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MA in Sociocultural Linguistics

  • Length
    1 year full-time or 2 years part-time
  • Department
    English and Comparative Literature
  • Funding available

Course overview

This programme looks at language from a sociocultural perspective. It's designed for anyone with an interest in the relationship between language, culture and society but also provides a solid understanding of English language and linguistics.

The MA develops your understanding of historical and contemporary debates in (socio)linguistics and discourse analysis and enhances your analytic and linguistic skills by introducing different approaches to the analysis of written and spoken language use from a range of everyday and institutional contexts.

Topics covered include:

  • language and ideology
  • linguistic performances of identity (particularly language and gender, sexuality, ethnicity and social class)
  • language and the media
  • talk at work
  • English in a multilingual world
  • intercultural communication
  • multilingualism and code-switching
  • varieties of English

You're encouraged to engage with these topics by drawing on your own social, cultural and occupational backgrounds in class discussions and in your written work.

You're also encouraged to collect your own samples of written and spoken language use and learn to subject those to in-depth critical analysis.

This MA will draw on findings, theories and methodologies from: sociolinguistics, semantics, pragmatics, spoken and written discourse analysis, ethnography, semiotics, feminist stylistics; multimodal analysis; interactional sociolinguistics, conversational analysis, membership categorisation analysis, performativity and narrative analysis.

The programme’s distinct interdisciplinary ethos is also reflected in your opportunity to choose from a selection of relevant option modules in other departments in Goldsmiths.

Contact the department

If you have specific questions about the degree, contact Maria Macdonald

Modules & structure

On this programme you will complete two core modules, two option modules and one dissertation.

Core modules

Module title Credits
  Core Issues in English Language & Linguistics 30 CATS
  or
  Core Issues in English Language & Linguistics 30 credits
  Language in its Sociocultural Context 30 credits

Option modules

You may choose two linguistic options or one linguistic option and one option from other MA programmes within the College, where specifically approved by the Programme Co-ordinator.

Module title Credits
  Analysing Discourse & Identity in Spoken Interaction 30 credits
  English in a Multilingual World 30 credits
  Intercultural Discourse & Communication 30 credits
  Language & Ideology in Written Discourse 30 credits
  English as a Lingua Franca and Language Teaching 30 credits

Option modules from other departments

You may also choose one non-linguistics module, either from our own department (English and Comparative Literature) or from another department. Please note that availability of options across the College varies, but typically you can choose from the following selection. Please note that your choice of option module from another department needs to be discussed with the Programme Co-ordinator of the MA Sociocultural Linguistics in advance.

Department of English and Comparative Literature

  • Studies in Comparative Literature & Criticism
  • Theories of Literature & Culture
  • Modern Literary Movements
  • Literature of the Caribbean & its Diasporas
  • American Literature & Culture: Critical and Theoretical Concepts
  • Rewriting Sexualities
  • Twentieth Century Caribbean Writing; Caribbean Women Writing & Representation

Department of Anthropology:

  • Anthropology and Cultural Politics
  • Anthropology and History
  • Anthropology of Religion
  • Social Anthropology of the Caribbean

Department of Media and Communications:

  • Political Economy of the Media
  • The Structure of Contemporary Political Communications
  • Race, Empire and Nation
  • Gender, Affect and the Body

Department of Sociology

  • Introduction to Feminist & Cultural Theory
  • What is Culture? Key Theoretical Interventions
  • Digital Social Research Methods
  • Race, Gender and Justice
  • Social Media: a Critical Review

Centre for Cultural Studies

  • Cultural Theory
  • Critical Theory

We also run an optional MA study skills module in which we cover topics such as: using electronic resources; British academic essay writing & referencing at MA level; planning a dissertation in (socio)linguistics.

Dissertation

You also produce a dissertation. Dissertation topics in the past have included: 

  • discursive construction of religious identities in interviews with British Muslim converts
  • code-switching practices in a Tunisian family
  • discourse and identities in the SLA classroom
  • language and gender in dream narratives
  • pauses and silences on Talk Radio
  • attitudes towards bilingual signs in Thailand
  • representations of parenthood in UK parenting magazines
  • political debates on Irish TV
  • lifetime narratives of older Asian immigrants in the UK
  • the language of text messaging
  • language and literacy practices on Facebook
  • attitudes to non-standard language use
  • discursive analysis of EFL textbooks
  • gendered speech style in an all-female group of Iranian friends

The best (UG or MA) linguistics dissertation is rewarded every year with the Hayley Davis Prize. 

Approach to teaching

Our lecture/seminar sessions are designed to combine discussions of preparatory reading materials with tutor-led input and hands-on analyses of data/texts by students. We also tend to invite guest lectures for our option modules and introduce you to a number of linguistics talk series across the University of London.

Our MA group is usually very tight-knit, students and student reps organise study/revision groups, online discussion forums, outings to lectures across London, and a number of social events.

Assessment

Coursework; essays; examinations; dissertation. 

Download the programme specification, relating to the 2017-18 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.

Department

English at Goldsmiths is ranked:
18th in the UK for the quality of our research**
In the world’s top 150 universities for English language and literature***

English and Comparative Literature

Cervantes. Bukowski. Dostoevsky. Self. From classical literature and linguistics, to creative writing and contemporary fiction, we take a critical and creative approach to the discipline.

As a department we’re interested in a field of enquiry that extends from Old English to 21st-century literatures in English, French, Spanish and Italian. So you can study texts and films across a variety of periods and genres.

We’re engaged

We have a dedicated Writers’ Centre that encourages new writing and stimulates debate about all forms of literature. And we award the annual Goldsmiths Prize (for “fiction at its most novel”), which brings critically acclaimed writers like Ali Smith and Eimear McBride to campus.

We’re nurturing

We may be one of the largest departments at Goldsmiths but that doesn’t mean you won’t get personal support. Learn from our approachable team of academic staff and become part of the student-run English Society.

We’re vibrant

As one of the first departments in the UK to offer creative writing, you’ll be part of a hub of literary excellence – our graduates have gone on to win prestigious awards from the Orange Prize for Fiction to the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year.

Find out more about the Department of English and Comparative Literature

**Research Excellence Framework 2014, Times Higher Education research intensity subject rankings
***QS World University Rankings by subject 2015

Skills & careers

Skills

Transferable skills, including enhanced communication and discussion skills in written and oral contexts; the ability to analyse and evaluate a wide variety of spoken and written texts from informal as well as institutional settings; an understanding of the concept of communicative competence; the ability to organise information, and to assimilate and evaluate competing arguments.

Careers

Publishing, journalism, british council roles, public relations, teaching, research, translation, advertising, the civil service, business, industry, the media.

Find out more about employability at Goldsmiths.

Student profiles

Carter

"On this course I became a Linguist; one dedicated to exploring my own interests and passions with the knowledge and analytical skill gained on this MA."

"My path to linguistics was not a classic one – if there is such a thing. That’s not a thing, right? Okay great. Before coming to Goldsmiths to study Sociocultural Linguistics I spent four years in an acting conservatory in New Jersey. My path was clear: I was going to be a professional actor. A professional actor who spent all of his free time reading books on accents and dialects and feeding his yet undiscovered desire to be a linguist. I had always loved language, but specifically accents and how they shaped identity.

After drama school I was ready to dig deeper in a different field of study. When I found the MA in Sociocultural Linguistics at Goldsmiths my interest was piqued. I was excited by the idea of being able to study language and culture in an international university, with students and lecturers from around the world. The year did not disappoint.

Strangely - though it is very clearly stated in the title of the course - I did not expect to feel like a linguist when I finished the course. I guess I thought I’d feel more like a Jane Goodall of language, observing it in its natural habitat and quietly noting its intricacies. Or maybe I thought I’d be more of a language Malcolm Gladwell, retelling clever stories from my obscure language adventures, illuminating the joys of language for all to share. Never have I been so pleased to be wrong. On this course I became a Linguist; one dedicated to exploring my own interests and passions with the knowledge and analytical skill gained on this MA.

Throughout the year you are given the tools to study language from the ground up. ‘Core Issues in English Language Linguistics’ explores language from phonology to pragmatics; investigating how and why language is structured. In the second term, ‘Language in its Sociocultural Context’ uses all that you have learned in the previous term to explore how language and culture interact and influence one another. In the first term I took the module ‘English in a Multilingual World’ which explored English as a lingua franca and the role colonisation plays in shaping the Englishes of the world. In the second term, “Analysing Discourse and Identity in Spoken Interaction,’ which was equally fascinating and explored the various means of analysing discourse and how identity is constructed in interaction.

I cannot praise the lecturers highly enough. They are brilliant, kind, thoughtful and present. The dissertation process was made much less daunting by their constant guidance and assistance. I would highly recommend the course to established linguists and linguists yet-unknown-to-themselves alike. I am now working professionally as an Accent and Dialect Coach in London theatre, TV, and Film and use the knowledge and research skills from my MA constantly."

Joanna

"I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this course to anyone. I wish I could start it all over again!"

"I completed my BA in Sociology and Movement Studies twenty years ago and I've been a PE/Sociology teacher since that time. Three years ago I completed a TEFL course which peaked my interest in linguistics. The Goldsmiths MA in Sociocultural Linguistics was the perfect mixture of my interests and has allowed me to explore themes related to both sport and education.

As a mature student I was keen to fully throw myself into being a full time student and as well as completing modules on spoken discourse and identity and written discourse and ideology I was also allowed to audit the other modules. The emphasis is very much placed on you to complete compulsory and additional reading, as well as gathering your own data to analyse. There were also opportunities to hear guest speakers who are at the forefront of their field. The two core modules gave me a thorough overview of general linguistics and the specialist modules allowed me to focus on my areas of interest in terms of methodology and topic. The classes were enjoyable and engaging and allowed plenty of opportunities for me to clarify and develop my ideas in discussion with other students and the tutors. All the course tutors are highly knowledgeable and extremely supportive and the one to one sessions and feedback I received when preparing my dissertation were invaluable.

The other students in my cohort came from a wide range of areas and this added to the enjoyment and interest I got from the course. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend this course to anyone interested in the social aspects of language and linguistics. I still use the skills that I developed completing the MA, particularly critical thinking skills, analysis of everyday discourses and evaluation of texts. I wish I could start it all over again!"

Julia

"The classes were incredibly enjoyable, challenging, and informative"

"Studying linguistics was something I became interested in through my work in the US higher education system. However, I did not have a clear area of focus, due to my lack of formal education on the topic. My work at the time relied upon intercultural communication and working with people of various backgrounds and experiences. When I found this MA in Sociocultural Linguistics at Goldsmiths, I was confident that such training and education would allow me to focus on linguistics, which I had interest in from the beginning, but also expose me to other facets of linguistics and allow me to hone in on and develop skills that would advance me professionally.

The classes were incredibly enjoyable, challenging, and informative. With a class size of roughly 9-12 and a student and faculty population that represented various corners of the world, the conversations and learning that went on were intimate, stimulating, and unique. The readings, assignments and research encouraged me to push my limits and challenged me academically in a way that I have not been challenged in the past.

Since completing my degree, I have started working at Lasell College in Boston, Massachusetts, working in the Office of International Services. I work closely with the outgoing study abroad student population but also the incoming international students. The knowledge and skills I’ve gained from my degree are utilised every day.

While this program is directly applicable to my career, it is subject matter that anyone would benefit from."

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard.

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

No prior knowledge of linguistics is required. If you would like to explore the options, given your personal background, please get in touch.

Equivalent qualifications
We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements
If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

IELTS 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.

How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system. 

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online

          Please see our guidance on writing a postgraduate statement

  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September. 

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline.

Selection process

Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Find out more about applying.

Fees, funding & scholarships

Find out more about tuition fees.

Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants. If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline.

Scholarships

This programme is eligible for one of the department's fee waivers. Find out more about how to apply.

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