About the course
The MSt in English Language is a one-year taught Masters degree programme. It is designed for graduates in English, linguistics or another relevant subject who want to study the history, structure and uses of the English language at an advanced level, and is a suitable preparation for those planning to do doctoral research in the field of English language.
Oxford University has a long tradition of English Language study and offers excellent facilities for it, including the extensive resources of the Bodleian library. Those teaching on the M.St course are internationally reputed experts in fields which range from the early history of English to its uses as a global language in the 21st century.
English lexicography is a particularly strong area of expertise: Oxford University Press, which produces a range of dictionaries including the Oxford English Dictionary, offers a small number of internships each year to students with a special interest in dictionaries and dictionary making.
Funding support for the MSt in English Language is available through the Faculty’s News International Scholarships, which pay the full cost of tuition plus a maintenance grant equivalent to the AHRC grant. (The scheme is competitive, but all applicants for the M.St will automatically be considered.) All applicants ishing to be considered for funding must apply by the January deadline.
The course convenors for the MSt are Professor Deborah Cameron (Worcester College) and Professor Lynda Mugglestone (Pembroke College). Other Faculty members who contribute to the teaching of the MSt are Professor Charlotte Brewer, Professor Simon Horobin and Professor Suzanne Romaine. All are actively involved in English Language research, specializing in various aspects of the history, structure and uses of the language (you can find details of their research and teaching interests on their individual web pages: just click on the relevant name).
In addition to the courses provided specifically for the MSt in English Language, graduate students are able to attend lectures and research seminars offered by the Linguistics Faculty. They have access to the extensive holdings of the Bodleian Library, the English Faculty Library and the linguistics collection of the Taylorian Library.
The MSt runs over three terms, from October until June. The first two terms are devoted to a core course (A) dealing with the historical development of the English language and its contemporary forms, a research methods course (B), and special option courses (C)—normally one in each term, selected from those on offer in the relevant year. The third term is spent working with a supervisor on a dissertation whose topic is chosen by the student in consultation with course tutors.
Term 1 (Michaelmas)
- Course A: Topics in English Language (part 1, historical issues). Taught over two terms as a weekly seminar, and designed to provide a solid foundation in the advanced study of English language. Required for all students.
- Course B: Research methods for English Language. A series of classes designed to train students in the skills needed for English language research. There will be a block on ‘core’ research skills which all B course students take, and further blocks dealing with historical research methods and methods for studying language in use, from which students can select according to their research interests.
- Course C: Option 1 (see below for list of special options).
Term 2 (Hilary)
- Course A: Topics in English Language (part 2, issues in present-day English)
- Course C: Option 2
Term 3 (Trinity)
- Supervised dissertation
Normally students take two options, one in each term, but those who opt out of the research methods course may take four. The options on offer in 2012-13 will include English in the 18th century, dictionaries and lexicography, world Englishes, sociolinguistics and language and gender. Students with appropriate interests and qualifications may choose one of their options from the C courses offered on the MSt in English Literature or from the B courses offered on the MSt/MPhil in General Linguistics.
The A course is not directly assessed. B and C courses are assessed by coursework (normally an essay or project of 5-7000 words). All coursework is completed by the end of the second term, and the dissertation is submitted in early June.
Is this Masters course the best one for you?
This MSt course is designed for students with a specific interest in studying the history, structure and use of the English language at postgraduate level. If your main interest is in English literature rather than the language, you will probably find one of the English Faculty’s other MSt courses more appropriate for your needs. If you are particularly interested in the learning and teaching of the English language, and if your qualifications are in TESOL/applied linguistics, you may wish to look at the MSc in Applied Linguistics and Second Language Acquisition which is offered by Oxford's Department of Education (the MSt English Language does not deal with English Language Teaching).
Although it is not a requirement for your first degree to be in English Language or Linguistics, the course is most suitable for students whose undergraduate studies included some coverage of the subject. Students who do not already have some basic linguistic knowledge and language analysis skills will be expected to acquire these through independent study before and/or during the early part of the course.
If you want to know more about the MSt English Language
If your questions are about academic aspects of the course, you can contact one of the course convenors (use the link above to their web pages). Administrative queries can be directed to the English Faculty's graduate studies office. More details can be found on the admission and funding pages of the English Faculty website.
November 2011 Graduate Open Day mini-lecture by Professor Deborah Cameron: The English language in the global age: current debates and future directions