Linguistics – Bachelor of Arts

Equip yourself with the knowledge and empathy to lead cross-cultural interactions. Through the study of linguistics, you’ll grow your ability to drive social change and shape the future of our nation.

Where you can study

Auckland campus
Distance and online

International students

International students are not New Zealand citizens or residents.

Definition of New Zealand citizens and residents

Open to international students on campus in New Zealand, or studying online outside New Zealand

Specialise in Linguistics for your Bachelor of Arts at Massey

Cultivate your personal and professional development

Linguistics is the study of language, including:

  • its structure and meaning
  • how it is learnt and used
  • what our language says about who we are and where we come from.

From interacting with friends to communicating with colleagues, language plays a fundamental role in both our public and private lives. This includes written and spoken communication, problem-solving, and social and cultural awareness. Our lecturers will encourage you to develop a deeper understanding of your own self-identity and social interactions.

A powerful communications tool

Language is the most powerful tool for connecting with and understanding our evolving diversity of people and cultures.

Massey’s BA (Linguistics) puts a strong focus on personal and applied language use, ethnographic analysis, and language forms and structure. This major will help you develop vital career skills.

Specialist language studies and options available

We have a variety of courses on offer. You could find out more about the role of language in:

  • forensic situations
  • digital communities
  • social media
  • mother-tongue maintenance
  • second-language learning.

Our courses are taught by lecturers who are actively researching.

A Bachelor of Arts in Linguistics is a good fit if you:

  • enjoy learning languages or have a curiosity about language
  • enjoy subjects such as English and drama.

Planning information

If you study full time, in the first year you’ll take eight 15-credit courses, making a total of 120 credits.

If you wish to study over two semesters, you should aim for 60 credits per semester. You may be able to take some courses at summer school if you wish. Make sure you include courses that are prerequisites for the next level of courses you wish to study.

You need to pass five courses at 300-level for your BA. One of these (230310) is in the compulsory core and three are required for your major. If you are not taking a double major or a minor, you will need to take one 300-level elective course to meet this requirement.

About this major

A Linguistics major consists of 120 credits (eight courses).

You will start your studies with one or more of the 100-level linguistic courses which provide a general background to language study and a base for more advanced courses to build on. At the advanced level you study specific themes and concentrate on specialised areas of linguistics.

Some courses offered in alternate years

The following courses are offered every second year:

  • 172232 Language and Society in New Zealand
  • 172236 Forensic Linguistics
  • 172237 Language Discourse and Power
  • 172239 Language and Culture
  • 172330 Sounds and Structure
  • 172337 Historical and Comparative Linguistics


Completing a minor is optional. Minors increase the breadth of your degree. They give you extra knowledge, attributes and capabilities.

A minor must be in a different subject from your major.

A Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics) with a minor

You may choose a minor from the Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Business or Bachelor of Science. If the minor is from another degree the regulations of that qualification will apply.

All BA majors can be taken as minors and there are also some additional minor-only subjects.

A linguistics minor (for students who are studying a different degree) 

If you are not studying towards a BA (Linguistics) and wish to complete a minor in linguistics see the BA regulations for requirements.  

Official regulations

To understand what you need to study and must complete to graduate read the official rules and regulations for this qualification.

You should read these together with all other relevant Statutes and Regulations of the University including the General Regulations for Undergraduate Degrees, Undergraduate Diplomas, Undergraduate Certificates, Graduate Diplomas and Graduate Certificates.

Returning students

For returning students, there may be changes to the majors and minors available and the courses you need to take. Go to the section called ‘Transitional Provisions’ in the Regulations to find out more.

In some cases the qualification or specialisation you enrolled in may be no longer be taking new enrolments, so may not appear on these web pages. To find information on the regulations for these qualifications go to the Massey University Calendar.

Please contact us through the Get advice button on this page if you have any questions.

Courses you can enrol in

Course planning key

Courses that need to be completed before moving onto a course at the next level. For example, a lot of 200-level courses have 100-level prerequisite courses.
Courses that must be completed at the same time as another course are known as corequisite courses.
Some courses are restricted against each other because their content is similar. This means you can only choose one of the offered courses to study and credit to your qualification.

Compulsory courses

Choose 30 credits from
Course code: 172133 Introduction to Language Studies 15 credits

Introductory skills of analysing language, at the level of discourse, morphology, syntax, semantics and phonology.

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Course code: 172234 Phonetics 15 credits

A study of the sounds of language and an introduction to the acoustic analysis of speech.

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Compulsory course selections

Choose at least 30 credits from
Course code: 172232 Language and Society in New Zealand 15 credits

An introduction to sociolinguistics with particular reference to New Zealand: focussing on language and social interaction, regional and social variation in language use, bilingualism and the status of minority languages, and the sociolinguistics of te Reo Māori.

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Course code: 172233 Language Learning Processes 15 credits

An introduction to approaches and theories in applied linguistics with particular focus on language learning processes.

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Course code: 172239 Language and Culture 15 credits

An examination of the interrelationship between/of language and culture through a study of various elements of language, language use and language acquisition in a wide range of cultural contexts.

Restrictions: 172132

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Choose at least 15 credits from
Course code: 172330 Sounds and Structures 15 credits

Introduces theoretical approaches to phonology and syntactic/grammatical structures and their interfaces.

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Course code: 172337 Historical and Comparative Linguistics 15 credits

An advanced study of historical language change and language relationships. The course examines reasons for and types of language change, and methods for reconstructing earlier language forms.

Prerequisites: Any 200-level 172-prefix course

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Subject courses

Choose no more than 15 credits from
Course code: 172131 Language and Communication 15 credits

An introduction to language with particular emphasis on spoken communication.

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Course code: 172231 Linguistics for Speech Therapists 15 credits

This course examines the morphology, grammar and discourse structure of spoken language with an emphasis on speech therapy

Prerequisites: 172133 Restrictions: 172235

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Course code: 172235 Linguistic Analysis of the English Language 15 credits

An introductory course in linguistic analysis of the English language covering the fundamental concepts of morphology, phonetics, phonology, and syntax.

Restrictions: 172231

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Course code: 172236 Forensic Linguistics 15 credits

An introduction to the study of forensic linguistics, focussing on a variety of business and legal contexts and related ethical issues.

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Course code: 172237 Language, Discourse and Power 15 credits

An introduction to critical discourse analysis, exploring how language is used in the reproduction of social inequalities.

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Choose between 15 and 30 credits from
Course code: 172333 Discourse and Institutions 15 credits

A critical examination of public and private-sphere discourses in institutional contexts through linguistic theories and methods.

Prerequisites: Any 200 level 172-prefix course

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Course code: 172335 Language and Identity 15 credits

An advanced sociolinguistic study of how language is used to represent and construct aspects of identity relevant to particular social interactions, including the individual’s ability to negotiate multiple forms of identity and belonging.

Prerequisites: 172232 or 172237

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Course code: 172336 Languages of the Pacific 15 credits

An examination of the three major language subgroups spoken in the Pacific, focussing on their formal elements, the relationship between language and society, and the linguistic consequences of the encounter between Pacific peoples and speakers of non-Pacific languages.

Prerequisites: Any 200-level Linguistics course

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Course code: 172338 Language, Diversity and Mediated Communication 15 credits

An examination of one-to-many communication in the Web and mediated contexts, focussing on globalised and transcultural communication of linguistic perspectives.

Prerequisites: Any 200-level Linguistics course

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Entry requirements

Admission to Massey

All students must meet university entrance requirements to be admitted to the University.

Specific requirements

There are no specific entry requirements for the Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics), outside of university admission regulations.

English language requirements

To study this qualification you must meet Massey University's English language standards.

If you have already completed a bachelor degree

If you have already completed a bachelor degree you may replace 230111 Tū Kupu: Writing and Inquiry or 230112 Tū Arohae: Critical Thinking with courses of your choice. You will need to apply for replacement courses via a Special permission request in your portal and you will need to attach evidence of your completed degree with the request.

English language skills

If you need help with your English language skills before you start university, see our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses.

Can't meet the entry requirements?

If you need to do a course before you start your qualification, there may be options for you in Summer School.

Fees and scholarships

Fees, student loans and free fees scheme

Your tuition fees may be different depending on the courses you choose. Your exact fees will show once you have chosen your courses.

There will also be some compulsory non-tuition fees and for some courses, there may also be charges for things such as study resources, software, trips and contact workshops.

Already know which courses you're going to choose?

You can view fees for the courses that make up your qualification on the course details pages.

Student loans (StudyLink) and Fees Free scheme

You may be eligible for a student loan to help towards paying your fees.

The New Zealand Government offers fees-free tertiary study for eligible domestic students. Find out more about the scheme and your eligibility on the Fees Free website. To use the site's eligibility checking tool, you will need your National Student Number.

Current and returning Massey students can find their National Student Number in the student portal.

Scholarship and award opportunities

Search our scholarships and awards

Fees disclaimer

This information is for estimation purposes only. Actual fees payable will be finalised on confirmation of enrolment. Unless otherwise stated, all fees shown are quoted in New Zealand dollars and include Goods and Services Tax, if any. Before relying on any information on these pages you should also read the University's Disclaimer Notice.

Careers and job opportunities

Language is vital to human communication. The study of linguistics helps you understand the development of language and can lead to an array of careers. We have graduates working in a range of diverse sectors in many varied roles including:

  • education: ESOL teacher, language teacher, literacy adviser, university lecturer
  • business, administration and law: communications adviser, interpreter/translator, forensic document analyst
  • government departments: policy analyst, researcher, cultural adviser, immigrations officer
  • publishing, journalism, media and advertising: writer/editor, advertising consultant
  • IT: computer analyst/programmer.

International students

New Zealand is a great place to study. Massey University’s reputation is supported by our international rankings, accreditations and associations. We are rated five star plus by the QS World University Rankings.

Massey University has small class sizes, and our lecturers and staff are friendly and approachable.

As an international student, there are entry requirements that will apply to you. We recommend that you apply at least three months before your anticipated start date so your application can be processed in time. There are additional steps you will need to take. These include obtaining a visa and travel bookings if your study is to be in New Zealand.

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