About the course
What is it for sounds, gestures and marks on paper to have meaning? What are the various uses to which we can put language, and how does it manage to have the effects it has? How do we learn language? And how does the language we use reflect society, the nature of our thoughts, and what we take reality to be like?
Our BA Philosophy and English Language degree allows you to examine the nature of language, through two distinct approaches. You’ll develop a range of skills in analysing the structure of the English language and how it is used in a variety of situations, while exploring and challenging the assumptions about the nature of language, its limits and how it functions.
In your first year, alongside core linguistics modules, you’ll learn to think critically by examining how language may be used – and misused – in reasoning and persuasion. You’ll also study social and political philosophy, covering topics such as freedom of speech, and examine the nature of mind and reality.
All our philosophy lecturers are active researchers, so you’ll share the excitement of doing original work in a supportive and highly-rated academic community. Our Philosophy team is in the top 15 in the Guardian League Table 2019 and rates as one of the 100 best Philosophy departments worldwide in the 2017 QS rankings.
Our English language lecturers are research-active academics working in cutting-edge areas such as language and gender, formulaic language, corpus studies, bilingualism, bilingual processing and codeswitching.
Core modules in your second year focus on English grammar and the sounds of English. You can explore theories of how and why language developed and study language-related real-life problems such as plagiarism and crime investigation in forensic linguistics. In Philosophy, you may explore a wide variety of topics, including the option to learn some languages of logic.
One final-year option is corpus studies in English language, which will develop your research skills through your use of Sketch Engine, a text analysis tool that allows you to search vast samples of language, or corpora. In Philosophy, there is the option to study more advanced contemporary themes and theories in the philosophy of language, and also to take a module which focuses in particular on Ludwig Wittgenstein’s influential work on the nature of language.
Why choose this course?
We give you:
- A flexible programme of study, allowing you to concentrate on areas you find especially interesting
- An exceptional academic team, conducting internationally renowned research
- Stimulating, innovative courses that allow you to make rewarding connections between two disciplines
- CV-building potential through extra-curricular activities
What will I study?
Philosophy students benefit from being part of a lively and active academic community. You’ll learn through formal courses and extracurricular seminars, while our small group teaching helps you to find your feet in the academic environment. There are plenty of opportunities to discuss critical issues with staff and fellow students, including an optional residential weekend each year.
English Language students benefit from being part of a supportive, research-active academic community. From tutorials and group work to psycholinguistic experiments including eyetracking, we use a range of engaging, student-centred teaching methods to help you work confidently and creatively. You’ll dive into real-life data, get involved in research and learn from guest experts. You’ll have the opportunity to get involved in activities that will complement your studies, such as working for student media channels. Not only do these enhance your experience, they also make for a more impressive CV.
What job can I get?
Over the years many English Language graduates have gone into teaching or speech and language therapy, as well as translation, publishing, journalism, marketing, law and business. A specialism in forensic linguistics can lead to work solving real life problems, from helping solve murders with the police to legal work addressing plagiarism, cybercrime, authorship attribution, contracts and wills.
Studying philosophy teaches you to ask penetrating questions and identify flawed arguments – skills integral to many careers, such as law. You’ll develop many other transferable skills sought by employers, such as creative and critical thinking, problem solving, and the ability to communicate ideas in a structured, productive way.
For those interested in teaching, all Humanities graduates are guaranteed an interview with our School of Education. Many graduates go on to higher levels of study, engaging in research in their chosen fields.