Research Master Humanities, Program Linguistics

The two-year Research Master in Linguistics, specialization of the Humanities research master, trains you as a professional linguistic researcher, specialised in either Human Language Technology or in Forensic Linguistics. Both tracks are aimed at linguists who are looking for a solid training in linguistics, coupled with a challenging specialization in young research fields with a fundamental concern for current society.

Track: Human Language Technology
Human Language Technology is a young and rapidly evolving research field that holds a unique position between linguistics and computer science. Nowadays, in linguistic research a firm background in language technology is extremely valuable. Linguists have to be able to process large datasets. As a student of this specialization you will get acquainted with the essential large computational linguistic resources, learn programming in Python for linguistics and develop skills in Natural Langue Programming (NLP) and machine learning. Through this intensive research programm, you will become a professional in human language technology. The programme is offered by the Computational Lexicology and Terminology Lab (CLTL), an internationally acclaimed research group in computational linguistics.  Students holding a BA in Linguistics, Computer Science or Artificial intelligence are encouraged to apply.

Track: Forensic Linguistics/ Language and the Law
Forensic Linguistics/ Language and the Law is a new and exciting field, which has both a narrow and a broad definition. In its more specific sense it denotes the use of linguistic evidence in the courtroom. In its broader sense it refers to all areas of overlap between language and the law, including the language used in legal or quasi-legal settings by participants including judges, lawyers, witnesses, police officers and interpreters. As a graduate of this programme you will have acquired the theoretical background and practical casework experience to be able to analyse disputed texts, recognize a “language crime” such as bribery or threatening communication (nowadays often sent via social media), and identify participants in the police station or courtroom who are at a linguistic disadvantage, and therefore vulnerable to miscarriages of justice.
The programs for the two tracks partly overlap. All students take general courses in the field of humanities research and linguistics, both on theory and methodology.

Humanities Core Modules (3 x 6 EC) 
All Humanities Research Master students follow three core modules in humanities research and research design. These courses are aimed to provide a general introduction to the history, philosophy and methodology of humanities research, and to two cross cutting themes of VU humanities research: Environmental Humanities and Digital Humanities. You will also actively participate in the graduate lectures & seminars of the Graduate School of Humanities. 
After the introductions, the courses focus at research design: they will train you to position yourself in the international research field and to develop your skills in developing and presenting innovative research. In the second year, you will learn to write a research proposal for national or international science foundations. 

Linguistics Courses (2 x 9 EC) 
Central required courses on Linguistics Research Projects and on General Linguistics (2 x 9 EC), provide an introduction to linguistic research in general and at VU specifically. The courses are taught by several lecturers from the perspective of their own linguistics specialization. You will learn about exiting international projects that are at the frontier of linguistic research. 
For Human Language Technology specialists, the core course Linguistics Research Projects will be organized separately, around language technology: you will get acquainted with the different research projects that are running at CLTL (check our website:, interview the researchers, read background literature and write a report. 

Core Courses (24 EC) 
In the core courses you will be trained in the basic skills necessary for a linguistics researcher and will dive into the research of the leading research groups of the department. In these core courses you will learn to collaborate with cutting edge research groups, and to connect your own expertise to the main questions and methods of this state of the art research. 
Programming Python for Linguistics (9 EC - Year 1)
Natural Language Processing Technology (9 EC - Year 1)
Term Paper (6 EC - Year 1) 
Track Courses (21-27 EC) 
In the track courses you will further specialize in the track of your choice: 

Track courses of Human Language Technology: 
- Computational Lexicon (6 EC - Year 1) 
- Subjectivity Mining (6 EC - Year 2) 
- Machine Learning (9 EC - Year 2) 

Track courses of Forensic Linguistics 
- Why the law needs language and linguistics (6 EC - Year 1) 
- Methods of authorship analysis (6 EC - Year 1) 
- Language of Government and business (6 EC - Year 2) 
- Tutorial: Current issues in Forensic Linguistics (9 EC - Year 2) 

National research schools (min. 10 EC) 
All research master students enroll with a Humanities National Research School at the start of the first year of their study. The Graduate School of Humanities organizes this enrolment. Students then choose from the programmes of a National Research School a selection of courses, masterclasses, summer or winter schools of at least 10 EC. 
Individual study programme (max. 30 EC) 
A large portion of the study programme is reserved for individual choice. This way you can develop a tailor made study programme together with you mentor. You can choose for a stay at an another university or research institute in the Netherlands or abroad, or an internship, for tutorials, or specific skill trainings, combined with participation in conferences, workshops and the graduate lectures & seminars of the Graduate School of Humanities. You are also free to choose (a maximum of 5) linguistics MA courses. 

Thesis (30 EC) 
To complete your two-year programme you will write a Master’s thesis on a research project that you will carry out yourself. The thesis is an original scholarly piece of writing that makes a substantial contribution to our understanding of a linguistic issue. It contains clear argumentation, effectively supported by references to relevant literature and can serve as proof of your potential as a researcher.

Programme overview

Teaching and Examination Regulations (in Dutch) on VUnet (inlog)

Naam vak Periode Credits Code Pdf
Research Master Thesis Humanities, Linguistics Ac. Jaar (september) 30.0 L_AAMPHUTSCR
Core Course General Linguistics Periode 1 6.0 L_AAMPALG015
Interdisciplinary Research in the Humanities Periode 2 6.0 L_AAMPALG014
Humanities Research Career Preparation Periode 2+3 6.0 L_AAMPALG006
Essentials of Humanities Research Periode 4 6.0 L_AAMPALG013
Linguistics Term Paper Periode 5+6 9.0 L_AAMPLIN008
Naam opleidingsdeel Code Pdf
Research Master Humanities, Program Linguistics, track Forensic Linguistics LM_RHUM_SPLF
Research Master Humanities, Program Linguistics, track Human Language Technology LM_RHUM_SPLH
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