MA in Digital Language and Literacies

Please note that this degree scheme will be laid down as of 2014/15

This exciting new MA scheme offers postgraduate students a valuable qualification in Digital Language and Literacies.  The exact composition of the degree can be tailored to suit specific vocational, professional and academic aims.  The course builds on Lancaster University's distinctive expertise in the area, offering an internationally known perspective on New Literacies.

The course is based in Lancaster University's renowned Literacy Research Centre, in the Department of Linguistics and English Language. Academic staff for the core modules include David Barton, Julia Gillen, Uta Papen, Diane Potts and Karin Tusting. Internationally known experts in other areas of the Department contribute teaching to these and other modules. Students on our MA courses come from a diverse range of backgrounds; all are distinguished by their enthusiasm and will to succeed.

The course features an approach to digital language and literacies through activities that make use of innovative tools and environments.  Students will engage in a variety of activities, including lectures, seminars, group and individual activities, benefiting from face-to-face as well as online interactions with peers and staff. Skills developed will include communication, collaboration and problem-solving, as well as the more established academic practices of researching new issues and critical reflection on theory and method.

Download a flyer (PDF)


The scheme aims to help students to:

  • Develop an understanding of literacy as social practice;
  • Develop an understanding of a wide range of digital language and literacies, and the different ways these are represented in contemporary society;
  • Situate the development of digital language and literacies in social and historical contexts;
  • Examine diverse approaches to mapping the new communications landscape in terms of perspectives in linguistics and related approaches such as social semiotics;
  • Apply linguistic theories, methodologies and tools, such as corpus linguistics, critical discourse analysis etc to digital contexts.
  • Investigate issues relating to "glocalisation": taking a critical perspective on issues relating to multilingualism, the English language worldwide; and discourses of globalisation;
  • Critically examine issues relating to identity and social presence in new environments such as social networking, virtual worlds etc. as manifested through language;
  • Critically examine digital language in educational contexts, as related to pedagogic aims, policies, methods and practices, including issues of diversity and access;
  • Explore models of adult learning as these are being challenged and transformed by the digital shift;
  • Investigate vernacular learning online and relations between formal and informal learning
  • Critically examine the teaching and learning of languages online.

In terms of general knowledge, understanding and skills, the scheme aims to help students to:

  • Select confidently among and operate effectively with a broad range of digital tools and environments;
  • Communicate effectively and in a professional manner according to diverse needs of professional and academic genres and audiences;
  • Develop critical and analytical competences;
  • Carry out a wide range of research activities at post-graduate level;
  • Operate effectively both independently and as a member of a team in the fulfilment of specific objectives.


You will take three compulsory core modules, three optional modules and a dissertation.

Your three core modules will be:

Your remaining three modules will be chosen from MA modules already available in the Department, selected to make a coherent programme appropriate to your areas of interest. If you have a background in English Language Teaching or a particular interest in language teaching online then you could choose from the various language teaching modules; those with an interest in discourse analysis online can select the Critical Discourse Analysis or stylistics modules; those with an interest in online sociolinguistics might select sociolinguistics, gender and language or bilingualism modules; others may choose the corpus linguistics module. The precise availability of modules in any one year may vary and assistance and advice will be given on selection.

Your dissertation provides an opportunity to specialise in one area of digital language and literacies and will be supervised by an appropriate member of staff.

Key Facts

Director of Studies: Alternating each year between Julia Gillen and Karin Tusting

Programme length: full-time (12 months), part-time (24 months)

Audience: This degree is designed for students wishing to develop their understandings of digital language and literacies at Masters' level. It is suitable as an extension of a BA degree in a related area, or as vocational, academic or professional development after a period of employment or other activity. It is not a technical course and does not assume pre-existing expertise.  A willingness to explore new areas of activity in a supportive environment is expected.

Enquiries: Marjorie Wood

Deadline for applications: 2nd August

Employment prospects: The scheme paves the way for employment in a broad range of areas, including teaching in the UK and abroad, research, new media and publishing.

Entry Requirements

Academic: at least upper second class degree (or equivalent) in relevant specialisms

English language level: (for applicants whose native language is not English)

Our official requirement for IELTS is a score of at least 6.5 overall with at least 6.5 in the reading and writing elements and 6.0 in the listening and speaking elements.

The University also accepts internet-based (iBT) TOEFL scores of at least 93 overall (with at least 24 in the reading and writing elements and 22 in the listening and speaking elements), and Pearson Test of English Academic scores of at least 62 overall (with at least 62 in the reading and writing elements and 55 in the listening and speaking elements). Please see the and Pearson PTE Academic pages for more information.

If applicants have taken any of these exams in the last two years we can accept their test scores; otherwise we ask that they take the exam again. If, however, they have done their undergraduate studies in Britain, the US or another English-medium educational system and have successfully completed their degree within the past two years they may not need to submit a test score.



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