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Study Linguistics at Otago

Think language, think Linguistics

Linguistics is the scientific and systematic study of language.

Language is probably unique to human experience, and so it has interested people throughout history. You’ve probably thought about it, too.

Have you ever wondered why languages are similar and different, how they develop, why people misunderstand each other or what is the best way to learn another language?

Linguistics is about finding answers to those questions. All you need to study linguistics is your curiosity!

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Why study Linguistics?

Language involves everything we do every day, so studying what language is and how language works provides insights into everyday life. It is a useful and rewarding subject for anyone who is interested in languages of any kind, including computer and “invented” languages, as well as anyone interested in teaching and learning second/foreign languages.

Linguistics complements other disciplines in the arts, such as English, communication studies, sociology, anthropology, education, languages and law, and other disciplines in the sciences, such as psychology, neuroscience, computer and information science, and maths.

You will be taught how to identify and provide analyses of linguistic phenomena and how to construct and justify arguments for particular analyses.

Although many students of Linguistics study another language, Linguistics at Otago does not assume any prior knowledge of linguistics or of any languages other than English.

Linguistics is the discipline that directly addresses what language is, why languages are similar and different, how languages develop, how languages work and how languages are taught and learned.

Career opportunities

Linguistics is useful in any area in which language and communication are important – and that's everything!

It is particularly useful for language teaching, interpreting/translation, editing and writing, computer programming and speech therapy.

Past linguistics graduates are now government ministry officials, lawyers, editors, copywriters, technical writers, journalists, film directors and producers, translators, interpreters, speech therapists, and lecturers, teachers, and curriculum and materials developers.

The TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) minor specifically equips you to teach English abroad and at home in language schools and other non-state institutions.

Linguistics at Otago

The Linguistics staff members at Otago teach and research a variety of areas you can learn, including:

  • phonetics and phonology (the study of speech sounds and systems)
  • morphology and syntax (the study of word and sentence structures)
  • semantics and pragmatics (the study of meaning and use)
  • linguistic typology (the study of language comparison and classification)
  • discourse and narrative analysis
  • teaching English (TESOL) or other second languages
  • child first and adult second language development
  • family language policy and heritage language learning
  • pragmatics in second language teaching and learning
  • field linguistics (the study of little-known languages through primary data collection)
  • psycholinguistics (the study of language processing in the brain).

Learning Linguistics

Linguistics is a small, friendly programme. We get to know our students and our students get to know each other.

Many papers have activities that enable students to collaboratively explore their ideas and communicate their learning, and students have consistently ranked Linguistics very highly for teamwork.

Students develop critical thinking and communication skills by working with linguistic data and concepts to identify underlying language patterns, evaluate and justify linguistic arguments and analyse conversational choices.

Individual and collaborative assessments involve planning, researching and presenting skills that are necessary in most workplaces.

TESOL classes address instructed language learning and develop language teaching practices.

Degree options

At the undergraduate level, this work can lead to a BA (Bachelor of Arts) in Linguistics, English and Linguistics, or Language and Linguistics, or a BASc (Bachelor of Arts and Science) or BACom (Bachelor of Arts and Commerce). It also offers a minor in Linguistics and a minor in teaching English as a second language.

The Linguistics Programme offers a full undergraduate programme, honours, MA and PhD, and also and a Graduate Diploma in Second Language Teaching, with a view to meeting the demand for teachers of English in New Zealand and overseas.


Linguistics as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BCom, BEntr, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Entrepreneurship (BEntr), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree


LING 111 Language and Its Structure

One of GLBL 101 Introduction to Intercultural Communication  or  any 100-level paper in Chinese, English (excluding ENGL 126), French, German, Greek , Hebrew, Japanese, Latin, Linguistics, Māori Language (MAOR 110, MAOR 111, MAOR 112), or Spanish




LING 217 What's Behind Language: Sound and Structure

One further 200-level LING paper (excluding LING 231  TESOL: Guide to Language Teaching)




Any 300-level LING paper

Total   90

LING papers

Paper Code Year Title Points Teaching period
LING103 2024 Language Myths 18 Not offered in 2024
LING111 2024 A World of Languages 18 Semester 1
LING140 2024 Language, Brain, and Being Human 18 Semester 2
LING217 2024 What's Behind Language: Sound and Structure 18 Semester 1
LING230 2024 Interaction and Identity in Context 18 Semester 2
LING231 2024 TESOL: Guide to Language Teaching 18 Semester 1
LING314 2024 Morphosyntax: Diversity and Unity 18 Not offered in 2024
LING317 2024 Child and Adult Language Development 18 Semester 1
LING330 2024 Interaction and Identity in Context 18 Semester 2
LING331 2024 Advanced TESOL: Branching Out 18 Semester 2
LING332 2024 TESOL in Action: Teaching Practice 18 Semester 2
LING342 2024 Laboratory Phonology 18 Semester 1
LING390 2024 Research Essay 18 Semester 2
LING415 2024 Psycholinguistics 20 Semester 2
LING421 2024 Special Topic: Computer Assisted Language Learning 20 Not offered in 2024
LING422 2024 Special Topic 3 20 Not offered in 2024
LING424 2024 Linguistic Fieldwork 20 Not offered in 2024
LING432 2024 TESOL in Action: Teaching Practice 20 Not offered in 2024
LING433 2024 Sociocultural Language Topics 20 Not offered in 2024
LING440 2024 Advanced Topic in Linguistics 20 Semester 2
LING490 2024 Dissertation 60 Full Year
LING495 2024 Thesis Preparation 40 Not offered in 2024
LING590 2024 Research Dissertation 60 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period

More information

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School of Arts
English and Linguistics Programme

Studying at Otago

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Regulations on this page are taken from the 2024 Calendar and supplementary material.

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