Forensic Linguistics (MA)
This programme develops a theoretical and practical understanding of communication in legal settings, including methods of data collection and analysis and training in the examination of Forensic Linguistic evidence.
The MA in Forensic Linguistics is an innovative programme which provides you with theory and techniques to critically analyse the use of language in a variety of legal contexts, to critically evaluate expert testimony on forensic matters and to consider the role of expertise in legal systems more generally.
You will receive a grounding in research methods and issues and debates in forensic linguistics. You will acquire tools for evaluating and examining a range of legal language in relation to issues such as power and comprehensibility.
You will develop skills in research and writing at higher degree level and learn to engage with the legal system as a site of social life where important decisions are made through language.
On successful completion of the MA programme you will have achieved the following outcomes:
- 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, judicial judgments;
- a critical understanding of investigative data analysis skills in both spoken and written discourse contexts, including such areas as disputed authorship and plagiarism detection;
- a critical understanding of the work of linguists as advisers and activists on legal systems and settings.
This degree programme has two main aims:
1. To introduce you to linguistic aspects of the criminal justice system including those which centre on policing and the courtroom whilst 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 research for each purpose.
- This innovative programme is the longest running Master's level course on a forensic linguistic topic in the world. It is well-established and internationally recognised.
- The Centre for Language and Communication Research has a strong reputation in a broad range of teaching and research areas, alongside forensic linguistics, including sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, multimodality, health communication, systemic functional grammar, phonology, corpus linguistics and language education.
- You will become involved in the lively research culture in forensic linguistics.
- You will come into contact with many staff on the forensic linguistics programme who bring expertise on a wide range of forensic topics.
- As well as undertaking taught modules, you will also have the opportunity to undertake a practical module where you will work on an authentic research project on a forensic linguistic topic. This will provide you with experience of research work, team working and collaboration and an opportunity to hone your research abilities.
|Next intake||September 2017|
|Admission Tutor contact(s)|
A 1st or upper 2nd class UK honours degree, or equivalent is usually required. The MA/Diploma in Forensic Linguistics is suitable for graduates who hold degrees related to language, linguistics or law-related disciplines. No legal background will be assumed.
Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to have a minimum IELTS score of 7 overall.
Some candidates will be invited to attend interview, in person or via Skype. Others will be asked to write a short essay.
There is no fixed deadline although applications which arrive less than a month before the official start date of the course may not be processed in time for a smooth start.
The MA in Forensic Linguistics is a modular programme with modules taught over two semesters (stage one) (followed by a supervised dissertation (stage two)) of between 14,000 and 20,000 words.
This full time programme lasts one calendar year.
Assessment of the taught component is by coursework only.
The modules shown are an example of the typical curriculum and will be reviewed prior to the 2017/18 academic year. The final modules will be published by July 2017.
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Forensic Linguistics I||SET001||20 credits|
|Forensic Linguistics II||SET002||20 credits|
|Foundation Module: Core Skills, Principles, and Issues Involved in Language and Communication Research||SET004||20 credits|
|Project in Forensic Linguistics||SET023||20 credits|
|Module title||Module code||Credits|
|Language Description||SET003||20 credits|
|Discourse and Social Interaction||SET005||20 credits|
|Current Issues in Sociolinguistics||SET006||20 credits|
|Qualitative Research Methods||SET012||20 credits|
|Quantitative Research Methods||SET013||20 credits|
|Text and Social Context||SET026||20 credits|
|Second Language Development and Pedagogy||SET028||20 credits|
How will I be taught?
Core knowledge and understanding is delivered via lectures and small-group seminars.
The teaching for core modules combines discussion of theoretical issues and practical challenges raised by the forensic setting, while the teaching for optional modules provides further theoretical discussion with some focus on the development of practical research skills. Sessions rely on your good preparation.
Core knowledge and understanding are also delivered via one-to-one or very small group supervision of individual projects. Intellectual Skills are promoted via lectures, seminars and group discussions, as well as small-group supervision and guidance for research undertaken in a small, team research project.
The learning activities will vary from module to module as appropriate, but will usually include interactive discussions of prepared texts/topics and, in some cases, student-led presentations.
Encouraged to explore our excellent library resources, you are expected to undertake preparation including wide-ranging reading to enable full participation.
How will I be supported?
The Course Coordinator for the MA in Forensic Linguistics will provide a contact point for all students to discuss problems, if any, arising from the course.
In addition you will be provided with a Personal Tutor. You will be encouraged to consult with them about topics from module choice to review of feedback on work and careers decisions.
All staff hold weekly office hours during teaching weeks and students may make appointments to see their Personal Tutor and Module Leaders one-to-one about any issues. Staff may also be contacted by email. Details of the office hours and email addresses of staff are provided.
You are specifically encouraged to discuss your feedback on your assessed work with your Personal Tutor in order to reflect on your learning and to articulate areas for improvement as clearly as possible.
Discussion of assignments is offered and written feedback is provided on summative assessment.
How will I be assessed?
The programme will be assessed by such means as essays, data analyses, critical reviews, posters and oral presentation. Emphasis in assessment is placed on critical and conceptual sophistication as well as on the production of clear, persuasive and scholarly work presented in a professional manner and submitted on time.
Formative work is offered for one of the modules, in which you may undertake forms of assessment that may be new to you. Other modules offer a series of assignments with the express intention that you might learn cumulatively. Elsewhere, you are encouraged to consult the relevant module leader on the main ideas and plans for your assignments.
Modules are assessed on the basis of analytical descriptions of texts or other media and/or discursive essays. You will be encouraged to choose your own texts for analysis, or even to collect original data, and to relate your analyses to areas of personal interest or experience.
What skills will I practise and develop?
Many of the learning outcomes involve practising skills that are transferable to numerous areas of employment.
In addition, you will practise and develop the ability to:
- communicate effectively with others via writing, speech and other means;
- think carefully and systematically about problems;
- synthesis a range of information efficiently;
- use electronic and other sources of information as appropriate to a range of tasks;
- plan and manage time effectively;
- take responsibility for their own learning programme and professional development.
You will develop practical skills through seminar presentations and discussion, workshops on developing transcription skills, making presentations and poster presentations and through group project work.
Graduates have gone on to further study (e.g. a PhD or law degree) or have pursued careers in a number of relevant areas such as policing, the courts and Government as well as careers in areas without a forensic connection.
Employers for graduates from this programme include: local government departments, police forces, secondary schools, language schools, universities, banks, solicitors and utility companies.
Career destinations include: crime intelligence analyst, crime analyst, specialist police interviewer, emergency call handler, lawyer, lecturer, teacher, programme administrator, research assistant, PR executive, marketing executive and writer.
Graduates from this programme 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 essential to good postgraduate study.
Master's Excellence Scholarships
Scholarships available worth £3,000 each for UK/EU students starting a master’s degree in September 2017.Find out more
UK and EU students (2017/18)
Students from outside the EU (2017/18)
We encourage students to make contact with local organisations in order to explore the opportunity of short placements. We provide work experience through the project module where you will work on an authentic research project.
Fieldwork may be undertaken as part of some assignments. It is also a likely component of your dissertation although this will depend on the dissertation topic you choose.