Language is central to our human nature, and linguistics is the systematic study of human language. Although on the face of it there is huge variation among the world’s languages, linguists not only describe the diverse characteristics of individual languages – as well as their socio-historical conditioning – but also seek to discover the deeper properties which all languages share. These common properties may give us an insight into the architecture of the human mind. 

Linguistics is divided into a one–year Part I and a two–year Part II. Part I provides a foundation across a wide range of linguistics taught within the Department of Linguistics, while Part II allows you to specialise in the areas which particularly interest you. Apart from the final–year dissertation, assessment is by written examination, and there are practical exams in phonetics.  

Year 1 - Part I 

In Part I, you take the following four papers: 

  • Sounds and Words 
  • Language, Brain and Society  
  • Structures and Meanings
  • History and Varieties of English

Year 2 - Part IIA 

In Part IIA, you take four papers chosen from a wide range of options dealing with different linguistic levels and perspectives. There are around a dozen further papers to choose from, dealing with the linguistics of particular languages or language families, or (in one case) experimental psychology. Two of these are lectured by the Queens’ Director of Studies: The Hispanic Languages and The Romance Languages (also available in PIIB - see below)

Year 3 - Part IIB 

In Part IIB, you take:

  • Linguistic Theory – a compulsory general paper 

And two further papers from the remaining Part IIA options (may vary each year, borrowed papers are also available): 

  • Phonetics 
  • History of the French Language
  • Syntax
  • First and Second Language Acquisition
  • Semantics and Pragmatics
  • Psychology of Language Processing and Learning  
  • History of ideas on Language
  • Language Typology 
  • History of the English Language 
  • Computational Linguistics


  • The Language of Italy (Paper It.10 of the MML Tripos) 
  • The Hispanic Languages (Paper Sp. 11 of the MML Tripos) 
  • Aspects of the History of the German Language (Paper Ge. 11 of the MML Tripos) 
  • The History of the Russian language (Paper Ru. 9 of the MML Tripos) 
  • The History and Structure of Modern Greek (Paper Gr. 7 of the MML Tripos) 
  • The Romance languages (Paper CS1 of the MML Tripos) 
  • The Slavonic Languages (Paper CS3 of the MML Tripos) 
  • Celtic Philology (Paper 12 of the ASNC Tripos Part II) 
  • Elements of Comparative linguistics (Paper E1 of the Classics Tripos Part II) 
  • The Greek Language (Paper E2 of the Classics Tripos Part II) 
  • The Latin Language (Paper E3 of the Classics Tripos Part II) 
  • Germanic Philology (Paper 11 of the ASNC Tripos Part II) 
  • Comparative Semitic Linguistics (Paper Mes 41 of the AMES Tripos Part II) 
  • The French Language: Variation and Change (Paper Fr. 13 of the MML Tripos Part II) 

During the year, you also write a dissertation of 8,000 – 10,000 words on a topic of your choice. 

Linguistics at Queens’ 

  • Queens’ College has had a Director of Studies in Linguistics since 2004, long before the establishment of Linguistics as a Full Tripos subject. To this day most other Colleges still only have an external DoS for Linguistics.
  • Since 2014 Queens’ has become a thriving linguistics community since, except from the in-house DoS, there is, depending on the year, a JRF, PhD students, six undergraduates as well as a good number of MML students taking linguistics papers.
  • Queens’ is unusual in offering in-house, one-to-one supervisions alongside Faculty-organised supervisions as well as training sessions on logic, individual languages, language contact etc.
  • Queens’ linguistics welcomes students with a range of different educational backgrounds. When freshers arrive at Queens’ not only will they receive tailored sessions on how to write linguistics essays and a yearly plan but also, with the aid of the DoS, devise a more aspirational, long term study plan for the entire duration of the studies.
  • We organise reading groups on different themes such as ‘Historical Linguistics Seminar’, ‘(Ibero) Romance Linguistics Seminar’, ‘Greek Dialectal and Diachronic Reading Group’, and ‘Lexicon-Syntax Interface Seminar’, exclusively for Queens’ students.
  • We organise international conferences and workshops at College such as The 12th Diachronic Generative Syntax, Romeyka and Asia Minor Greek, The Sixth European Dialect Syntax Workshop, The Second Cambridge Colloquium on the Histories of the Ibero-Romance languages – Norman MacColl Symposium 2012,Morphosyntactic Variation in Adpositions 2017 (among others) in which the students have the opportunity to participate and help with organising them
  • Candidates attend one interview
  • All applicants are required to take the Cambridge College registered written assessmentfor Linguistics.

Queens’ Linguistic Fellow 

Dr Txuss Martin, Acting Director of Studies for 2021/22

Prof Ioanna Sitaridou, Director of Studies 

Current interests: The comparative and historical syntax of the Romance languages within the generative framework; Greek dialectology and fieldwork. In particular: the emergence of personal infinitives in the history of Spanish; the licensing and loss of null subjects in Old French; the loss of null subjects in the history of French; verb second phenomena in Old Romance; Information structure in Old Spanish; ethic datives in Romance and Greek; typology of null-subject languages; hyperbaton; and language contact-induced change in documentation of Romeyka. 


"Queens' is a fantastic environment to study Linguistics in. With a dedicated, in-college Director of Studies, you get a more finely tailored program and a real chance to explore what you're interested in."

- Adam, graduate


"At Queens’ you will become part of a growing yet close-knit Linguistics community, headed by an approachable and passionate in-college DoS, with our own internal Linguistics seminars and events. In addition, it’s only a 5-minute walk to the Sidgwick site, where the vast majority of teaching takes place.”

– Ciar, graduate