Forensic Linguistics (MA/PgDip)
1 year (full-time) / 2 years (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)
This degree programme has two main aims:
- To introduce students to linguistic aspects of the criminal justice system including those which centre on policing and the courtroom whilst also looking to the surrounding legal system. The programme examines issues of justice, fairness and equality in law as they relate to language and communication.
- To explore the role of the linguist when interacting with legal and legislative systems by examining the actual or potential impact of linguistics (broadly defined) on criminal investigations and on legal activities and procedures. Here, we examine the work of expert witnesses and linguistic consultants on language and law and consider the opportunities and challenges inherent in both types of research.
- This innovative programme is the longest running Master’s level course on a forensic linguistic topic. It is well-established and internationally recognised.
- The Centre for Language and Communication Research has a well established reputation in a broad range of teaching and research areas, including sociolinguistics, discourse analysis, multimodality, health communication, forensic linguistics, systemic functional grammar, phonology, and language education.
- Graduates have gone on to further study (e.g. a PhD or law degree) or have pursued careers in a number of relevant areas such as policing, the courts and Government.
The MA/Diploma in Forensic Linguistics is an innovative programme which provides students with theory and techniques to critically analyse the use of language in a variety of legal contexts and to critically evaluate expert testimony on forensic matters. Students receive a grounding in research methods and issues and debates in forensic linguistics. They acquire tools for evaluating and examining a range of legal language in relation to issues such as power and comprehensibility. They develop skills in research and writing at higher degree level and learn to engage with the legal system as a site of social life where important decisions are made through language.
On successful completion of the MA programme graduates will have achieved the following outcomes:
- the application of descriptive data analysis skills in a wide range of spoken and written discourse contexts within the legal process, including emergency calls, police interviews, courtroom interaction, judicial judgment
- a critical understanding of investigative data analysis skills in both spoken and written discourse contexts, including such areas as speaker identification, disputed authorship and plagiarism detection;
- critical understanding of the work of linguists as advisers and activists on legal systems and settings.
The MA/Diploma in Forensic Linguistics is a modular programme with modules taught over two semesters (PG Diploma or for the MA, Stage 1), followed by a supervised dissertation (for the MA, Stage 2) of between 14,000 and 20,000 words between May and September when taken as a 1 year, full time degree programme.
Assessment of the taught component is by coursework only. The part-time modular programme involves following the same modules over two years with the dissertation being completed between May and January.
Students take the four compulsory modules listed below which provide a thorough and wide-ranging view of language and the law and forensic linguistics from a variety of methodological and theoretical perspectives along with a vital grounding in research methods and processes:
- Forensic Linguistics I: Language in Legal Processes
- Forensic Linguistics II: Linguistic Expertise in Legal Processes
- Projects in Forensic Linguistics
- Foundation module: Core Skills, Principles and Issues involved in Language and Communication Research
Below is an indicative list of optional modules:
- Discourse and Social Interaction
- Language Description
- Text and Social Context
- Current Issues in Sociolinguistics
- Second Language Development and Pedagogy
- Qualitative Research Methods
- Quantitative Research Methods
Many of the learning outcomes listed above involve practising skills that are transferable to numerous areas of employment. In addition, students who engage with the programme will practise and develop the ability to:
- Communicate effectively with others via writing, speech and other means;
- Think carefully and systematically about problems;
- Synthesise a range of information efficiently;
- Use electronic and other sources of information as appropriate to a range of tasks;
- Plan and manage time effectively;
- Take responsibility for their own learning programme and professional development.
Postgraduate study in the School is a gateway to many careers within and beyond academia. Many overseas postgraduates return to lectureships with much enhanced career prospects. Example employers in the UK include Cardiff University, HMRC, Mencap, Poetry Wales Magazine, Teach First, Welsh Government, with jobs that include Crime Intelligence Analyst, Creative Writing Lecturer, Librarian, Poet, Recruitment Consultant, Teacher, Writer
Although the MA in Forensic Linguistics programme is an academic rather than vocational MA, recent graduates have found employment within the legal system, including the 999 Emergency Call Service, the Police Force, the Prison Service and the Civil Service (Home Office), as well as the secret services. Others have gone on to further training as lawyers.
Graduates from this MA/Diploma also move on to non-legal careers and find that the legal and linguistic focus of their studies provides their employers with something a little unusual. Graduates in the job market have also benefited from the training in processing and using information thoughtfully, writing effectively and speaking convincingly which is part of all good postgraduate study.
If strong grades are achieved in the MA, it is also possible to go on to higher level doctoral research in forensic linguistics, language and law, or other areas of applied linguistics, sociolinguistics or human communication.
“The MA in Forensic Linguistics has given me a fascinating insight into a wide variety of language and legal settings"
Read Debbie's full testimonial
“The MA in Forensic Linguistics has given me a fascinating insight into a wide variety of language and legal settings, with the chance to engage in critical study at postgraduate level. Particularly satisfying has been the balance of forensic and ‘generic’ modules, which has allowed me to update across the broad field of linguistics and to learn invaluable new research skills, while focusing on the forensic context. In addition to the expert tuition, I have much appreciated the friendly support and advice offered by all staff within the Cardiff School of English, Communication and Philosophy and have benefited from the chance to meet students of all ages and aspirations. I am now planning to pursue my area of study at PhD level, something which I could not have envisaged at the start of the course.”
A 1st or upper 2nd class UK honours degree, or equivalent is usually required. The MA/Diploma in Forensic Linguistics is suitable for graduates in degrees related to language, linguistics, forensic science, psychology and law-related disciplines. No legal background will be assumed.
Applicants whose first language is not English are normally expected to have a minimum IELTS score of 7 overall, with 6.5 in each subscore.
Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 (General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the
Tuition Fees 2016/17
Fees quoted are for the academic session 2016/17. For programmes lasting more than one year, tuition fees for subsequent years of study are subject to an increase of no more than 4.5% per year.
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|Deposit||n/a||Includes a £1,000 deposit. More information about our deposit policy.|
Next intake: September each year
Name: ENCAP Postgraduate Office, Timothy Collins
Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 4722