Linguistics, the scientific study of language, aims to discover the common properties that languages share with one another and thereby ultimately to help us learn about the structure of the human mind. It encompasses a broad range of approaches to language, and deals, for instance, with questions as diverse as how we recognise the individual sounds of a spoken conversation, how meanings are communicated indirectly, how children learn their native language, or how unrelated languages may share many grammatical similarities.

In Part I of the Cambridge course, students are provided with a foundation covering the main areas of theoretical linguistics, while courses in the study of language variation, language and the brain, and the history and varieties of English serve as a bridge between theoretical linguistics and topics typically taught as part of A-level English Language or Psychology. After the first year, students proceed to the two-year Part II, where they are able to specialise in those areas that particularly appeal to them. Courses cover a wide variety of topics ranging from experimental work in phonetics, to looking at the grammatical structures allowed in language, how languages change, or the linguistics of particular languages. In their final year, students write a dissertation on a topic of their choice.

It is possible to do a Part I in a subject other than Linguistics, and proceed to do Part II in Linguistics. There are special arrangements for such students, who may do a one- or two-year Part II, and who incorporate some elements of the Part I course into their Part II work. Linguistics in Cambridge is part of the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and benefits from close links with Modern Languages. Almost all Linguistics Tripos courses are also available within the Modern Languages Tripos, which allows students to combine the study of Linguistics with intensive study of two foreign languages and a year abroad.

Admissions Information

Standard Offer: A-level - A*AA; IB - 776 at Higher Level, 42 points overall; Advanced Highers: A1A2A2; other exam systems.
Course Requirements: No specific subjects required, but we would recommend the following subjects for a strong application: Languages (ancient or modern), Mathematics or English (language or literature). The course page on the university website gives details of what subjects Linguistics students have studied.
Course Outline: Further course details are available on the Faculty's website.
Applying: For information on how to apply: University application process and Emmanuel application timeline.
Submitted Work:

This College does not require applicants to submit written work.

Admissions Assessments:

All applicants, who are shortlisted for interview, will take a written assessment. An assessment specification is available online. The College's Admissions Officer will register applicants for the assessment. Date of assessment: to be confirmed.


Candidates should normally expect two interviews. The interviews will take place during the period Monday 9 - Wednesday 18 December 2024. Specific subject dates will be emailed to applicants in November.

Course Enquiries: Emmanuel Admissions Office