3 leading schools of languages and linguistics
Source: SOAS University of London

Languages and linguistics is the study of human expression, from its rich and nuanced history to how it continues to evolve with each new generation. Being passionate about this field means you are fascinated with the formation of words and phrases. You see language as a way of better understanding our past to make for a better future. 

Pursuing a master’s in the field can lead to some in-demand career pathways. For instance, you could become a computational linguist in the tech industry. This role entails working with AI, a booming industry, modelling natural language for machine translation, interfaces and computer-assisted language learning. Or you could work in academia as a professor and researcher, do translations or even be a forensic linguist with government agencies.
Here are the leading schools of Languages and Linguistics to earn your master’s, enrich your world view and elevate your career prospects: 

SOAS University of London is ranked sixth in the UK for employability (QS World University Rankings 2023). Source: SOAS University of London

SOAS University of London

People forget that English is not the only option available when thinking about languages and linguistics. This may be because many universities only offer a few European languages. SOAS University of London’s School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics stands out because of its emphasis on the wider world languages in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

At SOAS, it is not just about simply learning a language — you explore it through a wider, decolonised lens of culture. You will get insights into the literature, visual culture, community engagement and more. You will discuss and research thought-provoking questions. This includes: how the world’s languages vary and what they have in common; why languages change; what factors threaten languages with extinction; and how can we work with communities worldwide to preserve this crucial aspect of our common heritage.

This in-depth exploration of language and linguistics is the reason the school is ranked 10th in the UK for Modern Languages and Linguistics. SOAS is also ranked sixth in the UK for employability (QS World University Rankings 2023). This means that after earning an SOAS master’s degree, you have increased chances of reaching your dream career. Recent graduates have ended up in Amnesty International, BBC World Service, British High Commission, Ernst & Young, TalkAbout Speech Therapy, The Black Curriculum, The Telegraph, Wall Street Journal and UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. No matter which subjects you specialise in, this area has a range of transferable skills that will help you in your future endeavours.

The MA Linguistics SOAS programme is a one-year, modular programme, which means you would fit right in whether you have no linguistics training or would like to expand your sociolinguistics knowledge. You will cover core topics in phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics and cover historical and typological linguistics, sociolinguistics, language planning and language revitalisation. The programme focuses on languages of Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, as well as the communities who speak them.

Another postgraduate programme specialising in these countries and their languages is the MA Translation. In fact, many students choose SOAS to learn East Asian Translation Studies. The MA combines translation theory and practice, emphasising the unique Asian, African, and Middle Eastern perspectives. You will learn the canon of translation studies, as well as contemporary and practical translation and machine translation.

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2021), 96% of the Languages and Cultures department’s research were rated world-leading or internationally excellent. Source: University of Lancaster

University of Lancaster

The University of Lancaster’s Languages and Cultures department is a closely knit community excited to explore the intellectually challenging synthesis of languages and wide-ranging cultural studies. The major subjects for the school’s degree schemes include Chinese, French, German and Spanish. In these schemes, you will achieve a high level of language skills as well as a detailed understanding of the culture behind these languages. Italian is also an option as a minor. 

In the Complete University Guide 2023, the department is ranked first for graduate prospects (French, German, Spanish and Italian). It also excels when it comes to research. An impressive 96% of its research is rated world-leading or internationally excellent (REF2021: English Language and Literature). This is a great highlight for those hoping to pursue a postgraduate degree at the University of Lancaster. 

One of the postgraduate programmes available in this department is the Languages and Cultures MA by Research. Here you can choose from three taught modules under the guidance of your tutor. This MA is perfect for those wanting to pursue doctoral research or gain transferable skills such as research and independent thinking. Another option is the Translation MA which can launch your career in literary translation or in fields like medical and legal translation. 

The latest addition to the school’s postgraduate offerings is the Global Heritage (MA). Source: Cardiff University

Cardiff University 

Cardiff University’s School of Modern Languages is one of the largest and most dynamic modern language schools in the UK. The school has an international reputation for groundbreaking research and effective teaching. Students also enjoy an interdisciplinary environment. “I strongly recommend Cardiff, not only because of the school’s reputation but also the countless chances it provides to participate in cultural exchanges,” says Guojiao Lis, MA Translation Studies student. 

Amongst the school’s postgraduate options, the Translation Studies (MA) is great for those seeking work in public or private sectors and international institutions. Graduates are now working as in-house or freelance translators or in government administrations, university administration and a range of large transnational organisations such as the United Nations World Health Organisation.

The latest addition to the school’s postgraduate offering is the Global Heritage (MA). Here you will explore the power of heritage on a global scale. You will consider debates around sustainability, decolonisation, conflict, and human rights. The programme benefits from the expertise of staff across the arts, humanities and social sciences disciplines, specialised in research and teaching in the field of heritage. Your lecturers are active in the field and will provide you with the latest insights from their ongoing research projects. 

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International