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Linguistics and Mathematics (BA)

UCAS codeTypical offerLength
QG11AAB including A in Mathematics (See full entry requirements)3 years full-time
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Linguistics and mathematics can be studied together quite naturally. They both aim to investigate and appreciate patterns and structure, approaching the study in a rigorous and systematic manner.

This programme is unique in the UK, and York offers:

  • A focus on research-led teaching, by a large and varied staff group
  • Unmatched breadth and depth of choice in our final-year modules
  • Emphasis on small-group teaching

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Why study Linguistics and Maths?

Linguistics is the science of language. Linguists seek to understand the properties of natural human language - how languages are structured, how and why they vary and change, how they are acquired, and how they are used by people to communicate.

Mathematics, on the other hand, is the language of science. It's used to understand areas as diverse as the structure of viruses and the motion of planets. Mathematics abstracts the fundamental issue at the heart of an example, frequently finding connections with other, initially dissimilar, problems.


Why study at York?

Our BA Linguistics and  Mathematics programme aims to foster and develop students' mathematical  and linguistic accomplishments, principally in their:

  • awareness of the scope, achievements and possibilities of mathematics and linguistics;
  • understanding of the logical processes necessary to establish the truth of propositions, and ability to think logically and analytically;
  • competence and confidence in the use of appropriate mathematical tools, techniques and methodologies for solving a wide range of problems;
  • preparedness for a career requiring a high level of numeracy, or further mathematics-related study (including, but not limited to, postgraduate courses in mathematics education);
  • readiness to take their place in an educated public, contribute a specific outlook and way of thinking to society at large, and continue to pursue mathematical interests for pleasure and intellectual reward.

At York we place particular emphasis on small group teaching and a friendly atmosphere. Our comprehensive tutorial system gives extensive support to first year students.

About 40 mathematicians and 25 linguists are engaged in teaching, and are also active in developing the subject through leading international and interdisciplinary research.   Thus we are able to offer a wide range of final year options and projects, which encourage individual creativity and are taught and supervised by enthusiastic lecturers involved in the latest developments of their subject.

Transferable skills are developed during the entire degree programme, supported by supervisory meetings.

Course content

First Year

In the Mathematics Department, you take two 30 credit modules that run during the entire teaching year:

Altogether you obtain 60 credits in Mathematics.

In the Department of Language and Linguistic Science, you take

  • Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology LAN00009C (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Syntax LAN00011C (20 credits)
  • Introduction to Semantics LAN00012C (20 credits)

Altogether you obtain 60 credits in Linguistics. Details of these modules can be found on the Department of Language and Linguistic Science website.

Second Year

In the Spring/Summer Terms you take Linear Algebra MAT00008I (20 credits).

In addition you choose 40 credits of optional modules from the Mathematics 2nd year module tables, which can include Real Analysis MAT00005C (20 credits).

Altogether you obtain 60 credits in Mathematics.

In the Department of Language and Linguistic Science, you take two compulsory modules:

  • Introduction to Language Acquisition LAN00008I (20 credits)
  • ntermediate Phonetics and Phonology LAN00009I (20 credits) and/or Intermediate Syntax LAN00016I (20 credits)

If you don't take both Intermediate Phonetics and Phonology, and Intermediate Syntax, you may choose an optional module within Linguistics.  For details of available options, see the Department of Language and Linguistic Science module listings. Altogether you obtain 60 credits in Linguistics.

You may replace one of your optional 20 credit Mathematics or Linguistics modules in the Spring/Summer term with elective modules from other Departments

Third year

In your third year you can choose from most optional modules offered in the Mathematics Department and Department of Language and Linguistics Science, which can include the Maths Final Year Project (BA/BSc final-year project MAT00004H (40 credits)).  This means that you can tailor your final year to suit your interests and preferences.

Academic integrity module

In addition to the above you will also need to complete our online Academic Integrity module. This covers some of the essential skills and knowledge which will help you to study independently and produce work of a high academic standard which is vital for success at York.

This module will:

  • define academic integrity and academic misconduct;
  • explain why and when you should reference source material and other people's work;
  • provide interactive exercises to help you to assess whether you've understood the concepts;
  • provide answers to FAQs and links to useful resources.


Teaching in Linguistics

Our focus at York is on individual learning: we believe that effective learning happens best through a combination of presentation of the core content in the classroom followed by individual or small-group reflection and consolidation. Modes of teaching and dissemination vary over the degree, to meet the demands of each stage. Together, the different teaching formats equip you to be an effective independent learner.

  • First year: Linguistics is a new subject for everyone, so the first year focuses on learning the tools of linguistic study. We facilitate this through large lectures (some with over 100 students), accompanied by set work to put your new skills into practice. Regular back-up sessions in smaller groups (20–30 students) provide opportunities to discuss progress, resolve problems, and expand upon the set exercises.
  • Second year: Modules typically have more interactive classroom activities, such as group presentations or practical sessions, in addition to lectures. Weekly seminars for each module provide a forum for discussion of core knowledge and its application beyond the specific classroom topic. Advance preparation for seminar discussion is essential, and may include library-based research.
  • Final year: Most teaching takes place in smaller groups of 10–40 students. The key content of some modules revolves around substantial reading lists of primary research papers that will challenge and stimulate. Other modules are lab-based, involving phonetic or grammatical analysis of corpora. You'll still go to lectures, but students may take a primary role in presenting the content, through reports on a topic researched in advance.  Students may opt to write a dissertation, and will receive individual supervision on their dissertation project.

All of our modules have associated Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) sites where all crucial materials—reading lists, handouts, discussion boards—are always accessible via the internet. Most first-year modules provide additional self-study practice exercises on the VLE.

Some modules have lab-based seminars for developing skills in various kinds of linguistic analysis software, or for accessing electronic corprora of linguistic data. We have our own departmental e-Lab for the teaching and study time of our students.

Teaching in Maths

For most modules, lectures are the main mode of teaching.  In the first year there may be around 200 students in a lecture.  The crucial factor in any university programme is the small group teaching in support of these.

In your first year, your meet your supervisor once a week for a small group tutorial, where there are between 8 and 10 students.  In these sessions you discuss the core modules – usually this means reviewing any lecture material that is puzzling, discussing solutions to assignments, and developing your skills in understanding, creating and presenting mathematical arguments.  In addition, the tutorials are used to teach transferable skills, increasing your employability on graduation.

Non-core modules are supported by additional weekly small classes known as seminars, which typically have around 20 students.

Seminars continue through the second year, while in third year the lecture programmes are mostly in smaller groups and each has a weekly seminar or problem class.

Some modules have practical computer classes.

All modules have extensive material provided on Moodle, our VLE.  This may include lecture notes, solutions to assignments, past exam papers, and links to further reading.  In addition, each module has its own discussion forum, allowing students to ask questions about the module content. 

Around 20% of your time will be spent in scheduled teaching.  University maths is full of new concepts and requires more time spent assimilating these - more 'thinking time' - than school maths.  Therefore an important part of studying mathematics is independent study and practising problem sheets.  Of course, if you have any difficulties, lecturers are always available for informal consultation, and we maintain an atmosphere of approachability amongst our staff.


Assessment in Linguistics

The main assessment types on the Linguistics degree are exams and coursework. Within these two broad types you will encounter many variations customised to the content of each module. Types of coursework range from short sets of exercises, to 5,000-word essays, to group projects in which you work in a team to research and present a topic. Some of our advanced phonetics or phonology modules require spoken (oral) or listening (aural) skills, and may include oral and aural assessments. In most modules, the final mark is made up of the marks from more than one type of assessment.

What about practice or 'mock' assessments?

At York, assessments that count towards your final mark are called 'summative' assessments, but all modules also include 'formative' work — work that will help you to practice or develop skills for the summative assessment. Some modules (particularly in the first year) include a formative exam midway through the year. Other modules include formative exercises, a formative essay, or some opportunity to get feedback on the development and progress of a piece of summative work.

Assessment in Maths

The majority of the first two years are assessed by examinations, complemented by weekly or fortnightly homework so that you and the lecturers can assess your progress as you proceed through each module.  This allows you to practise the maths and gain valuable feedback before the formal assessment takes place.  In the 3rd year you can undertake an individual project, which is assessed as a mixture of final report, poster presentation and short written assignments.The project accounts for a third of your final year, with the rest being mostly assessed by examination.

What kind of feedback will I get?

Lecturers provide feedback in a variety of forms, according to the needs of the specific module. It may consist of written feedback on work that you have handed in, in-class discussion of common problems on a particular assignment, model answers, or online responses to questions posted on the module discussion board.

Reasonable adjustments

We do our best to accommodate reasonable adjustments for students with disabilities wherever possible. This may include extra time, rest breaks, or provision of a transcriber, amongst other things. These adjustments would be preceded by a formal assessment of needs.  Further information can be found on the Disability Services website.


Careers and employability

Effective communication, along with critical thinking, problem solving and project management skills are central to most careers. The study of linguistics and maths at York equips you with these skills and others, which translate readily into any work context.

Our graduates

Our graduates have an excellent record of pursuing fulfilling paths after graduation, whether this leads directly into employment, or into further study. 

Career paths

Our graduates are equipped to move on in a variety of directions, pursuing rewarding careers across a broad range of professional fields, including:

  • Marketing and communications
  • Publishing
  • Broadcasting and journalism
  • Librarianship
  • Local government and public service
  • Banking and financial services
  • Computing and IT 
  • Law 
  • Engineering 
  • Accountancy and actuarial work 
  • Media and creative work
  • Public administration 
  • Logistics  
  • Telecommunications

Six months after graduation, 91% of University of York Maths graduates are employed or in further study. More information can be found at the University's careers pages where you can also see profiles of recent Maths and Linguistics graduates.



All applications must be made through UCAS.  We do not generally interview applicants before making an offer, but all those who are offered a place will be invited to a visit day between January and April. Here you will have an opportunity to meet our staff and students, including a one-to-one conversation with a member of academic staff.  This is an ideal opportunity to visit the campus, find out more information about studying mathematics, and ask any questions you may have. If you are interested in visiting York before applying, the University runs a number of Open Days throughout the year.

A-level requirements

  • AAB in three A-levels including Mathematics with grade A.

For the remainder of the offer the department accepts all (including vocational) A-level subjects, with the following exceptions:

  • General Studies is a welcome additional qualification, but may not be included in satisfying the offer;
  • Modern Foreign Languages taken by native speakers of the language studied are also excluded from the offer.


Other qualifications

Cambridge Pre-U: Pass with D3, D3, M2 in three Principal Subjects, including Mathematics

International Baccalaureate: 35 points overall, including HL6 in Mathematics

Scottish Highers: AAAAB including A in Mathematics 

Irish Leaving Certificate: AAAABB including A1 in Mathematics

European Baccalaureate: 80% average overall, including 85% in Mathematics

English Language Qualifications

Our language requirements for overseas applicants can be found here.

Mature students

We welcome applications from suitably qualified 'mature' applicants (those aged 21 or over). Mathematics is not an easy subject to take up later in life, but it can be a rewarding one. However, if you want to read mathematics at York, then you will need to have studied mathematics at A-level or equivalent standard in the fairly recent past, because the first year courses all start from the presumption that you have this knowledge. This does not mean that we will necessarily insist on any particular formal qualifications as long as we are convinced that you are in a position to benefit from the course here. We normally interview all mature applicants before making a formal offer.

Contact us

Admissions to this programme are handled by the Maths department.  However, if you have any questions specifically about the Linguistics element of the programme, you are welcome to contact the Admissions Officer in Linguistics directly.

Edited 10 Oct 2014 - 14:18 by sbc502

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