Oxford offers facilities for the linguistic and philological study of European Languages unmatched anywhere else in Britain, and thriving units in General Linguistics and Phonetics. These are seen to best advantage in the degree course in Linguistics with a Modern Language, which combines the different elements to give a mutually reinforcing package of theoretical study of what human language is and how it works and more detailed study of specific issues of language structure and change applied to the language you are studying.
However, you do not have to choose the degree course to explore Linguistics. In the older established Modern Languages degree it is possible to choose one of more Linguistics papers, with a wide range of options available, allowing you to concentrate on those areas you find most exciting.
Information on how to apply is available at: Undergraduate admissions
Prospective undergraduates should note that there is a short aptitude test in Linguistics, to be taken at school before the interview. A sample of a recent admissions test paper is given on pages 19-20 of this document.
We offer two degree combinations that include linguistics: Modern Languages and Linguistics, and Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics. For both degrees, a portion of the course focuses on linguistics, where you will be introduced to the analysis of the nature and structure of human language. Topics include:
- the structure and history of languages
- how words are formed, how sentences are constructed, how we make and hear sounds, and how these sounds behave in particular languages
- how age, sex and social status affect language use
- how children learn to speak
- how languages change and how the same language can vary according to where it is spoken
- how words and sentences mean what they mean – and how they sometimes don’t mean what they seem to mean
- how language is used in literature, the media and by various social groups
and what happens to language abilities when the brain is damaged by stroke or injury
For more details about either of these degrees, please consult the undergraduate prospectus.
The reading list for the first year of the Linguistics course for both degrees is available here.
For the Modern Languages and Linguistics degree (i.e. Linguistics with a Modern Language), we hold two open days per year in conjunction with the Faculty of Medieval and Modern Languages. The main open day, where you can find out more about linguistics and meet a tutor and student representatives, is held in April or May each year. A shorter open day, focusing mainly (but not exclusively) on the admissions process, is held every September. This coincides with open days in many of Oxford’s colleges so that you can find out about both the University and College side of being a student here.
Open days for Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics are also held twice yearly, in conjunction with the Department of Experimental Psychology.
More information on Oxford’s Open Days, and a schedule for this year, is available here.
Modern Languages and Linguistics
This course allows students to study one modern language alongside linguistics, the study of language itself. More information on the course, including a short video, is available from the course description on the Admissions website, together with information on entrance requirements and links to application materials.
The study of Linguistics constitutes half of this course. The other half of the course is in Modern Languages, giving you practical linguistic training and an extensive introduction to the literature and thought of the European language you have chosen. More information about the Modern Languages component of the degree is available on the Modern Languages website.
Psychology, Philosophy and Linguistics
In this joint degree in Psychology, Philosophy, and Linguistics, you can apply for admission to read any pair of the three subjects to start with; subject to college approval, you may be permitted to study all three after two terms, or you may continue with your choice of two subjects. The range of topics in linguistics in this degree is not materially different from those in the Modern Languages and Linguistics degree, except that PPL students are not required to study the linguistics of specific European languages. For more details, including a short video, visit the admissions website for the course. Additional information is available on the PPL page in the Department of Experimental Psychology.
Linguistics options in other degrees
A number of options in Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics are offered as part of different degree courses, in various subjects such as: English, Classics, Human Sciences, Modern Languages, and the various joint degrees.