Linguistics studies the full range of aspects of human languages, from sign to speech, to writing, from their structure, to their use, from the history of language, to how they are used in everyday talk, as well as psychological aspects of language.

Our department offers a wide range of classes involving theories of language (formal and functional), using computers to study language or applying linguistic skills to areas like education, media discourse, and cross-cultural communication. Key areas of study are sound, structure, meaning, and methodology. You will explore the concepts that researchers use to explain languages (for example the difference between an accent and a dialect). You will learn to analyse the sounds and grammatical structure of a language and discover the implicit and explicit meanings that we communicate. For example you will learn how to analyse a complex phrase like an extremely and annoyingly ill-tempered friend who keeps wanting to friend me on Facebook and the evaluation implied by they’re just students. You will also be able to undertake your own inquiry projects.

Linguistics is relevant in manifold contexts and disciplines, and has many practical applications such as language teaching, general education, journalism, marketing, public relations, and computer science.

Study plan

A major in Linguistics requires 36 senior credit points from, including at least 12 credit points from core units of study at 2000 level and at least 12 credit points from core units of study at 3000 level. Within these 24 credit points at least 6 credit points from each of the four Areas of Study noted below under "Senior units of study" must be completed.

Junior units of study (1000 level)
You complete 12 credit points of junior units of study: LNGS1001 and LINGS1002. These junior units offer foundational knowledge before advancing to senior units.

Senior units of study (2000 and 3000 level)
You complete at least 6 senior credit points from each of the following four areas;

- Analysis of sound
- Analysis of grammar
- Analysis of meaning
- Applying methodologies

You also complete two elective units of study. Any of the core units listed in unit of study table can also be taken as elective units if you have already fulfilled the requirements: for example, you can do Syntax to fulfil the requirement for Analysis of Grammar and then do Functional Grammar as an elective. You can also choose from a pool of other electives that the department offers.

Units labelled as 2000 are senior-intermediate units – they assume some foundational knowledge and include assessment types such as exams, exercises, problem-sets, and analysis tasks to assess students’ analytical skills.

Units labelled as 3000 are senior-advanced units – in addition to foundational knowledge these assume knowledge in the analysis of sound and grammar and include inquiry-based assessment types such as research essays, reports, or interpretations to assess your research skills. These can only be taken if you have passed both junior units (Structure of Language, Language and Social Context) and one of the intermediate ‘Sound’ units (Phonetics, Phonology) and one of the intermediate ‘Grammar’ (Syntax, Functional Grammar) units.

Graduate opportunities

Sydney Arts and Social Sciences graduates work in government departments at all levels, and major private sector consultancies and corporations, locally and overseas. The Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences offers a range of subject areas that prepare graduates for careers in administration, education, business research, marketing, media, management consultancy, public relations, gallery and museum curatorship, hospitality and tourism, community and welfare. Our graduates are proficient in research and inquiry, and demonstrate personal and intellectual autonomy, and ethical, social and professional understanding, qualities sought after by leading employers all over the world.

Further study for major

Eligible candidates may proceed to an Honours year in the Bachelor of Arts, or apply for admission to a rich postgraduate program in the humanities and social sciences, comprising advanced learning and professional courses. Master degrees include capstone projects ranging from internships with government and non-government organisations in Australia and overseas, the gallery and museum sector, and leading media organisations, to opportunities for independent research projects which prepare students for higher degrees by research.

Related subject areas

English, Psychology

Our courses that offer this major