Linguistics is rarely studied before university level and, contrary to popular belief, is rather different from English Language A-Level. University degrees in Linguistics tend to be interdisciplinary and appeal to students with an interest in both sciences and language/music. The Gonville and Caius Linguistics Challenge is open to all Year 12 (Lower Sixth Form) students in UK schools, regardless of the specific subjects they are studying at A-Level (or similar qualification).
Many university courses in Linguistics do not require students to have studied any languages at A-Level. For instance, the A-Level profiles of Linguistics students at Cambridge range from those who have studied two languages to those who have studied purely science and maths subjects. Topics encompassed within a Linguistics degree include: syntax (i.e. the analysis of structured data), a topic that often appeals to mathematicians and musicians; philosophy of meaning; experimental language psychology; aspects of computer science (including machine learning - a branch of Artificial Intelligence), and the physics and the biology of sound production. The Gonville and Caius Linguistics Challenge aims to introduce students to some key ideas in Linguistics.
Full details of the 2020 competition are available here:
Find out more general information about our prizes and challenges, including rules and details of prize money here.