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Forensic Linguistics (MA)

  • Duration: 2 years
  • Mode: Part time

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Why study this course

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.

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).

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.

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

 

Applicants should normally hold a first class or upper second class UK honours degree or equivalent. The MA in Forensic Linguistics is suitable for graduates who hold degrees in Linguistics, English Language, English Language & Literature (combined), Modern Languages, Law, Forensic Psychology, Criminology, Sociology with defined Criminology pathway. No legal background will be assumed.

Some candidates will be invited to attend interview, in person or via Skype. Others might 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.

Typical IELTS offer: An overall IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum of 6.5 in each category is required for non-native English speakers or those who have not had a substantial part of their education taught in the English language.

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.

 

Find out more about English language requirements.

Applicants who require a Tier 4 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.

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 15,000-20,000 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 2021/22 academic year. The final modules will be published by September 2021.

Year one

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

Module titleModule codeCredits
Forensic Linguistics ISET00120 credits
Forensic Linguistics 2SET00220 credits
Research Foundations in Language and CommunicationSET03020 credits

Year two

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

Module titleModule codeCredits
Research Experience in Forensic LinguisticsSET03520 credits
DissertationSET01560 credits
Module titleModule codeCredits
Qualitative Research MethodsSET01220 credits
Quantitative Research MethodsSET01320 credits
Phonetics and PhonologySET03320 credits
Public and Professional DiscourseSET04120 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.

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;
  • 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.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2021/22)

Fees for entry 2021/22 are not yet available.

Students from outside the EU (2021/22)

We are currently awaiting confirmation on tuition fees for the 2021/22 academic year.

Careers and placements

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.

Placements

The Research Experience module offers the opportunity to work with a member of staff on an ongoing, authentic research task within part of a larger research study. This is a distinctive form of study and offers the opportunity to gain hands-on research experience and to reflect systematically on that experience. Findings from the Research Experience module will feed directly into ongoing work in the Centre for Language and Communication Research.

There are no formal study abroad opportunities associated with this programme.

Funding

Master's Excellence Scholarship

This award worth £3000 is open to UK and EU students intending to study one of our taught master’s degrees.

Postgraduate Master’s Finance

If you’re starting your master’s degree in September 2020 or later, you may be able to apply for postgraduate student finance 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.

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