Forensic Linguistics (MA) Part-time

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.

Distinctive features

  • 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.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration2 years
QualificationMA
ModePart-time
Admission Tutor contact(s)

Admissions criteria

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.

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 if they intend to study at the University in person.

Some candidates will be invited to attend an 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.

You take two years to complete the Master’s programme, taking three modules in each year of the two years. On completion of the taught stage, you progress to researching and writing your dissertation (May to January).

Stage one is comprised of taught modules while stage two involves a 14,000-20,000 word dissertation. 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.

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.

Year one

You will take three of your stage one modules in year one.

Year two

You will take three of your stage one modules in year two before moving onto your dissertation.

Module titleModule codeCredits
Project in Forensic LinguisticsSET02320 credits
DissertationSET01560 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Language DescriptionSET00320 credits
Discourse and Social InteractionSET00520 credits
Current Issues in SociolinguisticsSET00620 credits
PhonologySET00820 credits
Qualitative Research MethodsSET01220 credits
Quantitative Research MethodsSET01320 credits
Text and Social ContextSET02620 credits
Second Language Development and PedagogySET02820 credits
The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

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.

Feedback

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;
  • synthesise 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 your 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 worth £3,000 each for UK/EU students.

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Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

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.