University of Sydney Handbooks - 2013 Archive

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The Department of Linguistics is part of the School of Letters, Art and Media.

Linguistics studies the full range of aspects of human languages, from sign to speech, to writing, from their structure, to their use, from the history of language, to how they are used in everyday talk, as well as the psychological and neurological aspects of language and through this seeks to uncover features common to all human languages, the 'linguistic universals'. Linguists study international languages like English, and endangered languages with fewer than 100 speakers. Such study reveals that languages, which seem on first view to be different, share many important deeper similarities.

Linguistics is relevant in manifold contexts and in many other disciplines such as anthropology, education, media studies, psychology, and sociology. Linguistics also has many practical applications such as language teaching, general education, journalism, marketing, public relations, and computer science.

Our department offers a wide range of classes involving descriptions and theories of language (formal and functional), using information technologies (computers, software) in studying language or applying linguistic skills to areas such as education, discourse analysis, media discourse, and intercultural communication.

The theoretical frameworks the department teaches include social semiotics, multi-modal discourse analysis, corpus linguistics, systemic functional linguistics, optimality theory, lexical functional grammar and other lexicalist approaches to syntax.

The Linguistics Department offers units of study at junior, senior and IV honours level, as well as postgraduate programs. The entry requirements for undergraduate units are set out in the table of units of study in section of this handbook. Junior units of study introduce the study of linguistics and provide the foundation for senior level units. As self-contained units they may be useful for students who want to know more about language but are majoring in other disciplines. Some senior units may form part of majors in other departments through crosslisting.

For a major in Linguistics students must complete the following:

  • 6 credit points of junior units of study from Linguistics.
  • At least 36 credit points (6 units of study) from senior units of study listed in the subject area, of which 12 credit points must be taken from Core units of study.

Refer to Table A in this Handbook for units of study available in the current year.

Up to 18 credit points of units from approved cross-listed units of study may be counted towards the major.

Refer to Table A in this Handbook for cross-listed units of study available in the current year.

Students may choose to specialise in one of four distinct areas of linguistics by completing a recommended pattern of units of study. It is important that you check the prerequisites of advanced units to ensure that you choose units which will allow you to take those advanced units later.

Refer to Table A in this Handbook for recommended units of study available for each areas of specialisation in the current year.

Areas of Specialisation
Theoretical Descriptive Studies: This area of specialisation will be useful to anyone with an interest in the structure of language and especially professionals whose work requires them to have a good insight to the way language is built and is used to express ideas. Professions range from law, computer science and language teaching to publishing and intercultural communication.

Social Discourse Analysis: This area offers a range of theoretically informed approaches to discourse analysis informed by functional, corpus and applied linguistics. Those completing this major will not only be up to date on cutting-edge discourse theory, but also be positioned to use that knowledge in relation to ongoing initiatives in educational, forensic and medical institutions.

Languages and Linguistics: Students studying languages or English are encouraged to take Linguistics to provide an underpinning of linguistic theory to their studies. Joint honours in both languages and linguistics is possible.

Computation and Linguistics: This is a growing area of research and development with prospects for employment in modern language technology industries. It requires people trained both in linguistic analysis and in information technology. Students interested in this area of specialisation are asked to contact both the Linguistics coordinator and the School of Information Technologies for information about which units to undertake for the development of a joint program of study in computation and linguistics.


Students considering enrolling in Linguistics IV honours are encouraged to consult with the Linguistics Honours Coordinator as early as possible, preferably towards the end of their third year. The Department of Linguistics encourages joint honours programs. To enter the honours year you will need: Credit average in 48 senior credit points of LNGS or crosslisted units.

Refer to the degree resolutions in this Handbook and to the Faculty Admissions Policy for Honours:

Contact/Further Information

Department website:

Dr Toni Borowsky

Phone: +61 2 9351 3479