MA Communication and Applied Linguistics - University of Portsmouth

Communication and Applied Linguistics

Distance Learning3yrs

Part Time2yrs

Full Time 1yr

Become a highly competent communicator

Course Overview

Why take this course?

This course is designed to produce highly competent communicators for the modern business and media world. Combining the theory with the practice of communication, it has a distinctive vocational orientation and focuses on English as the medium of communication.

The course can be studied through campus-based learning or through distance learning.

What will I experience?

On this course you can:

  • Study the nature and function of communication in the modern world, so you will be able to produce text (written, spoken, printed and broadcast) for different purposes
  • Better understand and use modern communication technologies

What opportunities might it lead to?

The course is designed for graduates from any discipline who wish to work in business, commerce and the media as highly competent communicators. The course combines the theory of communication with the practice of communication, has a distinctive vocational orientation and focuses on English as the medium of communication.


Filippos Papastavrou, MA Communication and Applied Linguistics

The best thing about the course is that the lecturers are really enthusiastic about what they teach.

Filippos Papastavrou, MA Communication and Applied Linguistics

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Structure & Teaching

MA Communication and Applied Linguistics balances theory and practice and features units that have a high degree of professional relevance and training.

Core units currently include:

  • Theory and Practice of Communication: This unit deals examines communication theory and practice in a range of contexts. Students will use various analytical tools to examine different areas of communication (e.g. corporate communication, mass communication and semiotics. Through engaging with this unit, students can gain a practical understanding of communication which they can apply to their professional lives.
  • Analysing Discourse: This unit introduces various analytical tools (e.g. appraisal, speech acts, modality, metaphors, transitivity, cohesion, theme-rheme) which are valuable in the analysis of authentic discourses and texts (e.g. courtroom discourse, social media, educational science texts, newspaper texts, political speeches, advertisements, etc.). The importance of context in any analysis is emphasised.
  • Dissertation: Students undertake a piece of significant research, reported and analysed in an appropriate manner in an area of professional relevance. A research proposal will be produced in the first instance and supervision from a tutor will be available throughout the process.

Options to choose from in this year currently include:

  • Technical Communication: This unit is designed to develop students’ ability to communicate technical information effectively to specific audiences. It will examine a range of factors that can influence the effectiveness of communication and provide strategies to overcome communication problems.
  • Intercultural Communication: This unit deals with intercultural communication issues in a global setting. Students can benefit from an awareness of the various factors including cultural factors, which influence communication in order to improve their own knowledge and practice of communication.
  • World Englishes: The English language has always been characterised by dynamic change and hybridity, and this is particularly evident in the current era of globalisation. In this unit students will study, discuss and reflect upon the geo-historical, political, ideological and pedagogical aspects of the relocation of English out of Britain, the many varieties that have emerged as a result, as well as the role(s) of English as a global lingua franca.
  • Using Technology & Corpora in Language Teaching & Research: The aim of this unit is for students to see how they can make use of technology both as language teachers and language researchers. In particular the unit will focus on the technological affordances of the internet and corpus linguistics. Students will develop a set of transferable skills relating to the technologies used and they will develop their analytical and critical skills through the discussion and appraisal of how these technologies are applied.
  • Second Language Acquisition: This unit reviews relevant research on the topic of SLA and builds on students’ previous experience of language learning, applying this to areas such as individual differences and types of learning, as well as to more formal approaches to SLA.
  • Professional Portfolio: This unit offers students the opportunity to profile their degree to their own professional and/or personal interests, allowing students the chance to study areas not covered elsewhere in the curriculum. Students negotiate an area for study and then pursue this with the support of a supervisor.

We use the best and most current research and professional practice, alongside feedback from our students, to make sure course content is relevant to your future career or further studies.

Therefore, some course content may change over time to reflect changes in the discipline or industry and some optional units may not run every year. If a unit doesn’t run, we’ll let you know as soon as possible and help you choose an alternative unit.

Exit levels

The credit system creates a flexible framework in which you can graduate with one of the following awards, depending on the number of credits gained:

  • MA Communication and Applied Linguistics (four core units plus the research management and dissertation units) 180 credits
  • Postgraduate Diploma in Communication and Applied Linguistics: 120 credits
  • Postgraduate Certificate in Communication and Applied Linguistics: 60 credits

Teaching and Assessment

Full time study is one full academic year, consisting of a taught part from October to June and a research part, in which the dissertation is written, from June to September. Part time students study for a period of two years. The dissertation is written in the summer period of the second year of study.

How are you assessed?

There are no formal examinations. A variety of different assessment methods are used which include essays, projects, portfolios, presentations and your dissertation. The research management unit will prepare you for your dissertation and you will be allocated a dissertation supervisor who will oversee your work throughout the process. You will also be encouraged to start thinking about it from the start of the course and submit a series of interim documents.

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Facilities & Features


On your Master's, you will be studying with members of CEISR, one of the UK's largest research centres of its kind. These active researchers in the field of linguistics and the teaching of English as a foreign language will ensure that your study is connected to the latest developments in the area.

Language Laboratories

We have four state-of-the-art Language Laboratories, where you can manipulate video, sound, text and Internet sources in a rich, multimedia language-learning environment. Our staff are at the forefront in exploiting the potential afforded by this technology to create their own packages of materials.

Distance Learning

Our distinctive approach to supported distance learning, robust procedures for the accreditation of prior learning and modular award framework not only help facilitate access to higher education but also offer flexible and transferable platforms for life-long learning.

University Library

Modern, comfortable and a great learning environment, our library offers a wealth of information including 400,000 books, DVDs, maps and thousands of online e-journals and newspapers. Many electronic resources are available anywhere, 24/7 and our friendly staff are always on hand to help.

Budgeting for your studies

There may be extra costs arising from your studies which you will need to consider when planning your expenditure.

Some are common costs to all courses of study. These may include the cost of study texts, reference books, photocopying and computer supplies. Others relate to specific courses and may include field trips, materials and specialist equipment.

Other costs to consider

There may be travel costs for internships/placements. These will vary depending on the nature of internship/placement and can range from £50 - £1000.

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Careers & Opportunities

Career prospects

Graduates will be able to progress to jobs in the public and private sectors in various areas of communication including, advertising, publishing, human resources departments, in higher education in their own country or elsewhere, or continue on to undertake doctoral research. Possession of a Masters qualification is often viewed as a requirement for promotion to a more responsible position where you may already be working.

Career planning

One of the benefits of studying at Portsmouth is the support that we provide to our Master's and Research Degree students in career planning. Our careers and recruitment service can assist you in career research and finding employment opportunities. Help is also available if you wish to find a part-time job while studying your degree.

We offer our postgraduate students and alumni one-to-one appointments with a careers adviser, or an online service for those not able to travel back to the University. Our alumni can call on our career services for five years after graduation.

In addition, regular employability events offer you the chance to meet employers, find out about different career sectors and improve your applications or CV. The Graduate Summer Programme provides a range of guidance and employability seminars and workshops.

Benefits of Postgraduate Study

Regardless of whether you are seeking to build on your studies, further your career or pursue a career change, a postgraduate qualification adds to your achievement record.

  • Postgraduate study may greatly improve your chances of getting that first break.
  • Many graduate employers prefer the higher intellectual rigour displayed in postgraduate students.
  • Recruiters for roles requiring specialist knowledge or research particularly target those with higher level qualifications.
  • Postgraduate study shows you can take the challenge of in-depth study; acquiring transferable skills in team working and problem solving techniques.
  • If you have a passion for a particular subject, postgraduate study can also be something undertaken as part of your own development at an appropriate time in your life.
Xiaolin Li, MA Communication and Applied Linguistics

There is a lot of one-to-one contact time with tutors to get feedback and support. This course has enhanced my academic ability with manageable assignments.

Xiaolin Li, MA Communication and Applied Linguistics

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Apply now or visit us

Online application form

Apply direct using our online form

Your application will be received by the University Admissions Centre for consideration.

Postgraduate Open Evenings

Our Postgraduate Open Evenings are taking place between February and April. Lecturers and support staff will be available to discuss your options. You'll also find out more about your chosen course and subjects that interest you.

Booking will open soon but in the meantime, watch our Postgrad Live series to hear from our staff and students about what it's like studying at Portsmouth. 

Other opportunities to visit

Download our free walking tour PDF for a self-guided tour of the University.

We have an open-door policy so you will be able to take a look in our buildings, speak to some of our support services and get a feel for the campus.

Find out more about our self-guided walking tours.

Can't get to Portsmouth?

If you can’t make it to Portsmouth, come and see us at one of the events we attend around the UK.

If you would like to speak with a member of staff about any courses you are interested in, please email and we will arrange this for you.

Staff from the University of Portsmouth Global office also regularly attend overseas exhibitions. To find out more about these and our visits to your region see our exhibitions page.

Fees and Funding

Find out more about fees and funding available to you at Portsmouth.

Admissions terms and conditions

When you accept an offer to study at the University of Portsmouth, you also agree to our terms and conditions as well as the University’s policies, rules and regulations. You should read and consider these before you apply.

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