Undergraduate Studies

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Topics covered at McGill University include: the structure of the world’s languages at the level of sounds (phonetics and phonology), words (morphology), sentences (syntax), and meaning (semantics); how people learn languages (acquisition); how people use two languages (bilingualism); how to model and process linguistic data using computational methods (computational linguistics); how languages change over time (historical linguistics); and how languages vary in relation to region and social identity (dialectology and sociolinguistics). In addition to preparing students for advanced academic work in linguistics and related disciplines (e.g., anthropology, cognitive neuroscience, computer science, philosophy, or psychology), courses in linguistics provide a useful background for many careers, for example, language teaching, translation, child psychology, speech-language pathology, communication, and speech technology.

Programs

Major

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) - Major Concentration Linguistics (36 Credits)

Minor

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) - Minor Concentration Linguistics (18 Credits)

Honours

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) - Honours Linguistics (60 Credits)

Joint Honours

Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) - Joint Honours Component Linguistics (36 Credits)

Courses

100 Level Courses

Registration for First-Year Seminars (FYS) is limited to students in their first year of study at McGill, i.e., newly admitted students in U0 or U1. These courses are designed to provide a closer interaction with professors and better working relations with peers than is available in large introductory courses. For more information about FYS and other course requirements, visit the eCalendar

Course Syllabus
LING 199 FYS: Language and Mind 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 

200 Level Courses

200 level courses are the main introductory courses in all departments. Most courses do not have pre-requisites and are often ‘survey’ courses. These sometimes split into smaller conferences that go into depth about class topics.

Course Syllabus
LING 200 Intro to the Study of Language 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 201 Introduction to Linguistics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 210 Introduction to Speech Science 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

PDF icon LING210 - Summer2019
LING 260 Meaning in Language 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 

300 Level Courses

300 level courses are intermediate courses, meaning they are typically smaller and provide a more in-depth look at a subject than a 200 level introductory course. Often, there will be 200 level pre-requisites you must complete before you are allowed to register for the 300 level courses.

Course Syllabus
LING 301 Structure of English 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 320 Sociolinguistics 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 325 Canadian English 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 330 Phonetics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 331 Phonology 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 350 Ling Aspects of Bilingualism 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 355 Language Acquisition 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 360 Introduction to Semantics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 371 Syntax 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 

400 Level Courses

400 level courses are advanced courses or seminar courses. There will often be 300 level pre-requisite courses you must complete before you are allowed to register for the 400 level courses. The two additional characters (D1, D2, N1, N2, J1, J2, J3) at the end of the seven-character course number identifies multi-term courses

Course Syllabus
LING 410 Structure of a Specific Lang 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 415 Field Methods of Linguistics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 417 Topics at the Interfaces 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 418 Topics at the Interfaces 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 419 Ling Theory & its Foundations 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 425 Historical Linguistics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 440 Morphology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 445 Computational Linguistics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 450 Laboratory Linguistics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 451 Acquisition of Phonology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 455 Second Language Syntax 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 460 Semantics 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 461 Formal Methods in Linguistics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 480 Honours Thesis 6 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 480D1 Honours Thesis 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 480D2 Honours Thesis 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 480N1 Honours Thesis 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 480N2 Honours Thesis 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 481D1 Joint Honours Thesis 1.5 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 481D2 Joint Honours Thesis 1.5 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 483 Special Topics 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 484 Special Topics 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 485 Special Topics 3 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 488 Independent Study 1 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 489 Independent Study 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 499 Internship: Linguistics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 

500 Level Courses

500 level courses are high-level seminar courses, usually intended for students in Honours programs and graduate level students.

Course Syllabus
LING 520 Sociolinguistics 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 521 Dialectology 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 530 Acoustic Phonetics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 531 Phonology 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 555 Language Acquisition 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 565 Pragmatics 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 
LING 571 Syntax 2 3 Credits
    Offered in the:
  • Fall
  • Winter
  • Summer

 

Resources

Undergraduate Advisor

Heather Goad

Office: 1085 Dr. Penfield | room #320
Office Hours: TBA
heather.goad [at] mcgill.ca 


The Arts OASIS website provides Arts students with general academic information and advice about issues such as faculty and degree requirements, registration issues, inter-faculty transfer, study away, academic standing, or graduation. In addition to advising students about such issues, either by appointment or on a daily drop-in basis, the Arts OASIS Faculty advisors offer a number of information sessions every term, such as degree planning workshops, study away workshops, and freshman information sessions.

Awards

Cremona Memorial Prize in Linguistics

Established in 2002 by a bequest from Isida Bernardinis Cremona, B.A. 1965, M.A. 1967, for outstanding students pursuing an Honours, Joint Honours or Major Concentration program in the Department of Linguistics. Awarded on the basis of high academic standing by the Faculty of Arts Scholarships Committee on the recommendation of the Department of Linguistics. Value varies.

U2 Academic Achievement Award

Awarded by the Department of Linguistics to an outstanding student completing U2 who have completed a minimum of 12 credits in Linguistics, on the basis of high academic standing in Linguistics courses.

Eligibility:

  • Open to U2 students pursuing an Honours, Joint Honours, Major Concentration program, or, in exceptional circumstances, a Minor program in the Department of Linguistics. The award is also open to U2 students pursuing an Interfaculty Honours or Major program in the Cognitive Science program whose first or second area of specialization is Linguistics.
  • Minimum CGPA of 3.5
  • Full-time

Procedure:

  • A faculty-based committee from the Department of Linguistics recommends a candidate to the Department.
  • Final decision made at the last Departmental Meeting in May.

Tie-breaker criteria (rank ordered):

  • Overall CGPA
  • Number of linguistics courses taken

Award for Academic Leadership

Awarded by the Department of Linguistics to a student who stands out with respect to dedication and engagement in Linguistics courses and contributions to other students’ learning experience.

Eligibility:

  • Open to graduating students pursuing an Honours, Joint Honours, Major Concentration program, or, in exceptional circumstances, a Minor program in the Department of Linguistics. The award is also open to graduating students pursuing an Interfaculty Honours or Major program in the Cognitive Science program whose first or second area of specialization is Linguistics.

Procedure:

  • Nominations will be made by any member of the department
  • Nomination will include the name of one supporting faculty member and one supporting peer. These people will be consulted in the determination of the ranked lists within the student committee and within the departmental committee
  • A committee of 3 non-graduating students chosen by members of SLUM will submit a ranked list to the department by the end of April.*
  • A faculty-based committee from the Department of Linguistics recommends a candidate to the Department, evaluating dedication and engagement and using the ranked list submitted by the student committee to evaluate the contributions made to other students.
  • Final decision made at the last Departmental Meeting in May.

Award for Department Citizenship

Awarded by the Department of Linguistics to a student who stands out with respect to involvement in the life of the department.

Eligibility:

  • Open to graduating students pursuing an Honours, Joint Honours, Major Concentration program, or, in exceptional circumstances, a Minor program in the Department of Linguistics. The award is also open to graduating students pursuing an Interfaculty Honours or Major program in the Cognitive Science program whose first or second area of specialization is Linguistics.

Procedure:

  • Nominations will be made by any member of the department.
  • A committee of 3 non-graduating students chosen by members of SLUM will submit a list of candidates with justification to the Department by the end of April.
  • A faculty-based committee from the Department of Linguistics recommends a candidate to the Department.
  • Final decision made at the last Departmental Meeting in May.

Criteria (order irrelevant):

  • Involvement in organizations and projects such as SLUM, Bag Lunch Talks, Colloquia, tutoring, and related events
  • Encouragement of involvement of other students
  • Involvement in the improvement of the department
  • Promotion of positive student-professor/professor-student relations
  • Involvement in organization of Linguistics conferences

Award for Excellence in Research

Awarded by the Department of Linguistics to a student with an outstanding research project and demonstrated proficiency in research skills.

Eligibility:

  • Open to students pursuing an Honours, Joint Honours, Major Concentration program, or, in exceptional circumstances, a Minor program in the Department of Linguistics. The award is also open to students pursuing an Interfaculty Honours or Major program in the Cognitive Science program whose first or second area of specialization is Linguistics.

Procedure:

  • Nominated by supervisor of research project
  • A faculty-based committee from the Department of Linguistics recommends a candidate to the Department.
  • Final decision made at the last Departmental Meeting in May.

Criteria (order irrelevant and will vary depending on type of research)

  • Understanding of theoretical context
  • Development of hypothesis
  • Research design and implementation
  • Data analysis
  • Understanding of consequences

Tie-breaker criteria (rank ordered)

  • Presentation of research at a conference or submission of paper for publication
  • Overall CGPA
  • Additional research in Linguistics/related areas.

FAQ

What is linguistics?

Here is a brief document about PDF icon The Study of Linguistics

What classes should I take?

You can find information about undergraduate program requirements under the Program tabs above, as well as helpful program-tracking forms under the Useful Documents tab. 

Please note, required courses must be taken at McGill, and not on exchange. It’s best to take required courses sooner rather than later, especially since some of them will be prerequisites for courses at higher levels.

It is not essential to finish all of your requirements in three semesters, but it is important to plan ahead, especially if you plan to go on exchange.

The class I want to take is full. What should I do?

  1. Get yourself on the waitlist. Waitlists open up after registration is complete for all different registration groups, which might mean you have to wait and check back if the waitlist isn't open. These dates vary from year to year, but typically waitlists open up in late June.
  2. If the waitlist is full, you can always check Minerva to see if students drop. Meanwhile, be sure to have a back-up plan!
  3. If there is a class that you really need/want to take, note that only the course instructor can grant you special permission to enroll in the course. Many instructors will tell you to wait until the semester gets going to see if students drop the course.

Does LING 200 count for complemetary course credits?

Yes, but please note that LING 201 is the prerequisite for most other Linguistics courses, and is required for the Major, Minor, and Honours programs. Also note, students entering 2017 and after may use only one 200-level course towards their complementary credits.

What is LING 488: Independant Study? Can I do one?

LING 488, Independent Study, is a semester-long course in which you work closely with a professor on a topic of mutual interest. Details are to be determined on a case-by-case basis, but in general this course involves independent reading, regular meetings, and a final project (often a term paper). In most cases, LING 488 will grow out of a topic in an upper-level course which the student would like to research further. Notes:

  • It is the student’s responsibility to get approval from the professor before registering for LING 488.
  • Generally, only full-time faculty members supervise independent study courses.
  • There is no guarantee that you will be able to do an independent study course. It is always dependent on the professor’s existing commitments, interest, and your past academic performance.

What is LING 499: Internship? Can I do one?

Typically the way LING 499 works is as follows: a student gets pre-approval from a supervisor, and then does a summer internship related to linguistics. The for-credit portion (i.e. LING 499) then normally takes place during the following fall semester and is effectively an independent study course which somehow relates to or builds on your summer internship. The internship alone does not count for course credit.

In practice, there is no real difference between LING 488 (Independent Study, which can be done any semester on any mutually-agreed upon topic) and LING 499 (Internship, which normally happens in the fall and connects to an internship). In both 488 and 499, the course plan and evaluation are determined on a case by case basis, but usually involve some independent reading, regular meetings, and a final paper or project.

A reason that a student might decide to do LING 499 instead of LING 488 is that the Faculty of Arts offers an Arts Internship Award (which pays you to do an otherwise unpaid internship) and gives priority to applicants who intend to use the internship towards course credit.

How do I get involved in research in linguistics?

The linguistics department doesn’t keep a centralized list of research, volunteer, or work opportunities, though many such opportunities to exist. The best way to get involved is to get in touch with professors directly and ask if there are any opportunities available. Often, this kind of work may grow out of an upper-level course you take, after a prof has a chance to get to know you. Since funding is limited, being willing to volunteer your time in a lab or research group may help you get your foot in the door.

I don't have the prerequisites for a course, but Minerva let me register. Is this okay?

No, it is your responsibility to ensure that you have completed all of the listed course prerequisites (or have special permission from the instructor) before enrolling in the course. 

Should I do Honours?

First, see "General Honours Information" written by Prof. Charles Boberg in the Useful Documents tab. Some important notes:

  • Honours is a trade-off. You graduate with a lot of depth in Linguistics, but at the expense of getting more breadth in other areas.
  • Some of the important aspects of Honours––independent research experience, a close working relationship with a professor––can be achieved in other ways.
  • While an Honours degree certainly flags you as a strong student, not all graduate programs require Honours.

In short: if you find yourself wanting to take more Linguistics courses, if you are doing well in courses, and are excited about doing independent research, Honours might be for you!

How do I find an Honours thesis supervisor? How long is a thesis? How do I pick a topic?

You can find useful information about Linguistics Honours theses in the "Guidelines for Honours Thesis" written by Prof. Charles Boberg, found in the Useful Documents tab. In short:

  • Approaching a potential supervisor is your responsibility, ideally the semester before you intend to write a thesis.
  • As with independent study, generally only full-time faculty members supervise theses. Whether a professor agrees to supervise your thesis may depend on her existing commitments. In most cases, your thesis supervisor will be someone with whom you have taken one or more courses.

Useful Documents

Program Tracking Forms

Honours Information