The Department of Linguistics is part of the School of Letters, Art and Media.

About the major

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.

Pathways through the major

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.

The units of study for the major can be found in the unit of study table for Linguistics. The table shows units of study on offer in the current handbook year. You may find information regarding a full list of units of study available to the major on the departmental website.

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.

The four areas of study
Outcomes Core units Requirements
Analysis of Sound

LNGS2620 Phonetics, and/or

LNGS2621 Phonology

Must take at least one of these units
Analysis of Grammar

LNGS2602 Syntax and/or

LNGS2603 Functional Grammar

Must take at least one of these units
Analysis of Meaning

LNGS3609 Analysing Discourse and/or

LNGS3601 Semantics and Pragmatics

Must take at least one of these units
Applying Methodologies

LNGS3608 Computers, Discourse, Language and/or

LNGS3604 Field Methods and/or

LNGS3610 Language Change and Variation and/or

LNGS3605 Structure and Use of Language

Must take at least one of these units
Sample pathway through the Linguistics major
Sample Pathway - Linguistics major
First Year S1 LNGS1001 Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
S2 LNGS1002 Junior unit Junior unit Junior unit
Second Year S1


Analysis of sound unit

Senior elective LNGS unit

Senior unit Senior unit


Analysis of grammar unit
Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit
Third Year S1


Applying methodologies unit
Senior elective LNGS unit Senior unit Senior unit


Analysis of meaning unit
Senior unit Senior unit Senior unit

Students considering enrolling in Linguistics honours are encouraged to consult with the Linguistics Honours Coordinator as early as possible, preferably towards the end of their third year. The department of Linguistics encourages joint honours programs. Admission to an honours year requires completion of 48 senior credit points from the Linguistics Program at Credit average or better.

Refer to the degree resolutions in this Handbook and to the Faculty Admissions Policy for Honours:

Please note: from 2015 the minimum requirement for entry into Honours will increase to an average of 70% or above across 48 senior credit points in the intended subject area/s.

Contact/Further Information

Department website:

Prof William Foley
Phone: +61 2 9351 4569

Dr Monika Bednarek
Phone: +61 2 9036 7201