What is Linguistics?
Linguistics is the systematic study of human language, and as such, it has a central role to play in exploring what it means to be human. Superficially, there is huge variation among the world’s languages, and linguists not only describe the diverse characteristics of individual languages but also explore properties which all languages share and which offer insight into the human mind. Students have the opportunity to investigate some of the most complex and intriguing aspects of human cognitive and social life.
The study of linguistics draws on methods and knowledge from a wide range of disciplines. For instance, the study of meaning draws on philosophy, the analysis of the speech signal uses methods from physics and engineering, and the study of language acquisition draws on psychology. You will acquire skills in language analysis, explore the nature of linguistic communication and study the relationship between language and the mind, and language and society.
What can I do with a Linguistics degree?
The degree will equip you with valuable transferable skills as a critical thinker, independent researcher and constructive team member. Students learn to analyse quantitative data, construct abstract grammatical models, and test alternative hypotheses. Linguistics graduates find employment in a wide range of professions, from journalism to banking.
Linguistics provides particularly good preparation for vocational training too, in fields such as speech therapy, teaching, speech and language technology (eg developing speech recognition and translation software), law, translation, interpreting, and even forensic linguistics.
What might I need to study Linguistics?
Some universities specify that applicants have studied English Language (or Literature) as a pre-requisite of application to this course. Mathematics, Physics, Philosophy or a Language are also useful preparation for this course.
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Linguistics at Cambridge
Undergraduate students and staff talk about studying Linguistics at the University of Cambridge.
Linguistics at Cambridge
Find out more about studying Linguistics at Cambridge.
The Linguist List
A forum to discuss linguistic issues and exchange linguistic information.
British Accents and Dialects
From the British Library, listen to the UK’s rich landscape of regional accents and dialects.