MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition | University of Oxford
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MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition

About the course

Applied linguistics is an interdisciplinary field which mediates between the theory of language and the practice of language learning. It is also an overarching field that includes second language acquisition (SLA) and, as such, can shed light on the teaching and learning of a second or foreign language.

The MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition is a popular course which will introduce you to the key issues within the field of applied linguistics with a focus on topics relating to second language learning. The topics represented within the course draw from some of the related disciplines within applied linguistics such as psycholinguistics, education (language teaching/learning), linguistics and sociolinguistics.

The MSc can be taken either full-time over one year or part-time over two years. The course consists of eight taught modules - four modules in each of the two years if you choose the part-time route - assessed by written assignments and one research dissertation.

The course is designed to provide you with an opportunity to reflect and further develop your understanding of both theoretical and practical considerations in the field of language learning and teaching. It will encourage you to develop a broad theoretical base reflecting current cutting edge research within applied linguistics and related disciplines. Additionally, this course makes links between the different disciplines which contribute to our knowledge of language learning and issues related to language pedagogy.

Graduate destinations

The most recent Oxford University Destination of Leavers from Higher Education Survey made contact with 635 master's course students who graduated from the Department of Education between 2012 and 2014. Fully 90.2% of alumni were in work and 5.8% in further study with only 2.0% looking for work, ranking the department in the best 3 of the 20 departments in Oxford's Social Sciences Division.

Past DPhil students from the Department of Education have gone on to academic and research careers at universities in the UK (eg Oxford, Edinburgh, Warwick, UCL, King's College, St. Mary's, Liverpool) and across the world (eg Stanford, Princeton, MIT, Hong Kong, Chile), or are employed across a wide range of other sectors such as policy for government departments or NGOs, international organisations such as OECD, think tanks and administration at local and national levels. The department’s ‘Conversations with Alumni’ feature includes interviews with two DPhil alumni on their career paths after Oxford.

Related courses

Changes to the course

The University will seek to deliver this course in accordance with the description set out in this course page. However, there may be situations in which it is desirable or necessary for the University to make changes in course provision, either before or after registration. For further information, please see our page on changes to courses.

Entry requirements for entry in 2017-18

Within equal opportunities principles and legislation, applications will be assessed in the light of an applicant’s ability to meet the following entry requirements:

1. Academic ability

Proven and potential academic excellence

Applicants are normally expected to be predicted or have achieved a first-class or strong upper second-class undergraduate degree with honours (or equivalent international qualifications), as a minimum, in a discipline preferably related to the field of applied linguistics.

For applicants with a degree from the USA, the minimum GPA sought is 3.6 out of 4.0.

If you hold non-UK qualifications and wish to check how your qualifications match these requirements, you can contact the National Recognition Information Centre for the United Kingdom (UK NARIC).

No Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or GMAT scores are sought.

Other appropriate indicators will include:

Supporting documents

You will be required to supply supporting documents with your application, including references and an official transcript. See 'How to apply' for instructions on the documents you will need and how these will be assessed.

Performance at interview(s)

Interviews are normally held as part of the admissions process.  

Interviews are held with a minimum of two interviewers, in person or using Skype videoconferencing, and will focus on your research interests and how these might tie in with the research specialisms of academic staff within the department. You will be asked about your knowledge of the course, your reasons for wanting to study in this area, and initial ideas for your dissertation research.

Publications

Publications are not expected.

2. English language requirement

Applicants whose first language is not English are usually required to provide evidence of proficiency in English at the higher level required by the University.

3. Availability of supervision, teaching, facilities and places

The following factors will govern whether candidates can be offered places:

  • The ability of the Department of Education to provide the appropriate supervision, research opportunities, teaching and facilities for your chosen area of work
  • Minimum and maximum limits to the numbers of students who may be admitted to Oxford's research and taught programmes.

The provision of supervision, where required, is subject to the following points:

  • The allocation of graduate supervision is the responsibility of the Department of Education and it is not always possible to accommodate the preferences of incoming graduate students to work with a particular member of staff
  • Under exceptional circumstances a supervisor may be found outside the Department of Education.

Where possible your academic supervisor will not change for the duration of your course. However, it may be necessary to assign a new academic supervisor during the course of study or before registration for reasons which might include sabbatical leave, maternity leave or change in employment.

4. Disability, health conditions and specific learning difficulties

Students are selected for admission without regard to gender, marital or civil partnership status, disability, race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, age or social background.

Decisions on admission are based solely on the individual academic merits of each candidate and the application of the entry requirements appropriate to the course.

Further information on how these matters are supported during the admissions process is available in our guidance for applicants with disabilities.

5. Assessors

All recommendations to admit a student involve the judgment of at least two members of academic staff with relevant experience and expertise, and additionally must be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies or Admissions Committee (or equivalent departmental persons or bodies).

Admissions panels or committees will always include at least one member of academic staff who has undertaken appropriate training.

6. Other information

Whether you have yet secured funding is not taken into consideration in the decision to make an initial offer of a place, but please note that the initial offer of a place will not be confirmed until you have completed a Financial Declaration.

Resources

The Oxford University Department of Education (OUDE) has been making a major contribution to the field of education for over 100 years and the department has a world class reputation for research, for teacher education and for its master's and doctoral programmes. OUDE combines international standing as a research-intensive department with the highest quality teaching.

In the 2014 evaluation of research quality in UK universities, the Research Excellence Framework (REF), OUDE was the top-ranked Department of Education in the UK. The department has ESRC recognition for its graduate training, and its teacher training was rated ‘outstanding’ by the Office for Standards in Education (OfSTED) in its most recent inspection in 2011.

Research in the department is organised around three major themes:

  • Language, cognition and development
  • Economy, policy and society
  • Knowledge, pedagogy and design

Within each of these themes there are several research groups and centres. All staff and doctoral students belong to one or more of these research groups, each of which has its own seminar programme to which graduate students often contribute. In addition, the department as a whole sponsors regular seminars and public lectures which attract distinguished national and international speakers.

The Bodleian Education Library, located at the centre of the Department of Education, specialises in material on education and related fields. As well as a print collection of books, journals and statistics, the library provides access to a wide range of electronic resources. The library also houses a collection of teaching resources, primarily in support of subjects covered by the department's secondary PGCE course. The Social Sciences Library provides valuable additional resource to students pursuing programmes in the Department of Education.

Funding

There are over 1,000 full graduate scholarships available across the University, and these cover your course and college fees and provide a grant for living costs. If you apply by the relevant January deadline and fulfil the eligibility criteria you will be automatically considered. Over two thirds of Oxford scholarships require nothing more than the standard course application. Use the Fees, funding and scholarship search to find out which scholarships you are eligible for and if they require an additional application, full details of which are provided.

A number of Research Council awards are available each year from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), and Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Costs

Annual fees for entry in 2017-18

Full-time study

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£8,715£3,021£11,736
Overseas£16,770£3,021£19,791

Part-time study

Fee status

Tuition fee

College fee

Total annual fees

Home/EU
(including Islands)
£4,360£1,511£5,871
Overseas£8,385£1,511£9,896

The fees shown above are the annual tuition and college fees for this course for entry in the stated academic year; for courses lasting longer than one year, please be aware that fees will usually increase annually. For details, please see our guidance on likely increases to fees and charges.

Tuition and college fees are payable each year for the duration of your fee liability (your fee liability is the length of time for which you are required to pay tuition and college fees).

For more information about tuition fees, college fees and fee liability, please see the Fees section of this website. EU applicants should refer to our dedicated webpage for details on the impact of the result of the UK referendum on its membership of the European Union.

Additional information

Full-time study

There are no compulsory elements of this course that entail additional costs beyond fees and living costs.  However, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Please note that, depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Part-time study

Please note that this course requires that you attend in Oxford for teaching, and you may incur additional travel and accommodation expenses for this. Further, as part of your course requirements, you may need to choose a dissertation, a project or a thesis topic. Depending on your choice of topic and the research required to complete it, you may incur additional expenses, such as travel expenses, research expenses, and field trips. You will need to meet these additional costs, although you may be able to apply for small grants from your department and/or college to help you cover some of these expenses.

Living costs

In addition to your tuition and college fees, you will need to ensure that you have adequate funds to support your living costs for the duration of your course.

For the 2017-18 academic year, the range of likely living costs for full-time study is between £1,002 and £1,471 for each month spent in Oxford. Full information, including a breakdown of likely living costs in Oxford for items such as food, accommodation and study costs, is available on our Living costs page. If you are studying part-time your living costs may vary depending on your personal circumstances but you must still ensure that you will have sufficient funding to meet these costs for the duration of your course.

Colleges

The following colleges accept students for full-time on the MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition:

The following colleges accept students for part-time study on the MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition:

How to apply

Supervisors will be allocated by the department and it is not necessary for you to contact academic members of staff directly.

The set of documents you should send with your application to this course comprises the following:

Official transcript(s)

Your transcripts should give detailed information of the individual grades received in your university-level qualifications to date. You should only upload official documents issued by your institution and any transcript not in English should be accompanied by a certified translation.

More information about the transcript requirement is available in the Application Guide.

CV/résumé

A CV/résumé is compulsory for all applications. Most applicants choose to submit a document of one to two pages highlighting their academic achievements and any relevant professional experience.

Personal statement:
One to two pages

Your statement should be written in English and explain your motivation for applying for the course at Oxford, your relevant experience and education, and the specific areas that interest you and/or you intend to specialise in.

This will be assessed for:

  • your reasons for applying to this particular course
  • the areas of study in the subject which interest you
  • your relevant academic, research and/or practical experience
  • what you want to achieve from the programme you are applying for
  • your future aspirations, ie where you will take what you have learnt from the course
  • the nature of the research project that you hope to undertake (if you have ideas about this).

Written work:
Two essays of 2,000 words each

Academic essays or other writing samples, written in English, are required. Extracts of the requisite length from longer work are also permissible.

You may submit written work previously completed for a prior course of study if the topic is relevant ie an assignment or chapter of a dissertation etc, provided it meets the requirements.

If you do not have any existing material that fits this requirement, we would suggest that you may like to critique an article or write a book review based on the course subject.

The written work should be related to the course, and should be on two separate topics. The word count should include any bibliography or brief footnotes.

This will be assessed for understanding of the subject area, an ability to construct and defend an argument, and proficiency in academic English.

References/letters of recommendation:
Three overall, all of which must usually be academic

Whilst you must register three referees, the department may start the assessment of your application if two of the three references are submitted by the course deadline and your application is otherwise complete. Please note that you may still be required to ensure your third referee supplies a reference for consideration.

One of your references should be from your most recent academic tutor. If you are currently in employment, you would be expected to provide a reference from your employer alongside academic references which comment on your academic suitability for the course.

Your references will support intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work in a group.