MA in Sociocultural Linguistics


Program Description

This programme looks at language from a sociocultural perspective. It's designed for anyone with an interest in the relationship between language, culture and society but also provides a solid understanding of English language and linguistics.

The MA develops your understanding of historical and contemporary debates in (socio)linguistics and discourse analysis and enhances your analytic and linguistic skills by introducing different approaches to the analysis of written and spoken language use from a range of everyday and institutional contexts.

Topics covered include:

  • Language and ideology
  • Linguistic performances of identity (particularly language and gender, sexuality, ethnicity and social class)
  • Language and the media
  • Talk at work
  • English in a multilingual world
  • Intercultural communication
  • Multilingualism and code-switching
  • Varieties of English

You're encouraged to engage with these topics by drawing on your own social, cultural and occupational backgrounds in class discussions and in your written work.

You're also encouraged to collect your own samples of written and spoken language use and learn to subject those to in-depth critical analysis.

This MA will draw on findings, theories and methodologies from sociolinguistics, semantics, pragmatics, spoken and written discourse analysis, ethnography, semiotics, feminist stylistics; multimodal analysis; interactional sociolinguistics, conversational analysis, membership categorisation analysis, performativity and narrative analysis.

The programme’s distinct interdisciplinary ethos is also reflected in your opportunity to choose from a selection of relevant option modules in other departments in Goldsmiths.

Modules & structure

On this programme, you will complete two core modules, two option modules and one dissertation.

Core modules

  • Core Issues in English Language & Linguistics 30 credits
  • Language in its Sociocultural Context 30 credits

Option modules

You may choose two linguistic options or one linguistic option and one option from other MA programmes within the College, where specifically approved by the Programme Co-ordinator.

  • Analysing Discourse & Identity in Spoken Interaction (30 credits)
  • English in a Multilingual World (30 credits)
  • Intercultural Discourse & Communication (30 credits)
  • Language & Ideology in Written Discourse (30 credits)
  • English as a Lingua Franca and Language Teaching (30 credits)

You may also choose one non-linguistics module, either from our own department (English and Comparative Literature) or from another department. Please note that availability of options across the College varies, but typically you can choose from the following selection.

Please note that your choice of option module from another department needs to be discussed with the Programme Co-ordinator of the MA Sociocultural Linguistics in advance.

English and Comparative Literature options

  • Studies in Comparative Literature & Criticism (30 credits)
  • Theories of Literature & Culture (30 credits)
  • Modern Literary Movements (30 credits)
  • Literature of the Caribbean & Its Diasporas (30 credits)
  • American Literature & Culture: Critical and Theoretical Concepts (30 credits)
  • The Contemporary American Novel in the Era of Climate Change (30 credits)
  • Interculturality, Text, Poetics (30 credits)
  • Translation theory and practice (30 credits)
  • Becoming a translator (30 credits)
  • Translation and tourism (30 credits)

Anthropology options

  • Anthropology and Gender Theory (15 or 30 credits)
  • Anthropology and Cultural Politics (30 credits)
  • Anthropology and History (30 credits)
  • Anthropology of Religion (15 or 30 credits)

Media and Communications options

  • Political Economy of the Media (30 credits)
  • The Structures of Contemporary Political Communication (30 credits and 15 credits)
  • Race, Empire and Nation (15 credits)
  • Gender Affect and the Body (30 credits)

Sociology options

  • What is Culture? (30 credits)
  • Social Media: A Critical Review (30 credits)
  • Introduction to Feminist Theory and Culture (30 credits)
  • Gender, Sexuality and Media (30 credits)
  • Race, Gender And Social Justice (30 credits)
  • Stories and the Social World: Identity, Politics, Ethics (30 credits)

Educational Studies options

  • Culture, Language and Identity in Education (30 credits)
  • Race, Culture and Education (30 credits)

We also run an optional MA study skills module in which we cover topics such as fieldwork and methodology; using electronic resources; British academic essay writing & referencing at MA level; planning a dissertation in (socio)linguistics.


You also produce a dissertation. Dissertation topics in the past have included:

  • A critical investigation of metaphor in accent coaching internationalisation & the role of language
  • Gun Ownership as Freedom and Safety: Framing in the Blogosphere
  • Tweeting Saudi Women’s Elections: A Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Framing and discourses of gender and national identity in sports commentary
  • Discursive identity construction in relation to global hip hop culture in young men’s talk
  • Representations of ageing in women’s magazines
  • The discursive construction of religious identities in interviews with British Muslim converts
  • Code-switching practices in a Tunisian family
  • Discourse and identities in the SLA classroom
  • Language and gender in dream narratives
  • Pauses and silences on Talk Radio
  • Attitudes towards bilingual signs in Thailand
  • Representations of parenthood in UK parenting magazines
  • Political debates on Irish TV
  • Lifetime narratives of older Asian immigrants in the UK
  • Language of text messaging
  • Language and literacy practices on Facebook
  • Attitudes to non-standard language use
  • Discursive analysis of EFL textbooks
  • Gendered speech style in an all-female group of Iranian friends

The best (UG or MA) linguistics dissertation is rewarded every year with the Hayley Davis Prize.

Approach to teaching

Our lecture/seminar sessions are designed to combine discussions of preparatory reading materials with tutor-led input and hands-on analyses of data/texts by students. We also tend to invite guest lectures as part of option modules and GoldLingS Seminar Series.

Our MA group is usually very tight-knit, students and student reps organise study/revision groups, online discussion forums, outings to lectures across London, and a number of social events.


Coursework; essays; examinations; dissertation; presentation

Download the programme specification, relating to the 2017-18 intake. If you would like an earlier version of the programme specification, please contact the Quality Office.

Please note that due to staff research commitments not all of these modules may be available every year.


Transferable skills, including enhanced communication and discussion skills in written and oral contexts; the ability to analyse and evaluate a wide variety of spoken and written texts from informal as well as institutional settings; an understanding of the concept of communicative competence; the ability to organise information, and to assimilate and evaluate competing arguments.


Publishing, journalism, British council roles, public relations, teaching, research, translation, advertising, civil service, business, industry, the media.

Entry requirements

You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard.

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

No prior knowledge of linguistics is required. If you would like to explore the options, given your personal background, please get in touch.

Equivalent qualifications

We accept a wide range of international qualifications. Find out more about the qualifications we accept from around the world.

English language requirements

If English isn’t your first language, you’ll need to meet our English language requirements to study with us.

For this programme we require:

  • IELTS 7.0 with a 7.0 in writing

If you need assistance with your English language, we offer a range of courses that can help prepare you for postgraduate-level study.


How to apply

You apply directly to Goldsmiths using our online application system.

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have:

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments
  • The email address of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference
  • A personal statement – this can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF or completed online
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory)

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September.

We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an earlier application deadline.

Selection process

Admission to many programmes is by interview unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.

Last updated Jan 2020

About the School

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We're a world-class university, ranked in the world's top 350 universities by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2016-17, and the world's elite by the QS World University Rankings 2016-17 Read less