Language is central to our human nature, and linguistics is the systematic study of human language. Linguists not only describe the diverse characteristics of individual languages but also seek to discover the deeper properties which all languages share. Part of the appeal of linguistics is that it draws on methods and knowledge from an unusually wide range of scholarship and transcends the usual subject boundaries.
Linguistics is divided into a one-year Part I and a two-year Part II, subdivided into Parts IIA and IIB. Part I, where you follow four lecture series, provides a foundation across a wide range of linguistics taught within the Department of Linguistics. Part II allows you to specialise in the areas which particularly interest you (see the Course Outline), and in both IIA and IIB there is a wide choice of lectures taught within and beyond the Department, the latter including the linguistics of particular languages. Part IIB includes an element of individual research as you write a dissertation on a topic of your choice.
Linguistics graduates, like other humanities graduates, find employment in a wide range of professions. The fact that linguistics provides a broad interdisciplinary training, developing the ability to analyse quantitative data, construct abstract (grammatical) models, and test alternative hypotheses, means that linguistics graduates emerge with the kind of transferable intellectual skills that are highly sought after by employers.
As we do not have a specialist in Linguistics within our own College, to ensure that our students have expert guidance through the course, we have an external Director of Studies, Dr B Vaux who is a member of the Department of Linguistics. As a student at Robinson studying Linguistics, you’ll find you have many interests in common with students of subjects such as English, Modern Languages and Classics; so even if we may only admit a small number of students in Linguistics, you’ll have good company here. We are close to the Department, which is five minutes away, on the Sidgwick Site, where many of the Humanities Faculties are located.
Essential: No specific subjects.
Useful: A foreign language A Level / IB Higher Level; English Language.
The main requirement for studying linguistics is a lively curiosity about the nature of language. Basically, if you’ve found yourself asking ‘why?’ or ‘how?’ in relation to language, linguistics is for you. Because linguistics is interdisciplinary we don’t require specific A-level subjects, and welcome applicants with an outstanding academic profile whether science-oriented or arts-centred. Some formal study of language, either through learning languages or through English Language A-level, does however serve as a good preparation.
All applicant for Linguistics are required to take a written assessment, if interviewed. The assessment will consist of Structured analysis of language data (20 minutes), Analysis of quantitative data (20 minutes) and a short essay (20 minutes). For further information on the assessment format, please view the entry requirements tab on: http://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/courses/linguistics.
The 2022 Linguistics assessment will take place on Friday 25 November. Further information will be provided if you are invited to interview. You do not need to register for this assessment.
Interviews are an important part of the selection process: There will be a short General Interview where you may be asked about anything you have included on your application form followed by a 30 minute Subject interview.
Director of Studies - Dr Theresa Biberauer
Further information (Department website)
Linguistics (information from Cambridge Admissions website)
Last updated September 2022