Introduction

Explore the evolution of human language and speech while learning a language spoken over 5,000 years by one-fifth of the population. You will develop a broad understanding of rich Chinese culture and study how we acquire languages and how they change over time.

Study Information

At a Glance

Learning Mode
On Campus Learning
Degree Qualification
MA
Duration
48 months
Study Mode
Full Time
Start Month
September
UCAS Code
QT10
Degree marketing image

Language is the very essence of what makes us human, setting us apart from all other species. Linguistics helps us analyse, discuss and model this fascinating human attribute so that we understand ourselves and human societies more fully.

You will explore how languages evolve over time, how the brain processes speech and language, social factors and different dialects of English, how we learn second languages, and much more.

The University of Aberdeen draws on both ancient heritage and globally-recognised excellence in research and teaching to challenge students academically and to connect them with the world of practice. Students will have the opportunity to include the study of a language throughout the programme, whether or not they have any prior knowledge of the language.

What You'll Study

Year 1

Year 1

Compulsory Courses
Academic Writing for Language & Literature (AW1008)

This compulsory evaluation is designed to find out if your academic writing is of a sufficient standard to enable you to succeed at university and, if you need it, to provide support to improve. It is completed on-line via MyAberdeen with clear instructions to guide you through it. If you pass the evaluation at the first assessment it will not take much of your time. If you do not, you will be provided with resources to help you improve. This evaluation does not carry credits but if you do not complete it this will be recorded on your degree transcript.

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Getting Started at the University of Aberdeen (PD1002)

This course, which is prescribed for level 1 undergraduate students (and articulating students who are in their first year at the University), is studied entirely online, takes approximately 5-6 hours to complete and can be taken in one sitting, or spread across a number of weeks.

Topics include orientation overview, equality and diversity, health, safety and cyber security and how to make the most of your time at university in relation to careers and employability.

Successful completion of this course will be recorded on your Enhanced Transcript as ‘Achieved’.

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English Structure and use (LN1003)

15 Credit Points

This course opens up new ways for students to think about language by introducing them to the fundamentals of English linguistics. Students will learn how to identify and analyse the major "building blocks" of language in phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. Examples for illustration and discussion will be drawn from varieties of English spoken in the British Isles and worldwide, with lectures and tutorials geared to providing students with an active vocabulary with which to discuss language, and essential tools with which to analyse its structure and function.

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Mandarin Chinese for Beginners 1 (MN1001)

15 Credit Points

This course aims to familiarize students with the basics of spoken and written forms of Mandarin Chinese. Emphasis will be placed first on speaking and listening, particularly pronunciation and tones. The written form will be presented first through the medium of pinyin and gradually students will be introduced to a small number of the highest frequency characters. The emphasis will be on dialogue and role play. It covers a good deal of ground in the four class hours a week, and requires considerable effort and self-study to consolidate new vocabulary, grammar and Chinese characters.

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English Past and Present (LN1502)

15 Credit Points

How do we get from Chaucer to Twitter? From Beowulf to Beyoncé? This course will look at the development of English over the last millennium and beyond, examining language changes in sound, structure and meaning. Students will also be introduced to present-day sociolinguistic study, and how it can contribute to our understanding of language in the modern world and in the past.

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Mandarin Chinese for Beginners 2 (MN1501)

15 Credit Points

This course will continue to familiarize students with the basics of spoken and written forms of Mandarin Chinese. Emphasis will be on speaking and listening, particularly pronunciation and tones, and on aural comprehension. Students will continue to learn through the medium of pinyin and will be introduced to more of the highest frequency characters. Grammatical exercises, drills and simple reading, translation and writing exercises will be introduced. It covers a good deal of ground in the four class hours a week, and requires considerable effort and self-study to consolidate new vocabulary, grammar and Chinese characters.

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Optional Courses

Plus further courses of choice to make up 120 credit points.

Year 2

Year 2

Compulsory Courses
Mandarin for Beginners 3 (MN2001)

15 Credit Points

Building on work done in MN 1501 this intensive language course, which forms part of the Sustained Study Programme, will further develop all four basic language skills, reading, writing, speaking and listening. Classes on grammatical and linguistic analysis will contribute to the development of these skills. It covers a good deal of ground in the four class hours a week, and requires considerable effort and self-study to consolidate new vocabulary, grammar and Chinese characters (hànzì).

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Mandarin for Beginners 4 (MN2501)

15 Credit Points

Building on work done in MN 2001, this course will further develop all four basic language skills, reading, writing, speaking and listening. Classes on grammatical and linguistic analysis will contribute to the development of these skills. It covers a good deal of ground in the four class hours a week, and requires considerable effort and self-study to consolidate new vocabulary, grammar and Chinese characters (hànzì).

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Language in Society (LN2008)

30 Credit Points

Language is central to our humanity. Language and society are inextricably linked. Language unites; language divides. This course will develop your understanding of the social nature of language, providing insight into, among other things, the relationship between gender and language, language death and the art of persuasion.

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Varieties of English (LN2510)

30 Credit Points

The English language spoken in different places and by different groups of people varies hugely and this variation is a perennial topic of interest whenever people from different backgrounds meet. This course will survey a range of varieties of English, both from across the British Isles and from around the world, and will explore how these varieties differ from each other as well as what unites them. In order to do this, we will consider the sounds of English, standard and non-standard word morphology, variation in sentence structure and differences in lexical choice.

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Optional Courses

Plus further courses of choice to make up 120 credit points.

Year 3

Year 3

Compulsory Courses
Mandarin 5 (MN3001)

15 Credit Points

This language course builds on previous Mandarin courses and is only available to students who have passed MN2501.

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Mandarin 6 (MN3501)

15 Credit Points

This course follows on from what has been taught in Mandarin 5.

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First and Second Language Acquisition (LN3008)

30 Credit Points

This course provides a general introduction to theories and approaches in first and second language acquisition and introduces students to research in the field. In particular, the course provides students with an understanding of Universal Grammar (UG), behaviourism, interactionism, and frequency-based perspectives of language acquisition. Internal and external factors that influence the course of first and second language development are explored.

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Phonetics (LN3501)

30 Credit Points

At pre-honours, you have focused on articulatory phonetics, gaining an understanding of how speech sounds are produced in the vocal tract. LN3501 links this knowledge to an investigation of acoustic phonetics: the analysis of soundwaves in order to identify different phonetic features. Each week there is a seminar to introduce phonetic theory, followed by a practical in which you will learn how to use the freely available Praat software to conduct acoustic analysis of your own voice before extending this to compare different voices. Assessment involves a combination of theoretical and practical work.

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Dissecting Sentences (LN3506)

30 Credit Points

We all string words together without thinking, but how does this process actually work? What makes the difference between a meaningful phrase and word salad? In this course we will explore the structure and meaning of sentences through the study of syntax and semantics. Students will gain tools to describe and analyse sentences in unexpected ways, drawing on a mixture of their own insights and data from a variety of languages to get to grips with the mechanisms that allow us to go beyond single-word utterances and communicate complex messages.

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Discourse Analysis (LN3510)

30 Credit Points

Students will be introduced to a range of conceptions and perspectives on discourse, drawn from disciplines such as linguistics, social psychology, sociology, and communication studies. They will examine what the study of discourse reveals about the nature of language, social interaction, power relations, and the construction of meaning. They will learn the basic principles of analytical methods for discourse analysis, including:

  • text linguistics
  • narrative analysis
  • conversation analysis
  • critical discourse analysis

Students will also gain practical experience in applying these approaches to a variety of discourses, including conversations, interviews, the media, academic writing, literary texts, and advertisements.

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Language Change: Linguistic and Sociolinguistic Approaches (LN3013)

30 Credit Points

All living languages are in constant flux. Pronunciations alter; word meaning changes; structures evolve. In this course you will learn the various processes which Historical Linguists employ when analysing linguistic change. Proper attention will also be given to the consideration of language descent and relationship. You will also consider change from a sociolinguistic viewpoint, investigating how social background, gender and ethnicity affect and effect change.

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Year 4

Year 4

Compulsory Courses
Dissertation in Language and Linguistics (LN4012)

30 Credit Points

Once you have successfully completed three years of university-level study of Linguistics, this course allows you to develop and carry out an independent piece of research on a topic of your choice. It might be that a particular taught course has inspired you to explore a topic in more depth; your own reading might have prompted you to wonder about a particular question. You will be supervised by a member of the department who will be happy to give advice and support as you complete your dissertation of 7000-8000 words.

The Dissertation spans HS1 and HS2.

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Optional Courses

Select 60 credit points from courses below plus, further courses of choice to make up 120 credit points.

LN4015 - Language and the Professions (15 credits)

Phonologies of Englishes (LN4011)

15 Credit Points

This course aims to introduce students to a range of phonological approaches, beginning with the classical phonemicist approach, which students have encountered in pre-honours courses, and moving on to consider topics including the role of syllables and metre and the development of models in generative phonology including differences between rule-based phonologies and constraint-based theories.

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Language Contact and Change in Language (LN4004)

15 Credit Points

Linguistic contact is everywhere and eternal. English lexis is a particularly good example of this: less than half of the vocabulary of the present-day language is of native origin. But examples can be found elsewhere which are even more striking. Michif, for instance, has French noun morphology but Cree verb morphology. Here in northern Scotland, the pronunciation of the first consonant in the local equivalent of ‘what’ – fit – probably came about under Gaelic influence. This course will provide students with the theoretical and methodological insights which underlie the study of linguistic contact.

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Sociophonetics (LN4505)

15 Credit Points

If you took LN3002 Phonetics, you developed skills in acoustic phonetic analysis. The rapidly developing field of Sociophonetics applies these techniques to address some profound questions about the links between phonetic variation and change and the structure of society. Through a combination of reading recent research papers and conducting focused practical work, we will investigate how speaker’s construction of their identities in terms of gender, place and social class is connected to their use of specific phonetic variants. We’ll also consider perception: find out how the presence of a toy kangaroo can make someone sound more Australian!

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Adopt A Dialect: Finding Resources and Planning Research (LN4506)

15 Credit Points

Research on dialects of any language is always provisional. More information regularly becomes available; features which were once central to the dialect's system become increasingly marginalised in the language of younger students. A fresh analysis is always welcome; you can provide it. In this course you will catalogue what knowledge we presently have of a dialect, analyse what is missing and suggest a research project which will help increase our knowledge. While you will be given guidance, what dialect you research will be your own choice.

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Grammatical Attitudes (LN4507)

15 Credit Points

What is grammar? What is grammatical? Who decides? And how? This course will explore different approaches to grammar, from the layperson’s to the linguist’s, and how these impact society and the study of language. We will evaluate and experiment with methods for judging grammaticality, giving students greater insight into this essential but difficult to pin down concept.

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We will endeavour to make all course options available; however, these may be subject to timetabling and other constraints. Please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

How You'll Study

Learning Methods

  • Individual Projects
  • Lectures
  • Research
  • Tutorials

Assessment Methods

Students are assessed by any combination of three assessment methods:

  • coursework such as essays and reports completed throughout the course;
  • practical assessments of the skills and competencies they learn on the course; and
  • written examinations at the end of each course.

The exact mix of these methods differs between subject areas, years of study and individual courses.

Honours projects are typically assessed on the basis of a written dissertation.

Why Study Language and Linguistics with Mandarin?

  • A vibrant linguistics research and teaching community, and the benefits this study brings to other subjects such as modern languages, anthropology, sociology and history.
  • Researchers revealing new insight into how spoken English is changing, including evidence gathered from tracking TV and radio soaps over the years.
  • Major research partnerships such as the study of witness testimonies following the 1641 Irish Rebellion, with language revealing the social, economic, cultural and political situation in 17th century Ireland, giving clues on sectarianism today.
  • Award-winning Sir Duncan Rice Library with top-class study facilities and literary treasures collected over 500 years charting the power of the written word from ancient papyri and medieval manuscripts to contemporary e-books and other media.
  • A packed campus programme of events, exhibitions, invited speakers and the annual May Festival which attracts internationally acclaimed authors, broadcasters and public figures to discuss the written and spoken word in various languages.

Entry Requirements

Qualifications

The information below is provided as a guide only and does not guarantee entry to the University of Aberdeen.


General Entry Requirements

SCOTTISH QUALIFICATIONS (SQA)

4H at ABBB from S4 and S5. Those seeking to qualify over S5 and S6 will be expected to exceed this minimum.

An HNC and HND qualification (such as Early Education and Childcare) will be accepted as one subject alongside 3 other subjects at Higher level (or equivalent). The Higher grades required are C or above. The required English and Maths grades must also be achieved.

English and Mathematics as below.

GENERAL CERTIFICATE OF EDUCATION (GCE)

A Levels: BBB

English and Mathematics as below.

IRISH LEAVING CERTIFICATE/ARDTEISTIMEIREACHT

H2, H3, H3, H3, H3 including English, and 2 at Ordinary Level, including Maths which must be at Grade 3 or above.

English and Mathematics Entry Requirements

All students are required to fulfil the English and Mathematics entry requirements for entry to our MA Primary Education degree, in addition to those mentioned above. These can be accessed here.

SCOTTISH QUALIFICATIONS (SQA)

4H at ABBB from S4 and S5. Those seeking to qualify over S5 and S6 will be expected to exceed this minimum.

An HNC and HND qualification (such as Early Education and Childcare) will be accepted as one subject alongside 3 other subjects at Higher level (or equivalent). The Higher grades required are C or above. The required English and Maths grades must also be achieved.

English and Mathematics as below.

GENERAL CERTIFICATE OF EDUCATION (GCE)

A Levels: BBB

English and Mathematics as below.

IRISH LEAVING CERTIFICATE/ARDTEISTIMEIREACHT

H2, H3, H3, H3, H3 including English, and 2 at Ordinary Level, including Maths which must be at Grade 3 or above.

English and Mathematics Entry Requirements

All students are required to fulfil the English and Mathematics entry requirements for entry to our MA Primary Education degree, in addition to those mentioned above. These can be accessed here.

The information displayed in this section shows a shortened summary of our entry requirements. For more information, or for full entry requirements for Arts and Social Sciences degrees, see our detailed entry requirements section.


English Language Requirements

To study for an Undergraduate degree at the University of Aberdeen it is essential that you can speak, understand, read, and write English fluently. The minimum requirements for this degree are as follows:

IELTS Academic:

OVERALL - 6.0 with: Listening - 5.5; Reading - 5.5; Speaking - 5.5; Writing - 6.0

TOEFL iBT:

OVERALL - 78 with: Listening - 17; Reading - 18; Speaking - 20; Writing - 21

PTE Academic:

OVERALL - 59 with: Listening - 59; Reading - 59; Speaking - 59; Writing - 59

Cambridge English B2 First, C1 Advanced or C2 Proficiency:

OVERALL - 169 with: Listening - 162; Reading - 162; Speaking - 162; Writing - 169

Read more about specific English Language requirements here.

Fees and Funding

Please refer to our InfoHub Tuition Fees page for fee information for this programme, or contact study@abdn.ac.uk.

Scholarships and Funding

Students from England, Wales and Northern Ireland, who pay tuition fees may be eligible for specific scholarships allowing them to receive additional funding. These are designed to provide assistance to help students support themselves during their time at Aberdeen.

Additional Fees

  • In exceptional circumstances there may be additional fees associated with specialist courses, for example field trips. Any additional fees for a course can be found in our Catalogue of Courses.
  • For more information about tuition fees for this programme, including payment plans and our refund policy, please visit our InfoHub Tuition Fees page.

Our Funding Database

View all funding options in our Funding Database.

Undergraduate EU Scholarship

The Aberdeen Global Undergraduate Scholarship is open to European Union (EU) students.

This is an £8,000 tuition fee discount available to eligible self-funded Undergraduate students who would have previously been eligible for Home (Scottish/EU) fee status.

View Undergraduate EU Scholarship

Careers

There are many opportunities at the University of Aberdeen to develop your knowledge, gain experience and build a competitive set of skills to enhance your employability. This is essential for your future career success. The Careers and Employability Service can help you to plan your career and support your choices throughout your time with us, from first to final year – and beyond.

Our Experts

Information About Staff Changes

You will be taught by a range of experts including professors, lecturers, teaching fellows and postgraduate tutors. Staff changes will occur from time to time; please see our InfoHub pages for further information.

Discover Uni

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Get in Touch

Contact Details

Address
Student Recruitment & Admissions Service
University of Aberdeen
University Office
Regent Walk
Aberdeen
AB24 3FX