Department of Linguistics

PhD programmes menu

PhD programmes

We are very pleased you are considering joining our PhD programme. Becoming a PhD student in Linguistics at Queen Mary means you will work closely with academic staff at the very forefront of the discipline and will be part of a well-resourced, intellectually stimulating, friendly and supportive environment that can help you realise your full potential.


The department attracts the very best PhD candidates, and competition for places and for funding is at the highest level. 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 will send you the form to return to us. Please note that Queen Mary also offers a PhD in Applied Linguistics, which may be more suitable for your research goals. Please take the time to familiarise yourself with our research profiles before choosing which programme to apply to.

 We are open to proposals for research with individual staff and also to proposals requiring co-supervision. A complete list of staff available to supervise PhD students is here.

PhD students participate in regular reading groups and seminars with staff and the many visiting scholars who choose to spend time in the Linguistics Department at QMUL. Students also have the opportunity to present their ongoing research to colleagues in the department in a vareity of both formal and informal settings. Our research students are an integral part of our research culture. We currently have 25 PhD students who help to make QMUL Linguistics a vibrant research community.

Students who are not already familiar with the UK system of research-only PhDs should spend some time familiarizing themselves with the information for current students before making a decision to apply, and should contact Ms Sharon Bernor or Dr Erez Levon for further information.

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 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 2017 entry, the application deadline is 31 January 2017. (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 preceeding the intended start date (e.g. students hoping to start PhDs in September 2017 should contact potential supervisors no later than December 2016).

For 2017 entry, applicants are eligible to compete for the following awards:

Application deadline for all funding competitions is 31 January 2017.

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+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 Lingusitics.

The Application

For details of how to apply, see the School of Lanuguages, Linguistics and Film's Postgraduate Studies page. The application forms and instructions can be found here. Please read all this information carefully.

Your application must include:

  1. A completed application form
  2. Offical Transcripts. If these are in a language other than English, a certified translation must also be supplied.
  3. Proof of English language ability (e.g., IELTS), where necessary
  4. Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  5. A 1500-word Research Proposal  (see your research proposal for detailed advice on putting this together)
  6. A one-page (A4) Statement of Purpose. This should set out your previous academic or other experience relevant to the proposed research; why you wish to undertake this research at Queen Mary; your previous research or professional training and what further training you think you will need to complete a PhD; and what ethical issues you will need to consider in undertaking this research
  7. Two references. Please provide the contact details of two referees. At least one reference must be from an academic referee who is in a position to comment on the standard of your academic work and suitability for postgraduate level study. Where appropriate, a second referee can provide comment on your professional experience.

Students should consider the research interests and expertise of a potential advisor carefully and ensure their research proposals are appropriate for the supervisor(s) they approach. Proposals which do not meet this criteria will not be seriously considered. It is therefore essential to make it very clear in your proposal and your statement that you have discussed your proposal with a potential supervisor. Note that indication of interest on the part of a potential supervisor does NOT guarantee acceptance into the programme. Admissions decisions are made by a panel, and take into account all elements of your application dossier.

Applicants are advised to treat the letters of reference as an important component of their application. Ensure that your referees are able and willing to give enthusiastic support for your application and that they have adequate time to write their letters. It is the responsability of the applicant to ensure all elements of the application are submitted in time, including letters of reference.

Formal application is via our online system. Applications for September Start | Applications for January Start

However, applicants are also strongly advised to send a complete zipped file of their application (including all supporting documents you have at the time) to the member of staff they are nominating as the primary supervisor. There are sometimes delays between the time you submit your application, and when the central admissions system passes that information on to us (usually due to complications regarding your supporting documents), so sending a copy to the potential supervisor ensures we know you have applied.

We aim to make a decision about each application within 4 weeks of recieving the complete application (including all supporting documents). If more than 4 weeks have elapsed since you submitted your application, do not hesitate to contact Dr Erez Levon.

Potential Supervisors

Queen Mary is a stimulating place to do a PhD in Linguistics. You can choose a supervisor from any one of the following staff members, who between them cover a wide range of formal and sociolinguistic topics. It is essential to contact a possible supervisor to discuss your proposed PhD project before you apply for admission. We can not accept students who do not have a confirmed supervisor. If you submit an application without having first confirmed a supervisor, we will circulate your application amongst staff to see if there is any interest, but this can lead to delays in processing the application, and is not usually successful.

  • 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 Colleen Cotter
    Sociolinguistics, linguistic anthropology, discourse analysis, language of news media, endangered languages
  • Dr Esther de Leeuw
    Sociophonetics, language change, bilingualism
  • Dr Daniel Harbour
    morphosemantics, endangered languages, writing systems, evolution of language, number systems, formal features
  • 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 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 Katerina Somers
    The historical Germanic dialects: Old High German, Old Saxon, Old English, Middle High German, Middle Dutch Historical linguistics, syntactic, morphosyntactic and phonological change, Theories of language change, Sociohistorical linguistics
  • Dr Linnaea Stockall
    Psycholinguistics, neurolinguistics, morphology, event semantics
  • Dr Coppe van Urk
    syntax, understudied languages

Further information

If you have questions about funding or application procedures please contact:

Ms. Sharon Bernor
Tel: +44 20 7882 8332
Fax: +44 20 9890 5400

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

Return to top