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 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.


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.


Coursework; essays; examinations; dissertation. 

Download the programme specification for this degree to find out more about what you'll learn and how you'll be taught and assessed.

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


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


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.


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


"I really enjoyed the group discussions with peers and lecturers, which were very engaging and thought provoking."

"I graduated from London Metropolitan University with a BA in Applied Translation, while working as a part-time Spanish language tutor. Coming from a linguistic background, I wanted to further my studies in linguistics, so I decided to do an MA in the field.

After being offered a place at several universities, I chose Goldsmiths’ MA because I was looking for a course which offered aspects related to Sociology and Cultural Studies from a linguistic point of view. I was particularly interested in studying modern linguistics, techniques of linguistic analysis, socio-linguistic methodologies, and semantics and pragmatics, and this MA covered all these subjects, and more.

I enjoyed taking the following courses: Theory and Method in the Study of Language in Context; Discourse as Social Interaction; and Language and Meaning in Cultural Analysis; and found that they covered my expectations in terms of what I was looking for. I found it good practice to carry out analysis and interpretation of spoken and written texts, and I really enjoyed the group discussions with peers and lecturers, which were very engaging and thought provoking.

After completing my MA I was offered a job at London South Bank University in the Research and Development Office. At some stage in the future I may continue my postgraduate studies with a PhD degree, as I would like to do research in social communication and cultural issues."


"The classes were intimate and very sociable, with excellent tutors who encouraged fantastic discussions and really pushed the boundaries"

"My first degree was in Literature and Philosophy, so although I had an interest in Language, I never thought of myself as a linguist, per se. In applying for an MA I wanted something that would challenge from a new intellectual angle, but which would be interesting through its relevance to everyday life. When I saw the MA that Goldsmiths offered I knew immediately that it would be the right course for me, and I wasn't disappointed. Linguistics is such a broad subject and this MA manages to touch on so many aspects yet keeps it all manageable and allows you to follow your interests in whichever direction you wish.

The classes were intimate and very sociable, with excellent tutors who encouraged fantastic discussions and really pushed the boundaries of what I thought I 'knew' about language. We had guest lecturers and were also encouraged to sit in on seminars for the options that we hadn't chosen to help us gain as much knowledge of the wider subject as we possible could. There is a huge emphasis on actively collecting your own data and really getting involved in the world of socio-linguistics. Having come from a more literary and theoretical background, I found this slightly daunting at first, but as soon as I started collecting and analysing data I found it thoroughly satisfying and rewarding. For my dissertation I gathered research in two schools to look at the teaching of literacy is managed within a multilingual classroom in the UK. I now consider myself a linguist and am applying to train as a Speech and Language Therapist!"


"I liked the interdisciplinary nature of the MA programme at Goldsmiths."

"Before studying at Goldsmiths on the MA, I completed a BA in Language and Communication at Cardiff University. The BA course touched on some of the principles of discourse analysis and linguistic and communication research and I was looking for an MA programme that would that would allow me to take a more in depth look into some of the areas we had covered, particularly socio-linguistics and inter-cultural communication. I liked the interdisciplinary nature of the MA programme at Goldsmiths, it offered me a greater understanding of the fundamentals of modern linguistic research through the core course modules whist giving me the opportunity to follow my specific interests in the optional modules. I found the seminars engaging and inspiring and I enjoyed the classroom discussions. While the course was challenging, the class groups were relatively small and there was a really supportive atmosphere created amongst my peers and tutors.

I became particularly interested in second language acquisition and translation studies and wrote my final dissertation on the influence of first language usage on second language acquisition in the classroom. On completion of the course I accepted a post working for the British Council in Colombia, teaching English to adults and business people. I draw on my academic experience regularly in my job and continue to read EFL journals, particularly at the moment as I am studying on a Cambridge diploma course in language teaching."

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 (including 7.0 in the written test)

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.


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

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