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University of Otago
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Bachelor of Arts (BA) Majoring in Linguistics

This course is available


Level of Study

Bachelor's Degree


3 years

Next start date

Expected Jul 2024


University of Otago


The Bachelor of Arts (BA) is Otago's most flexible undergraduate degree programme, enabling students to study from a selection of more than 40 arts and social science subjects, as well as papers offered elsewhere in the University. Academic breadth is complemented by in-depth knowledge gained through majoring in one or two subjects with the option of minors in one or two others.

Students are taught by research-active scholars, are expected to undertake a diverse range of learning tasks and are challenged to develop their intellectual independence. Graduates of the programme are well-informed, versatile, independent thinkers with the information literacy, communication, research and interpersonal skills necessary for a career or further academic study. The completed BA is an possible qualification for the PGDipArts in the major subject of the degree.

Why study Linguistics?

Linguistics does not prescribe grammatical correctness. Instead it describes how people actually communicate and how this changes from one context, situation, culture, geographical domain or even one moment to another.

When you study Linguistics, you will find the answers to a range of questions - How many languages are there in the world? Why and how do languages change, become endangered or die out? Why do some sentences have more than one meaning? How do new words get into a language? Why do different people speak differently, why do they sound different and why do they use different forms of language? How do children acquire language and why do they start to speak? What does it really mean to be bilingual or bi-cultural?

Career opportunities

There are many career options for Linguistics graduates.

The TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), minor equips you to teach English abroad and at home in language schools and other non-state institutions.

Previous graduates are now lawyers, editors, copy-writers, technical writers, journalists, award-winning film directors and producers, translators, interpreters, sign language interpreters, language policy makers, diplomats.

You will find Linguistic graduates as first language teachers, second language teachers, primary school teachers, high school teachers, speech therapists, university lecturers, polytechnic lecturers.

Linguistics graduates have gone on to be newspaper reporters, editors, television producers, television reporters, software designers, actors, comedians, education policy makers, machine voice synthesisers, entrepreneurs, publishers, creative writers, science writers, marketers.

Entry criteria

We recognise many other qualifications as equivalent to the New Zealand qualification for entrance.

We also accept the following international qualifications:

  • International Baccalaureate: IB Diploma with a minimum of 24 points.
  • Cambridge International Examinations (CIE) GCE Advanced Levels: minimum Numerical Score of 8
  • A minimum of CCC across the NCUK IFY
  • Satisfactory completion of one year's study at a recognised tertiary institution.

English language requirements

  • IELTS Academic - IELTS score of 6.0 in the academic module (with no individual band below 5.5). IELTS Online is also accepted.
  • Internet-based TOEFL - Score of 80 (writing 20)
  • Paper-based TOEFL - Score of 550 (TWE 4.5)
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) & Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) - Overall score of 176 (with no individual band below 169)
  • CIE - E grade or higher in any one of AS English Language, AS Literature in English or AS Language & Literature in English; OR meeting the NCEA literacy requirements
  • GCE A or AS English Language, Literature in English, Language and Literature in English & GCE AS level General Paper (English) - Grade C or higher
  • IB - English at Higher or Standard level in Language A: literature, Language A: language and literature, or at Higher Level in Language B
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic - Overall score of 50 with no communicative skills score below 42.
  • LanguageCert - International ESOL: C1 Expert (LRWS) with a pass overall and no less than a pass in each skill
  • NZCEL - NZCEL 4 Academic endorsement
  • ELA pathway programmes - Successful completion of the English Pathway for Undergraduate Studies (EPUS) with a C Grade
  • FCertEAP - Successful completion of the certificate with a C Grade

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