Linguistics – the scientific study of language – explores how humans communicate by examining the relationships between structure, meaning and context.

Linguistics can be complemented by studies in a wide range of Arts, Humanities and Sciences. Some of the areas that are commonly studied alongside linguistics are:

  • Languages: any one or more of the modern languages offered in the School of Languages and Cultures or the classical languages offered in the School of HAPI
  • Psychology: particularly for those with an interest in child language development or language processing
  • Education: possibly alongside languages for those wanting to be language teachers, or with early childhood education for an understanding of language development
  • Anthropology: to gain a deeper understanding of the relationships between language and culture
  • Mathematics: for those with an interest in language structure and modelling
  • Physics: especially for those with an interest in the acoustics of speech
  • Writing: to deepen understanding of how written language draws from, and where it differs from, natural spoken language




Why Choose

DictionaryAt UQ you’ll discover what language is, how we learn and use it, and how it varies and changes across social and historical contexts.

Our courses encourage you to develop a deeper understanding of how sounds (phonetics & phonology), words (morphology), sentences (syntax), meaning (semantics) and social cues (sociolinguistics) can create or confound communication.

Our Staff in linguistics research and teach in a variety of areas, including the documentation and analysis of Aboriginal languages, phonetics and phonology, morphology, syntax, discourse and conversation analysis, historical linguistics, cognitive linguistics and voice training.

A background in linguistics is highly relevant to many professions including teaching (especially language teaching, English teaching, teaching English as a second languages (TESOL)), translation, language and speech technology, language policy and planning, speech pathology, cognitive science (including computer science and artificial intelligence), publishing, the legal profession and intelligence analysis.

You may consider:

  • Teaching: become a better teacher by learning more about the structure of English. Knowing how languages work helps you learn and teach other languages.
  • Language documentation: join the world-wide movement to document endangered languages; work with Indigenous people in Australia to record their languages
  • Writing: become a better writer by learning about the beauty of language, its sounds, structures and uses
  • Forensic linguistics: become a consultant for the police, analysing recording to provide evidence in cases
  • Editing: work for a publishing company
  • Linguist: work for an Aboriginal language entre of the government helping to design and run language revitalisation programs.
  • Software engineering: Create programs which transcribe speech as you talk
  • Travel writing: work for a travel guide writing the language sections in guide books




A pathway that shows courses over 3 years is available. 

View pathway


Research Programs                                                                                   

Coursework Programs       

What our graduates are doing

Researcher Exploring Indigenous Languages

"Studying linguistics at the University of Queensland was a revelation. After spending a year after high school immersed in another language as an exchange student in Iceland, linguistics opened up to me all the extraordinary-yet-unnoticed things that we do with language every day and some of the wild things that happen in languages across the world. What really captured my attention was discovering the richness of the linguistic patchwork on our own continent found in our great diversity of Indigenous languages. An encouraging lecturer at UQ, Mary Laughren, nudged me in the direction of working with Indigenous communities on endangered language projects and that set me on a rewarding and challenging path.

I've since spent most of my time in regional and remote Northern Territory, working for language centres, becoming an interpreter, teaching at an all-Indigenous college, doing consultancies and translations for TV and arts projects, becoming a language advocate and blogger and more, before ending up back in the university system. Having just completed a PhD through ANU, I’m excited to be at UQ as a Postdoctoral Fellow, back where it all began, but still broadening my horizons by learning more about the world of linguistics and the insanely interesting Indigenous languages spoken by great people I’ve had the chance to meet in Northern Australia."

Greg has a Bachelor of Arts (Linguistics) from The University of Queensland.

Get involved

As a student at UQ, you have many opportunities to get involved and enhance your language learning experience, including exchange, joining clubs and participating in conversation classes.


Reading Groups organised by linguistics staff are a great way to meet others with a shared interest and are organised and run each semester. Further details on reading groups can be obtained by emailing Dr Rob Pensalfini.

There are also a number of school events held throughout the year such at public lectures, seminars and conferences which students are encouraged to attend. Details for these events are published on the School Events page.

Clubs and Societies

Joining a club or society is a great way to learn new skills and meet new like-minded people. There are over 190 affiliated clubs and societies at UQ. The Linguistics Society is one such club where you might meet others with similar interests (find them on Facebook). The aim of the Linguistics Society is to network students and professionals, help them achieve their full potential in Linguistics and to provide opportunities for them to socialise with like-minded people. Visit clubs and societies for a full list, and find one that interests you. 

Undergraduate Research Programs

The UQ Summer and Winter Research programs are a great opportunity for advanced students to get involved in some of the research projects our linguistics staff are working on. These programs provide a scholarship to students to work alongside some of the University’s most talented researchers during semester vacation. Further details on the programs can be found on the UQ Advantage site.