Master of Linguistics (MLING)

The Master of Linguistics (MLING) is a 12-month programme combining taught courses with a substantial independent research project. You will engage with the latest research in the field, and you will plan and carry out your own research, by working individually and in collaboration with UC staff and other students.

The MLING programme begins in February of a given year, and runs for 12 months (full time; part time study is also available). As an MLING student you choose 3 taught courses, which run during semester 1 (February-June) and semester 2 (July-October), and you write a research thesis, which is due at the end of the programme.

Taught courses

You can choose three courses from the available postgraduate courses in Linguistics.

The courses are quite different from those you are likely to have taken during your undergraduate studies. Staff do not simply give lectures and assess students’ answers to pre-prepared questions and exams – instead, classes at this level work much more like collaborative research groups, with students and staff working together towards shared research goals. Although you choose just three courses you have a great deal of flexibility in the work you do.

All courses are designed to give you a broad understanding of key issues in the field of linguistics, and to give you a considerable amount of flexibility in designing your own programme of study. In fact, two students could enrol in the same four courses and tailor their studies to be quite different from each other.


During the 12 months of the MLING you will conduct a piece of independent research and write a 25,000 word thesis. You will choose the topic of your research project in consultation with one of the academic staff from UC’s Department of Linguistics, who will act as a supervisor and mentor. You will also undertake research training in the following areas: finding relevant literature, designing research questions, research ethics, data handling and statistics. As well as these topics, an important feature of this part of the programme will be research training for projects involving Māori and Pacific communities. This will involve indigenous research methodologies, ethics, community engagement, and how to support the communities involved.

Goals of the MLING

  • To equip students with methodological and analytical expertise in linguistics, especially in phonetics, phonology, syntax and sociolinguistics
  • To train students to be able to think critically about language.
  • To provide students with practical training in techniques used in linguistic analysis
  • To equip students with the skills required to perform original research in linguistics

As a graduate of the MLING, you will have advanced knowledge and understanding of current research in linguistics. You will have the skills necessary to understand how linguistic systems operate, and to appreciate the connections between a language system and its social context. You will also have carried out a substantial piece of independent research, so will have expertise in the formulation of research questions, data collection, statistical analysis and hypothesis testing. You will also be an excellent communicator, having been trained to produce cogent and well-structured reports.

Learning outcomes

Graduates of the MLING will have acquired a range of complementary analytical, critical and linguistic skills. This will include understanding of:

  • the internal structure of language and languages, including knowledge of phonetics, phonology and syntax.
  • the relationship between English and other languages, including Te Reo Māori.
  • key geographical and social determinants of variation in language.
  • how language produces and reflects cultural change and difference.

Admission requirements

To be eligible for the MLING you need to have either:

  • qualified for a Bachelor’s degree with a major in Linguistics, with at least a B+ average in 60 points in Linguistics at 300 level; or
  • qualified for a Bachelor’s degree and completed a Graduate Diploma in Arts in Linguistics with at least a B+ average in 60 points in Linguistics at 300 level; or
  • qualified for a Bachelor’s degree with a major in psychology, sociology, anthropology, philosophy, computer science, languages, or a different major approved by the Head of the Department of Linguistics, with at least a B+ average or better in 60 points of 300 level courses in the majoring subject, and achieved at least a B+ in LING400 English Structures; or
  • been admitted under the Regulations for admission ad eundem statum as entitled to enrol for the Degree of Master of Linguistics; and be approved as a candidate by the Head of Department of Linguistics and the Dean of Arts.

Qualifying paper: LING400 English Structures

Students with a Bachelor’s degree in a field other than linguistics can qualify for the MLING by achieving a B+ grade in LING400 English Structures. LING400 is an introduction to the linguistic structures of English, covering pronunciation (phonetics & phonology) and grammar (syntax & semantics). A key feature of the course is one of comparison – in part one students compare pronunciation systems across varieties of English and between English and other languages, and in part two students compare the sentence structure of English to that of other languages. The course will be taught completely online, with 3 ‘contact hours’ per week. This will be constructed as follows: (a) 2 x one hour video lectures each week, (b) a set of analytical tasks/discussion questions, expected to take around 1 hour each week. There will also be additional set readings.

Find out more

Find out more about English Language requirements.

For general enquiries about the MLING, email the Head of the Department of Linguistics.

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