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MA/Diploma in Forensic Linguistics

Forensic Liguistics


The MA in Forensic Linguistics is an innovative programme providing a unique opportunity to study the impact of language in the legal and judicial process. The course investigates such questions as how police interviewers gain confessions from suspects, how narratives are constructed in court, how rape complainants are ‘revictimised’ in cross-examination and how legal documents fail to communicate with ordinary people. It also considers critcally various types of linguistic evidence that may be used in investigations or presented in court, including evidence as to who wrote a series of abusive emails or a terrorist document, whether two trademarks are confusingly similar, and whether a refugee comes from the country
they claim. The course is delivered by a team of highly qualified and experienced forensic linguists and includes project work and at least one field trip.

Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of the programme, a successful student should be expected to demonstrate:

Stage 1: Taught Component

This taught stage consists of 6 modules, each carrying 20 credits, for a total of 120 credits. Diploma students must therefore obtain 120 credits in order to be awarded this qualification. MA students must obtain 120 credits in order to progress to the Stage 2 dissertation.

Because of the specialist nature of Forensic Linguistics, the programme is tightly structured. Both Diploma and MA students must take the following compulsory modules for Stage I:

      Semester 1

      Semester 2

Additionally, all students must select TWO optional modules. The list below is indicative of the modules likely to be on offer although these vary from year to year:

Students are also very strongly encouraged to attend the undergraduate lectures (though not seminars) on Forensic Linguistics in the first semester. This is because the MA sessions in Forensic Linguistics 1 have been designed to develop on themes introduced in the undergraduate sessions.

Students will be notified early in the first semester of any changes and additions to this schedule.

Stage 2: Dissertation

Students on the MA programme must complete a supervised dissertation of 14,000–20,000 words on a forensic linguistic topic.

Prospective PhD Students

Students who are intending to apply for a scholarship to pursue PhD studies after the MA are strongly encouraged to take Quantitative Research Methods and Qualitative Research Methods as their two options. These are required for PhD study and may significantly improve the chance of winning a scholarship.

How to Apply

You may apply online or send us a paper application form (also available from the 'Apply' section of Cardiff University's website). Applications are considered on a continuous basis throughout the year.

The School welcomes applications from students from outside the United Kingdom. More information is provided on our International Students page.

Part-Time Programme

The MA/Diploma/Certificate may be taken part-time. Part time study in Forensic Linguistics is designed for students who work full-time but have some flexibility with work hours (the lectures and workshops are held during the day rather than in the evening). In Year 1 Semester 1, students take the following obligatory modules:


They are also strongly encouraged to attend the undergraduate lectures (though not seminars) on Forensic Linguistics.

In Year 1 Semester 2, students take the following obligatory module:

In Year 2 Semester 1, students take either ONE or TWO of the optional modules available in the 1st semester. Currently, these are:

In Year 2, Semester 2, students take the following obligatory module:

They also take either ONE or TWO of the optional modules available in the 2nd semester. Currently these are:

Diploma students complete their studies at the end of Year 2, Semester 2 unless they are upgraded to the MA.

Part-time MA students start preparing their Dissertation in May of Year 2 and submit at the beginning of the following January.


For details of possible funding opportunities please visit the following sites:


Find Undergraduate courses

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For further information, please contact:
Postgradute Office

Phone: +44 (0)29 208 74722

Cardiff School of English, Communication
and Philosophy
Cardiff University
John Percival Building
Colum Drive
CF10 3EU

Student Views

  • "I decided to pursue postgraduate study because of the advantages it would afford me in seeking employment after completion and also because I wanted to pursue further study in linguistics. Cardiff University is the only university in the world to offer a taught postgraduate degree in Forensic Linguistics and I wanted to be a part of this exciting new venture. The staff here at Cardiff have been incredibly open and friendly, as well as understanding of my initial confusion as to how exactly the university system worked in the UK. They were readily available for questions and discussion outside of lectures and truly wanted to see me succeed in my degree."
    Amy Osmun (MA Forensic Linguistics)

Ian McGowan graduated from the MA in forensic linguistics in 2013. He talks to the BBC about his work on the website "Terms of Service; Didn't Read"; and discusses the activities and aims of ToS;DR

Please click here to listen to the mp3 recording. Ian's talk starts at 11 minutes 30 seconds.