Funded PhD Opportunity Language acquisition; language processing; language meaning

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Modern Languages and Linguistics


Projects in this area will focus on the experimental investigation of language; how is acquired by children, processed by typical adults and/or impacted by developmental or acquired language disorders. Projects may investigate linguistic problems in the domains of syntax, semantics or pragmatics or the interfaces between multiple domains.

We welcome projects employing a range of experimental methodologies including both offline behavioural methods and online methods. These can be combined with the use of corpus methods, especially involving CHILDES. Prior experience with experimental methods and/or statistical analysis is preferred, but not required. In particular we welcome research proposals which have the potential to address both core theoretical and empirical problems using novel methodologies and those involving an element of comparative investigation, either across phenomena or populations.

Projects may also focus on the acquisition of particular language, dialect or group of languages, like for example Celtic languages, which are widely investigated in the institute. Students are invited to contact potential supervisors for more specific information on appropriate research questions.

Projects in the area of meaning will focus on the investigation of meaning (semantics) and meaning in context (pragmatics). Projects should focus on core theoretical questions that can be answered with appropriate theoretical and/or experimental methodologies. Research projects may focus on the linguistic study of semantic phenomena, their interfaces with pragmatics and syntax and/or an investigation of how meaning (semantics) is accessed and employed by different speakers in different contexts.  We invite projects employing a range of methods. In particular projects may address a core theoretical or empirical debate in the area of semantics and its interface with other linguistic domains. Projects may also aim at developing a semantic/pragmatic analysis of a particular language, dialect or group of languages and investigate its predictions experimentally. Students are invited to contact potential supervisors to discuss the proposed focus of the study.

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 65%
  • Masters at 70%
  • Masters at 75%
  • For VCRS Awards, Masters at 75%
  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Use of personal initiative as evidenced by record of work above that normally expected at career stage.


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £15,009 per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). Applications are invited from UK, European Union and overseas students.


    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Launch of the Doctoral College

Current PhD researchers and an alumnus shared their experiences, career development and the social impact of their work at the launch of the Doctoral College at Ulster University.

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
19 March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Dr Jacopo Romoli

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #239642 when applying for this PhD opportunity