Linguistics at Cambridge introduces students to the study of language as a phenomenon from a wide range of exciting perspectives. In the first year you will acquire the building blocks for analysing languages, with four papers on Sounds and Words; Structures and Meanings; Language, Brain and Society; and the History and Varieties of English. During the second and third years there is the chance to dig deeper into these areas and to explore more specialized subjects such as First and Second Language Acquisition, the Psychology of Language Processing and Learning, the History of Ideas on Language or Computational Linguistics. There are also a number of papers available which allow you to focus on the structure and history of a particular language, such as French, German, Italian and Spanish. Research training is offered in the shape of a final year dissertation which enables you to research in depth an aspect of linguistics which fascinates you.
At the intersection of humanities, social and natural sciences, linguistics equips students with a wide range of analytical methods and quantitative skills that can be useful for many different careers. Some graduates will want to stay closely involved with linguistics (such as speech therapy, language teaching, documentation or testing), whilst others will be keen to apply the skills and attributes they have developed while studying here to a wide range of opportunities. Recent graduates from the college have gone into publishing, the financial sector, the media and further research while there are increasing opportunities in government and the industry (language technology, online learning, communications).
More detail about the course can be found on the University website. No specific subjects are required, and we welcome applications from students with either a predominantly humanities or science background.
Studying Linguistics at Murray Edwards
We aim to admit two Linguistics students each year, making it a small but vibrant community of up to six undergraduate students in the College at any one time. We also typically have 1-2 postgraduates in Linguistics in the College, who meet with the undergraduates at dinners and other events. First year supervisions are organised by the Faculty, so that you will have a chance to meet from the beginning with students of other colleges.
Murray Edwards is unique among Cambridge Colleges in having two Fellows in the subject. Professor Wendy Ayres-Bennett works on the history of the French language, on the history of ideas on language, on language policy, and on multilingualism. Dr Dora Alexopoulou works on linguistic theory, second language learning and experimental syntax.
Linguistics students are encouraged to develop their interests and participate to the meetings of the Gabe Society which comprises of MML undergraduates, graduates and Fellows and aims to provide a focus for academic exploration and inquiry at undergraduate level. The meetings of the society have proven to be a good opportunity for our students to meet and chat informally and to get to know students in other years.
Admissions Assessment and Interview arrangements
As with all applicants for Linguistics, if you apply to Murray Edwards and are interviewed then you will be required to sit the Linguistics Admissions Assessment in Cambridge at the time of your interviews. You will have two interviews at Murray Edwards. One will be subject specific and with our Fellows in Linguistics, while the other will be a general academic interview with a senior Fellow of the College, usually one of our Directors of Studies in Modern Languages.
At interview we will be looking for a genuine interest in the way language and languages function, an ability to think analytically, and a capacity to see patterns in new data. In preparing for interview, it would be helpful to read one of the books recommended by the Linguistics section and to think about which areas of linguistics might be of particular interest to you.
If you receive an offer from Murray Edwards College then it will usually be the standard University offer of A*AA at A Levels, 40-42 points in the International Baccalaureate (IB) with 776 at Higher Level (HL) or equivalents in other qualifications. We are likely to specify the subject in which we wish you to achieve the top grade.