UCL Deafness Cognition and Language Research Centre


Are you interested in postgraduate study at DCAL?

26 February 2012

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DCAL is an outstanding place for postgraduate studies in deafness, cognition and language. All students are integrated into the DCAL community in a personal and academic capacity, and in a practical capacity.

In addition to supervision from one or more DCAL staff, students benefit from seminars and centre meetings, and have full access to DCAL resources such as the specialist DCAL library, laboratories, studio space and video editing suite.

There is a research student room on the 4th floor in DCAL itself. Some students also have workspace elsewhere in University College London (UCL), depending on where their supervisor is based. But students are also always on the move, attending meetings and training courses, not only within DCAL but also around UCL. They travel regularly outside of London for conferences and meetings, and often travel to collect data for their research projects.

Applications are invited for students wishing to study for an MPhil/PhD degree at DCAL. This includes students who have an undergraduate degree (UK 2:1 or better, or top 40% in the class) and who have research interests that fit in with DCAL staff expertise and interests. Inquiries and applications from deaf students are particularly welcome.

Postgraduate conference showcases international sign language research

Postgraduate students from DCAL organised a unique conference on 16 September 2011 to showcase sign language research at an international level - the first postgraduate Current Issues in Sign Language, Deafness and Cognition Conference (CISLDC).

The conference organising committee, made up of 5 postgraduate students from UCL and 1 postgraduate student from City University London, won a grant to fund the event from the Linguistics Association of Great Britain, which is the leading professional association for academic linguists in Great Britain.

The one day conference, held at University College London (UCL), brought together 80 speakers and delegates from as far afield as Turkey, Iceland, China and Brazil. It was a unique event, enabling young academics from a variety of disciplines related to sign language linguistics to come together to disseminate their findings and share insights into sign language research from across the world. 

Presentations included the documentation of endangered sign languages such as Inuit Sign Language, and number and negation in Ugandan Sign Language, semantic organisation in the deaf mind, and assessment of deaf children with language impairment and/or autism. The official languages of the conference were English and British Sign Language (BSL).

The two invited plenary speakers were Dr Pamela Perniss from Radboud University Nijmegen/Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and Patrick Matthews from the Centre for Deaf Studies at Trinity College, Dublin.

Dr Perniss talked on current issues regarding language embodiment and iconicity, and Patrick Matthews on changes in handshape in Irish Sign Language under the influence of English.

Other presentations included "Conversational Repair in Argentinean Sign Language", "The Expression of Spatial Relations in Turkish Sign Language", and "Similar and Unique Prosodic Marking in Israeli (ISL) and American (ASL) Sign Languages."

Researchers came from numerous universities overseas, while the British institutions represented were Leeds University, Cambridge University, University of Central Lancashire, Bristol University, Heriot-Watt University, University of London (including UCL, Institute of Education, and SOAS), University of Birmingham, and City University London.

DCAL Director, Professor Bencie Woll said of the conference: "This was a seminal and exciting event for all working with sign language, deafness and cognition, showcasing the work of new young researchers joining the field. Research areas included linguistics, psycholinguistics, neuroscience, language documentation, interpreting, typology, literacy, bilingualism, atypical language development and language assessment.

"Although aimed at postgraduate students it attracted well-known senior research colleagues including Dr Onno Crasborn and Dr Ellen Ormel. Importantly it was also well attended by language professionals who work with deaf people. The rich mix of participants provided an energetic and supportive environment in which junior researchers could get feedback on their work, as well as comments on how to present to an academic audience."

Members of the CISLDC organising committee reflecting on the conference agreed that it had been an exceptional day for all involved. Many people expressed an interest for the conference to become an annual event, and discussions about a 2012 CISLC event are underway.

Discussions continue through coffee break at the first postgraduate conference on Current Issues in Sign Language Deafness and Cognition - CISLDC 2011.
Photo: Zed Sevcikova/DCAL


CISLDC conference attendees


International postgraduate researchers and senior academic speakers get together for a group photo in front of the DCAL building at UCL to celebrate the success of CISLDC - 2011. Photo: Zed Sevcikova/DCAL