University of Chester

Programme Specification
English Language and Linguistics MA
2017 - 2018

Master of Arts

English Language and Linguistics

English Language and Linguistics

University of Chester

University of Chester

Chester Campus

Postgraduate (Taught)

Full-time and Part-time

Classroom / Laboratory,

1 year (Full-time); 2 years (Part-time)

6 Years

Annual - September



17a. Faculty

17b. Department

Arts and Humanities English

There is as yet no directly relevant subject benchmark for English Language and / or Linguistics Master’s programmes. However the MA in English Language and Linguistics will accord with the QAA Master’s Degree ’Characteristics Statement’ (September 2015).

We have also considered the benchmark statements for undergraduate programmes in ‘English’ (February 2015) and Linguistics (September 2015).


English PAB

Friday 22nd April 2016

Educational aims reflect lecturers’ current research interests which include speech and language processing, cognitive stylistics, corpus linguistics, advanced syntax, critical discourse analysis, language in education, comparative linguistics, historical linguistics and sociophonetics. These areas of expertise would be used to:

  • develop an advanced knowledge of the descriptive terminology of the key levels of linguistic analysis – phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and discourse;
  • enable critical application of linguistic tools to the analysis of language in a variety of complex contexts – spoken and written, literary and non-literary;
  • promote sophisticated evaluation of current critical and theoretical positions in advanced scholarship and research in the study of English language and linguistics, and to facilitate the development of independent and original insights;
  • stimulate independent thinking and critical engagement with debates such as the nature of language, the relationship between language theory and public policy, attitudes towards language use, practical applications of knowledge about linguistic structures, and varying approaches to language and linguistic study;
  • explore and critically analyse the range of research methods available to students of English language and linguistics;
  • enable students to become autonomous and self-directed scholars and researchers through a range of assessments methods including an extended thesis;
  • create a supportive environment in which students can develop their oral and written communication skills through engagement with their tutors and peers, and to encourage critical self-reflection on this process.

Students will demonstrate a sophisticated knowledge and critical understanding of:

  • the structures of English at the phonetic, syntactic, lexical, semantic, pragmatic and discursive levels (EN7401, EN7402, EN7403, EN7407, EN7408, EN7409, EN7410, EN7411, EN7412, EN7413, EN7414);
  • the relationships between linguistic form and function in a variety of contexts (all modules);
  • a variety of sub-disciplines and approaches to linguistic study, such as psycholinguistics, critical discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, speech and language processing, corpus linguistics (all modules);
  • current critical and theoretical positions in advanced scholarship and research in contemporary English language and linguistics (all modules);
  • the range of research methods available to the student of modern English language and linguistics (EN7404, EN7405, EN7406).

Students will demonstrate an ability to:

  • critically evaluate a variety of intellectual approaches to language study, and determine the appropriateness of each approach according to requirements (all modules);
  • systematically collect original language data and apply appropriate sophisticated methodological and analytical techniques (EN7402, EN7405, EN7406, EN7407, EN7408, EN7410, EN7411);
  • demonstrate an advanced awareness of the relevance and application of linguistic knowledge to language use in the wider world, e.g. education, speech and language processing in children, the influence of media discourses, attitudes to language variety and change (EN7402, EN7403, EN7407, EN7408, EN7409, EN7410, EN7411, EN7412, EN7413, EN7414);
  • critically analyse the range of research methods available to the student of English language and linguistics, and to devise research strategies appropriate to a chosen area of enquiry (EN7402, EN7404, EN7405, EN7406);
  • engage in critical self-reflection on their own oral and written communication skills (all modules).

Students will:

  • demonstrate a sophisticated practical understanding of the relevant quantitative and qualitative data collection research methodologies available in the field (EN7402, EN7404, EN7405, EN7406);
  • show an advanced understanding of how to use the appropriate linguistic tools and apply them to the analysis of original data, utilising applications such as computer-based corpus software, speech and acoustic technology, news databases and lexicographical resources (EN7402, EN7403, EN7407, EN7408, EN7409, EN7410, EN7411, EN7412);
  • Work in peer support study groups to foster collaborative and collegiate spirit and peer-review of strengths and weaknesses of thesis development at various stages (all modules);
  • present and disseminate their oral and written work in accordance with academic conventions (all modules).

Students will demonstrate an ability to:

  • present an oral and/or written discussion based on information collected from various sources and synthesised into a coherent whole, by means of graphs, tree diagrams, tables, and other kinds of diagrams with appropriate acknowledgments and lists of sources (all modules);
  • present their work in a variety of assessed and non-assessed environments such as standard discursive essays; analysis of spoken and written examples of English; phonetic transcription; syntax trees; oral seminar presentations supplemented by handouts and slides; written texts aimed at a non-academic audience (e.g. blogs) (all modules);
  • independently plan, design and execute an extended piece of original written research, under supervision, and present this in a sophisticated writing style which conforms to academic writing conventions (EN7405, EN7406);
  • analyse and critically evaluate their own findings and those of others (all modules).

Programme structure and features:

Students will take five taught 20-credit modules, four of which are compulsory and one optional. Each would typically be delivered in blocks of nine weekly seminars (two-hours long) - two in the autumn term and two in the spring term. EN7404 Research Methods in English Language and Linguistics will run for five weeks in the summer term. EN7405 Dissertation – a 16,000 word thesis – will be worth 80 credits and be taught by individual tutorial supervision, and will be completed mostly over the summer vacation period. Part-time students who wish to complete the MA in two years will typically take two or three 20-credit modules in their first year, and two or three 20-credit modules plus EN7405 Dissertation in their second year.

The programme seeks to combine theoretical linguistics such as phonetics, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse analysis, with its application to real-world language in use. It aims to take advantage of varied staff expertise and interests which includes applied acoustic phonetics, computer-assisted corpus linguistic techniques, cognitive stylistics, language in education, language variation and change, critical discourse analysis and comparative linguistics.

The programme is structured so that students are exploring advanced descriptive linguistics (e.g. phonetic and syntax) concurrently with their application to language in use (e.g. discourse analysis). So in the first term, EN7401 Descriptive Grammar and Phonetics would run alongside EN7402 Approaches to Discourse Analysis. Although the subject matter can be taught and assessed discretely, these modules also complement each other in that discourse analysis relies very much on detailed knowledge of word/sentence structure and sound effects. In the second term, EN7403 Advanced Syntax and Phonology will build on and take a more critical approach to its partner module (EN7401). The optional modules provide a critical application of advanced knowledge of English language and linguistics in a range of specialist sub-disciplines (e.g. cognitive stylistics, issues in the teaching of English as a Foreign Language, human speech and language development, English in education, language and identity), the choice of which would be determined by student numbers and staff interests in any given year.

In the third term students would be expected to be developing the research proposal for their Dissertation (EN7405) or a Research Essay (EN7406). In addition, module EN7404 Research Methods in English Language and Linguistics would be delivered in a more concentrated five week block and contribute towards facilitating progress in their extended thesis.





Compulsory /




Descriptive Grammar & Phonetics





Approaches to Discourse Analysis





Advanced Syntax & Phonology





Research Methods in English Language and Linguistics








EN7406 to EN7414*


Special Option



* NB: Not all of these modules will be offered to students in any given year. Which module options are offered will depend on staff availability and can be seen in Section 24b. EN7406 Research Essay would not be an option for students wishing to be awarded the full Master’s degree, for which the EN7405 Dissertation would be the compulsory equivalent.

Special option modules

EN7406 Research Essay

EN7407 Contemporary Issues in English Language and Linguistics

EN7408 Language and Identity

EN7409 Typical and Atypical Speech and Language Development

EN7410 Advanced Cognitive Stylistics

EN7411 Change in Contemporary English

EN7412 Language in Education

EN7413 Issues in the Teaching of English as an Additional Language

EN7414 Evidence-Based Practice in TEFL Contexts

Mod-Code Level Title Credit Single
EN7401 7 Descriptive Grammar and Phonetics 20 Comp
EN7402 7 Approaches to Discourse Analysis 20 Comp
EN7403 7 Advanced Syntax and Phonology 20 Comp
EN7404 7 Research Methods in English Language and Linguistics 20 Comp
EN7405 7 Dissertation 80 Comp
EN7406 7 Research Essay 20 Optional
EN7407 7 Contemporary Issues in English Language and Linguistics 20 Optional
EN7408 7 Language and Identity 20 Optional
EN7409 7 Typical and Atypical Speech and Language Development 20 N/A
EN7410 7 Advanced Cognitive Stylistics 20 Optional
EN7411 7 Change in Contemporary English 20 Optional
EN7412 7 Language in Education 20 N/A
EN7413 7 Issues in the Teaching of English as an Additional Language 20 N/A
EN7414 7 Evidence-Based Practice in TEFL Contexts 20 N/A

To be awarded a Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits), students must pass three 20-credit modules, other than the Research Essay.

To be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma (120 credits), students must pass six 20-credit modules.

To be awarded a Master’s Degree (180 credits), students must pass the Dissertation and five 20-credits modules other than the Research Essay.



A minimum of a second class honours degree, or equivalent in an appropriate discipline (e.g. English Language, Linguistics). International Students are required to have a minimum IELTS score of 6.5, with a minimum of 5.5 in each sub-skill section. Credit exemption may be given for appropriate certified or experiential learning undertaken or completed within the previous five years (in line with the University of Chester's policy on APL/APEL), and where the applicant can demonstrate the prior achievement of learning outcomes related to one or more of the MA English Language and Linguistics  modules. Admission to this programme is subject to written application, an acceptable entry qualification profile, evidence of written work, and in some cases an interview. Where the applicant is a recent graduate, the written work could take the form of an essay or dissertation thesis on an aspect of English language and / or linguistics that formed part of the assessment for their undergraduate degree. Other applicants may be invited to write a short essay (up to 1,500 words) on an aspect of the study of English language and linguistics of their choosing.

There is as yet no directly relevant subject benchmark for English Language and / or Linguistics master’s programmes. However the MA in English Language and Linguistics will accord with the QAA Master’s Degree ’Characteristics Statement’ (September 2015).

The academic rigour of the programme is based, for instance, around the statement that ‘all master’s degree graduates have in-depth and advanced knowledge and understanding of their subject and/or profession, informed by current practice, scholarship and research. This will include a critical awareness of current issues and developments in the subject and/or profession; critical skills; knowledge of professional responsibility, integrity and ethics; and the ability to reflect on their own progress as a learner‘(2015: 3).

The MA is also grounded in the notion that graduates of research masters ‘are likely to be further characterised by their ability to study independently in the subject, and to use a range of techniques and research methods applicable to advanced scholarship in the subject […] [and] […] are likely to be characterised in particular by their ability to complete a research project in the subject, which in some subjects includes a critical review of existing literature or other scholarly outputs' (2015: p3).

In terms of the programme content we take into account the nature and extent of disciplines labelled ‘English Language’ and / or ‘Linguistics’ and refer to the benchmark statements for undergraduate programmes in ‘English’ (February 2015) and Linguistics (September 2015).

From the English Benchmark Statement we note that the scope of English Language study ‘addresses all types and varieties of English, including national, regional, social, historical and contemporary forms […]  the structure, function and use of varieties of English, and the influence of historical, social, geographical, cultural, political, stylistic and other contextual factors. Descriptive, critical and theoretical approaches to language are explored alongside key sub-disciplinary areas such as pragmatics, discourse analysis, language history, dialectology, sociolinguistics, phonetics, semantics, and corpus-based, forensic or cognitive approaches. Students undertake qualitative and quantitative analysis of a wide range of texts, from everyday casual spoken communication to highly stylised formal and/or literary written discourse (2015: 6).

From the Linguistics Benchmark Statement, the nature and extent of linguistics research in the 21st century ‘encompasses all aspects of the systematic study of the human capacity for language […]  from the physical properties of the sound waves in utterances, through to the intentions of speakers towards others in conversations, and the social contexts in which linguistic interactions are embedded’ (2015: 6).

The statement notes that language ‘enters into almost every area of human activity, and therefore the scope of linguistic inquiry can be extremely broad’ (2015: 6). These applications include: language and speech processing in information technology; language planning and language policy, including the maintenance, documentation and revitalisation of endangered languages;  the teaching of English as a second or foreign language; the study of linguistic impairments, including aphasia or speech disorders and autistic spectrum disorders, and therapeutic intervention in such disorders;  the study of communication between groups of people with different sociological, cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and from different geographical environments; language awareness and language ideology;  the development of computational techniques for analysing large databases of spoken, signed or written language (corpora) and for handling database query systems;  forensic analysis of speech and text, the interpretation of linguistic evidence, and other aspects of language and the law.

We therefore note the content and scope of the English and Linguistics benchmark statements and adapt this towards conforming to the levels of sophistication, rigour and critical perspective required by the Master’s Degree Characteristics Statement.

The primary method of delivery of the five taught modules will be the seminar, which may incorporate informal talks (as opposed to lectures), particularly if a guest speaker has been invited. Workshops will be used to help develop students’ research proposals on EN7404 Research Methods in English Language and Linguistics, and students may be asked to present their preliminary research findings to the group. Some seminars will be held in computer laboratories, or in the newly-developed English Language research space in CRM005 (Rockmount) for the purpose, for instance, of speech and language processing software tutorials or corpus linguistics workshops. These methods will be complemented by individual tutorials, which will be available during tutors’ regular office hours or by appointment to support students’ private learning. EN7405 Dissertation (or EN7406 Research Essay) will be taught by one-to-one tutorial supervision.

Supplementary learning resources will be available on Moodle, and peer-to-peer learning will be enhanced by encouraging students to make use of the Moodle module discussion forums.

There are 4,000 words of assessment allocated to each of the five taught modules, while EN7405 Dissertation is 16,000 words. These wordages are within the University’s guidelines, and are identical to those for the Department’s MA Modern and Contemporary Fiction, MA Creative Writing and MA Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture. The amount of assessment required is thus modelled on currently successful and comparable programmes, is appropriate to the discipline, and ensures parity between cognate courses. The assessment pattern across the Programme is structured so that students write progressively more challenging assignments, whether it be levels of sophistication in the exercises given for EN7401 Descriptive Grammar and Phonetics and EN7403 Advanced Syntax and Phonology, or by increasing the length of the assignments required. The two modules that run concurrently during the first ‘term’, EN7401 Descriptive Grammar and Phonetics and EN7402 Approaches to Discourse Analysis, require respectively the submission of 2,000-word equivalent exercises in grammar shortly after the mid-point of the module, followed by a 1,500-word essay to be handed in a week later. This gives students the opportunity to experience two very different types of assignment in the early stages of the programme and can therefore receive formative feedback on each of these modules before they write the second - in the case of EN7402 Approaches to Discourse Analysis - more challenging, longer 2,500-word essay. Students then progress to tackle two, more sophisticated, sets of exercises for EN7403 Advanced Syntax and Phonology (due in before and after the Easter period) and, depending on the module option, submit an extended piece (e.g. for EN7407 Contemporary Issues in English Language and Linguistics, a 4,000-word project) to be submitted after the Easter break. The final taught module, EN7404 Research Methods in English Language and Linguistics necessitates completing 2,000-word equivalent set of exercises, followed by a 2,000 word essay designed to test students’ knowledge of research techniques and methodologies. These assessments are designed to prepare students for EN7405 Dissertation, equipping them with the research skills they will need.

The study of English Language and Linguistics lends itself to a range of assessment methods including exercises, analytical essays, discursive essays, data collection and analysis projects, seminar papers, project proposals and dissertations. For two of the core modules (EN7401 Descriptive Grammar and Phonetics and EN7403 Advanced Syntax and Phonology) the primary methods of assessment involves sets of exercises and other types of short answers in grammar / syntax and phonetics/phonology. This is likely to include the drawing of complex syntax trees, phonetic transcription, and auditory analyses. EN7402 Approaches to Discourse Analysis will utilise standard discursive essays and the analysis of data collected by the student for a project. EN7404 Research Methods in English Language and Linguistics involves a set of exercises and a discursive essay, designed to assess their abilities to collect and interpret data both quantitatively and qualitatively. The optional modules draw from a range of assessment methods which are adapted to suit the disciplines involved. Some modules assess using standard discursive and discourse analytical essays (e.g. EN7407 Contemporary Issues in English Language and Linguistics, EN7408 Language and Identity, EN7409 Typical and Atypical Speech and Language Development, EN7412 Language in Education). Some modules involve seminar papers, giving students the opportunity to present their ideas orally to their seminar group (e.g. EN7407 Contemporary Issues in English Language and Linguistics, EN7412 Language in Education). Extended projects at the end of the module characterise the assessments in, for instance EN7414 Evidence-Based Practice in TEFL Contexts (portfolio including lesson plan), in EN7410 Advanced Cognitive Stylistics (data collection, presentation and analysis) and in EN7411 Change in Contemporary English (extended project). EN7405 Dissertation will develop and test many of the Programme Outcomes (see section 23 of the Programme Specification) to a higher level than the essays, for example by requiring students to demonstrate rigorous data collection methodologies, extensive reading of relevant primary and secondary courses and sustained, consistent and sophisticated data analysis.

The programme aims to place post-graduates in a position to develop careers in a range of professional contexts where good communication, research and analytical skills are a pre-requisite. Though post-graduates may not become professional linguists or researchers, they will bring to other professions many of the skills that a student of English Language and Linguistics can command. For instance, students considering a career as teachers at primary or secondary level will greatly benefit from the knowledge about grammar and pronunciation (plus the policy decisions that inform their teaching) on several modules on the course. The advanced, critical skills students will have developed will enable them to interpret, analyse and evaluate different types of textual (and other) material. Post-graduates will be excellent communicators, with good expressive and listening skills, who can present, discuss and share their ideas and the ideas of others with individuals and groups of various sizes, in formal and informal settings. They will be able to see projects of work through from conception to completion, working well to deadlines. They will be able to respond well to advice and guidance but will also be autonomous learners able to work independently, and able to show self-discipline and good time management in their approach to their responsibilities. They will have a highly developed self-critical faculty, having worked through drafts of a variety of written projects, and taken into account assessment grades and comments on written and oral work as they progress through the course, responding to the criticism of their tutors and peers. Post-graduates will understand the importance of presenting their work to a professional standard and will able to use all the necessary technological skills, such as word-processing and data-processing skills, and other sophisticated computer-assisted learning techniques to achieve this.  

Typical career paths would include: teaching, publishing, proof-reading, journalism, advertising, public relations, customer services, speech therapy, marketing, equal opportunities and personnel management.

We also envisage students considering studying for a doctorate in an English language and linguistics related subject and / or becoming researchers in a related specialism.

The English department complies with the University’s commitment to the active promotion of equality of opportunity both as an employer and an educational institution.  For this purpose it has an Equal Opportunity Policy and appropriate Codes of Practice which encompass the 36 Acts of Parliament, 52 Statutory Instruments, 13 Codes of Practice, 3 Codes of Guidance and 16 EC Directives and Recommendations that apply to equality law (as of June 2006) 

The aim of the policy is to ensure that all students and all members of staff at the University have equality of opportunity and are treated solely on the basis of their aptitude, ability and potential to pursue a course of study or to fulfil the requirements of a job.  The policy also aims to eliminate discrimination which is unlawful or unfair. 

In particular, the University will ensure that no member of the University Community will be disadvantaged or discriminated against on the grounds of:

  • Gender Identity and/or Expression,  
  • Age (subject to the University retirement policy),  
  • Disability or Specific Learning difficulty 
  • Marital or parental status 
  • Sexual orientation
  • Racial group (race, colour, nationality, ethnic or national origins) or creed 
  • Religious, political or personal beliefs or principles 
  • Membership or non-membership of a trade union 
  • Socio-economic background.  

Students with Disabilities

The English department complies with the University of Chester’s commitment to providing access and support to students with disabilities, eliminating unlawful discrimination and promoting equality of opportunity amongst disabled and non disabled persons. 

The University recognises its duties under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) 1995, in particular Part IV of the act more commonly known as the Special Educational and Needs Act (SENDA) 2001, and its amendment acts and regulations including the DDA Amendment Regulations 2003 and the DDA 2005.


In line with the University’s commitment to access and support, students with Disability / Specific Needs are offered specific information, guidance and advice in the pre-entry, entry, progression and transition phases of their University career and personal development. 

Support and assistance available at the University include (though not exclusively): 

  • Disability Support Services  located in Student Welfare including the Disability and Specific Needs Support Workers and the Mental Health Coordinator,
  • Study Skills support for students with specific learning difficulties, such as dyslexia is provided by the Learning Support Services,
  • A network of disability link tutors within each academic department assist with the implementation of reasonable adjustments,
  • Learning Resource Centres  provide a range of assistance including a Disability and Specific Needs Support Assistant and the facility to lend equipment such as laptops.
  • Extra time and other provisions are provided during examinations by Registry Services,
  • Accommodation Department has a number of adapted rooms available for students to rent during the academic year,
  • There are a number of disabled parking bays located across the main campuses,
  • And a multitude of appropriate authorities and other university department’s work together to support the University’s commitment to providing equality of opportunity and appropriate support provisions.

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