Triangle

Research overview

Applied linguistics offers a fascinating opportunity to study the interaction between language and the real world. 

Our staff are specialists in the areas of psycholinguistics, language development, second language acquisition and motivation theories of language learning. 

We host research in discourse analysis and sociolinguistics, with particular specialisms in health communication, professional communication, and language, gender and sexuality. We are unique in offering opportunities to do research in literary linguistics, narratology and cognitive poetics.

Students will benefit from joining the Centre for Research in Applied Linguistics, with a long tradition of research on language use in authentic contexts. You will have the opportunity to:

  • gain access to placement and knowledge transfer opportunities
  • join a reading group, or one of the active research groups
  • assist with live research projects
  • attend guest talks by linguistics scholars

Follow your intercultural research interests to a deeper level, in a department ranked 6th nationally in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

Course content

A PhD is mainly made up of independent study, with supervision meetings spread throughout the year.

There are no taught credits attached to a PhD, although it is compulsory for full-time students to attend the Arts Faculty Researcher Skills training programme.

Some PhD students also choose to audit masters modules taught by their supervisors where appropriate, though this is not compulsory, nor does it involve any formal assessment.

Part-time students

Part-time students are expected to attend some face-to-face meetings in the school during the course of their PhD. Although most supervision meetings can be held via Skype etc, students are asked to attend the induction sessions during welcome week if possible, and have their first supervision meeting and at least one supervision a year face-to-face with their supervisory team.

Part-time students are required to take part in all required research training, attend postgraduate seminars where possible, and one postgraduate researcher (PGR) symposium over the period of their registration. Wherever possible the final viva examination will be face-to-face.

Assessment

You will complete a written thesis of up to 100,000 words, with expert support and advice from your academic supervisor(s). You will also take a verbal examination called a viva voce, where you explain your project in depth to an examination panel.

A creative writing thesis will mainly consist of your own original creative work. This could be a novel, a manuscript of poems, a collection of short stories, a play, or another form of creative output. Your thesis will also include a critical analysis of your creative work, which you will situate within a theorised or analytical context.

A PhD thesis should not normally exceed 100,000 words in length. It is expected that the creative element would usually comprise 50,000-70,000 words. The critical analysis component will normally be 15,000-30,000 words in length.

What is the thesis pending period?

All periods of registration are followed by a period of writing-up, called the thesis-pending period, when tuition fees are not paid and students are writing up their thesis.

Find out more in the university's Quality Manual

Annual review

All PhD students take part in annual review assessments to ensure that their project is progressing satisfactorily. An annual review usually consists of a written report.

For full-time students, the first year is probationary (first two years for part-time students), and the first year annual review involves a viva with an independent internal assessor.

Entry requirements

All candidates are considered on an individual basis and we accept a broad range of qualifications. The entrance requirements below apply to 2023 entry.

QualificationPhD
Degree

2:1 (or international equivalent) and a masters degree at Merit level or above.

Applicants without a masters degree who can demonstrate equivalent expertise should contact the School of English.

QualificationPhD
Degree

2:1 (or international equivalent) and a masters degree at Merit level or above.

Applicants without a masters degree who can demonstrate equivalent expertise should contact the School of English.

International and EU equivalents

We accept a wide range of qualifications from all over the world.

For information on entry requirements from your country, see our country pages.

IELTS7.0 (no less than 6.0 in any element)
English language requirements

As well as IELTS (listed above), we also accept other English language qualifications.

This includes TOEFL iBT, Pearson PTE, GCSE, IB and O level English.

Meeting our English language requirements

If you need support to meet the required level, you may be able to attend a presessional English course. Presessional courses teach you academic skills in addition to English language. Our Centre for English Language Education is accredited by the British Council for the teaching of English in the UK.

If you successfully complete your presessional course to the required level, you can then progress to your degree course. This means that you won't need to retake IELTS or equivalent.

For on-campus presessional English courses, you must take IELTS for UKVI to meet visa regulations. For online presessional courses, see our CELE webpages for guidance.

Visa restrictions

International students must have valid UK immigration permissions for any courses or study period where teaching takes place in the UK. Student route visas can be issued for eligible students studying full-time courses. The University of Nottingham does not sponsor a student visa for students studying part-time courses. The Standard Visitor visa route is not appropriate in all cases. Please contact the university’s Visa and Immigration team if you need advice about your visa options.

We recognise that applicants have a variety of experiences and follow different pathways to postgraduate study.

We treat all applicants with alternative qualifications on an individual basis. We may also consider relevant work experience.

If you are unsure whether your qualifications or work experience are relevant, contact us.

Applying

You will be required to provide a PhD proposal with your application, which will set out the structure of your project.

The basis of a good proposal is usually a set of questions, approaches, and objectives which clearly outline your proposed project and what you want to accomplish. The proposal should also clearly demonstrate how you are going to accomplish this.

A PhD proposal should be a minimum of 1000 words. There is no upward limit for proposals, although successful proposals are often not much longer than about 2000-3000 words. You should consider:

  • The methodologies that you will use in your project (as appropriate)
  • The necessary resources and facilities you will need to carry out your project

It is also helpful to include:

  • A summary of any further research experience, in addition to your academic qualifications. This could include work undertaken at undergraduate or masters level, or outside the educational system
  • The name of the supervisor who may supervise the project (see the full list of supervision areas in the school)

Find out more about how to write a research proposal.

Potential applicants are strongly advised to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area.

Our step-by-step guide contains everything you need to know about applying for postgraduate research.

How to apply

Fees

QualificationPhD
Home / UKTo be confirmed
InternationalTo be confirmed

Additional information for international students

If you are a student from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you may be asked to complete a fee status questionnaire and your answers will be assessed using guidance issued by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).

These fees are for full-time study. If you are studying part-time, you will be charged a proportion of this fee each year (subject to inflation).

Additional costs

All students will need at least one device to approve security access requests via Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA). We also recommend students have a suitable laptop to work both on and off-campus. For more information, please check the equipment advice.

Books

You'll be able to access most of the books you’ll need through our libraries, though you may wish to buy your own copies of core texts. The Blackwell's bookshop on campus offers a year-round price match against any of the main retailers (i.e. Amazon, Waterstones, WH Smith).

Funding

Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership

The University of Nottingham has joined with five other universities across the Midlands to form the Midlands Graduate School ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership.

The partnership offers postgraduate studentships across the full breadth of social sciences.

Find out more on our webpage

Midlands4Cities Doctoral Training Programme

Midlands4Cities PhD students benefit from a high quality package of:

  • funding
  • enhanced support and training
  • expert supervision
  • excellent networking opportunities

You must apply for a place at Nottingham before submitting your M4C application.

Apply to become an M4C student at the University of Nottingham

There are many ways to fund your research degree, from scholarships to government loans.

Check our guide to find out more about funding your postgraduate degree.

Postgraduate funding

Support

Regular supervision

You will have a team of at least two supervisors. Full-time students will meet with their supervisory team at least 10 times each year (six times for part-time students).

Your supervisors will help you to realise your research project and to guide you through your research. Many students will also attend conferences and publish papers in conjunction with their supervisors, to gain valuable experience and contacts in the academic community.

Professional development

Research students in the School of English benefit from:

  • Opportunities to teach in the school and develop related skills
  • Student-led fortnightly research seminars and an annual symposium
  • Research networks created by the research centres and individual research projects
  • Research council-funded international research exchange visits with leading universities
  • Co-authorship with members of staff
  • Dedicated staff-postgraduate reading groups
  • Support for participation in international conferences and seminars

Postgraduate seminars and conference attendance

A fortnightly seminar series is run by and for the postgraduate students in the school during term time.

The seminars provide a forum for students to share work in progress with staff and peers, to hear from invited speakers, and to explore key academic and career topics in a supportive atmosphere.

Researcher training and development

The Researcher Academy is the network for researchers, and staff who support them. We work together to promote a healthy research culture, to cultivate researcher excellence, and develop creative partnerships that enable researchers to flourish.

Postgraduate researchers at Nottingham have access to our online Members’ area, which includes a wealth of resources, access to training courses and award-winning postgraduate placements.

Graduate centres

Our graduate centres are dedicated community spaces on campus for postgraduates.

Each space has areas for:

  • studying
  • socialising
  • computer work
  • seminars
  • kitchen facilities

Student support

You will have access to a range of support services, including:

  • academic and disability support
  • childcare services
  • counselling service
  • faith support
  • financial support
  • mental health and wellbeing support
  • visa and immigration advice
  • welfare support

Students' Union

Our Students' Union represents all students. You can join the Postgraduate Students’ Network or contact the dedicated Postgraduate Officer.

There are also a range of support networks, including groups for:

  • international students
  • black and minority ethnic students
  • students who identify as women
  • students with disabilities
  • LGBT+ students

SU Advice provides free, independent and confidential advice on issues such as accommodation, financial and academic difficulties.

Where you will learn

Benefit from three psycholinguistic labs

Labs 1 and 2 have eye-tracking facilities, where you can examine the ways people interact with texts and what aspects of language are more difficult to process. Both labs also have PCs for behavioural research, such as reaction time studies or decision making studies.

Lab 3 is our psychophysiology lab, measuring things like moisture levels in the skin and facial muscle movements, which tell us about the degree and type of emotional responses to a text or other stimulus. Find out more about our labs.

Careers

Whether you are considering a career in academia, industry or haven't yet decided, we’re here to support you every step of the way.

Expert staff will work with you to explore PhD career options and apply for vacancies, develop your interview skills and meet employers. You can book a one-to-one appointment, take an online course or attend a workshop.

International students who complete an eligible degree programme in the UK on a student visa can apply to stay and work in the UK after their course under the Graduate immigration route. Eligible courses at the University of Nottingham include bachelors, masters and research degrees, and PGCE courses.

PhD study will build a range of key transferable skills, including:

  • strong communication skills
  • the ability to carry out independent and original research
  • the ability to present your research in a variety of academic and professional contexts

For postgraduate taught students from the School of English: 

  • 97.4% are in work or study 15 months after graduating
  • 81.6% are in graduate level work or study 15 months after graduating 

Source: University of Nottingham derived figures from HESA's Graduate Outcomes Survey of the Class of 2017/18 (Open Data Release 23rd June 2020)

Applied Linguistics offers exciting opportunities to explore the relationship between language and the real world. Whether you choose to study English language teaching, or language and the brain, the interaction between language and society, or the highly crafted use of language in literature, your research can have a real impact on our linguistic practices.
Violeta Sotirova, Associate Professor in Stylistics

Related courses

Research Excellence Framework

We are ranked 7th in the UK for research power (2021), according to analysis by Times Higher Education. The Research Excellence Framework (REF) is a national assessment of the quality of research in UK higher education institutions.

  • We are proud to be in the top 10 UK universities for research into English, while our ranking of 9th by 'research power' reflects our research excellence
  • 90%* of our research is classed as 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*)
  • 100%* of our research is recognised internationally
  • 51% of our research is assessed as 'world-leading' (4*) for its impact**

*According to analysis by Times Higher Education ** According to our own analysis.

This content was last updated on 24 June 2022. Every effort has been made to ensure that this information is accurate, but changes are likely to occur between the date of publishing and course start date. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply.