PhD in Applied Linguistics by Thesis and Coursework

Lancaster campusLancaster University's unique PhD in Applied Linguistics by Thesis and Coursework programme responds to the needs of numerous graduates who need a PhD for their job, but who have not been able to take time out in order to follow a full-time PhD programme. This programme is designed so that you can study mainly from home, doing work framed by several highly structured academic visits to Lancaster.

The PhD in Applied Linguistics by Thesis and Coursework provides a broad background in Applied Linguistics. You start with a package of relevant, compulsory modules in Applied Linguistics and Research Methods modules and at the same time begin work on your own research project. You will be assigned a supervisor right from the start. Teaching is distributed across face-to-face teaching and learning on Residentials in Lancaster, and distance study using a Virtual Learning Environment.

(Please note that 'Applied Linguistics' here includes but goes beyond issues of language education to encompass the theoretical and empirical study of language in real world problems more widely.)


  • To provide a programme which facilitates intellectual stimulation between a group of students at a similar stage of the PhD, who can then offer mutual support (both face-to-face and by distance) in researching for and writing a thesis.
  • To include a series of key, relevant postgraduate modules to broaden and strengthen your background in Applied Linguistics.
  • To meet the needs of those students who cannot study full-time because of professional or family commitments.


If you are holding down a job while working for your PhD, time is limited. We have designed modules that will be relevant to your PhD, and you will also be able to integrate some of your coursework into your thesis.

In Years 1 and 2 you attend a series of four brief, intensive Residentials in Lancaster for compulsory and 'option choice' modules in Applied Linguistics and Research Methods, resource consultation, supervision and other academic support. At the same time you begin work on your own research project, which leads to a thesis. You will be assigned a supervisor right from the start.

Over Years 1 and 2 (if part-time), you normally take three Applied Linguistics modules, selected from a list of modules which includes:

  • New Directions in Language Analysis
  • Language Testing
  • Pragmatics
  • Critical Discourse Analysis
  • Stylistics
  • Corpus Linguistics
  • Second Language Acquisition

You also take three Research Methods modules, selected from the following list:

Full modules (20 credits each):

  • Quantitative data and analysis for applied linguistics (compulsory)
  • Qualitative methods for applied linguistics (compulsory)

Half modules (10 credits each):

  • Reading research papers in applied linguistics
  • Collecting, transcribing, and analysing spoken data
  • Interview methods and questionnaire design
  • Classroom research
  • A critical approach to social data for applied linguistics

Accreditation of some prior modules (usually maximum two) is sometimes possible.

With one exception, all modules are taught approximately 50% face-to-face, on Residentials, and 50% by distance. The exception is New Directions in Language Analysis, which is taught entirely face-to-face, over two years.


Assessment for the taught part of the programme is based on three 5000-word assignments for the Applied Linguistics modules, and two 5000-word and two 2500-word assignments for research projects for the Research Methods modules. You are required to pass all the coursework, but the final award of the PhD depends entirely on the thesis (length 70,000 words).

Key Facts

Director of Studies: Jenefer Philp

Programme length: part-time (most students are part-time) 60 months; full-time 36 months (minimum registration periods)


  • those who want/need a PhD but cannot take time out from their job
  • those who would like to include a considerable element of coursework (Applied Linguistics and Research Methods), a substantial proportion of which is face-to-face, in their doctoral programme.

Coursework: 3 (or equivalent) Research Methods modules (60 credits); 3 Applied Linguistics modules (60 credits)

Teaching mode: 50% face-to-face on Residentials in Lancaster, in January (approx. 9 days) and July (3 weeks); 50% distance/ independent study. Residentials in Lancaster are compulsory in their entirety.

Entry requirements:

Academic: usually an MA, with a good mark (including at least 60% on the MA thesis/dissertation)

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

IELTS Academic (UKVI Approved): 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.

If applicants have taken these exams in the last two years we can accept their test scores; otherwise we ask that they take the exam again.

If applicants have either/both of the following, completed within the last 2 years they may not need to submit a test score:

  • 2 years’ full-time study at undergraduate level, in the UK or other majority English speaking country
  • 1 year’s full-time study at postgraduate level, in the UK or other majority English speaking country

See the university guidance on English Language Requirements for Undergraduate and Postgraduate Study


Assessment: 6 x 5000-word essays or equivalent; thesis of 70,000 words

Enquiries: Elaine Heron (


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