Funded PhD Opportunity Multilingualism

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Modern Languages and Linguistics


Multilingualism can be defined as the situation whereby one individual can use more than one language. Definitions vary wildly, especially on the level of proficiency of the various languages and the mode of acquisition, but multilingual learners have been at the centre of linguistic research that seeks to address a number of questions:

(a) what is the impact of age of onset on the acquisition of a second language?

(b) Are all areas of language affected equally by the age of onset, cf. vocabulary vs. syntax?

(c) What is the role of input in the acquisition of more than one language, in terms of frequency, quality and quantity of input?

(d) what is the impact of the different typological/morphological features of the two (or more) languages, in terms of transfer of linguistic features from one language to the other during the process of acquisition?

In addition to these questions, multilingualism can also give rise to questions around language contact as change in progress and language identity. In Northern Ireland there are a number of multilingual communities, with different characteristics and needs. Perhaps the most prominent among them is the Irish-English bilingual community, which also exhibits a wide range of variation within it in terms of proficiency of speakers, mode of acquisition and support of the second language in school. On top of that there are also a number of other bilingual groups that range from Heritage speakers of minority languages to sequential bilinguals. The linguistic profile of Northern Ireland now features speakers with Slavic languages (Polish, Lithuanian, Russian), Mandarin Chinese, Portuguese but also varieties of Arabic (Sudanese and Somali Arabic) in addition to Roma speakers. This variety of speakers makes Northern Ireland an ideal place to study multilingualism.

Projects in this area may address these questions with experimental and corpus approaches. Research questions may focus on one or more types of bilingualism or bilingual populations, either at a particular age or across different ages. One of the axiomatic consequences of societal bilingualism is linguistic interference. Comparative studies of the areas of linguistic interference in various types of bilingual/multilingual communities of Northern Ireland from both a linguistic and sociological viewpoint are welcome, as well as in the areas of borrowing, code-switching, calquing, grammatical interference and phonological inference.

Essential Criteria

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


    Vice Chancellors Research Scholarships (VCRS)

    The scholarships will cover tuition fees and a maintenance award of £14,777 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 £ 14,777 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

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
19 March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Dr Christina Sevdali

Other Supervisors

Apply online

Visit and quote reference number #239664 when applying for this PhD opportunity