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Postgraduate Study

Course closed:

Theoretical and Applied Linguistics by thesis is no longer accepting new applications.

The MPhil by Thesis is offered by the Linguistics Section within the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics (MMLL) as a full-time or part-time period of research and introduces students to research skills and specialist knowledge.

The full-time course runs from October to June, with a submission date of early June.

It is also possible to take a part-time route, and the expected timeframe would be 21 months, with a thesis submission date of early June in the second academic year of study.

The course aims:

  • to prepare students for the next stage in a potential research career, whether they are pursuing a further research programme or entering research-based employment; or to enable those undertaking the programme to contribute towards research in the subject area;
  • to give students with a strong background in linguistics the opportunity to experience the kind of independent, focused research they would pursue in a PhD;
  • to provide students with the necessary background in linguistic theory and related topics at an intermediate and advanced level using a range of approaches and methodologies;
  • to give students the opportunity to acquire expertise in their specific research interests;
  • to provide foundations for continuation to PhD research;
  • to offer the opportunity to participate in research culture within and beyond the Faculty, by attending and contributing to postgraduate seminars and reading groups; and
  • to develop the research skills required to conduct independent study such as:
    • formulating a realistic research proposal, with suitably delineated aims, objectives, methods, scope and expected outcome;
    • preparing written work based on the proposal;
    • mastering the construction of a valid theoretical argument;
    • selecting and mastering suitable research methods;
    • collecting relevant bibliography;
    • using computer databases and corpora;
    • using the relevant software, including statistical packages where appropriate; and
    • presenting well-argued academic material to the wider research community.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of the programme students will have:

  • developed a deeper knowledge and understanding of linguistic theories and problems addressed in cutting-edge research in theoretical and applied linguistics and related areas;
  • developed the skill of critically assessing current research and methods in theoretical and applied linguistics and related areas;
  • acquired the methodological and other technical skills necessary for research in their chosen area;
  • improved their presentation skills through presenting their research in progress;
  • acquired the skills and confidence to engage in scholarly debate.
  • managed a sizeable research project (culminating in a 30,000 word thesis) which will represent a considerable achievement in its own right and prepare students for longer research projects (in particular a PhD).

These outcomes are achieved through participation in lectures, research seminars, individual supervisions, and additionally through subject reading groups, discussion groups and meetings of scholarly societies.

In addition to these subject-specific skills, the following general transferable skills are also acquired.

General transferable skills

  • The MPhil by Thesis, with its focus on independent scholarly enquiry, demands that students develop exemplary organisational and time-management skills. They work in collaboration with their supervisors to devise an appropriate research plan, including research questions, methodology, and timetable. They have to demonstrate originality and initiative in pursuing their line of enquiry, and have to ensure that they meet all deadlines, formal and informal.
  • The compulsory research methods course includes transferable skills, such as how to organise writing, how to formulate research questions appropriate to different methodologies, and general problem-solving skills. Written work is required to be concise, cogent, appropriately structured, and to adhere strictly to word limits, as in most areas of activity.
  • Students may be expected to make presentations in seminar situations. This develops their oral presentation skills, and prepares them for academic activities such as presenting conference papers.


Continuation from the MPhil by Thesis to PhD is possible although it is not automatic. All applicants are judged on their own merits and students must demonstrate their suitability to undertake doctoral level research. Students wishing to progress to PhD study will also be required to pass the MPhil.

Open Days

The Postgraduate Virtual Open Day usually takes place at the end of October. It’s a great opportunity to ask questions to admissions staff and academics, explore the Colleges virtually, and to find out more about courses, the application process and funding opportunities. Visit the Postgraduate Open Day page for more details.

See further the Postgraduate Admissions Events pages for other events relating to Postgraduate study, including study fairs, visits and international events.


This course is advertised in the following departments:

Key Information

9 Months full-time

21 months part-time

Study Mode : Research

Master of Philosophy

Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics This course is advertised in multiple departments. Please see the Overview tab for more details.

Course - related enquiries

Application - related enquiries

Course on Department Website

Dates and deadlines:

Applications open
Sept. 4, 2023
Application deadline
Feb. 22, 2024
Course Starts
Oct. 1, 2024

Some courses can close early. See the Deadlines page for guidance on when to apply.

Course Funding Deadline
Dec. 5, 2023
Gates Cambridge US round only
Oct. 11, 2023

These deadlines apply to applications for courses starting in Michaelmas 2024, Lent 2025 and Easter 2025.

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