General Linguistics
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Honours & MA in General Linguistics

​​​​​The Honours programme and the MA programme both focus on the systematic study of language and language-related phenomena. As  a  general  aim,  our programmes are intended to equip students with –
  • a  sound  knowledge  and  understanding  of  current  theoretical  insights  in a linguistic domain that  is relevant to their particular interest and/or profession, and
  • the skills needed to apply these theoretical insights in an informed, critical and creative way to solve problems of linguistic theory and/or language practice. 
To achieve this general aim, students in the programme are instructed in –
  • the  theoretical  linguistic  concepts  and  principles  required  for  analysing  and understanding problematic aspects of particular linguistic phenomena; 
  • the  patterns  of​  thought,  forms  of  argumentation  and  methods  of  research  that characterise  the  study  of  these  phenomena  within  the  relevant  theoretical framework; and
  • general intellectual nor​ms such as those of conceptual precision, reasonedness, coherence, clarity of formulation, etc.
Both  programmes are highly relevant to the developmental needs of Southern Africa. In this regard, they are intended to develop an awareness of the strategic importance of understanding  language  and  language-related  issues  in  our  multilinguistic  and multicultural  society,  and  to  enable  graduates  to  practice  their (planned)  professions with greater expertise, effectiveness and satisfaction. The successful completion of the MA  programme  also  formally  paves  the  way  for  possible  doctoral  studies  in linguistics.
The  Honours  programme  in  General  Linguistics  has  been  designed  for  people in a range of professions that revolve around language or language-related phenomena, as well as for postgraduate students who have an academic interest in such phenomena.
The programme has the following specific aims:
  • to equip students with a sound knowledge (i) of current linguistic insights into phenomena in a domain relevant to their interests and/or profession, and (ii)  of the  theoretical  approaches  and  research  methods  that  are  used  to  gain such insights;
  • to  produce  individuals  who  have  the  ability  to  identify  and  convey  their understanding of problematic phenomena in a particular linguistic domain;
  • to  develop  the  academic  and  intellectual  skills  needed  (i)  to  do  independent small-scale  research  on  a  problematic  phenomenon  in  a  particular  linguistic domain,  and  (ii)  to  report  the  findings  of  such  research  in  a  technically  wellfinished text.
​As  a  region,  Southern  Africa  shows  a  very  rich  diversity  of  languages  and  cultures. However, there is a lack of people with the necessary knowledge, insight and skills to address language and language-related issues, and who can do sophisticated research on such issues. The MA programme is intended to make a significant contribution by providing students with the high-level skills needed to understand and do research on issues relating to language structure and use, language acquisition, language variation and shift, intercultural communication, multilingualism, language planning and policy, language disorders, and so on.
The MA programme builds, to a large extent, on the type of work that is done in the Honours programme in General Linguistics. As such, it subsumes many of the generic and substantive aims of the Honours programme, although on a more advanced level. 
​The main aims of the MA programme are to provide students with –
  • specialised knowledge of and insight into linguistic theories dealing with issues such as those mentioned above;
  • a sound ​understanding of theoretical approaches and research methods used in studying  linguistic  phenomena  in  various  domains  (syntax  and  morphology, pragmatics,  second  language  acquisition,  language  variation,  intercultural communication, language impairment, etc.);
  • the  academic  and  intellectual  skills  that  are  required  for  doing  independent research on a problematic phenomenon, including the ability –
    • to read techni​cal texts with precision,
    • to  represent  o​ther  people's  views,  arguments,  theories,  etc.  with  a  high degree of conceptual and terminological precision,
    • to identify and analyse linguistically significant problems,
    • to critically appraise and construct solutions to such problems,
    • to defend a point of view and to reason in a logically coherent way,
    • to integrate different perspectives into a coherent whole, and 
    • to produce a technically well-finished thesis.
For more information about these programmes, see the link to the prospectus below.​​
​​​Appli​cation for admission to either the Honours programme or the MA programme in General Linguistics must be made on a prescribed application form obtainable from the Registrar. Application for admission can also be made using the University's electronic application system (see link below).
An application can be considered only if it is accompanied by a complete study record showing exam marks for all subjects taken, both at undergraduate and at postgraduate level. If you do not have a copy of your study record, you should request one from the Registrar of each university at which you studied.
As there is a limit to the number of PGDip and MA students that can be taught and supervised effectively in any one year, a selection has to be made from the applications received. Students are selected on the basis of their previous study record as well as their written responses to diagnostic test questions which all applicants are required to answer as part of their application. This diagnostic test is used to appraise a candidate's ability to read an academic text critically and to respond to questions in a clear and coherent way. The diagnostic test is available from the Department, or it can be downloaded as a pdf file (see link below).
Students who wish to apply for admission to the programme must submit the completed application form online, and provide a complete study record and pay the required application fee. Postal applications should be sent to:
The Registrar
Stellenbosch University
Private Bag X1
The closing date for applications is 30 November of the year preceding the year for which admission is sought.
Click here for the University's electronic application system
2017 ApplicationsNew tab
Diagnostic testLinguistics
Click here for the department's diagnostic test and additional questions
Diagnostic testNew tab
Honours & MA in General LinguisticsLinguistics
Click here for the Prospectus
Hons & MA in General Linguistics ProspectusNew tab
PGDip & MA in Second Language StudiesLinguistics
Click here for the Prospectus
PGDip & MA in Second Language Studies ProspectusNew tab
PGDip & MA in Intercultural CommuncationLinguistics
Click here for the Prospectus
PGDip & MA in Intercultural CommuncationNew tab