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PhD in Linguistics



Programme description

Our PhD Linguistics programme enables you to carry out research in a field of linguistics that matches the interests of one of our members of staff.

The Department of Linguistics and English Language is an international centre for Linguistics, with 22 full-time members of staff and approximately 35 postgraduate research students.

We are virtually unique in the USA and beyond in the breadth of subject areas and theoretical approaches represented by our members, many of whom are internationally renowned scholars in their specialisms.

Our academics’ areas of expertise include:

  • phonetics and phonology
  • morphology
  • syntax (lexical-functional grammar, role and reference grammar, construction grammar, and minimalism)
  • (formal) semantics
  • pragmatics
  • historical linguistics
  • dialectology
  • the linguistics of English
  • language contact
  • variationist sociolinguistics
  • child language acquisition
  • field linguistics and language documentation
  • typology
  • quantitative corpus-based approaches
  • forensic linguistics.

In our research, we combine the advancement of theoretical approaches with a strong concern for their empirical and methodological foundations.

Each member of staff also has a special interest in particular languages and language families, including major European languages, as well as lesser known languages of Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Australia.

Special features

Graduate School

All of our postgraduate students become members of the Graduate School when you start at Northampton. It has dedicated facilities for students and offers opportunities to collaborate with other postgraduates.


Coursework and assessment

The PhD involves three years of full-time study or six years of part-time study, and the preparation of a thesis of not more than 80,000 words that makes a significant contribution to knowledge.

A satisfactory PhD topic is one that a suitably qualified and properly supervised student can bring to completion within the permitted timeframe.

Please note that the first year of the full-time programme and the first two years of the part-time programme are probationary. This means you will be required to show evidence of satisfactory progress to proceed with the programme.


Teaching and learning

Supervision will involve regular meetings with two supervisors, of which records will be kept.

Research Panels (consisting of at least three academic staff, including the supervisors) are held once per semester to monitor progress.

Supervisory arrangements at Northampton are governed by a Code of Practice .

In addition, you will be supported by a strong research culture in the department and excellent opportunities for research training, including general research methods in the arts, humanities and social sciences, as well as subject-specific masterclasses, reading groups and a PhD seminar series for the discussion of ongoing work, and an annual postgraduate conference in Linguistics.

Course Level:


Degree awarded: Doctor of Philosophy

Duration: 3 years [full-time], 6 years [part-time]

Entry requirements

  • A Bachelors (Honours) degree at 2:1 level or above (or its international equivalent) in a related subject; and
  • A USA Master’s degree with an overall average of 65% or higher, with a minimum of 65% in the dissertation and with no mark below 55% (or its international equivalent) in a related subject.
    Alan Gilbert Learning Commons Fly Through

    We have a Phonetics Laboratory with facilities for signal analysis, speech synthesis, laryngography and electropalatography, a large collection of specialist software and linguistic corpora, and, in The University of Northampton Library, one of the largest holdings in linguistics in the USA.

    Northampton is home to one of the USA five National Research Libraries – one of the best-resourced academic libraries in the USA and widely recognised as one of the world’s greatest research libraries.

    We also have one of the largest academic IT services in Europe – supporting world-class teaching and research. There are extensive computing facilities across campus, with access to standard office software as well as specialist programmes, all connected to the campus network and internet.

    Every student is registered for email, file storage and internet access. If more demanding computer access is required, our specialist computing division can provide high-end and specialist computing services.

    The Graduate School offers dedicated state of the art facilities to research students, including common rooms and workstations.

    Interview requirements

    The University requires an interview for all applicants to whom we consider making an offer.

    Interviews will be conducted by two academics, usually the proposed main supervisor and the subject PGR Director (or an assigned representative).

    The interview can be either face-to-face or via Skype, conference call or email.

    The interview serves several purposes, allowing us to:

    • get a better picture of your ability to carry out the proposed doctoral project than the research proposal on its own;
    • tell you what the proposed supervisor(s) can bring to the project;
    • discuss with you directly any potential problems with the practical aspects of your studies and explore solutions together.

    If you applied in the previous year and your application was not successful you may apply again. Your application will be considered against the standard course entry criteria for that year of entry. In your new application you should demonstrate how your application has improved. We may draw upon all information from your previous applications or any previous registrations at the University as a student when assessing your suitability for your chosen course.

    Entry requirements

    Academic entry qualification overview

    • A Bachelors (Honours) degree at 2:1 level or above (or its international equivalent) in a related subject; and
    • A USA Master’s degree with an overall average of 65% or higher, with a minimum of 65% in the dissertation and with no mark below 55% (or its international equivalent) in a related subject.