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Linguistics at Sidney

Linguistics at Cambridge

The Cambridge Linguistics course encourages students to consider linguistics in an interdisciplinary context, drawing on methods and knowledge from a wide range of subjects. The course covers topics as diverse as the study of meaning, analysis of the speech signal, and language acquisition. In the first year, students follow a broad course which introduces them to the diversity of the subject and provides a firm grounding in fundamental principles. The second and third years then allow increasing specialisation in a student's particular area of interest.

Linguistics at Sidney

Sidney aims to accept two Linguistics students a year, this means Sidney has one of the largest cohorts for Linguistics. This provides a supportive environment across the three years of study.

Hear from a student... 

     Linguistics at Cambridge is incredibly small compared to other subjects. Natural Science students have lectures with 300 people, whereas in linguistics that number is approximately 35. This allows for lectures to be more personal, with more discussion rather than just note taking, and asking (or answering) questions is less daunting. Having a small course means everyone gets to know each other very quickly, which lends itself to organising subject socials or group revision sessions.

The Linguistics course consists of 4 compulsory papers known as Li1 - Sounds and Words, Li2 - Structures and Meanings, Li3 - Language, the Brain, and Society, and Li4 - History and Varieties of English. In the first two terms, you have one lecture per week, per paper. You will also have six supervisions per term, per paper. In supervisions, 4-6 students meet with a superivisor (an expert in the subject; a PhD student, a researcher, or a lecturer) and consolidate and debate the lecture content, go inChloe Allenby, Linguistics undergraduate at Sidneyto greater depth, and discuss your work for the week.  

Sidney Linguists form a small, but very close group. Sidney is known for being a friendly college with the best location; who else can cross the road and be in a supermarket? The college bar is one of the cheapest, and (I can confirm) the food served in Hall is the yummiest and reasonably priced. As a small college, every face is familiar and it is nice to be part of a community where everyone recognises one another.

Chloe Allenby, Sidney Linguistics undergraduate


Director of Studies (DoS)

Dr Paula Buttery (External DoS) is a Senior Lecturer in Computational Linguistics at the Computer Laboratory and the Department of Theoretical and Applied Linguistics. Her research concerns computational modelling of the cognition and acquisition of language (first and second languages), as well as methods for the analysis of neuro-linguistic data; and automated corpus analysis (data mining and text classification).

All of our undergraduate students are allocated a Director of Studies and learn from specialists in particular areas of their subject. From time to time, individual teaching staff may be away on leave.

Typical Intake

1 - 2

Standard Entry Requirements

A*AA at A Level

41-42 points in the IB, with 776 at Higher Level

Please see the University website for standard entry requirements in other qualifications.

Please note that offers are set on an individual basis using all of the information available to us in context of the entire field of applicants.

No specific subjects are required. At Sidney, we find that students with a focus on sciences perform equally well on the course as those with a focus on arts. We consider some study of language, either English Language or a foreign language, to be useful preparation for the Linguistics Tripos.

Admissions Process

Written work

We will ask you to send us a short piece of work that demonstrates analytical or argumentative skills. This might be a practical write-up from a science class, a piece of maths coursework or an essay. We will send out more specific information about what is required after the UCAS deadline.

Admissions Assessments

Pre-interview assessment. Read more about the admissions assessment on the University website.


Two interviews. The first will be a more general interview; the second will be subject-related and will involve some linguistic exercises.

Find out more

Department website

University website Lingusitics course page

Skype interviews may be considered for international applicants on a case-by-case basis in certain subjects. If you wish to enquire further, please contact the Admissions Office (