Forensic Linguistics (MA/PgDip)
1 year (Full-time) / 2 years (Part-time) / n/a (Distance / E-Learning)
This degree programme has two main aims:
(1) To introduce students to linguistic aspects of the criminal justice system including those which centre on policing and the courtroom whist also looking to the surrounding legal system. The programme examines issues of justice, fairness and equality in law as they relate to language and communication.
(2) To explore the role of the linguist when interacting with legal and legislative systems by examining the actual or potential impact of linguistics (broadly defined) on criminal investigations and on legal activities and procedures. Here, we examine the work of expert witnesses and linguistic consultants on language and law and consider the opportunities and challenges inherent in both types of research.
- The Centre for Language and Communication Research has a well established reputation in a broad range of teaching and research areas, including sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, multimodality, health communication, forensic linguistics, systemic functional grammar, phonology, and language education.
- This innovative programme is the longest running Master’s level course on a forensic linguistic topic. It is well-established and internationally recognised.
The MA/Diploma in Forensic Linguistics is an innovative programme which provides opportunities to examine the study of language in and around the legal process at postgraduate level. Although the programme is an academic rather than vocational MA, recent graduates have found employment within the legal system, including the 999 Emergency Call Service, the Police Force, the Prison Service and the Civil Service (Home Office), as well as the secret services. Others have gone on to further training as lawyers. Graduates from this MA/Diploma also move on to non-legal careers and find that the legal and linguistic focus of their studies provides their employers with something a little unusual. Graduates in the job market have also benefited from the training in processing and using information thoughtfully, writing effectively and speaking convincingly which is part of all good postgraduate study. If strong grades are achieved in the MA, it is also possible to go on to higher level doctoral research in forensic linguistics, language and law, or other areas of applied linguistics, sociolinguistics or human communication.
The MA/Diploma in Forensic Linguistics is a modular programme with modules taught over two semesters (PG Diploma or for the MA, Stage 1), followed by a supervised dissertation (for the MA, Stage 2) of between 14,000 and 20,000 words between May and September when taken as a 1 year, full time degree programme. Assessment of the taught component is by coursework only. The part-time modular programme involves following the same modules over two years with the dissertation being completed between May and January.
Students take the four compulsory modules listed below which provide a thorough and wide-ranging view of language and the law and forensic linguistics from a variety of methodological and theoretical perspectives along with a vital grounding in research methods and processes:
- Forensic Linguistics I: Language in Legal Processes
- Forensic Linguistics II: Linguistic Expertise in Legal Processes
- Projects in Forensic Linguistics
- Foundation module: Core Skills, Principles and Issues involved in Language and Communication Research
Below is an indicative list of optional modules:
- Discourse and Social Interaction
- Language Description
- Issues in Applied Linguistics
- Qualitative Research Methods
- Current Issues in Sociolinguistics
- Quantitative Research Methods
- Text and Social Context
- Language and Lifespan Identity
Further information about the MA can be found on the school website.
On successful completion of the MA programme graduates will have developed the following transferable and professional skills:
The application of descriptive data analysis skills in a wide range of spoken and written discourse contexts within the legal process, including emergency calls, police interviews, courtroom interaction and a critical understanding of investigative data analysis skills in both spoken and written discourse contexts, including such areas as speaker identification, disputed authorship and plagiarism detection; a critical understanding of the work of linguistics as advisers and activists on legal systems and settings.
In 2010, 73% of postgraduates in the School were in a form of employment within six months of graduation while 20% were engaged in further study.
Employers included: local government departments, police forces, secondary schools, language schools, universities, banks, solicitors and utility companies.
Career destinations included: crime intelligence analyst, lecturer, teacher, programme administrator, research assistant and writer.
A 1st or upper 2nd class
Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to have a minimum IELTS score of 7 overall.
Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the
UK & EU Full Time for 2013/14
UK & EU Part Time for 2013/14
International Full Time for 2013/14
International Part Time for 2013/14
Next intake: October each year
Name: ENCAP Postgraduate Office
Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 4722