Theoretical Linguistics

The Master's of Philosophy in Theoretical Linguistics covers graduate level studies in theoretical linguistics, and is to be seen as an extension of work at the Bachelor's level.

The programme places special emphasis on the formal aspects of grammar, in particular syntax and phonology. The approach to these disciplines relies on comparative studies of many languages. Students will develop insight into the structure of language, comparative aspects of linguistic research, social and geographic variation, the historical development of languages and language acquisition.

At the Master's level, students will develop special interests based on their coursework and will write either a Master's Thesis or two article-length papers. The programme consists of the following components:

  • 60 ECTS of coursework and
  • 60 ECTS for either (1) one thesis, or (2) two articles.

The two elective ten credit courses can come from any 3000-level course in language or linguistics offered by the groups for English and General Linguistics, Russian, Finnish and Saami. Note that elective courses must be oriented to theory of language rather than practical language learning. By application, other courses may be accepted (e.g. courses in philosophy, psychology, mathematics, and so on), as long as their relevance to the degree can be documented.

Interdisciplinary courses:

Several "interdisciplinary" courses are offered, and these courses are assigned a HIF-code in the university course catalogue. Not all of the HIF-courses, however, may be appropriate for incorporation into the programme. To find out which HIF-courses are accepted as part of the Master in Theoretical Linguistics, please contact the programme staff.


The following courses are compulsory in Semester 1: HIF-3010 Syntax I, HIF-3022 Phonology I. In addition students are required to complete an elective course.

The following courses are compulsory in Semester 2: HIF-3011 Syntax II, and HIF-3021 Phonology II. In addition students are required to complete an elective course.

Master's Thesis:

The degree includes 60 ECTS which must be earned either (i) by writing one Master's Thesis (60 ECTS) or (ii) by writing two papers (30 ECTS each).

This work is normally done individually, but may be part of a larger research project being carried out at the faculty, especially projects being carried out at the Center for Advanced Studies in Theoretical Linguistics (CASTL).

The topics for this work will be chosen in consultation with one of the academic staff, who will serve as a supervisor. Those opting to write two papers, must write one of them in the core disciplines phonology or syntax. The two papers cannot be in the same field.

Application deadline 1 December
Formal prerequisites Bachelor's Degree in a language or linguistics
Tuition No tuition fee
Degree level Master, 2 years
City Tromsø
Credits 120.0
Language of teaching English