• UCAS Code: Q100 BA/L
  • Campus Code: 4
  • Duration: 3 years
  • Places per year: 1-2

Does a subject which straddles the divide between arts and sciences appeal to you? Do you like languages and a logical approach to problem-solving? Then the course in linguistics may be for you.

Linguistics is the scientific study of languages that aims to answer important questions in a wide range of areas. What do languages like Nepali and Irish have in common? Why is the language of Chaucer so different from Present-day English? What is the most effective way to help people with dyslexia or aphasia? Linguistics at the University of Cambridge (ranked first in the UK University League, The Guardian 2018) gives you the opportunity to explore all these fascinating aspects of what makes us human!

Course Overview

At the University of Cambridge, we have internationally acknowledged expertise across an unusually wide range of language-related disciplines, both theoretical and applied. Situated within the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, Linguistics benefits greatly from colleagues specialising in the linguistics of particular European languages.

Linguistics graduates, like other humanities graduates, find employment in a wide range of professions. The fact that linguistics provides a broad interdisciplinary training, developing the ability to analyse quantitative data, construct abstract (grammatical) models, and test alternative hypotheses, means that linguistics graduates emerge with the kind of transferable intellectual skills that are highly sought after by employers.

Careers for which linguistics provides a particularly good specific preparation for vocational training include speech therapy, teaching (especially of languages), speech and language technology (developing and improving computer-based applications such as speech recognition and translation software), and even forensic linguistics (in cases where authorship or voice identity may be at issue). Familiarity with the range and essence of human languages is a huge advantage in careers where rapid learning of unfamiliar languages may be involved, such as the Diplomatic Service.

How You Learn

The Linguistics Tripos provides the opportunity to concentrate on language as a phenomenon and on the ways languages can be analysed.

The Tripos is divided into two parts, the examination for Part I normally being taken at the end of the first year, with examinations for Part IIA and IIB at the end of the second and third years. Final degree classification is based on the Part IIB result.

The one-year Part I provides a general introduction to all areas of linguistics, while the two-year Part II allows a degree of specialisation in particular areas.

In both IIA and IIB there is a choice of lectures taught within and beyond the Department, the latter including the linguistics of particular languages. Part IIB includes an element of individual research in the form of a dissertation on a chosen topic.

The teaching of Linguistics at the University of Cambridge is delivered through a mixture of lectures, supervisions and practical sessions. A typical week involves four hours of lectures, two hours of supervisions (in groups of six students in Part I, and two students in Part II), and one to two hours of practical classes.

Students may also switch to Part II of the Linguistics Tripos after successful completion of a Part I in another Tripos. The Linguistics Tripos does not require detailed knowledge of a particular language, and so the course is accessible to those who have a general interest in and knowledge of language.


Linguistics at Trinity Hall

Trinity Hall offers a perfect environment for students of Linguistics since there is in-house expertise in a broad range of areas in the field (from descriptive fieldwork to historical and computational linguistics). In addition, there are Fellows and teaching staff specialised in Arabic, Chinese, Classics, English, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Welsh and Tibeto-Burman languages.

Students of Linguistics and other subjects in the MML Faculty form a great community at Trinity Hall, which makes it an inspiring place to study with an excellent support network. Situated in the centre of town, just a short walk from the University Library and the Sidgwick Site and where all lectures and many supervisions in Linguistics take place, Trinity Hall forms an ideal location to start your University life.

Typical Offer Conditions




41-42 points, with 776 at Higher Level


See the University’s Entrance Requirements page

Subject Requirements 





Written Work


Admissions Assessment

All applicants for Linguistics are required to take a written assessment if shortlisted for interview. The College will register you automatically for this assessment.

General Comments

Linguistics is interdisciplinary so specific A–Level subjects are not required. We welcome applicants with an outstanding academic profile, whether science-oriented or arts-centred. However, some formal study of language, either through learning languages or through English Language A–Level, does serve as a good preparation.

The main requirement for studying Linguistics is a lively curiosity about the nature of language.