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PhD in Language and Communication

Director of Postgraduate Studies: Dr Chris Heffer

Formulaic Language and the Lexicon by Professor Alison Wray

The Cardiff Centre for Language and Communication Research (CLCR) is one of the foremost international departments for research, research training and teaching in social, applied and interactional areas of human communication, mass media, language and linguistics. A funded research base for health communication has also been established within the Centre.

The Centre sits within an esteemed School ranked 10th in the UK in the REF2014. Cardiff University is ranked 5th of 154 UK institutions in the latest UK research excellence exercise. The very high quality of the environment and of our research training provision means that we are part of the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Wales Doctoral Training Centre (DTC) and can offer one  ESRC-funded PhD studentship in 2015/16. We are also part of the Arts and Humanties Research Council (AHRC) South, West & Wales Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP), which provides a limited number of competitive studentships in conjunction with partner institutions. In pursuing your postgraduate research at the Centre you will become an important part of this excellent research environment.

Please click here for information on the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre.

Following the 1 + 3 structure of the ESRC doctoral training programme, full time PhD candidates normally start by taking our 1- year postgraduate research training scheme (MA in Language and Communication Research), before progressing to the 3- year PhD.

Primary Research Areas
Applications for PhD are especially welcome in any of our key areas of research:

sociolinguistics (language variation, language attitudes. multilingualism, minority languages, English and Welsh in Wales, dialect stylistics, dialectology);

discourse analysis (critical linguistics, social interaction, literary pragmatics, language and social theory);

media communication (media discourse, social interaction and the media); 
language in legal settings;

professional and workplace communication (health and medical discourse, bureaucratic, commercial and service encounter communication);

interpersonal and intergroup communication (lifespan communication, gender and language, cross-cultural and interethnic communication, communication in disability, human relationships); 

systemic functional linguistics (lexicogrammar, semantics, language modelling) phonetics and phonology (instrumental phonetics, contrastive phonetics, intonation); 

computational linguistics and the Cardiff Grammar; 
language education (language awareness, language learning and testing, multi-lingual acquisition);

non-verbal communication, visual pragmatics;

formulaic language (in language learning, communication disorders, grammatical and lexical theory).

CLCR also regularly hosts scholars from other institutions for short periods of collaboration or independent research. Through the Cardiff Language and Communication Seminar Series, and the Postgraduate Research Seminars, the work of visiting speakers and members of the Centre, staff and students, is presented and discussed in a supportive and informal setting.

Research Activities

The Centre for Language and Communication provides a focus for research and research training in social, applied and interactional areas of language, linguistics and human communication. Staff specialisms cover an exciting range of interdisciplinary research areas, and PhD students are encouraged to join small teams of individuals already collaborating on specific projects or research themes. Please see the Centre's page regarding current research projects. The Centre has a strong international reputation and is home to several international journals.

Research Training

The Centre is recognised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) as a postgraduate research training centre. The MA in Language and Communication Research is an advanced postgraduate training course, and as part of the Doctoral Training Centre (DTC), PhD students in the Centre will receive professional training and development throughout the 3 years of their doctoral programme.

There is also a full programme of seminars and workshops for PhD students which run alongside their individual research work with their supervisors.

Individual Research Profiles

You can find out more about the research interests of CLCR staff on the School's Academic Staff page.


We welcome enquiries from prospective students, whether you wish to talk about your own possible projects and areas of interest or to obtain further information about PhD programmes in Language and Communication.
Please note: we advise you to make contact with the admissions tutor before you submit a formal application, to provide an opportunity to discuss your research plans with us. Contact for further information.
You can apply online or download an application form from Cardiff University's Apply section. Applications should be accompanied by an outline PhD research proposal. The proposal should be around 1,000 words.

PhD applicants either have to complete the MA/Dip in Language Communication Research, or provide evidence of relevant equivalent research training gained elsewhere.

The School welcomes applications from students from outside the United Kingdom. More information is provided on our International Students page.  Applicants whose first language is not English should have an IELTS qualification that is less than 2 years old before the intended start date.  The overall IELTS score should be at least 7 with 6.5 or more in each sub score.


The following funding is available for 2015/16:

ESRC funding for one PhD scholarship for students starting on 1 October 2015. 

AHRC funding: Cardiff University has jointly won substantial arts and humanities funding to support postgraduate study into our economy and society

The South, West and Wales Consortium, in which Cardiff University is joined with seven other universities – Aberystwyth, Bath, Bath Spa, Bristol, Exeter, Reading and Southampton, has been awarded £14.2 million funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) over the next five years to deliver postgraduate supervision, training and skills development from 2014.
For more information about the South, West & Wales Doctoral Training Partnership and the studentship competition for 2015 entry please see  

School Research Bursaries
 – the School offers research bursaries on a competitive basis for students starting their PhD studies in 2015/6.  The awards are equivalent to one year of the full-time Home/EU fee.

For further information please visit the following sites:


Find Undergraduate courses

Find Postgraduate courses

For further details please contact:

Postgraduate Office

Phone: +44 (0)29 208 74722

Cardiff School of English, Communcation
and Philosophy
Cardiff University
John Percival Building
Colum Drive
CF10 3EU

Student Views

"I studied for my Masters in Applied Linguistics in CLCR. I had a fantastic year both socially and academically. I have no doubt that the year I spent studying for my MA was probably one of the best years I have had at University. Like most students I avoided thinking about what I was going to do after my MA. Whilst completing my final dissertation I began thinking about doing a PhD. I had enjoyed the research based part of the MA and had always enjoyed the academic work. At this stage I had no idea what I would research.  Everyone in the department was supportive and helped in every way possible. I was lucky to be awarded the ESRC quota award and started my PhD in 2008. Since then I have continued to enjoy being an active member of the postgraduate community within the department.

The highlight of the year is the annual trip to Gregynog for the Postgraduate conference. This is an opportunity we are lucky to have, and it has prepared me well for international conferences and a future career.  Besides the obvious academic benefits, its a great way to get to know staff and other students within the department and escape the rush of term time in Cardiff.

Overall, I enjoy the independence that studying for a PhD affords, but appreciate the structure, guidance and support mechanisms that the department has in place. CLCR is a very friendly, supportive and relaxed department to study in.  Its small enough to know everyone and be familiar with their research areas and interests.  Combined with the high level of research being produced by everyone in the department, it’s a great place to study!"

Charlotte Selleck, PhD student