Linguistics

About the major

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Its goals are to find out what language is like, and why, and to find ways to use this knowledge in understanding communication, culture, social life, and the human mind.

Each of the world’s 6,000 languages is a rich and textured system, with its own sounds, its own grammar, and its own identity and style. We use language for persuading others, gathering information, organizing our activities, gossiping, and ultimately structuring our societies. Have you ever wanted to know:

  • In what ways are all languages the same, and in what ways do they differ?
  • Are Australian English and Singapore English two separate languages?
  • How to read and write the phonetic alphabet?
  • How do languages change? And why?
  • Are we unknowingly manipulated by the words used in the media?
  • What is it about the human mind that makes language the way it is?

In linguistics, you will learn how to investigate questions like these, using methods ranging from computer analysis to text analysis to field research expeditions on languages spoken anywhere from major cities to isolated villages. You will become a language and communication expert.

The skills you acquire in linguistics can be used in the study of the human mind and the diversity of cultures, which are relevant to a range of professional settings such as international relations, travel, community development, language teaching, general education, academic research, journalism and publishing, marketing and public relations, and computer science.

Throughout their degree, students are strongly encouraged to take optional elective 2000-level units offered by the department (LNGS2628 Digital Tools for the Humanities; LNGS2617 Cross-cultural Communication; LNGS2627 Analysing (Social) Media Discourse; LNGS2611 Australia’s Indigenous Languages, LNGS2615 Language, Brain and Mind) which are available from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences Electives list in Table S of the Interdisciplinary Handbook. Students interested in Honours should take an additional two units of study at 2000- or 3000-level (see requirements below).

Requirements for completion

The Linguistics major and minor requirements are listed in the Linguistics unit of study table.

Learning outcomes

No. Learning outcome
1 Demonstrate an understanding of how language works, of the diversity of human languages, and the varieties of linguistic forms and practices across a range of social, cultural, historical and geographical contexts.
2 Demonstrate an understanding of how to carry out linguistic research projects, including fieldwork, and of the ethical and legal issues involved in collecting and using data from language consultants, corpora, and other sources.
3 Use coherent, evidence-based arguments and appropriate methodologies to evaluate competing explanations, and draw conclusions to solve research problems.
4 Present linguistic data and analysis using appropriate formalisms, conventions and genres specific to each subdiscipline of linguistics, including transcription, diagrams, graphs, tables.
5 Apply techniques to measure, analyse, and interpret the sounds, structures, meanings, and functions of any language.
6 Apply linguistic research techniques and outcomes in relevant social, practical, and professional contexts.
7 Effectively apply linguistic approaches in an interdisciplinary context.

Advanced coursework

Through Advanced Coursework in Linguistics, students will learn how to apply linguistic knowledge and skills in understanding a range of problems and issues in social, practical, and professional settings, for example in business, medicine, community development, law, or follow their interests and passions to complete other relevant community/professional projects. Advanced Studies in Linguistics allows students to engage in advanced critical thinking and learning about language, particularly in relation to its use as a tool in social and professional life.

Requirements and units of study for advanced coursework can be found on the Linguistics advanced coursework units of study page.

Honours

The Honours year is an intensive program of advanced study (coursework) with a research focus (thesis). Students considering enrolling in Linguistics honours are encouraged to consult with the Linguistics Honours Coordinator as early as possible, preferably during their second year of study.

The department of Linguistics encourages joint honours programs.

Honours admission requirements

Admission into Honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Linguistics with an average of 70% or above as well as completion of an additional 12 credit points at 2000 or 3000-level from the Linguistics major table or stand-alone Linguistics elective units in Table S.

Prior to commencing honours, you will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Arts, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major.

Requirements and units of study for honours can be found on the Linguistics honours units of study page.

Contacts and further information

Contact details can be found on these websites:
Department of Linguistics website: sydney.edu.au/arts/linguistics/

School of Literature, Art and Media website: sydney.edu.au/arts/slam/

Example pathways

Linguistics major pathway

Possible pathway: Linguistics Major

Year 1

Sem 1

Core: LNGS1001 Structure of Language

 

Sem 2

Core: LNGS1002 Language and Social Context

Core: LNGS2624 Grammar in the World’s Languages

Year 2

Sem 1

Core: LNGS2601 Phonetics and Phonology

Elective Table S: 2000-level LNGS unit of study

 

Sem 2

Selective: 3000-level unit from the Linguistics major table

Elective Table S: 2000-level LNGS unit of study

Year 3

Sem 1

Interdisciplinary Project Unit: LNGS3999 Interdisciplinary Impact

Selective: 3000-level unit from the Linguistics major table

 

Sem 2

Selective: 3000-level unit from the Linguistics major table

Elective Table S: 2000-level LNGS unit of study

Linguistics minor pathway

Year and Semester  Units of Study
Year 1 Sem 1 Core: LNGS1001 Structure of Language
  Sem 2 Core: LNGS1002 Language and Social Context
Year 2 Sem 1 Core: LNGS2624 Grammar in the World’s Languages
  Sem 2 Core: LNGS2601 Phonetics and Phonology
Year 3 Sem 1 Selective: 3000-level unit listed for the Linguistics major
  Sem 2 Selective: 3000-level unit listed for the Linguistics major