This opportunity is now closed.

Funded PhD Opportunity

Language acquisition, variation and change: experimental, computational and corpus approaches in English and Irish

Subjects: Modern Languages and Linguistics and Computer Science and Informatics


This project uses three approaches to answer questions about children’s acquisition of syntax, using the phenomena of children’s null subjects as a case study (Valian, 2016; Hyams, 2011).

First, an experimental approach compares young children’s production and comprehension in English. Prior experience with behavioural methodologies for this approach is preferred, but not required.

Second, a corpus approach will involve the creation and analysis of a corpus with young children acquiring Irish as a first language in different dialects to ask questions about language variation. Experience with Celtic languages is required for this approach, with proficiency in Irish preferred.

Finally, a computational approach will assess the linguistic input of young children acquiring Irish as a first language to ask questions about language acquisition and language change. Experience with computational modelling is required for this approach, particularly with Bayesian models.

Applicants are invited to contact potential supervisors about proposals using one or more of the above approaches.

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)
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Clearly defined research proposal detailing background, research questions, aims and methodology
  • Research proposal of 2000 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project

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%
  • For VCRS Awards, Masters at 75%
  • Completion of Masters at a level equivalent to commendation or distinction at Ulster
  • Research project completion within taught Masters degree or MRES
  • Experience using research methods or other approaches relevant to the subject domain
  • Experience of presentation of research findings


    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

The Doctoral College at Ulster University

Key dates

Submission deadline
Monday 18 February 2019

Interview Date
19 March 2019

Contact supervisor

Dr Juliana Gerard

Other supervisors


Apply Online

Related Funded Opportunities in: Modern Languages and Linguistics , Computer Science and Informatics


Computer Science and Informatics

 View Details


Modern Languages and Linguistics

 View Details

Celtic Studies

Modern Languages and Linguistics

 View Details

Intelligent Systems

Computer Science and Informatics

 View Details