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Forensic Linguistics (MA)

  • Duration: 1 year
  • Mode: Full time

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Why study this course

Train alongside international experts at the agenda-setting Centre for Language and Communication Research, home of the world’s first MA in Forensic Linguistics.

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Agenda-setting

Train alongside international experts in the world's longest running forensic master's degree programme.

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Collaborate on authentic projects

Work on real-world field projects and hone your research abilities and team working skills.

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Justice, fairness and equality

Examine the linguist's role in the legal system and observe courtroom procedure.

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Tailor-made for your career

Freedom to tailor the programme to meet your career and professional ambitions.

Our innovative MA Forensic Linguistics programme equips you with theory and techniques to analyse the use of language in legal contexts, evaluate expert testimony on forensic matters and consider the role of expertise in legal systems more generally.

Examining issues of justice, fairness and equality in law, this rewarding programme will introduce you to linguistic aspects of the criminal justice system, including policing and the courtroom.

You’ll scrutinise the work of expert witnesses and linguistic consultants on language and law. Exploring the role of the linguist in the legal system, you will examine the impact of linguistics on criminal investigations. Indeed, you’ll carry out ethnographic observation of courtroom proceedings at Cardiff Crown Court in your core module.

Set in our world-class research centre, the MA in Forensic Linguistics delivers both a solid grounding in the subject, and the freedom to tailor the programme around your career ambitions

Throughout your degree you’ll be supported by internationally recognised experts, whose passion for teaching and research fosters a vibrant and friendly academic environment.

Our experts are leading on innovative projects in many different fields, including language acquisition, sociolinguistics, historical linguistics, discourse analysis, professional communication, corpus linguistics, systemic functional linguistics and forensic linguistics, hosting a range of reading and research groups in these research fields.

Fostering an international academic arena for cutting-edge research, we host talks from visiting academics from around the world, as well as advanced research residencies and occasional summer schools. During your studies, you’ll benefit from this thriving research environment and the support of a wide range of professionals who will guide your personal and professional development.

English Language at Cardiff is ranked in the world top 100 (QS World University Rankings by Subject 2020) and top ten for research in the UK (Research Excellence Framework 2014).

Where you'll study

School of English, Communication and Philosophy

Powered by pioneering research, we celebrate curiosity, engage in informed debate and critical analysis, and encourage creative thinking - across and beyond our disciplines.

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  • Telephone+44 (0)29 2087 9066
  • MarkerColum Drive, Cardiff, CF10 3EU

Admissions criteria

Academic requirements: 

Typically, you will need to have either: 

  • a 2:1 honours degree in a relevant subject area such as linguistics, English language, English language & literature (combined), modern languages, law, forensic psychology, criminology, sociology with defined criminology pathway or an equivalent international degree  
  • a university-recognised equivalent academic qualification 

No legal background will be assumed.

English Language requirements:

IELTS with an overall score of 7.0 with at least 6.5 in all other subskills. 

Application deadline:

We allocate places on a first-come, first-served basis, so we recommend you apply as early as possible. 

Selection process: 

We will review your application and if you meet the entry requirements, we will invite you to an interview in person or via Skype. Others might be asked to write a short essay.

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Student visa to study in the UK must present an acceptable English language qualification in order to meet UKVI (UK Visas and Immigration) requirements.

Criminal convictions

You are not required to complete a DBS (Disclosure Barring Service) check or provide a Certificate of Good Conduct to study this course.

If you are currently subject to any licence condition or monitoring restriction that could affect your ability to successfully complete your studies, you will be required to disclose your criminal record. Conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • access to computers or devices that can store images
  • use of internet and communication tools/devices
  • curfews
  • freedom of movement
  • contact with people related to Cardiff University.

Course structure

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 15,000 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 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.

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.

Learning and assessment

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 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.  

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.

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.

Tuition fees for 2021 entry

Students from the UK

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £8,200 None

Students from the EU, EEA and Switzerland

EU, EEA and Swiss nationals starting in 2020/21 will pay the same tuition fee as UK students for the duration of their course.

If you are an EU/EEA/Swiss national, unless you qualify for UK fee status, tuition fees for 2021/22 will be in line with the fees charged for international students. UKCISA have provided information about Brexit and tuition fees.

Students from the rest of the world (international)

Year Tuition fee Deposit
Year one £18,200 £1,000

More information about tuition fees and deposits, including for part-time and continuing students.

Financial support

Financial support may be available to individuals who meet certain criteria. For more information visit our funding section. Please note that these sources of financial support are limited and therefore not everyone who meets the criteria are guaranteed to receive the support.

Additional costs

Living costs

We’re based in one of the UK’s most affordable cities. Find out more about living costs in Cardiff.

Careers and placements

Graduates from this programme pursue careers in areas including policing, the courts and government and relevant areas, with some choosing further study at PhD or law degree. A number use their linguistic and legal focus to follow non-legal careers where advanced linguistic skills are a real asset.

Across the School, our postgraduates use their newly acquired skills in a broad spectrum of professions, particularly in the media and creative economies, education and health sectors. From the public to the private sector, we enable careers in an impressively wide range of fields.

86% of postgraduates from the School of English, Communication and Philosophy were in employment or further studies within six months of graduation (DLHE 2016/17).

Placements

Funding

Master's Excellence Scholarships

An award open to students with a home fee status intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

UK Government master’s funding

If you are starting your master’s degree in September 2021 or later, you may be able to apply for UK Government postgraduate funding to support your study at Cardiff University.

Fieldwork

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.

Next steps

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HESA data: Copyright Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited 2020. The Higher Education Statistics Agency Limited cannot accept responsibility for any inferences or conclusions derived by third parties from its data. Data is from the latest Graduate Outcomes Survey 2017/18, published by HESA in June 2020.