Linguistics is the study of human language, how it functions in the brain and how it is used in society. Studying linguistics allows you to develop your understanding of language, and therefore learn more about people, both as individuals and societies. This level of in-depth knowledge about the human condition is increasingly vital in a world facing a broad array of societal and environmental challenges.

At the University of Bristol, we have a strong research focus on sociolinguistics, which is the study of language in society. We are deeply interested in how the study of language sheds light on social issues, both present and past, and we use a broad range of methods and approaches, including qualitative and quantitative analyses of recordings, surveys, corpora, and historical documents. We examine language variation and change, using both present-day and historical data. We also adopt critical approaches that study the attitudes, belief systems and policies that influence the way people use language on a daily basis. As a PhD student, you will be able to apply all these approaches to your own data and develop your knowledge collaboratively with us as a team.

In our team, we have published extensively on many different language situations around the world, and our skills and expertise cover several languages: Catalan, English, Esperanto, French, German, Irish, Occitan, Portuguese, Scots, Spanish and Welsh. We also welcome working with students on other languages.

Based in the School of Modern Languages, the staff in the Linguistics team collaborate nationally and internationally. We are connected with many professional bodies and networks, including the Association for French Language Studies, the International Association for the Study of Spanish in Society, the Forum for Germanic Language Studies, and the Historical Sociolinguistics Network. We work with colleagues from across the university (for example, in Anthropology and in English) and we contribute to the research centres in the Faculty of Arts. These connections, our research events, and the support of our team offer an excellent research environment.

Programme structure

MPhil: a standalone, one-year (full-time) research degree. Students will undertake their own research project, concluding in a 25,000-word dissertation. Students may have the option to audit units from our taught master's programmes if relevant.

PhD: a research project undertaken across four years (full-time, minimum period of study three years), culminating in an 80,000 word thesis. As well as having the option to audit taught units, there may be the potential for PhD students to teach units themselves from their second year of study.

The MPhil and PhD can be studied part-time and via distance learning.

Entry requirements

MPhil: An upper second-class degree or international equivalent. Please note, acceptance will also depend on evidence of your readiness to pursue a research degree.

PhD: A master's qualification, or be working towards a master's qualification, or international equivalent. Applicants without a master's qualification may be considered on an exceptional basis, provided they hold a first-class undergraduate degree (or international equivalent). Applicants with a non-traditional background be considered provided they can demonstrate substantial equivalent and relevant experience that has prepared them to undertake their proposed course of study.

See international equivalent qualifications on the International Office website.

Read the programme admissions statement for important information on entry requirements, the application process and supporting documents required.

Go to admissions statement

If English is not your first language, you will need to reach the requirements outlined in our profile level C.

Further information about English language requirements and profile levels.

Fees and funding

UK: full-time
£4,758 per year
UK: part-time
£2,379 per year
Overseas: full-time
£20,700 per year

Fees are subject to an annual review. For programmes that last longer than one year, please budget for up to an 8% increase in fees each year.

More about tuition fees, living costs and financial support.

Alumni discount

University of Bristol students and graduates can benefit from a 25% reduction in tuition fees for postgraduate study. Check your eligibility for an alumni discount.

Funding for 2024/25

The University of Bristol is part of the South, West and Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (SWW DTP), which will be offering studentships for September 2024. For information on other funding opportunities, including University-funded studentships, please see the Faculty of Arts funding pages.

Further information on funding for prospective UK and international postgraduate students.

Career prospects

People with a PhD in Linguistics go on to work in a range of fields, in both the public and private sectors. Linguistics graduates often apply their skills to careers in the media and civil service, as well as policy-making organisations and NGOs.

Meet our supervisors

The following list shows potential supervisors for this programme. Visit their profiles for details of their research and expertise.


Contact us

Faculty of Arts Postgraduate Admissions
+44 (0) 117 428 2296