Linguistics at Ulster University has a strong research focus and a lively research atmosphere. PhD Researchers are valued members of the research community and rapidly become part of an active research group. They take part in regular staff-student seminars where current research is presented and debated. The group regularly organises international conferences and in recent years it has become very active in the development of research on linguistic interfaces and multilingualism.

Work in the linguistics group spans a range of areas in the discipline from syntactic and semantic theory to applied linguistics. Particular strengths are in the areas of syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse analysis, microvariation, linguistic interfaces, first and second language acquisition, bilingualism, language variation, language change, talk-in-interaction and language policy and planning.

The group also works in investigating experimentally a range of syntactic, semantic or pragmatic phenomena, with different measures and in different types of population; typical adults, children, and individuals with language disorders.

Another key research area involves the application of discourse and conversation analysis to understand issues of culture, identity, communication and interaction.

Find out more about the Ulster University Centre for Multilingualism.


The Linguistics group has a regular programme of visiting speakers and visiting scholars who join the department for longer periods. PhD Researchers are encouraged and aided to present their own work at international conferences, to take part in international summer schools, and to become part of the international research community in their various areas of specialisation by spending a semester of study in other universities in the world with which the unit has connections.

There is a well-equipped phonetics laboratory, good computer facilities and excellent facilities for video and audio recording for those working in relevant areas.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

English language requirements

In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

Careers and opportunities

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.

To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.


We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.  Full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application, is available here.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.

Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.


Profile picture of Seanán Mac Aoidh

I'm from county Monaghan originally and I did my undergraduate degree and Masters in the Irish language in NUI Galway. For my doctoral study I carried out a research project on the performance and transmission of Irish language storytelling in Donegal in modern times and down to the current day.I am very glad that I undertook this PhD project. It was certainly the most challenging and intense piece of work that I have done in my life but as a learning opportunity and as a platform for launching into other areas of activity it was unbeatable. Those storytellers whom I was working with in Donegal formed the basis of this research and were beyond helpful. I learned a lot from them.Also, I couldn't have completed this work if it wasn't for the talented and supportive staff involved in teaching and research in the Irish language on the Belfast and Magee campuses. It was a real pity to see the downgrading and defunding of this staff's work in the Irish language and of their physical office

Seanán Mac Aoidh - PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics

Profile picture of Michael Casey

Having enjoyed a teaching career in Co. Wexford, I decided it was time to pick up the pace and challenge myself. While I researched supervisors the length and breadth of the country, it became apparent very quickly that the Irish department at the University has a fantastic team of academics with a broad scope of research opportunities. I presented my project ideas and was very lucky to have secured a VCRS research scholarship to study at Ulster University. My project looked at the stylistic features in oral and written literature in a very well known Irish speaking family in the Donegal Gaeltacht. I spent a considerable amount of time burning the midnight oil at Magee Library analysing and coding Irish material. I was very lucky to have had the support of two fantastic supervisors, Prof Ailbhe Ó Corráin and Dr Peter Smith, who provided endless encouragement and support over the years. I would sincerely like to thank the Irish Department for their dedication in promoting Irish

Michael Casey - PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics

Profile picture of Tricia Carr

I studied at undergraduate, masters and PhD level at Ulster University. I began my studies here in 2011, and have enjoyed my time at the university immensely. My proudest moment was without doubt completing my PhD and receiving such positive feedback from my Viva. Writing a doctoral thesis is a long and oftentimes difficult process, I am proud of myself for persevering, even when it seemed that I would never get to the end. I could not have gotten through this process without the understanding and support of my parents, husband and friends, who understood when I had to prioritise my research over time with them. My parents believed I could achieve anything, and my husband supported me through the highs and lows of doctoral research.My supervisors were an integral part in getting this piece of work over the line, Fionntán encouraged me in pursuing this line of research since my first semester in my undergraduate degree, and without he and Gearóid constantly reminding me I would see

Tricia Carr - PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics

Profile picture of Margaret McDermott

Having enjoyed a teaching career for many years the opportunity to further my education presented itself in 2014 and I enrolled in Ulster University. I attended the Magee Campus in Derry and began a Master of Research programme. I graduated with distinction in 2016, but the journey did not end here. In September 2017, having secured a VCRS research scholarship, I enrolled as a full-time PhD researcher in Magee University. I embraced this new role with diligence and enthusiasm. My project was entitled Paidreacha Traidisiúnta, Dánta Diaga agus Stair na Comhaimsire: Lánléargas ar Mheon Spioradálta Chaitlicigh Uladh, ón Ochtú hAois Déag go dtí an Fichiú hAois (Traditional Prayers, Religious Poetry and Contemporary History: A Panorama of the Mindset of the Catholics of Ulster, from the Eighteenth Century to the Twentieth Century). This research was conducted through the lens of a thoroughgoing examination of a representative corpus of religious text in verse form that had its

Margaret McDermott - PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics