Language Studies

2013-14 General Catalog

Linguistics Department
241 and 243 Stevenson College
(831) 459-4988

Program Description

Language studies is an interdisciplinary major offered by the Linguistics Department. It is designed to equip students with competence in a foreign language and, at the same time, provide them with an understanding of the general nature of human language—its structure and use. It requires (1) acquisition of demonstrable competence in a language other than English, (2) grounding in linguistics, and (3) completion of a series of cultural context courses related to the language. Currently, majors may choose a concentration in Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, or Spanish. Interested students should contact the Linguistics Department office early in their college career to obtain essential information about requirements.

Students interested in spending a portion of a year or a full year in study abroad should review the UCSC Programs Abroad web site at A senior year abroad is approved only when all of the language proficiency requirements have been satisfied and when it is clear that any remaining courses can be satisfactorily completed abroad. Courses taken abroad may be used to satisfy major requirements only if approved by the Undergraduate Program Director or a designated advisor.

Requirements of the Language Studies Major

Early Declaration

It is important that prospective students declare the major as early as possible so that they can complete the advanced language, linguistics, and context requirements within the allowed period of enrollment.

Students who wish to include a study abroad experience in their course of study will have to coordinate their choice of time abroad with the scheduling of UCSC courses. Transfer students who have not made significant progress with the language requirements before entering UCSC may find it difficult to include a time abroad before completion of graduation requirements.

Qualification Policy for the Language Studies Major

The Linguistics Department has adopted a major qualification policy for linguistics and language studies majors that is intended to encourage students to take seriously their performance in the gateway courses and to help them lay a solid foundation for further course work in the major.

In order to declare the linguistics or language studies major, a student must pass both gateway courses, Linguistics 50, Introduction to Linguistics (LING 50) and Semantics 1 (LING 53), each with a grade of C+ or better.

Students who are informed that they are not eligible to declare the major may appeal the decision within 15 days from the date the notification was mailed. They should do this by submitting a formal letter, addressed to the department Undergraduate Program Director, to the Linguistics Department office (Stevenson 241 and 243). This letter should explain any extenuating circumstances that influenced their performance in the gateway courses. Within 15 days of receipt of the appeal, the department will notify the student, a college, and the Office of the Registrar of the decision.

Course Requirements

Language studies majors must satisfy course requirements in languages, linguistics, and cultural context.

Language component: Language studies majors (in French, German, Italian, and Spanish) must achieve a level equivalent to six quarters in the language of concentration. One advanced language course after level 6 is also required. Majors in Chinese and Japanese must achieve a level equivalent to eight quarters of language study.

Linguistics component: The major requires six foundation courses in linguistics:

  • 50, Introduction to Linguistics

  • 53, Semantics 1

  • 101, Phonology 1

  • 112, Syntax 1; or 111, Syntactic Structures

  • Two upper-division linguistics courses

Cultural context or linguistics component: The major also requires five upper-division elective courses in linguistics or cultural context. Linguistics courses are any upper-division course offered by the Linguistics Department. Cultural context courses are those in areas relevant to the major language, to be selected from disciplines such as literature, history, and politics, subject to departmental approval.

Senior exit requirement: In their senior year, language studies majors must satisfy the senior exit requirement in one of two ways:

Option 1. Successful completion of a capstone course— an appropriate upper-division linguistics course. Students must have senior standing and must have completed Linguistics 53, Semantics I; 101, Phonology I; and 111, Syntactic Structures or 112, Syntax I.

Option 2. Senior thesis supervised by a faculty member. The proposal for a senior thesis must be submitted for approval by the department faculty at least three quarters prior to the quarter of graduation.

Students enroll in Linguistics 195, Senior Thesis, with the approval of the faculty adviser. The senior thesis is an original investigation of the major language in some relevant way, such as the linguistic structure or history of the language or its historical, literary, cultural, sociological, ethnographic, or political context.

Disciplinary Communication (DC) Requirement

Students of every major must satisfy that major's upper-division Disciplinary Communication (DC) requirement. The DC requirement in language studies is satisfied by completing courses 101 and either 111 or 112.

Requirements of the Minor

The minor requires completion of two years (six quarters) of language study (or demonstration of an equivalent level of ability) and eight additional linguistics and cultural context courses as follows:

  • 50, Introduction to Linguistics

  • 101, Phonology I

  • 112, Syntax I; or 111, Syntactic Structures

  • Two upper-division linguistics courses

  • Three electives in a cultural context; cultural context courses in areas relevant to the major language to be selected from disciplines such as literature, history, and politics, subject to departmental approval. One of the courses taken must have a prerequisite of Level 6 in the student’s designated language.

There is no senior exit requirement for the minor.


Students who wish to be considered for honors should meet the deadline posted by the Office of the Registrar for declaring the intent to graduate. Determination of honors is based on  the student’s grades for all courses relevant to the major and  other factors relevant to an assessment of academic excellence, such as research papers of professional quality. Generally, honors in the major are awarded to the top 10 percent of those graduating in the major. Only those students whose performance in coursework is excellent will qualify. Highest honors are rarely awarded, and then only to students whose performance in coursework is outstanding and who have completed an outstanding senior thesis.

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Revised: 09/01/13