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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

Funded PhD Studentship: Linguistic Integration in Quebec

Closing date: 24 June 2024

Programme length: 3 years full-time (due to the project only lasting 3 years, part-time is not possible)

Prospective starting date: 16 September 2024

Academic year: 2024/25

Award summary

The studentship is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and will cover 100% of home tuition fees and an annual tax-free maintenance allowance at the UKRI London rate (£20,622 for 2023/24; 2024/25 rates TBC) for three years. Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is unfortunately only open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK home rate, as described by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). Additional funds will be made available to cover four weeks of fieldwork in Quebec in the second year and some conference attendance in the second and third years.


In an era marked by increased immigration, language has become a central issue in discussions about integration within democratic societies. While there is a general consensus that newcomers should learn the language of their host society, the practical implications are often unclear. Questions arise about the extent to which newcomers should be expected to learn the host society’s language, their level of fluency, when and how they should use it, and whether these expectations should extend to informal, private interactions. Additionally, there is uncertainty about the linguistic support and training host societies should provide, and the degree to which public institutions in domains like education, healthcare, and law and policing should consider the linguistic needs of newcomers. Another pressing challenge relates to how to balance the interests of social cohesion and social mobility, which benefit from competence in host society languages, against the preservation of newcomers’ distinctive linguistic heritages.

Positions on these matters are often justified by appealing to liberal democratic principles like fairness, equality, rights and duties, underscoring the fundamentally ethical nature of such debates. Yet while ethical questions related to race, ethnicity and gender have received much attention, the ethical challenges related specifically to linguistic integration are still largely underexplored. As a result, there exists little understanding of what constitute fair and equitable methods of integrating newcomers into host society languages and the legitimate expectations of newcomers and host societies alike, including in settings where more than one language can serve as a language of integration.

Forming an independent project in its own right, this PhD studentship in applied linguistics or French (applied/sociolinguistics) will contribute to a broader Leverhulme-funded project on the ethics of linguistic integration in England, Quebec and Wales, by providing the empirical data on Quebec and contributing to the development of an innovative interdisciplinary approach that combines insight from applied/sociolinguistics and political theory/philosophy. Informed by theoretical debates on linguistic integration from these and other disciplines, your project will focus on the following specific research questions: a) How is linguistic integration conceived, practised and experienced by different parties in Quebec? b) What language-related expectations result from these conceptions and experiences? c) What is the relative legitimacy of these expectations when assessed against core liberal democratic values and principles (e.g. justice, equality, inclusivity, solidarity)? To address these questions, you will undertake a qualitative analysis of a broad sample of documentary materials in Quebec (e.g. legislation, policy documents, media debates, speeches, campaign pamphlets) and conduct (in French) semi-structured interviews and/or focus groups with policymakers, second-language teachers and adult immigrant language learners during a fieldtrip.

You will be based at Queen Mary University of London and supervised primarily by Professor Leigh Oakes of the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film. You will also benefit from input from political philosophy/theory through additional supervision by Professor Yael Peled of the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity and the Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, and from participation in a rich set of group activities (e.g. four meetings per year, reading groups, conference participation, joint publications) involving the other members of the research team: Dr Huw Lewis (Aberystwyth), Dr Gwennan Higham (Swansea) and another PhD student based in Aberystwyth. This is a unique opportunity to be part of an innovative, collaborative research project and a new generation of scholars committed to interdisciplinary approaches to the politics of language.

Eligibility criteria

You will require a sound ability in written and spoken French and have achieved Merit or higher in a Master’s degree in a relevant field before commencing the project. You will be open to interdisciplinary research and some prior knowledge of qualitative methods (e.g. content analysis, thematic analysis, discourse analysis, interview techniques) would be advantageous. Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is unfortunately only open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK home rate, as described by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

Application process

Applicants will need to select either the Applied Linguistics or Modern Languages and Cultures (French) route at the time of application. For general information on the PhD programmes, please visit the PhD in Applied Linguistics page or the PhDs in Modern Languages and Cultures page accordingly. The online application portal can be accessed at:

Please choose ‘full-time’ and ‘Semester 1 (September start)’ and include the following in your application:

  • a personal statement (maximum 1000 words) explaining your suitability for doctoral research, why you are interested in this topic and what you envisage bringing to the project (please indicate ‘Application for funded PhD studentship in linguistic integration in Quebec’ at the top of the document);
  • a writing sample, e.g. a chapter from your MA dissertation (please submit this in lieu of a research proposal);
  • a CV with details of relevant educational and/or employment experience and training;
  • two referees/references;
  • transcripts of university-level grades and qualification certificates (with sworn translations if these were obtained abroad).

Interviews for the position will be held online in July 2024.

Contact information

For informal enquiries about this opportunity, please contact Professor Leigh Oakes at For practical queries about the submission process, please contact postgraduate programme enquiries in the School of Languages, Linguistics and Film at

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