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PhD programme

Our PhD programme in Linguistics attracts outstanding scholars, and competition for places and for funding is at the highest level. PhD students work closely with academic staff at the very forefront of the discipline and are part of a well-resourced, intellectually stimulating, friendly and supportive environment.

In order to determine whether our PhD Programme is the right fit for you, and what kind of supervision and financial awards might be appropriate for you, please complete our Applicant Query Form. We will then contact you to advise the best course of action. If you are unable to access the form, please send an email to and we can send you the form to return to us.

Structure of PhD Programme

The programme is normally a 3-year research only PhD programme (i.e., there is no mandatory coursework component). A few ESRC-funded students will pursue a 1+3 programme, which includes an MRes training year. All students are expected to participate in regular training and research activities organised by the department. Students also have the opportunity to present their ongoing research to the department in a variety of both formal and informal settings. Our research students are an integral part of our research culture. We currently have 28 PhD students who help to make QMUL Linguistics a vibrant research community.

Some of our regular research and training events include:

  • Advanced Core Training in Linguistics – graduate-level coursework in generative linguistics offered in conjunction with UCL, Cambridge, Oxford, Kent and SOAS
  • Cross-London Sociolinguistics Seminar – graduate-level training workshop in sociolinguistics offered in conjunction with King's, Birkbeck and the UCL Institute of Education
  • London Interdisciplinary Social Science Core and Advanced Research Training – graduate-level coursework and training workshops organised via our ESRC-funded Doctoral Training Partnership
  • Bi-weekly readings groups - in sociolinguistics, laboratory linguistics, and syntax/semantics
  • Postgraduate Mini-Conferences – half-day events during the year where current PhD students present their ongoing research
  • Departmental Seminar series – world-leading researchers are invited to give talks and meet with students 6 times a year
  • Linglunches – an informal talk series held throughout the year for QMUL staff, students and visitors to present their work-in-progress
  • In-house training events and workshops - jointly organised and run by students and staff, we offer workshops on topics including using software tools (LaTeX, R, PsychoPy), research methods (corpus linguistics, ELAN), academic skills (abstract writing, publishing) and advanced research topics (e.g. DP-structure, prosody).

Students can also take advantage of professional training events offered by the QMUL Academic Development Unit.

Application procedure

Before submitting a formal application, potential applicants are very strongly advised to complete the Applicant Query Form. We receive many more queries than we are able to support, and so it is useful to determine whether it is worth your effort to begin the formal application procedure. The Applicant Query Form also helps to determine whether there are any funding awards that may be suitable for you. We aim to respond to all queries via the form within 10 working days.

Funding Competitions and Deadlines

Applicants to our PhD programmes may be eligible for our competitive funding awards. If you wish to be considered for a funded studentship, you must apply before January 31st for admission the following September. For Sep 2018 entry, the application deadline is 31 January 2018. (See also the School's Funding page). Students hoping to be competitive for funding awards should allow time to substantially revise their initial proposals following feedback from their potential supervisor(s). This means initial contact should be made before December of the year preceding the intended start date.

For 2018 entry, applicants are eligible to compete for the following awards:

  • QMUL Principal's Postgraduate Research Studentships: 3 years full fees + living stipend, open to nationals of all countries
  • Economic and Social Research Council Studentship (as part of the London Interdisciplinary Social Science Doctoral Training Partnership): either 3 years full fees + living stipend (PhD only) or 4 years full fees + living stipend (MRes + PhD), nationality and residency restrictions apply (contact department for details)
  • QMUL Leverhulme Trust Doctoral Scholarships (as part of the Mobile People programme): 3 years full fees + living stipend, open to nationals of all countries 
  • China Scholarship Council Scholarships: 3 years full fees + living stipend, nationality and sponsorship restrictions apply (contact department for details)

Application deadline for all funding competitions is 31 January in the application year.

Entry requirements

Minimum entry requirements for our PhD programmes are:

  • a Bachelor's degree (or international equivalent) in Linguistics or a related subject, with a minimum final degree classification of 2.1 (or international equivalent)
  • a Master's degree (or international equivalent) in Linguistics or a related subject, with a minimum final degree classification of Merit (or international equivalent)
  • proof of proficiency in academic English (e.g., minimum IELTS 7.0, with a minimum of 7.0 in writing), where applicable
  • a compelling research proposal that closely aligns with the research interests and expertise of staff in the department
  • capacity to conduct independent and original PhD-level research (as evidenced by a statement of purpose and letters of reference)

Minimum entry requirements for the combined MRes and PhD programme are:

  • either a Bachelor's degree (or international equivalent) in Linguistics with a final degree classification of 1 (or international equivalent) or a Master's degree (or international equivalent) in Linguistics or a related subject with a minimum final degree classification of Merit (or international equivalent)
  • other requirements as for the PhD programme above

For questions about whether your qualifications match our requirements, contact Dr Erez Levon, Director of Postgraduate Studies for Linguistics.


It is essential to contact a potential supervisor to discuss your proposed PhD project before you apply for admission. We normally do not accept students who have not yet secured agreement from a potential supervisor. If you are unsure who may be an appropriate supervisor for your project, have a look at the available supervisors below and/or contact

Staff currently available to supervise PhD students include:

  • Professor David Adger
    Syntactic theory, interfaces in grammar, syntactic variation
  • Professor Hagit Borer
    comparative syntax, morphosyntax and language acquisition
  • Professor Jenny Cheshire
    Interactional linguistics, sociolinguistics, morphosyntactic and discourse variation, the syntax of spoken language
  • Dr Adam Chong
    Phonology, phonetics, prosody, phonological learning
  • Dr Colleen Cotter
    Sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, discourse analysis, language of news media, endangered languages
  • Professor Daniel Harbour
    morphosemantics, endangered languages, writing systems, evolution of language, number systems, formal features
  • Dr Esther de Leeuw
    Sociophonetics, language change, bilingualism
  • Dr Erez Levon
    Sociolinguistics; language and identity (national, ethnic, gendered/sexual); language style; linguistic research methodologies
  • Dr Agnieszka Lyons
    discursive construction of identity and physicality, electronically mediated communication, multimodal discourse analysis, mediated discourse analysis, researcher reflexivity, ethics in social media research
  • Dr Luisa Martí
    Semantics and its interfaces with morpho-syntax and pragmatics
  • Dr Kathleen McCarthy
    Phonetics, multilingualism, language acquisition, speech processing, neurolinguistics
  • Dr Leigh Oakes
    Language and national identity in France, Québec, and Sweden; language policy in the European Union; language attitudes; language and globalisation
  • Dr Hazel Pearson
    Formal and experimental semantics and pragmatics; philosophy of language
  • Professor Devyani Sharma 
    Sociolinguistics, new Englishes, bilingualism; syntactic variation; syntax and typology
  • Dr Linnaea Stockall
    Psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, morphology, event semantics
  • Dr Coppe van Urk
    syntax, understudied languages

The application

How to Apply

Formal application is made via the QMUL online system. All application forms are available at this page. Please scroll down the list of buttons to find the relevant PhD in Linguistics form for your application. 

Once you have applied online, we also encourage applicants to send a complete zip archive of their application dossier to the Director of Graduate Studies for Linguistics. This helps to ensure that applications are processed in as timely a fashion as possible.

Further information

If you have questions about the content of our PhD programme please contact:

Dr Erez Levon
Director of Postgraduate Studies for Linguistics
Tel: +44 (0)20 7882 8435

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