Linguistics

About the major

Linguistics is the study of human language and 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 will 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.

Requirements for the major

A major in Linguistics requires 48 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 18 credit points of 3000-level selective units
(iv) 6 credit points of 3000-level Interdisciplinary Project unit

A minor in Linguistics requires 36 credit points from the Unit of Study table including:

(i) 12 credit points of 1000-level core units
(ii) 12 credit points of 2000-level core units
(iii) 12 credit points of 3000-level selective units

First year

In first year, students will begin by taking the core unit LNGS1001 Structure of Language, to gain foundational knowledge and skills in the discipline of linguistics, including key terms, basic facts and key methods of analysis.

They will learn basic aspects of linguistic structure, and the relations among them: phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and discourse structure.

This includes learning to do basic phonetic transcription using the International Phonetic Alphabet, and first principles for the structural analysis of languages, based on evidence and argumentation.

In second semester of first year, students are encouraged to take the core unit LNGS2601 Phonetics and Phonology. In the second core unit LNGS1002 Language and Social Context, also offered in second semester, students will learn basic facts about variation of linguistic practices in speech communities, and the relation of these practices to social variables including socioeconomic class, gender and sexuality, ethnic identity, and age, and principles by which language is used in social interaction.

Second Year

In second year, students begin by completing their core 2000-level requirements (LNGS2624 Grammar of the World’s Languages in first semester, and LNGS2601 Phonetics and Phonology in second semester unless already completed in Year 1), and can already be starting with 3000-level selective units if desired.

In their second year, students will gain a strong disciplinary foundation in knowledge about, and analysis of, structural properties of the world’s languages, involving detailed knowledge of facts and methods of analysis of phonetic, phonological, morphological, syntactic, and discourse structure, gaining knowledge of what is commonplace and what is exceptional in the world’s languages.

They will learn to communicate about linguistic phenomena using terminology, representations, and genres appropriate to standards of the discipline, and will begin to gain mastery of techniques for measuring and analysing patterns of sound, grammar, meaning, and discourse.

By starting with 3000-level selective units in second year, students will be able to both broaden and deepen their command of linguistics topics and methods.

Students will also acquire an understanding of the social and cultural values of linguistic structure, and the ethical context of any structural analysis, along with a basic ability to read and interpret information in scientific articles published in the discipline.

Students are strongly encouraged to take optional elective 2000-level units in the ‘common pool’ offered by the department (LNGS2628 Digital tools for the humanities; LNGS2617 Cross-cultural communication; LNGS2627 Analysing (Social) Media Discourse; LNGS2611 Australia’s Indigenous Languages).

Third year

In third year, students will round out their complement of LNGS units by selecting from among the available 3000-level selective units.

Students will gain an understanding of linguistics in an interdisciplinary context through research on linguistic topics that connect meaningfully to related disciplines and fields of inquiry. They will advance their knowledge and skills relating to data gathering and analytical techniques for the discipline, in domains from sound to grammar to meaning to discourse.

In advanced units in the discipline, students will gain an understanding of the higher-order relations between sub-systems of any language, and interfaces between these sub-systems. And they will learn to apply advanced technical and conceptual skills to measure and analyse patterns of sound, grammar, meaning, and discourse. Students can examine complex and pressing linguistic problems and begin to independently research and analyze those problems in innovative ways.

There are opportunities to undertake linguistic projects both independently and in collaboration with mentors and peers. In third year, students will learn how to argue for and against particular analyses and solutions in genres appropriate to the discipline, and how to decide on the most appropriate analyses and solutions.

Honours

If you commenced your degree prior to 2018, admission to honours requires a major in Linguistics with an average of 70% or above.

If you commenced your degree in 2018, admission to honours is via the Bachelor of Advanced Studies and requires the completion of a major in Linguistics with an average of 70% or above. You will need to ensure you have completed all other requirements of the Bachelor of Advanced Studies, including Open Learning Environment (OLE) units and a second major, prior to commencing honours.

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 and are advised (but not obliged) to complete more than the required 18 credit points of 3000-level selective units.

The department of Linguistics encourages joint honours programs.

Advanced coursework

Through Advanced Coursework in Linguistics, you will learn how to apply your knowledge of linguistic facts and methods in understanding a range of problems and issues in social, practical, and professional settings, from business to medicine to community development to the law. 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.

The requirements for advanced coursework in Linguistics are described in the degree resolutions for the Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Advanced Studies.

24-36 credit points of advanced study will be included in the table for 2019.

Contact and further information

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

Chair of Department: Associate Professor Monika Bednarek
Email:
Phone: +61 2 9036 7201

Honours Coordinator: Professor James Martin
Email:
Phone: +61 2 9351 4227

Example pathways

Possible pathway: Linguistics Major

 

Year 1

Sem 1

LNGS1001 Structure of Language

1000-level unit

1000-level unit

1000-level unit in  another major/minor from Table A or S

Sem 2

LNGS1002 Language and Social Context

LNGS2601 Phonetics and Phonology

1000-level unit/OLE

1000-level unit in  another major/minor from Table A or S

 

Year 2

Sem 1

LNGS2624 Grammar in the World’s Languages

Elective Table S: LNGS2611 Australia’s Indigenous Languages

Elective Table S: LNGS2627 Analysing (Social) Media Discourse

2000-level unit in  another major/minor from Table A or S

Sem 2

3000-level Selective unit from the Linguistics major table

Elective Table S: LNGS2628 Digital Tools for the Humanities

Elective units/OLE

2000-level unit in  another major/minor from Table A or S

 

Year 3

Sem 1

3000-level Selective unit from the Linguistics major table

3000-level unit in another major from Table A or S

3000-level unit in another major from Table A or S

2000/3000-level unit in  another major/minor from Table A or S

Sem 2

3000-level Selective unit from the Linguistics major table

3000-level Interdisciplinary Project unit

Elective Table S: LNGS2617 Crosscultural Communication

3000-level unit in another major from Table A or S

Learning outcomes
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of how language works and 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 phonetic transcription, bracketing, diagrams, graphs, tables, and matrices.
  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 contexts, including education, translation, international relations, community development, communication, therapy, and language processing.
  7. Effectively apply linguistic approaches in an interdisciplinary context.