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Language and Communication (PhD)

3 years (PhD) (full-time) / opportunities available (part-time) / n/a (distance / e-Learning)

Programme Aims

To offer knowledge and expertise in research in social, applied and interactional areas of human communication, language and linguistics.

The Centre for Language and Communication Research is one of the foremost international Centres for research, research training and teaching in social, applied and interactional areas of human communication, language and linguistics. We use linguistic theory and a wide range of methods to explore how language works as a system, and how it is used to express identity and reflect and mould attitudes. We apply our research to important social challenges, to generate improvements in diverse areas including language learning, Alzheimer's care, multicultural interaction, police-public interaction and social inclusion.

In the latest nationwide assessment of University research quality, the School was ranked 10th for English Language and Literature. The very high quality of the environment and of our research training means that we form part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Wales Doctoral Training Centre (DTC). In pursuing your postgraduate research at the Centre you will join this excellent research environment.

Special Features

Research Areas

A list of potential supervisors and their research profiles can be found at the School’s website.

Research Environment

‘Positioned at the interface of different traditions, methodologies, theoretical approaches, disciplines and practices, our pioneering research engenders challenging and fascinating questions for our staff and, through our PhD supervision and research-led teaching also for our students are all levels.’ Professor Alison Wray, Director of Research in the School of English, Communication and Philosophy

The School’s research is recognised internationally for its excellence and was ranked in the top ten for the quality of its English Language and Literature research, including Creative Writing, in the latest Research Excellence Framework (REF2014).

Cardiff University has recently joined the world's top 100 universities for the study of English Language & Literature in the 2016 QS World University Rankings.

Visit the Centre's webpage for more information.

There is a weekly Postgraduate Research Seminar throughout each semester. You can find more information about the 15-16 seminars on the blog.

The Forensic Linguistics Research Network also has a blog, CaLL - Cardiff Language and Law.

PhD students in the Centre for Language and Communication Research take part in an annual conference, sharing their research with student peers, academic staff and visiting scholars, and other stakeholders. You can download a copy of last year’s conference book of abstracts here.

We also run a collaborative project led by the School of English, Communication and Philosophy at Cardiff University. The CorCenCC (Corpws Cenedlaethol Cymraeg Cyfoes (The National Corpus of Contemporary Welsh) is a community driven, interdisciplinary approach to linguistic corpus construction, for more information click here.

Skills Acquired

Through the MA in Language and Communication Research, PhD students obtain a wide range of research related skills throughout their doctoral programme. A recognised higher education teaching qualification is also offered: Learning to Teach.

Career Prospects

Postgraduate study in the School is a gateway to many careers within and beyond academia. Many overseas postgraduates return to lectureships with much enhanced career prospects. Example employers in the UK include Cardiff University, HMRC, Mencap, Poetry Wales Magazine, Teach First, Welsh Government, with jobs that include Crime Intelligence Analyst, Creative Writing Lecturer, Librarian, Poet, Recruitment Consultant, Teacher, Writer.

Student Views

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'The School has always provided me with the support and guidance I needed.'

David Schönthal, Year 3

Read David's full testimonial

I have been in the Centre for Language and Communication Research at Cardiff University for a long time now. After a first exchange semester during my undergraduate studies, I got to know the department's vibrant and supportive research community. This welcoming atmosphere repeatedly drew me back to Cardiff, and I first returned to do an MA and then to complete my PhD in Language and Communication Research.

My PhD experience here has been wonderful. The School has always provided me with the support and guidance I needed, and my PhD has progressed and flourished with the help of excellent supervision, countless workshops, research seminars and networking opportunities, a wide range of research interests within the department, and an active and welcoming PhD community.

As a self-funded student, I have had to keep track of and replenish my finances. Luckily, I have been able to secure several scholarships from charities and from smaller funding bodies, which have been a blessing. In addition, the School provides PhD students with the opportunity to teach undergraduate seminars, which provides a further steady income as well as invaluable teaching experience. 

David Schönthal, Year 3

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'Pursuing a PhD in Language and Communication Research at Cardiff has been a rewarding experience.'

Boitshwarelo Rantsudu, Year 3

Read Boitshwarelo's full testimonial

I decided to study for a PhD at Cardiff because the university has a world-class research profile. Pursuing a PhD in Language and Communication Research at Cardiff has been a rewarding experience so far. While the department I am based in, CLCR, encourages independent research, it also offers an excellent postgraduate research training scheme through the 1-year taught MA in Language and Communication Research at the beginning of PhD candidacy, a structure that provides an opportunity to build strong research skills before embarking on independent research.

In addition, CLCR comprises world-class members of staff who are not only experts in their own research work, but also keen on the success of postgraduate students by providing excellent, friendly and student-focused supervision. Pursuing a PhD in such a friendly atmosphere has bolstered my confidence in doing my research. The high level of research expertise in CLCR has also translated into lively research activities for postgraduate students. Reading groups and postgraduate research seminars within the school enhance the overall social and academic experience of postgraduate students. Of course the highlight of each year is the annual postgraduate conference which provides a great opportunity for PhD students to share their research with a wider audience and engage in discussion. I would definitely recommend studying in CLCR to others, particularly international students who are looking for a department that is committed to student support.

Boitshwarelo Rantsudu, Year 3

Alumni Views

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'The PhD has certainly opened up new avenues of professional and intellectual growth for me.'

Amjad Saleem, 2015

Read Amjad's full testimonial

I was lucky to do my PhD from Cardiff University under the excellent supervision of Professor Alison Wray. Right from writing the proposal to the submission of the thesis, doing my PhD in the Centre for Language and Communication Research was a great learning experience and I enjoyed every bit of the process. This is not to say that there were no challenges on the way or that I did not have my low moments. The first year of my PhD was a bit of challenge in that I had to work away from family and friends but gradually I got absorbed in my work. The most important thing that I learnt from my PhD is the art of asking relevant questions from both literature and data.

Every meeting with my supervisor, every conference and seminar that I attended during the course of my PhD and the discussion that I had with the teaching faculty added to my understanding of the subject. Let me also mention that tutoring seminars at undergraduate level helped me a lot in building and improving my teaching skills.

Presently I am teaching at the University of Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan as a lecturer in English. I am looking forward to publishing and conducting more research. I am enjoying an exciting teaching career and my PhD has certainly opened up new avenues of professional and intellectual growth for me.

Amjad Saleem, 2015

Entry Requirements

A First or Upper Second class UK honours degree, or equivalent is normally required, in a suitable field (such as Linguistics, Communication, Media Studies, Languages, some Social Sciences, English Literature and Humanities).

Successful applicants to the programme will also have demonstrated a strong performance at Master’s level in a subject related to linguistics, will have completed a course in research methods, and will have some experience of conducting empirical research (possibly as part of the Master’s degree).

All PhD candidates are normally required to take the MA in Language and Communication Research during their first year of candidature and obtain a minimum of 60%. If you are uncertain whether you would be eligible to be considered for direct entry onto the PhD programme, please see the flow chart.

For non-native speakers of English, an IELTS overall score of 7.5 with at least 7.0 in each sub score is essential.

In the research proposal (around 1,000 words, 3-4 pages) please outline your rationale, proposed methodology, and research objectives, including a short bibliography. This should be appended to your application.

In your personal statement, we would like you to tell us about why you are applying for a PhD – what your current situation is, whether you need a PhD for your own personal development, or for professional reasons, what your experience has been to date as a student/researcher/teacher in the area of English Language and Communication, and why you have chosen Cardiff as an appropriate research environment for your particular area of interest.

In addition to the research proposal and personal statement you will need to provide two academic references and copies of degree certificates and transcripts.

Note: International students pursuing part-time programmes of study are not eligible for Tier 4 General Student) visas and must have alternative leave to remain in the UK if they intend to study at the University in person.

Further Information

For more information about the PhD in Language and Communication Research, or to discuss potential research projects, please contact

Next intake: The University has four entry points for research degrees: 1 October, 1 January, 1 April, or 1 July

School Contact

Name: ENCAP Postgraduate Admissions  

Telephone: +44 (0)29 2087 0322 



School Website:

More information

School of English, Communication and Philosophy


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