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Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge


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Linguistics at Cambridge 

The Linguistics Course at Cambridge offers an exciting opportunity to study 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, or the History of Ideas on Language. 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. The Cambridge course is particularly exciting in combining theoretical and applied linguistics in one dynamic department.

Full detail about the structure and content of the course can be found at the Departmental website.

Linguistics in Murray Edwards College

We welcome around 1-2 undergraduate students in Linguistics each year. 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 Department, 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 Bennett works on the history of the French language, on the history of ideas on language, on language policy, and on multilingualism. Dr Alexopoulou works on linguistic theory, language learning and experimental syntax.

Our students achieve good results – last year our two students achieved a First and a good 2.1 in their final examinations.  

Applying to study here

We look for students who are enthusiastic about linguistics, motivated to learn more about the subject, and who have achieved excellent results in their examinations to date.  Students studying for linguistics come to us with a range of different subjects at A-level (or equivalent) including languages, mathematics and sciences, and English literature and language. Since linguistics ranges from more ‘Arts-type’ subjects to more ‘Science-type’ subjects such as phonetics, we do not prescribe which subjects are to be studied at school. 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 Department of Linguistics and to think about which areas of linguistics might be of particular interest to you. If invited for interview, you will also be asked to sit the at-interview written assessment for Linguistics, which lasts one hour. 

We usually set standard/typical offers at A level or equivalent i.e. usually A*AA. Full details of entry requirements and selection processes in Linguistics across all colleges can be found on the central University webpages.

Moving into your career

Our students follow a wide range of careers when they leave: some will want to stay closely involved with linguistics (such as speech therapy or teaching), 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.

We support students in developing their skills and in exploring varied career options through our Murray Edwards Gateway Programme.

Find out more

Many students find it helpful to contact us by email or to visit us to find out more. You are welcome to do so.

Fellows in this subject