seminars, individual supervisions, and additionally through subject reading groups, discussion groups and meetings of scholarly societies.
In addition to these subject-specific skills, the following general transferable skills are also acquired:
General transferable skills
(a) The relatively intense timetable of the MPhil demands that students develop exemplary time-management skills. They work in collaboration with their supervisors to devise appropriate plans of study, and have to ensure that they meet all deadlines, formal and informal.
(b) The compulsory Research Methods course includes transferable skills, such as how to organise writing, how to formulate research questions appropriate to different methodologies, and general problem-solving skills. Written work is required to be concise, cogent, appropriately structured, and to adhere strictly to word limits, as in most areas of activity.
(c) Students are expected to make regular presentations in seminar situations. This develops their oral presentation skills, as does the assessed Oral Presentation on their ‘second seminar’ at the end of the Lent Term.
For those applying to continue from the MPhil to PhD, the minimum academic standard is normally a distinction on the MPhil.
The MPhil programme is structured progressively to form a bridge between undergraduate study and possible further research. Its balance changes through the year so that in the first two months (Michaelmas Term - October to December) there is instruction through lectures, whilst by the last three months students are carrying out independent research full-time.
All students are required to follow a course in 'Research Methods' and a statistics course to acquire skills needed for research and 'transferable' skills. Beyond that, each student will follow his or her own 'Study Plan', which allows the individual interests, needs, and strengths of the student to be met. At the start of the course the student, with advice if needed from the Director of the MPhil and subject specialists, draws up a Study Plan for the Michaelmas and Lent Terms (October to March) which is approved by the Department. This will include the selection of a minimum of four introductory taught courses to be followed in Michaelmas, and participation in a minimum of two research seminars in Lent Term. Usually the Lent Term seminars chosen build on courses which have been followed in Michaelmas.
Three assessment essays written during the Michaelmas term and one assessment essay written over the Christmas vacation will be based on the Michaelmas taught courses. One of the Lent research seminars will normally relate to the thesis, and another is assessed by an oral presentation (which provides an opportunity to develop communication skills). By default, the Course Director will initially act as supervisor, but once a thesis topic has been chosen in Lent Term, a subject specialist will be appointed. From Easter until June, students can concentrate full time on the thesis.
The course structure allows great flexibility in combining areas and approaches. It provides for tailored combinations of work in any of the areas of theoretical, applied, and descriptive linguistics, ranging for instance from formal semantics to experimental phonetics and phonology, from language acquisition to computational linguistics, and from Welsh syntax to the history of linguistics in France. A piece of work may have as its focus the development of an argument in linguistic theory, the description of some aspect of a language or its use, the psycholinguistic testing of alternative linguistic analyses, the application of linguistic theory to the history of a language or languages, the acoustic description of sound systems, and so on. The various pieces of work may relate to any language or combination of languages subject to adequate advice and facilities being available for the topic in question. Some students may wish to specialise and opt for a pathway relating to a particular language or language family.
The thesis demands independent study under the guidance of the supervisor and will involve a substantial piece of original research. A proposed title and summary for the 20,000 word thesis, formulated in discussion with the supervisor, must be submitted in mid-February, and this will be subject to approval by the Department of Linguistics, the supervisor, and the Faculty's Degree Committee. Because seminars finish at the end of Lent term, students can then devote themselves full time to research for the thesis during the Easter vacation and the Easter Term (April to June). The thesis is submitted on the seventh Friday of Easter Full Term, and about two to three weeks later there may be an oral examination on the thesis at the discretion of the examiners.
Most of the following Lent Term research seminars will be available in any given year:
The thesis will normally be based on one of these seminars. In addition students will give an oral presentation on the topic of a second seminar at the end of Lent Term. The presentation should aim at the general audience rather than subject specialists. The presentation will be assessed on the content by the subject specialist and on presentation by two other members of the Faculty.
The following language-specific pathways will normally be available:
To fulfil a pathway, a student must write the MPhil thesis and at least two of the essays on a topic which is clearly within the language area chosen. The choice of courses attended in Michaelmas and Lent Terms will reflect that pathway. Following a pathway in 'language X' will allow the student to opt, if he or she wishes, for the informal designation of the degree as 'MPhil in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics (X)', where 'X' might be 'Slavonic' or 'French'). (Formally, however, the University merely awards the degree of MPhil.)
|One to one supervision||
Approximately 6.5 hours per year (half an hour for each of the three 2,000-word essay; one hour for the 4,000-word essay; 4 hours for the thesis)
|Seminars & classes||
44 hours of research training
32 hours of subject-specific seminars
16 hours of research training
[Full-time individual research]
32 hours of subject-specific lectures
[no lectures; teaching is by seminar and class]
[Full-time individual research]
Termly supervision reports are written and are made available to the student online. Feedback on the essays and thesis is provided in the form of a written report.
Students submit a thesis of no more than 20,000 words. The examiners have the option to conduct an oral examination with the candidate.
Exceptional candidates, with the agreement of the Degree Committee, may be examined by one thesis of 30,000 words, in place of the 20,000 word thesis, four essays, and presentation described.
Students write three 2,000 word essays to set titles, and one 4,000 word research essay on a topic of their own choosing.
Students make an oral presentation in the Lent Term on the second of their subject options.
Universities in the United Kingdom use a centralized system of undergraduate application: University and College Admissions Service (UCAS). It is used by both domestic and international students. Students have to register on the UCAS website before applying to the university. They will find all the necessary information about the application process on this website. Some graduate courses also require registration on this website, but in most cases students have to apply directly to the university. Some universities also accept undergraduate application through Common App (the information about it could be found on universities' websites).
Both undergraduate and graduate students may receive three types of responses from the university. The first one, “unconditional offer” means that you already reached all requirements and may be admitted to the university. The second one, “conditional offer” makes your admission possible if you fulfill some criteria – for example, have good grades on final exams. The third one, “unsuccessful application” means that you, unfortunately, could not be admitted to the university of you choice.
All universities require personal statement, which should include the reasons to study in the UK and the information about personal and professional goals of the student and a transcript, which includes grades received in high school or in the previous university.