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CLCS Taught Masters Courses: Frequently Asked Questions

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The FAQs below relate to our taught Masters (M.Phil.) courses in Linguistics, Speech and Language Processing, Applied Linguistics, and English Language Teaching. The information on this page is relevant to all four courses. For information on the content of each course, please follow the links to the relevant course page. You can also find more detailed information in the course handbooks for the current year (available from the pages linked above), though please note that these handbooks are revised annually.

The Graduate Studies Office provides information on more general aspects of applying for postgraduate study in Trinity College Dublin. If you don’t find your answer here, please check there first.

If your question is not answered either here, on the course pages, or on the Graduate Studies Office site, or if you need further clarification, the course coordinator, Dr Elaine Uí Dhonnchadha, would be happy to try to help you.


Information on how to apply: Postgraduate Taught Courses


The university and the qualification

Course structure, content, and assessment

Applying

International applicants

Fees and funding

Support for students

Further study opportunities

The university and the qualification

Why study in Trinity College Dublin?

Trinity College Dublin, founded in 1592, is Ireland’s leading university, and one of the most prestigious in Europe. It occupies a beautiful city-centre campus -- a major Dublin landmark -- and has a vibrant student life and a well-developed culture of student support, with an on-site health service, student counselling service, a dedicated disability service, and learning support and development services. The library is not only the biggest in Ireland, but is one of the elite libraries that benefits from UK and Irish Legal Deposit, giving it an entitlement to every title published in the UK and Ireland.

What’s the difference between an M.Phil. and an M.A.?

The difference between a Trinity M.Phil. and a taught M.A. elsewhere is only one of terminology.

In most universities, a Masters degree by research only (that is, awarded on the basis of a research thesis alone, with no coursework) is considered one kind of qualification, while a Masters that has a taught component (as well as a shorter dissertation) is considered a different kind.

In Trinity, many taught Masters degrees in the arts, humanities and social sciences areas are called M.Phil. (Master of Philosophy). In some other universities, a taught Masters degree is called a Master of Arts: an M.A. So the difference is only one of different terminological traditions. Our M.Phil. courses are equivalent in workload and level of qualification to any taught Master’s degree in Europe, whatever they’re called.

To be more technical about it, in Ireland’s National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ), the M.Phil. (like other Master degrees) is a level 9 qualification. In European terms, our M.Phil. programmes carry 90 credits, which is typical for a Masters qualification.

Who runs the M.Phil. programmes?

The M.Phil. degree is awarded by the University of Dublin, Trinity College (more often known as Trinity College Dublin). The course is taught and administered by the Centre for Language and Communication Studies (CLCS), which is one of the three disciplines within Trinity’s School of Linguistic, Speech, and Communication Sciences (SLSCS).

What is the Postgraduate Diploma (PG Dip.), and how can I get it?

For various reasons, students will occasionally be obliged, or decide, not to proceed from the taught component to writing the dissertation. Provided they have passed their coursework overall, they will be entitled to the award of the Postgraduate Diploma. However, all applications are treated as M.Phil. applications, and it is generally understood that this is the qualification that students are aiming for. There is no possibility of a fee rebate in the event that a student exits with a Postgraduate Diploma.

Course structure, content, and assessment

What is the structure of the academic year?

All students attend an orientation course, which takes place in the afternoons usually in the first week of September.

Teaching proper takes place in two terms of twelve weeks each:

  • Michaelmas term runs from September to December
  • Hilary term runs from January to April .

Students complete work on their dissertations by 31 August (in the second year for part-time students).

 

What does the weekly timetable look like?

All students take a total of six taught modules: four obligatory (‘core’) modules and two modules of their choice (‘electives’). Teaching for each module involves one two-hour session per week over one term.

Full-time students take one core module on Monday afternoon and one on Thursday afternoon, in each term (total = 4 core modules); and they take one elective module each term, on the morning of either Monday or Thursday (depending on the module chosen) (total = 2 elective modules).

In addition, there is a series of tutorials in research methodology. This will take place on Wednesday afternoons in Michaelmas term.

Part-time students will have one core module on either Monday or Thursday afternoon of both terms in both years (total = 2 core modules per year), and one elective module each year, on a Monday or Thursday morning of either Michaelmas or Hilary term, depending on the module chosen (total = 1 elective module per year). Part-time students must take the Monday afternoon core modules in one year (which may be in their first or second year) and the Thursday afternoon core modules in the other year.

In addition, there is a series of tutorials in research methodology, which are taken in the first year. This will take place on Wednesday afternoons in Michaelmas term.

SUMMARY:

  • Core modules: Full-time students - Monday AND Thursday afternoons, both terms. Part-time students - Monday OR Thursday afternoons only, both terms (Mondays in one year, Thursdays in the other year).
  • Elective modules: Full-time students - in each term, one elective, on Monday or Thursday morning. Part-time students: each year, one elective, in either term, either Monday or Thursday.
  • Research methodology: Wednesday afternoons in Michaelmas term. (In the first year for part-time students.)

Are there examinations?

No, there are no examinations. The modules are assessed by written assignments -- typically essays of 3,000 words approx, or equivalent technical / analytical exercises. Students who pass their coursework proceed to write a dissertation of 15,000 words. If the dissertation reaches the pass level, the M.Phil. degree will be awarded.

What is the grading system for assignments and the degree?

Assignments are marked according to the Trinity scheme (common in Irish and UK universities) of grades: I (70%+), II.1 (60-69%), II.2 (50-59%), III (40-49%).

The dissertation is marked on a pass/fail basis, with the possibility of a Distinction for outstanding work.

The degree itself, like most Trinity Master’s degrees, is unclassified, though the M.Phil. with Distinction may be awarded in the case of outstanding performance in both the coursework and the dissertation.

CLCS issues transcripts to all students stating their assignment marks, dissertation result, and overall degree result.

Applying

How does the application process work?

You apply through an online applications portal.

For information on how to apply, go to the Graduate Studies Office website.

To apply now, please follow this link. (Applications open on 1 October)

Applications are evaluated in the first place by a panel comprising professors teaching on the course. The panel may, at its discretion, invite applicants to attend a brief, informal interview. The panel’s recommendation is forwarded to the university’s Dean of Graduate Studies, who has the final say in whether an offer should be made.

Possible outcomes of the application process are:

  • Unconditional offer. You may accept this firmly by paying a deposit.
  • Conditional offer, i.e., one which will be upgraded to a ‘firm offer’ upon presentation of some outstanding prerequisite: undergraduate degree transcript, certificate of proficiency in English, etc. A conditional offer must be accepted before it can be upgraded to a 'firm' (unconditional) offer. You may accept the conditional offer by paying a deposit. In the event that you cannot meet the condition, your deposit will be refunded. If you meet the condition but decide not to take the course in the coming year, you may request a deferral, but the deposit will not be refunded.
  • Application unsuccessful

We try to evaluate applications within two weeks to one month of receipt of completed applications.

I don’t have a 2.1 honors degree (or non-Irish equivalent). Can I still apply?

If you have doubts about whether your application will meet the normal requirements, please contact the course coordinator, who will be happy to discuss matters with you informally.

I would like to take the M.Phil. in Applied Linguistics or English Language Teaching, but I doubt that I have sufficient teaching experience. Should I apply anyway?

If you have doubts about whether you meet the teaching-experience requirement, contact the course coordinator first.

I won’t be able to submit all my documents before the application deadline. Can I still apply?

Yes; this happens quite often. For example, students planning to take the M.Phil. directly after their undergraduate degree will not normally have their degree results before the application deadline. Likewise, sometimes a referee is slow to produce a reference, or the results of an English test might not be available before the deadline. In such cases, the rest of the application will be evaluated, and if it is otherwise deemed to meet the requirements, a conditional offer will be made. This will be upgraded to a firm offer provided that the required documents are received with enough time to complete the process, and that they meet the expected standard.

I took my undergraduate degree many years ago and it would be difficult for me to get two academic references. Can I provide work references instead?

Ideally we would like to get at least one academic reference, and academic departments can usually supply a reference even a considerable time after the student's graduation, on the basis of their file. However, work references will also be considered if necessary. Indeed, in the case of applicants for Applied Linguistics or English Language Teaching, a reference from an employer in the educational sector may be highly relevant.

International applicants

I’m not from Ireland. Are there special requirements for admission to the M.Phil. programmes?

As far as admission requirements are concerned, the potential issues for applicants from outside Ireland relate to (1) English language proficiency, and (2) recognition of qualifications. (In the event that you are accepted onto the M.Phil., you should also inform yourself about the fees payable. See the separate question ‘How much does it cost?’)

(1) English language proficiency

Trinity requires that all postgraduate students have a fluent command of English. If (a) your first language is not English, AND (b) you cannot certify that you were educated through the medium of English, then you must present one of the English-language qualifications recognised by the university.

(2) Recognition of qualifications

All postgraduate applicants to Trinity are normally expected to have at least a 2.1 honors degree from an Irish university or equivalent result from a university in another country. Trinity’s Graduate Studies Office is responsible for ascertaining whether an applicant’s non-Irish degree is equivalent to an Irish 2.1 honors degree. If you are not sure whether your degree will meet the minimum requirement, please contact the course coordinator.

I’m not a native speaker of English. What English-language support is available for me?

Students may wish to avail of the in-sessional (during-term) English modules, which involve a commitment of two hours per week. This module is free to M.Phil. students.

I am not an EU citizen. Can you help me to get my visa?

Applicants who have accepted an offer of a place on an M.Phil. programme are responsible for dealing with visa and immigration matters themselves. Where the visa and immigration authorities request letters of clarification regarding course acceptance, duration, timetable commitments, etc., the course coordinator will be happy to assist. More information and links on these matters are available here.

Where can I get more information on study at Trinity and life in Dublin?

The International Student Guide provides information on many aspects of applying and preparing for life in Trinity, and in Dublin.

Fees and funding

How much are the course fees?

Fees are set by Trinity centrally; see the Fees and Payments section of the Financial Services Division site. Note that the per-year fee for part-time students is different from the fee for full-time students.

Note also that

  • non-EU fee levels are different from EU fee levels, and that
  • there is a residency requirement for status as an EU applicant.

See the Fees and Payments section of the Financial Services Division site, including the Fee Regulations section.

Are there scholarships or other funding possibilities?

Funding opportunities for taught postgraduate courses are very rare. Please consult the Graduate Studies Office website for information on possible external sources of funding.

I have already been offered funding in principle, but to meet the funding acceptance deadline I need to be accepted immediately. Can you give me an acceptance in principle?

We cannot pre-empt the normal evaluation process. You must apply through the usual channels (see above). But please contact the course coordinator if you have a pressing deadline; it may be possible to speed up the process in urgent cases.

Support for students

What kinds of academic and personal support are available to M.Phil. students?

The first port of call for academic issues in relation to any particular M.Phil. module is the relevant professor. CLCS staff are experienced, friendly and approachable, and always willing to give whatever assistance they can to individual students.
For the dissertation, you will be under the supervision of one professor who will help you to identify a researchable and worthwhile topic, decide on research methodology, plan the course of your research and writing, and who will give you feedback on your draft chapters. You will benefit from one-to-one meetings with your supervisor, as well as e-mail correspondence.

The course coordinator, who is also a member of the academic staff, is your main point of contact for issues -- academic or personal -- that can’t be resolved by an individual lecturer or by your supervisor. There are many things, foreseeable and otherwise, that may affect a student over the course of one or two years. Part of the course coordinator’s role is to talk through any problems that may arise, to help students with difficulties to find the support they need, and to see that the department, colleagues, and the university make appropriate allowances.

Outside the department, College has an excellent on-site Health Service; a Student Counselling Service; learning development and support; and a dedicated Disability Service. Use of these services is free to M.Phil. students.

For students whose first language is not English, CLCS offers pre-sessional and in-sessional courses in English for Academic Purposes. See here for more information.

I have a disability. What supports would be available to me in Trinity?

Students with a disability register with the Disability Service, which provides information, support and advice to students, and liaises with academic departments in ensuring that reasonable accommodations are put in place to facilitate disabled students’ study and everyday College life. CLCS has a designated Academic Liaison Officer responsible for linking up with the Disability Service and ensuring that the recommended supports are put in place for students with disabilities within the school. While students’ primary point of contact is with the Disability Service itself, the academic liaison officer is also available as a local contact for students with disabilities.

Further study opportunities

Can I go from the M.Phil. into a Ph.D.?

The M.Phil. is not formally linked to the Ph.D., in the sense that you don’t have to have the M.Phil. to start a Ph.D. and, conversely, having the M.Phil. doesn’t guarantee that you will be accepted on the Ph.D. register. However, having enjoyed the challenges of the M.Phil. programme and the new intellectual vistas it opens up, many students decide they want to pursue further postgraduate research, and good performance on the M.Phil. certainly enhances a candidate’s chances of acceptance. The Ph.D. application process is separate: please consult the Postgraduate section of the School’s website.

I have a strong academic background in [linguistics / applied linguistics / speech and language processing / English language teaching] and would prefer to do a research-only Masters. Is this possible?

The taught component is integral to the M.Phil., and it is not possible to get credits or exemptions for work done elsewhere, or in an undergraduate degree. However, it is possible to do an M.Litt. with CLCS: this is a research-only Master’s degree, suitable for those who already have a strong grounding in the relevant field. Please consult the Postgraduate section of the School’s website.