whats it like studying english language/linguistics at uni?

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HannahRayner
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I've done A level eng lang. Thinking of continuing this, how much of a jump is it to undergrad level?
Is it a hard degree compared to others, and what is the essay writing like? I found it challenging at a level so wondering if I might struggle a bit
Have you generally got good support for essays? Are they done timed etc

What job are you looking for after this degree? Interesting as there are so many ways to go
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University of Portsmouth Student Rep
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(Original post by HannahRayner)
I've done A level eng lang. Thinking of continuing this, how much of a jump is it to undergrad level?
Is it a hard degree compared to others, and what is the essay writing like? I found it challenging at a level so wondering if I might struggle a bit
Have you generally got good support for essays? Are they done timed etc

What job are you looking for after this degree? Interesting as there are so many ways to go
Hi there,

I know for the University of Portsmouth we offer two English language courses- English Language and Linguistics and English Language and Linguistics with Literature. The majority of the course is a combination of assessed presentations, coursework in the form of essays as well as written exams, more details about how modules are assessed and details about the course can be found here- https://www.port.ac.uk/study/courses...nd-linguistics. I would keep in mind that not every University is the same so I would have a look at the University websites of those that you may be interested in as they will have the breakdown of the course and how it is assessed available. Regarding future careers the prospect website is a good one to look at- https://www.prospects.ac.uk/careers-...degree/english

I hope this helps
Loren Snowden
UoP Student Ambassador
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artful_lounger
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I think Saracen's Fez did linguistics as an undergraduate and might be able to advise?

I did a linguistics module this year though - I didn't do A-level English Language so can't compare to that. My module was basically a survey of the major areas of linguistics (phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics), spending a week or two on each. I found it quite interesting, albeit hard going sometimes! In terms of being essay based vs not, the module I did was a mix of "data based" work where you would look at some data set from some language (usually ones that it was expected the students didn't know, although I was studying one of them at the time - not that it helped!) and then analyse it (e.g. identify morphemes, phones and phonemes etc, and give evidence for how you end up classifying them). Some other similar more "analytical" elements included drawing syntax trees.

Some of it was more essay like work like writing short responses to case studies using linguistic theory to provide evidence for whatever point you were making (I found applying the theory in this way pretty tough!) or using data (e.g. from Ethnologue) to make reasoned arguments for/against some particular point (e.g. reasons why a language might be distributed in a particular way). We also had to write a sort of wordy thing explaining a form of animal communication and discuss how it did or didn't meet certain criteria for being classed as a language. These were for coursework things and not timed.

The exam had a mix of both questions available, although it was a series of "answer a or b" and so it was possible to choose all data based questions to answer (which is what I did!). Overall even for the data based work though you usually had to give at least some brief explanations of your reasoning, and in the essay questions I think generally it was expected you would draw on the linguistic theory and possibly use provided data in examples within that. So it's definitely a bit of a mix of the more "arts"-y essay based approach and the more "science"-y data based/analytical approach. In normal years the exam would be timed and closed book, but under covid it was set as a 48 hour open book exam.

I didn't really get any specific guidance on essay writing in the module I did however the longest piece of continuous prose I had to write outside of the exam was only 750 words (with a very strict word limit which made it quite difficult to try and answer as much as I could while being concise!) so not really an essay as such, more of a "mini essay". As above I didn't answer any of the essay questions in the exam (possibly as a result of not being too sure how to approach them, although I think it was mostly because the questions available were VERY open ended and I didn't want to have something with such a broad scope to try and answer in an exam ) so not too sure what to say about that. The papers we read were pretty dense at times though (also had incredibly run on sentences and paragraphs that would go on for more than a whole A4 page...) and there was a LOT of reading (we had 3 different assigned textbooks and usually had one section/chapter of each every week to go over in our own time, plus there were additional papers put out from time to time on a particular topic).
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Saracen's Fez
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(Original post by artful_lounger)
I think Saracen's Fez did linguistics as an undergraduate and might be able to advise?
Not quite! I did German and French for undergrad (with a decent helping of linguistics within that) and then a linguistics master's.

I'm not very familiar with English Language either as an A-level or degree course so don't really know how linguistics heavy it is. In particular, I'm not sure how much theoretical linguistics they have, ad whether there's lots of syntactic or semantic theory, for example. Having come to both of those from a related but different discipline, I found them both hard to adjust to, though going from a bachelor's to a master's degree is going to be different and more challenging than starting an undergrad.

Alternatively if it's heavy on the more applied bits of linguistics that I love (and did for German and French during my undergrad) then it could be quite different and enjoyable. For example studying the history of English (which has quite a dedicated fandom! :lol: ) or regional and social variation in the language. There's always loads of academic work being done on things like variation and change in English, so that's certainly something that could be a substantial part of the course.
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