PhD in Linguistics

Application Code: PhD Languages, Cultures & Linguistics Z129 (full-time) & Z130 (part-time)

The PhD in Linguistics is a research degree. Students with prior training in Linguistics, typically an MA or an MLitt or equivalent in Linguistics, work independently on a research topic of their choice in one of the research areas in Linguistics represented at UCD. They include, but are not limited to the broad areas of Sociolinguistics, Pragmatics, Language Contact, Syntax and Phonetics and Phonology, for details see staff profiles.

We encourage applications from candidates who are interested in pursuing interdisciplinary research projects that straddle different subdisciplines of Linguistics such as Phonetics/Phonology and Sociolinguistics and/or Pragmatics using a variety of methodological approaches. Candidates who are interested in projects that focus on the interaction between Linguistics and other disciplines in the Humanities and Social Sciences are also very welcome to apply. We are particularly interested in projects that explore aspects of language and language use[1] in Ireland (Irish English, Irish and the languages of newcomers to Ireland), including multilingual language practices in a variety of contexts, and projects that focus on the structure and development of lesser-used languages worldwide.

Students do their research under the close guidance of one member of staff in Linguistics or two members of staff if the project has an interdisciplinary focus. In addition to their supervisor(s), students also regularly receive advice on their work from the members of the PhD advisory panel. The panel consists of members of staff in Linguistics and from relevant cognate disciplines. As part of their degree, students also take several modules in Linguistics and cognate disciplines in order to acquire the necessary skills to carry out their research project. The degree is generally completed over a period of three to four years.


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The PhD in Linguistics is best suited for students who have completed a BA, MA or MLitt (or equivalent) in linguistics with a high GPA and who want to explore a specific topic in more detail either for professional reasons or in order to prepare for a career in linguistics.

You will work closely with one or two staff members, your thesis supervisor(s) who has(have) extensive experience in the area. You will define your research question(s) and the activities involved in pursuing the research with your supervisor(s). Throughout the project, you will engage regularly with your supervisor(s) and your dissertation panel about the progress of your research. This includes but is not limited to defining readings and tasks, discussing findings and difficulties, making presentations and submitting chapter drafts.

The PhD programme involves an element of course attendance. The modules on offer are designed to prepare the candidate to be a more effective researcher. Candidates who have already demonstrated their ability to do research may receive waivers for some such modules. It is also possible to attend graduate modules in Linguistics and/or other areas relevant to your research.

The UCD Structured PhD aims to enable PhD students to achieve the best possible experience of graduate research and training. Making a substantial and original contribution to knowledge, normally leading to peer-reviewed publications, remains the core objective of doctoral studies. The Structured PhD includes several innovative measures designed to support you in achieving your academic and professional objectives, which are outlined below.

Doctoral Studies Panel 
SLCL will appoint a Doctoral Studies Panel for you before you commence your PhD. The purpose of the Doctoral Studies Panel is to support and enhance the supervisor-student relationship, to monitor your progress during the course of your doctoral studies and to provide advice and support both to you and your supervisor(s).  See Link to Academic Regulations below for more information.

Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP) 
Research and professional development planning is an integral part of the Structured PhD programme at UCD. The purpose of such planning is to ensure that your work is clearly focused on achieving your research and professional development goals. This will play a major part in informing the trajectory of your PhD research and in your training and development as a researcher as we as in helping you to acquire transferable skills for work after your PhD. For further information on the RPDP please click here.

Transferable Skills Training 
As a PhD graduate, your skill-set will naturally include the advanced research and analytical techniques required to undertake high level research in your field. You will also be expected to possess a range of transferable skills, relevant to the successful completion of your research project and to broader career development.  Taught modules, online modules and workshops covering a wide range of transferable skills and research skills topics are available to assist you. Please visit Research Student Training and Development for further information.

Credits and Modules
Students will need to gain 30 credits through core and optional modules in the course of their PhD programme. One credit corresponds to 20-25 hours student effort. There is a large selection of modules available across the university, both discipline-specific modules to broaden and deepen your knowledge of your discipline and research skills modules to provide advanced training in relevant research methodologies. All modules will be selected in consultation with your Principal Supervisor.

Doctoral studies, which are normally completed by full-time students within four years, comprise two stages:

Stage 1 is a period when you define your research plan, develop your research skills and initiate original research work for your doctorate. For doctoral students progression from Stage 1 to Stage 2 normally occurs within the first 12-18 months (or 24-36 months for part-time students).

In order to move from Stage 1 to Stage 2 PhD students will need to successfully complete a transfer assessment following a minimum one calendar year period of registration to the Research degree programme and subject to any policy the University may establish. Further information and guidelines regarding doctoral programmes may be found in Sections 11 – 22 of the University Academic Regulations.

Stage 2 is primarily dedicated to continuing your original doctoral research but may also include some advanced education and training.

Further information can be found in Section 18 of the Academic Regulations.

Academic Regulations
The regulations governing the UCD Structured PhD Programme are available HERE

UCD Research Ethics
Regulations governing UCD Research Ethics are available HERE 

Further Information
For further information, please contact the School's Director of Graduate Studies, Associate Professor Síofra Pierse at

There will be no scholarships offered by SLCL available for 2019/20.


Other scholarships can be found here:


Tuition fee information is available on the UCD Fees website:

Fees are subject to change.

Students who wish to apply for the PhD in Linguistics must first identify a potential supervisor and contact them directly with their PhD project area to discuss the research proposal. The thesis proposal is not fully binding but allows us to determine the broad area of Linguistics that a candidate wishes to do research in and their interests.

Proposals should include the following information: a precise research question, a discussion of the types of data and (data collection and analysis) methods to be used in the research, a discussion of the academic motivations for the project and an indicative list of references. Before writing the proposal, candidates should contact a potential thesis supervisor in Linguistics at UCD for a preliminary discussion.

Then they must prepare an application: this would normally involve a thesis proposal of approximately 1000-1500 words, including a substantial bibliography, a representative writing sample, a full CV, and two confidential academic references that must be sent directly to the potential supervisor.

Please find further detailed information on the School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics (SLCL) application process HERE.

Non-EU students should apply as early as possible – between January and March, and ideally no later than early May – as most of the scholarship competitions take place between February and April and the issuing of visas may take up to three months, particularly during the summer when there is usually a high volume of applications. For information about funding, please contact the UCD International Office.

For any technical and administrative help with the application, please contact

For any additional information about academic issues relating to the programme, please contact

Selected PhD Thesis Completed or in Progress at UCD:

  • Xu Jiahan (ongoing) Conceptual Transfer (Lexical and Syntactic) from L1 Chinese to L2 English (Supervisor: Prof Bettina Migge)
  • Qing Liang Meng (ongoing) Promoting Interpreter Competence through Input Enhancement of Prefabricated Lexical Chunks (Supervisor: Dr Sandrine Peraldi)
  • O’Dwyer, Fergus (2019) Language Practices and male identities in a Dublin GAA club. (Supervisors: Bettina Migge and Máire Ní Chiosáin)
  • McCarney, Owen (2015) Neoliberalism, Irish Polity, and the demise of the public sphere: a critical analysis of Irish Governmental Discourse in the Boom Years (1997-2007) (Supervisor: Bettina Migge)
  • Kesevan, Hemavita (2015) Classroom discourse: Discursive practices of native and non-native English teachers in the EFL classroom  (Supervisor: Bettina Migge)
  • Lonergan, John (2013) An Acoustic and Perceptual Study of Dublin English Phonology (Supervisors: Máire Ní Chiosáin and Bettina Migge)
  • Gordian, Emenyonu (2012) Complex Predicates in Igbo: A Decomposition Approach. PhD dissertation. (Supervisor: J. Ouhalla)
  • Ó Donnchadha, Gearóid (2010) Syntactic Structure Building and the Verbal Noun in Modern Irish: A Minimalist Approach. PhD dissertation. (Supervisor: J. Ouhalla)
  • Garcia-Ordiales, Nuria (2008) Clitic-placement in Asturian: A Phase-based Approach. PhD dissertation. (Supervisor: J. Ouhalla)