Paper XII: Linguistic Project

Coordinator: Director of Undergraduate Studies

Description: The Linguistic Project option allows a candidate to undertake a descriptive project using the analytic tools acquired in other core areas of Linguistics. The project report should document a piece of original research conducted by the student into some aspect of a particular dialect, language, or variety. The data may be collected at first hand by the student (for MLL students, possibly during the year abroad), or it may be from another credible source. The analysis of the data may focus on an aspect or combination of aspects of linguistic structure or usage.  For help in choosing a topic, formulating a research question, and collecting and analysing data, see the Guidance for Linguistic Research document, available in the Linguistics area of Weblearn.

For this option, students receive 6-8 hours of supervision, which may include meetings during the second year for project planning, background tutorials in the project area, email contact with the supervisor, and discussion of one complete draft of the project report. Students must keep in contact with their supervisors and keep them updated on their progress, as well as making their supervisors aware of any problems or concerns that they may have.

The method of examination is a project report of between 8,000 and 10,000 words, to be submitted (by hand) to the Examination Schools by noon on the Friday of the 9th Week of Hilary Term in the year of the examination. For guidance on organising the project, see the Timetable below. For further, detailed information on the complete exam regulations, consult the Linguistic Project section on the Linguistics in all Honour Schools including Linguistics page under the Examination Regulations. (Modern Languages method of assessment B(1), with the exception that the prescribed word limit is 8,000-10,000 words, due to the space needed for citing data: agreed at the Modern Languages Faculty Board meeting, Hilary Term 2008.)

Timetable: It is vital to begin planning the project during the second year, including arranging for ethical approval, if required (see below). This involves discussing the proposed topic with the college tutor, with the project supervisor, and with the course co-ordinator. Once a topic has been provisionally agreed upon, it must be approved by the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology and Phonetics.

To apply for project approval, you must submit, through your college, to the Director of Undergraduate Studies of the Faculty of Linguistics, Philology, and Phonetics:

  • a completed Linguistic Project Topic Approval form [DOC/PDF], including a signed statement from the project supervisor and a signed statement by a college tutor;
  • a brief description of the project (about 50 words);
  • a statement regarding ethical approval.

The official deadline for submitting the topic for approval is Wednesday of 2nd Week of Michaelmas Term in the year of the examination; however, students are strongly encouraged to submit their proposals for approval by the beginning of Trinity Term of the second year.

Ethical approval: If the research involves human subjects, ethical approval must be secured before the research can begin (please refer to the Decision Flowchart for CUREC to see whether ethical approval is needed).This is done via ethical review and approval from CUREC, the Central University Research Ethics Committee. For projects in the Humanities and Social Sciences the body to refer to is Social Sciences and Humanities IDREC. Full ethical approval is not normally needed for research with adults who are competent to consent to decide whether or not to participate, and completion of the CUREC/1A checklist will suffice.  Research with under-18s, such as school children, will generally require a full CUREC/2 application. The course coordinator can assist with this process. It should be noted that an application for approval of such a project will take some time to draw up and be considered by CUREC, and it may be necessary to make subsequent revisions to the research plan.  You should allow at least six weeks for approval. For more information, see the CUREC website and the Guidance for Linguistic Research document,  or contact the Director of Undergraduate Studies.

Travel risk assessment: One of the points raised in the CUREC checklist is that students who travel abroad to do their fieldwork must complete a travel risk assessment form and that it may be necessary for the travel/fieldwork to be covered by the University’s travel insurance. Students intending to choose the Linguistic Project as one of their options are asked to raise this issue with the College tutor or their Year Abroad Officer.

Format:  The submission must be typed in double spacing on one side of A4 paper, and should be bound or held firmly in a stiff cover. (Be sure to leave a left margin of at least 3 cm, sufficient to accommodate binding.) Details of all references used and cited should be included in the bibliography.  The word count  is exclusive of footnotes and bibliography. It is understood informally that extensive textual material may be placed in appendices (on the model of the ML Paper XIV Extended Essay).

Submission: The completed Linguistic Project report should be submitted by hand to the Examination Schools by noon on the Friday of the 9th Week of Hilary Term in the year of the examination. You should submit two copies of the essay and identified by your candidate number only (see the sample cover page below), retaining a third copy for yourself. The copies should be placed in an envelope addressed to the Chair of Examiners of your Honours School, and should include, under separate cover, a declaration certifying that the project is your own work and has not already been submitted, either wholly or substantially, for a degree in this university or elsewhere (see the sample declaration below). Candidates will be issued with a receipt which they should retain until the examination is completed. For more information, consult the Examination Regulations.

  •  Sample cover page (DOC)
  •  Sample declaration (DOC)

Suggested timetable at a glance:

  MLL PPL
Discuss and outline topic with potential supervisor Hilary Term of 2nd Year Michaelmas and Hilary Term of 2nd Year
With supervisor approval, apply to the Faculty for project approval (and to CUREC for ethical approval, if needed) Beginning of Trinity Term of 2nd Year
Data gathering plan and plan for analysis; if needed, ethical approval secured End of 2nd Year
Gathering data and analysis Long Holiday and Year Abroad Long holiday and Michaelmas Term of final year
Official deadline for project approval (and fully-secured ethical approval, if needed) Wednesday of 2nd Week, Michaelmas Term of final year
First draft ready for submission to supervisor End of Michaelmas Term of final year
Submission of project Noon, Friday of 9th Week, Hilary Term of final year

You can also refer to the Descriptors for the Linguistic Project to see the criteria against which your report will be evaluated.

Updated April 2016

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