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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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What is linguistics?

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.

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.

Careers for Linguistics graduates

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.

Qualifications

Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.

Programme requirements

Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Linguistics

Level Papers Points
100-level

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), Sanskrit or Spanish

18

18

200-level

LING 217  What's Behind Language: Sound and Structure

At least two further 200-level LING papers, one of which may be substituted with DHUM 201 Digital Humanities: Method and Critique

18

36

300-level Four 300-level LING papers 72
Plus

198 further points; must include 54 points at 200-level or above.

Up to 90 points may be taken from outside Arts

198
Total   360

Note: Students majoring in Linguistics are not able to take the TESOL minor subject.

Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)) in Linguistics

Papers

Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Linguistics

The Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) programme in Linguistics is the same as the programme for the degree of Bachelor of Arts with Honours (BA(Hons)).

Master of Arts (Coursework) (MA(Coursework)) in Linguistics

Papers

Master of Arts (Thesis) (MA(Thesis)) in Linguistics

Thesis
  • Thesis: LING 5

Note: Students who have not completed a Bachelor of Arts (BA(Hons)) in Linguistics or a Postgraduate Diploma in Arts Subjects (PGDipArts) in Linguistics must complete the required papers for the BA(Hons) in Linguistics prior to undertaking the thesis.

Minor subject requirements

Linguistics as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, 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 Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), 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

Level Papers Points
100-level

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), Sanskrit or Spanish

18

18

200-level

LING 217  What's Behind Language: Sound and Structure

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

18

18

300-level

Any 300-level LING paper

18
Total   90

Papers

Due to COVID-19 restrictions, a selection of on-campus papers will be made available via distance and online learning for eligible students.
Find out which papers are available and how to apply on our COVID-19 website

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
LING103 2023 Language Myths 18 points Not offered in 2023
LING111 2023 A World of Languages 18 points Semester 1
LING140 2023 Language, Brain, and Being Human 18 points Semester 2
LING217 2023 What's Behind Language: Sound and Structure 18 points Semester 1
LING230 2023 Interaction and Identity in Context 18 points Semester 2
LING231 2023 TESOL: Guide to Language Teaching 18 points Semester 1
LING314 2023 Morphosyntax: Diversity and Unity 18 points Semester 2
LING317 2023 Child and Adult Language Development 18 points Semester 1
LING330 2023 Interaction and Identity in Context 18 points Semester 2
LING331 2023 Advanced TESOL: Branching Out 18 points Semester 2
LING332 2023 TESOL in Action: Teaching Practice 18 points Semester 2
LING342 2023 Laboratory Phonology 18 points Semester 1
LING390 2023 Research Essay 18 points Semester 1, Semester 2
LING415 2023 Psycholinguistics 20 points Semester 1
LING421 2023 Special Topic: Computer Assisted Language Learning 20 points Not offered in 2023
LING422 2023 Special Topic 3 20 points Not offered in 2023
LING424 2023 Linguistic Fieldwork 20 points Semester 2
LING432 2023 TESOL in Action: Teaching Practice 20 points Semester 2
LING433 2023 Sociocultural Language Topics 20 points Semester 1
LING440 2023 Advanced Topic in Linguistics 20 points Semester 1, Semester 2
LING490 2023 Dissertation 60 points Full Year
LING495 2023 Thesis Preparation 40 points Full Year
LING590 2023 Research Dissertation 60 points 1st Non standard period, 2nd Non standard period

Key information for future students

Contact us

School of Arts
English and Linguistics Programme
Email english@otago.ac.nz
Web otago.ac.nz/linguistics