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Combined route

University of Cambridge

The combined route is for students whose undergraduate degree includes a significant element of linguistics, and who wish to pursue the field further. The course is structured progressively so as to form a bridge between undergraduate study and possible further research. Its balance changes through the year. It allows great flexibility in combining areas and approaches. It provides for tailored combinations of work in any of the areas of theoretical, applied, and descriptive linguistics, ranging for instance from formal semantics to experimental phonetics and phonology, from language acquisition to computational linguistics, and from Welsh syntax to the history of linguistics in France. A piece of work may have as its focus the development of an argument in linguistic theory, the description of some aspect of a language or its use, the psycholinguistic testing of alternative linguistic analyses, the application of linguistic theory to the history of a language or languages, the acoustic description of sound systems, and so on. The various pieces of work may relate to any language or combination of languages subject to adequate advice and facilities being available for the topic in question. Some students may wish to specialise and opt for a 'Pathway' relating to a particular language or language family.

Applicants may find it useful to look at the staff research interests, and at those of others in the Faculty with interests in linguistics, to find out more about potential supervisors in their fields of interest.

Michaelmas Term

In the first two months (Michaelmas Term - October to December) there is instruction through lectures. All students are required to follow a course in 'Research Methods' and a statistics course to acquire skills needed for research and 'transferable' skills. Beyond that, each student will follow his or her own 'Study Plan', which allows the individual interests, needs, and strengths of the student to be met. At the start of the course the student, with advice if needed from the Director of the MPhil and subject specialists, draws up a Study Plan for the Michaelmas and Lent Terms (October to March) which is approved by the Section.

This will include the selection of a minimum of four introductory taught courses to be followed in Michaelmas.

Assessment essays written in Michaelmas and over the Christmas vacation will be based on the Michaelmas taught courses.

Lent Term

In the Lent Term students participate in a minimum of two research seminars. Usually the Lent Term seminars chosen build on courses which have been followed in Michaelmas. 

Lent Term seminars

One of the Lent research seminars will normally relate to the thesis, and the other is assessed by an oral presentation (which provides an opportunity to develop communication skills). By default, the Course Director will initially act as supervisor, but once a thesis topic has been chosen in the Lent Term, a subject specialist will be appointed. A proposed title and summary for the 20,000 word thesis, formulated in discussion with the supervisor, must be submitted in mid-February, and this will be subject to approval by the Linguistics Section, the supervisor, and the Faculty's Degree Committee. 

Easter Term

Because seminars finish at the end of Lent term, students can then devote themselves full time to research for the thesis during the Easter vacation and the Easter Term (April to June). The thesis demands independent study under the guidance of the supervisor and will involve a substantial piece of original research. The thesis is submitted on the seventh Thursday of Easter Full Term, and about two to three weeks later there may be an oral examination on the thesis at the discretion of the examiners.



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A new research project funded by a Cambridge Humanities Research Grant is launched in Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. Rethinking Being Gricean: New Challenges for Metapragmatics is led by Professor Kasia Jaszczolt with Dr Roberto Sileo as Research Associate. The project runs until 31 July 2018. You can read more about...