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MPhil/PhD Language and Cognition

We offer an active research environment which specialises understanding human communication, language and cognition. You will have the opportunity to study within an interdisciplinary group of experimental psychologists, linguists, speech and language therapists and NHS-based clinicians. Our graduates have an excellent record of employment.

Key Information and Course Fees

PhD Students 202

 

Why do your PhD with us?

  •  we have a wide-ranging focus on basic and applied research into speech, language and cognition in children & adults

  • you will have excellent opportunities to network with world-class researchers within UCL & beyond

  • you can investigate questions that have arisen from your practice as a working professional

  • you can contribute to the evidence base driving better understanding in clinical and educational domains

 

    Timeline for Application

    The following timeline is a good rough guide to the timing for your application. Our MPhil/PhD programme starts at the end of September in any given year.

     

    In October (or earlier) of the year before you want to start:

    • check your eligibility for UCL
    • think through your potential research topic (see research topic section below)
    • start to contact potential supervisors
    • start to draft your research proposal

    By December of the year before you want to start:

    • finalise your research proposal for including with your application
    • identify your referees
    • gather all the appropriate information needed for application (see application section below)
    • submit application

    January of the year before you want to start:

    • Interviews for the MPhil/PhD are generally held in January

    Note: These interviews are also used to identify candidates who can be put forward for competitive scholarships that are funded by UCL (such as Graduate Research Scholarships, Overseas Research Scholarships), and for any demonstratorships, funded by the the School of Psychology and Language Sciences, and for other studentships such as the ESRC (see scholarship section below)

    February - April of the year in which you want to start.

    • offers of admission are sent out
    • candidates find out if they have been successful at obtaining funding.

    Late September of the year in which you want to start:

    • Enrol in your MPhil/PhD programme in Language and Cognition
    If other sources of funding are being considered, it is still in your interest to apply by the early January deadline, but later applications can be considered.  Applications should be made as soon as possible, and not later than June 30th for entry in September/October of the same year.  Interviews for places not funded by UCL/ESRC may take place at any time until late summer.

     

    General Information

    The MPhil/PhD programme commences in late September/early October for all students. As a research student in the Division you will find yourself in a very active research environment and be part of a lively and friendly group of graduates. There is a wide range of technical assistance available when needed, as well as library and computing facilities.

    UCL regulations require that initial registration as a research student is for an MPhil degree. If satisfactory progress is demonstrated a student's registration is 'upgraded' to PhD. As part of the programme students take a range of courses designed to equip them for research. In particular, they take a selection of research methods courses appropriate for different backgrounds, designed to help them develop key research skills, such as the ability to evaluate critically the literature in an area or to perform advanced statistical analyses.

    The full-time PhD typically lasts for 3 years, including the time registered as an MPhil student, and if the thesis is not submitted within this time then students may register as Completing Research Students (CRS) for 1 additional year. The Division is assessed on how many PhD students submit their thesis on time so it is very important full-time students finish within 4 years. You may also study your PhD part-time. Part-time students are normally required to be registered for 5 years, with 2 additional years in CRS if needed. Part-time study arrangements are to be agreed with the supervisor.

    A research student will have a principal supervisor, who takes the lead in the supervisory team and a subsidiary supervisor who enhances the effective supervision of the student's work by contributing a second opinion. Other staff members, as part of a research group, may be closely involved with their work and students are encouraged to discuss their research widely with anyone having relevant experience. The Division of Psychology and Language Sciences contains expertise on a wide range of topics, so that students usually have little difficulty in finding someone who can give good advice. The UCL Doctoral School also offers a range of skills development courses for graduate students. Many full-time research students take some part in departmental teaching by giving tutorials and/or demonstrating in practical classes.

    Each Research Department has a Graduate Tutor who is in charge of academic and pastoral arrangements for MPhil/PhD students. They can provide advice, support, and if necessary action, if any problems arise with respect to research, supervision or other academic problems.

    Structure

    Full-time: 3 years and if the thesis is not submitted within this time then students may register as Completing Research Student for 1 additional year.

    Part time: 5 years and if the thesis is not submitted within this time then students may register as Completing Research Student for 2 additional years.

    Part-time Study

    Studying part-time for a PhD could be appropriate for a number of reasons. For example, if you are a qualified and experienced professional with a strong interest in research and you are keen to carry out a research project in your work environment, this could be right for you.

    We provide administrative and academic support for our part-time PhD students. This makes attending academic meetings and networking with fellow students as convenient as possible. By offering on-line learning, face-to-face and web-based supervision as well as class-based lectures and seminars, we encourage part-time students to become independent learners. We also take care to ensure that appropriate support is provided to assist students who may have been out of study for some time. Part-time students conducting workplace-based research are encouraged to take taught modules that will develop their knowledge and skills in applied research methods.

    Experienced academics in our Department are able to supervise speech and language therapists, audiologists, specialist teachers, psychologists, or other professionals working within the field of communication development and disorder, including intervention in a clinical or education setting. A part-time research degree may be a particularly good option if you wish to investigate research questions arising from your own or your team’s practice. There are strong links between researchers in speech and language therapy, psychology and linguistics and specialist clinicians working in the field through the Centre for Speech and Language Intervention Research and the Literacy, Language, and Communication (LiLaC) research group.

    Research Topics

    The first step in the application process is to decide on your research topic.  You may already have something in mind, but it is essential that before applying, you explore ways in which your own research idea fits in with the research topics offered by our staff.  Below is a list of research topics with the staff who are able to supervise a PhD on that topic.

    Select one or two potential supervisors whose research interests are related to yours, and send them an email containing:

    • a brief CV
    • a clear statement that you are interested in studying for a PhD, stating when you would start, and how you would plan to fund the research
    • a brief statement of your research question or interest, and how you think the question could be investigated.

    Our academic staff are quite happy to receive approaches like this, in order that they can liaise with you to identify a potential research focus of mutual interest.

    The potential supervisor should get back to you within a couple of weeks.

    Typical speech, language and communication development in children

    Caroline Newton

    Courtenay Norbury

    Liz Wonnacott

    Typical literacy development; Statistical learning, learning biases and the nature of human languages

    Fiona Kyle

    Jo Taylor

    Liz Wonnacott

    Language and Mathematical Development

    Chris Donlan

    Bi/multilingualism and English as an additional language (EAL); Second language training studies in adults and children

    Merle Mahon

    Courtenay Norbury

    Jo Taylor

    Liz Wonnacott

    Ageing

    Christina Smith

    Carolyn Bruce

    Cognitive mechanisms in typical and atypical development

    Wendy Best

    Chris Donlan

    Fiona Kyle

    Courtenay Norbury

    John Swettenham

    Jo Taylor

    Atypical speech, language, communication and literacy development in children

    Wendy Best

    Fiona Kyle

    Merle Mahon

    Caroline Newton

    Courtenay Norbury

    Rachel Rees

    Developmental language disorders and speech disorders; communication impairment due to neurological problems in children

    Wendy Best

    Courtenay Norbury

    Rachel Rees

    John Swettenham

    Communication impairment due to neurological problems in adults
    (including Aphasia, Dementia, Traumatic Brain Injury)

    Suzanne Beeke

    Wendy Best

    Carolyn Bruce

    Caroline Newton

    Carol Sacchett

    Christina Smith

    Rosemary Varley

    Jane Warren

    Cognition in adults with neurological impairment

    Suzanne Beeke

    Carolyn Bruce

    Caroline Newton

    Progressive neurological conditions; Palliative care

    Suzanne Beeke

    Steven Bloch

    Christina Smith

    Rosemary Varley

    Numeracy in individuals with acquired communication difficulties

    Carolyn Bruce

    Chris Donlan

    Caroline Newton

    Acquired dysarthria and acquired apraxia of speech

    Steven Bloch

    Rosemary Varley

    Carolyn Bruce

    Dysphagia and swallowing difficulties in children and adults

    Christina Smith

    Conversation Analysis and clinical/institutional interactions

    Suzanne Beeke

    Steven Bloch

    Merle Mahon

    Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC); Children with complex special needs

    Steven Bloch

    Michael Clarke

    Speech, language and communication interventions for children

    Wendy Best

    Caroline Newton

    Courtenay Norbury

    Communication interventions for adults; Behaviour change theory and methods applied to speech and language therapy

    Wendy Best

    Rosemary Varley

    Suzanne Beeke

    Caroline Newton

    Carol Sacchett

    Carolyn Bruce

    Autism spectrum disorder (ASD); Social Communication; Joint Attention; Attention and Perception

    Courtenay Norbury

    John Swettenham

    Deafness and hearing loss in children and adults;

    Carolyn Bruce

    Fiona Kyle

    Merle Mahon

    Rachel Rees

    John Swettenham

    Application

    Before applying, you should:

    • Have or expect to have a relevant first degree of 1st class or 2.1 standard in UK system, or have a Master's degree, or equivalent for overseas degrees.
    • Have a commitment to and demonstrated ability in research. Often your previous experience and performance, such as in an undergraduate or a Master's research project, will show whether research is right for you and you are right for research.


    If you meet the above criteria, the next step is to check whether we can supervise research in your chosen area. We only take MPhil/PhD students to whom we can offer expert research supervision from one of our academic staff. Therefore, your research question needs to engage with the research interests of one of our staff.

    Select one or at most two potential supervisors whose research interests are related to yours, and send them an email containing:

    • a brief CV
    • a clear statement that you are interested in studying for a PhD, stating when you would start, and how you would plan to fund the research
    • a brief statement of your research question or interest, and how you think the question could be investigated.


    Our academic staff are quite happy to receive approaches like this, in order that they can liaise with you to identify a potential research focus of mutual interest.

    The potential supervisor should get back to you within a couple of weeks. They may invite you to apply formally. If they do not, there can be several reasons such as a full quota of research students, planned sabbatical leave and so on.

    If you have difficulty identifying an appropriate supervisor, you can contact the relevant Graduate Tutor or PhD Administrator in the Department to which you are applying. If you are invited by the potential supervisor to apply, you need to submit a formal application. 

    The general procedure for making a formal application is laid out below.

    You need to complete:

    • a Research Proposal of 1000-1500 words in length, to be submitted with the UCL graduate application form. This is an extremely important part of your formal application. It should clearly state the research question, and its importance. It should provide the specific details of experimental or other kinds of studies and data that will be used to address the research question. Logical thinking, clear design of research studies, and relevant methodological knowledge are all key parts of a good research proposal. Where appropriate, the research proposal should explain how initial experiments or studies will lead onto further questions and studies in a coherent progression. The research proposal should be your own work, though the supervisor may give some advice. The word limit (minimum 1000 words, maximum 1500 words) includes all sections and appendices. Only key references rather than a lengthy reference list should be included.

    In addition to the Research Proposal, we suggest that you use the 'Personal statement' section of the UCL graduate student application form to give any details on why you think you are particularly suited for your chosen area of research.

    You will also need to submit a transcript for previous qualifications, references and, where applicable, an English Language test certificate.
     

    Deadlines

    To be considered for all competitive funding awarded by UCL applications must arrive by the 3rd January 2020 for entry in September 2020.  Applications must be complete with references, so please allow time for references to be completed and submitted. At that point you need to have identified a member of staff who has agreed to supervise you, should you be accepted. All applications are rated by 2 academic staff members. Suitable candidates are offered an interview, where they briefly present their research proposal and are questioned by academic staff. Offers of places are generally made within a month of interview. The MPhil/PhD programme starts at the beginning of the UCL autumn term.

    If other sources of funding are being considered, it is still in your interest to apply by the early January deadline, but later applications can be considered. Applications should be made as soon as possible, and not later than June 30th for entry in September/October of the same year.  Interviews for places not funded by UCL may take place at any time until late summer.

    Scholarships

    Many applicants try to obtain a source of funding to help with the course fees and living costs while studying.  Information about scholarships is below.  Please be aware that there is extremely high competition for scholarships.

    Applicants planning to study full-time and self-fund should have sufficient funds to support themselves for a minimum of three years.

    Some students work part-time and study part-time to enable them to self-fund and/or gain some funding from their employer.

    Scholarships

    UK/EU Students

    Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). The ESRC has studentships available on a '+3' or a '1+3' basis. The '+3' studentships are for candidates who already have or expect to obtain an appropriate Master's degree, and provide funding for the three years of the MPhil/PhD programme. The '1+3' studentships provide funding for certain of the MSc programmes, in addition to the three-year MPhil/PhD programme.  Applicants also need to meet the relevant residency requirements.

    ESRC funding at UCL is co-ordinated by the UCL, Bloomsbury & East London Doctoral Training Partnership.

    An additional source of funding open to UK/EU the Division is sometimes able to award Demonstratorships. These are awarded for four years and include a stipend and tuition fees in return for teaching or demonstrating for 300 hours per year.

    Individual members of staff may sometimes be able to support students with the help of research funds that they have obtained from the Research Councils or from various charities or other funding bodies. In this latter case, students usually enrol on a part-time basis.

    UCL also awards a small number of Doctoral School Research Scholarships on a competitive basis.

    Applicants who work in the NHS should be eligible to apply for an NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship.  More information about this can be found in the Allied Health Professionals tab.

    Applicants should be aware that in most scholarships the supervisor has to fill out part of the application, therefore, you cannot progress with a scholarship application without first finding a supervisor.

    Overseas Students

    There are several sources of funding available for overseas students to undertake graduate training in the UK.  Some funding is awarded on a competitive basis by UCL to students nominated by their Departments (e.g. UCL Doctoral School Scholarships). Other sources of funding require students to apply independently, (e.g. British Council, Commonwealth, Chevening, WHO and NATO Scholarships, Government or Employers' Schemes). It is important to make early enquiries about these independent schemes (up to a year in advance).

    International Students

    At UCL MPhil/PhD is not a taught programme per se.  Students usually conduct research on a topic of their own choice that fits in with research topics offered by Language and Cognition staff.  Please look at the staff research topics section above.

    Unlike applying for a PhD in some other countries, at UCL you need to know your topic area and have contacted a potential supervisor from Language and Cognition at the start of your application process.

    International applicants also need to satisfy the UCL English Language requirements to a 'good' level.

    Allied Health Professionals

    The Language and Cognition Research Department is an excellent choice for allied health professionals seeking to do a PhD.  We have outstanding current students and our graduates have gone on to first-rate jobs and careers in academia, the NHS, schools or as self-employed clinicians.  Have a look at the Student Testimonials on this site.

    Funding sources are varied: some students are part-funded from their place of work such as schools or clinics.

    If you are working in NHS, the best source of funding is from NIHR.  An NIHR Clinical Doctoral Research Fellowship enables you to retain your NHS post as the grant pays for backfilling while you are studying. 

    We have a good success rate for getting these very competitive Fellowships.  However, the application process can take up to a year, and you need to have a good working relationship with your potential supervisor in order to prepare your application in good time.

    Student support

    Supervision

    Each MPhil/PhD student will have a primary and a secondary supervisor with whom they will meet regularly.  Where appropriate, additional supervisory support may be arranged, e.g. if a specialist clinician’s expertise is necessary for the project.  The primary supervisor will aim to ensure that the research project is within the scope of the Department's resources and that it is feasible and manageable within the student’s registration period.  S/he will also manage the student’s ongoing progress using the UCL online Research Log system.

    Training

    At the start of the first year, all students will attend the Language and Cognition Induction programme which includes Computing and Library Facilities and an introduction to the UCL online Research Log designed to keep track of progress.

    The student and the primary supervisor will discuss training needs and appropriate modules will be suggested.  Students may select M-Level modules from across UCL.

    Students are encouraged to take courses offered by the UCL Doctoral Skills Development Programme to expand their transferable skills to support their research, professional development and employability.

    Preparation for the upgrade viva and the final viva examination is provided by the supervisors. You will be given an opportunity to have a mock viva.

    Research Environment

    The Department expects research students to participate in the following activities:

    • Regular meetings with supervisors
    • Departmental Research Seminars
    • The annual Language and Cognition PhD Student Conference
    • Post-doc preparation workshops
    • National and International meetings and conferences
    • Writing papers for publication.

    Department Research Seminars

    The Language and Cognition Research Department runs a regular series of interdisciplinary research seminars for all members of staff and research students.  The seminars involve presentations by speakers from other Departments and Universities, and speakers are drawn from a wide range of subject areas.  As a rule we expect all our research students to participate fully in these seminars and we also encourage them to make presentations during the course of their studies.

    Annual Language and Cognition PhD Student Conference

    All PhD students are expected to present either a poster, a 5 minute lightning talk or a longer presentation at the annual PhD Student Conference in each year of their registration.  This exercise provides valuable experience in designing posters, preparing and giving presentations and answering questions from the floor.

    Post-doc preparation workshops

    Research students should attend the series of workshops, covering a variety of topics, to help prepare them for life after they achive the doctorate.  Advice on wider career planning issues is provided by the UCL Careers Service.

    National/International Conferences

    With the support of their supervisors, students may apply to the School of Life and Medical Sciences for funding to attend a conference to make a presentation on their work.  From time to time supervisors may recommend attendance at a conference, without a paper being presented.  Each case is decided on its merits, and funding cannot, therefore, be guaranteed.

    Writing papers for publication

    Working with supervisors, PhD students are encouraged to develop a plan for disseminating their findings in the form of writing papers for publication.  This provides valuable experience in planning dissemination (needed for the viva) as well as in scientific writing.

    Careers

      UCL Language & Cognition is a highly rated and regarded research environment. Recent graduates from the PhD programme have typically been offered employment in the UK and internationally in academic posts, postdoctoral research and health services.

      Some career destinations for our PhD graduates

      • Post-doc in Language and Cognition UCL 2014-2017; now post-doc in University of York 2017-
      • Lectureship in Linguistics Dept, Queen Mary University of London, (2017) following a post-doc in UCL Speech Hearing and Phonetic Sciences (SHaPS) during 2013-2017.
      • Lecturer in Speech Pathology, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 2016-
      • 2 speech and language therapists working in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 2015-
      • Post-doc in UCL Experimental Psychology funded by ESRC for 1 year (2010) followed by a post-doc in UCL’s Health Behaviour Unit (2011); now a lecturer in UCL’s Institute of Education 2012-
      • Clinical Psychology Training, Institute of Psychiatry (2010) now working a clinical psychologist
      • Senior speech and language therapist in NHS Trust, departmental lead for SLT research. Research Champion for the Royal College of Speech and Language Therapists
      • Independent speech and language therapist
        Student Testimonials

        Sharon Adjei-Nicol, Current PhD Student

        Sharon Adjei-Nicol

        My current study for a PhD is the third occasion that I am studying within the department at Chandler House. I had excellent teaching and support when I studied for both my Bachelors and Masters degrees previously so was keen to return. Although I had taken a four-year break to work clinically between completing my Masters and commencing my PhD, I had maintained links with many staff within the department including those who would go on to be my supervisors.

        I have had outstanding support from my supervisors throughout the PhD process and have been able to access the expertise of many other staff within the department too. I chose to complete this course part-time to maintain my clinical skills and have found that the knowledge and skills I have developed have benefited my clinical practice and also provided me with opportunities for career progression within the NHS. I have found that not only my research skills but also my presentation, writing, IT and project management skills have significantly improved over the duration of the course which have all benefited my work clinically. I have enjoyed having the opportunity to extend my expertise in a field that I am passionate about (severe aphasia) with the aim of benefiting patients.

        Although my first-year fees were paid by my workplace I have had to fund the remainder of the study myself. This has been made easier with support from the Catherine Renfrew Fund within the department and by applying for other sources of funding independently for conferences etc.

        I am looking forward to soon completing my PhD and being able to disseminate my findings. I hope to have the opportunity to develop the intervention that I have designed further so that it is accessible to more stroke survivors and to continue to combine research with clinical practice.

        Francina Clayton, PhD Graduate, Post Doc at University of York

        Francina Clayton

         

        My research career began during the second year of my Psychology degree when I was awarded a Wellcome Trust Vacation Scholarship to assist on a project investigating a novel theory of dyslexia. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience, and gaining a practical insight into developmental psychology heightened my interest in pursuing a career in research.

        I was especially attracted to study for my PhD at UCL as it has a worldwide reputation for producing high quality research. I was keen to join the Department of Language and Cognition as I felt my research might contribute to the varied interests of world-renowned researchers in the department. The best thing about UCL is the chance to work with exceptional colleagues and students both within the department and across the Division of Psychology and Language Sciences.  During my time at UCL I have gained a wealth of experience building and participating in academic networks and have learned a range of technical skills through collaborating with expert colleagues.

        I feel that my experience as a PhD student at UCL provided the perfect foundation for a career in research and successfully prepared me for my current position as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of York, where I am currently working on an ESRC-funded project investigating children’s ability to transcode and integrate across different number formats.

        Hanyu Dong, Current PhD Student

        Hanyu Dong

         

        I was attracted to PhD at UCL mainly because I did my Masters here in the same department. I found the lecturers and researchers here really nice and helpful. The facility is well-equipped and the department has a good reputation in the relevant field. My supervisor, Liz, helped me through my Masters and we had good cooperation so I decided to work with her during my PhD.  Both of my parents are professors at university so I guess I had this interest of doing research since my childhood.  Through my learning stages at undergraduate and Masters, I've acquired the essential abilities of being a researcher and I wanted to improve myself during the PhD.

        I was funded by the Chinese government which is renewed on an annual basis. I also work part-time to support my daily life.  The university has a wide range of jobs for PhD students and they are not only well-paid, but also good opportunities for you learn more about the education system here and improve your own ability.

        PhD life here is colourful. We have a lot of events, ranging from academic seminars and workshops  to social parties and trips. London is a city of diversity so you'll always find something you can enjoy.

        I plan to do a Post-doc after my PhD. I've a lot of potential destinations such as Australia and USA. For the long term plan, I'd love to become a research back in China, either in the university or research facility.

        Claudia Heilemann, Current PhD Student

        Claudia Heilemann

         

        While studying Speech and Language Therapy at the University of Munich, I decided to undertake a research internship in the Language & Cognition (L&C) Department at UCL. I was fascinated by the varied expertise of the L&C staff, e.g. Conversation Analysis applied to Speech and Language Therapy settings, or designing and evaluating language intervention programmes for people with post-stroke speech and language impairments. It became clear to me that I wanted to continue staying at UCL and starting with a PhD programme, and I secured ESRC funding for my PhD project.

        As a researcher based at UCL, you have great opportunities for networking (London frequently hosts specialist conferences), and the UCL Communication Clinic contributes to an excellent environment to do aphasia research. There is a vibrant postgraduate community and lab/special interest groups that bring together clinicians and academics. I particularly enjoy sharing an office with other PhD students, as you can exchange ideas and get peer support which enriches my project work.

        Alongside my PhD studies, I can also develop my teaching skills (I’m leading tutorials for undergraduate students). UCL offers various transferable skills training opportunities for PhD students through the Doctoral Skills Development Programme.

        My time at UCL prepares me well for future work opportunities inside and outside academia and for my desired next step as a postdoctoral researcher.

         

        Claire Murphy, Current PhD Student and School-based Speech and Language Therapist

        claire-murphy

         

        After working a speech and language therapist (SLT) for 12 years, I headed back to university, starting a PhD in Language and Cognition at UCL in September 2016.

        Daunting? Yes.

        But am I glad that I made this decision? Absolutely.

        Two years prior to starting my PhD, I completed a Language Sciences MSc at UCL. Thus, when applying for a PhD, I knew that UCL was my first choice - a supportive, dynamic university where a number of the professors are speech and language therapists too. I contacted my potential supervisor, compiled a PhD proposal (focusing on Developmental Language Disorder and Reading Comprehension), and subsequently was offered a place to study a Language and Cognition PhD. The next step was to apply for funding and I was fortunate enough to secure a scholarship from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This funding is extremely helpful as it covers tuition fees and pays a stipend for living expenses. I also combine my PhD with clinical work (one-day per week, term time only). This works well and I feel that it has enhanced my clinical practice.

        With regard to the PhD itself, I am truly enjoying the opportunity to focus on a SLT relevant area in depth and, hopefully, make a useful contribution to the research base. The PhD has also offered many opportunities. For example, a diverse range of courses that are usually free or subsidized, opportunities to audit (attend on an informal basis) relevant MSc modules, and weekly departmental talks from a wide range of speakers. In addition, Language and Cognition PhD students are situated in a shared office at UCL. This shared base with others is really helpful, even if you are all doing different projects.

        As for the future, I decided to do a PhD as I was very interested in my topic and the possible implications for speech and language therapy. I do not envisage a career in academia (...but never say never!). Whatever happens, I know I will be equipped with a deeper knowledge of my topic area and a diverse skillset that I would otherwise have been less likely to acquire.

        Anna Volkmer, Current PhD Student and NHS-based Speech and Language Therapist specialising in Adult Mental Health

        anna-volkmer

         

        Having completed my undergraduate degree at UCL it seemed natural to return to UCL to do my PhD. I was, however, most attracted to UCL by the positive regard for clinical and academic researchers and support from my potential PhD supervisor. Having identified and contacted a potential supervisor she explored my PhD ideas with me, and enabled me to refine these as I applied for my National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Doctoral Research Fellowship. My NIHR fellowship matches the wage I was earning as a band 7 speech and language therapist (and all the increments I would have been eligible for). The fellowship also pay my fees, supports me to purchase equipment, reimburse participants where relevant and supports me to attend conferences.

        I have found that I have been able to employ my skills as a speech and language therapist throughout my research so far as I have worked with research participants, or have consulted with support groups for advice. I have particularly enjoyed the opportunities to expand my research skills by attending courses and learning new skills from colleagues and peers. I have also had opportunities beyond the confines of my PhD and have been lecturing on the master’s speech and language therapy course. This is something I have taken particular pleasure in- spreading the word to new generations of SLTs.

        I feel the PhD I am doing is preparing me for a career as a clinical researcher. I will be able to use many of the skills in my routine clinical practice to provide a more evidence based service. But I feel I am learning how to work within a research team and department. I am developing analytic thinking around research development and design. I have already been forging relationships and networks and have commenced collaborations with established researchers - an important asset for a future in research. I hope to be able to pursue a future career as a clinical researcher and I really feel that UCL is a wonderful and rich environment to start this journey.

        Student Publications

        Some publications from our PhD graduates:

        Best, W., Grassly, J., Greenwood, A., Herbert, R., Hickin, J., Howard, D. (2011). A controlled study of changes in conversation following aphasia therapy for anomia. Disability and Rehabilitation 33 (3), 249-242.

        Best, W., Greenwood, A., Grassly, J., Herbert, R., Hickin, J., Howard, D. (2013) Aphasia rehabilitation: can language profiles predict generalisation from word production therapy? Cortex 49(9), 2345-2357.

        Denmark, T., Atkinson, J., Campbell, R., Swettenham, J. (2014). How do typically developing deaf children and deaf children with Autism Spectrum Disorder use the face when comprehending emotional facial expressions in British Sign Language. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 2584-2592

        Dyson, H., Best, W., Solity, J. Hulme, C. (published on line 2017) Training Mispronunciation Correction and Word Meanings Improves Children’s Ability to Learn to Read Words. Scientific Studies of Reading.

        Johnson, F.M., Best, W., Beckley, F.C., Maxim, J. & Beeke, S. (2016) Identifying mechanisms of change in a conversation therapy for aphasia using behaviour change theory and qualitative methods. International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders 52, (3), 374–387 http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1111/1460-6984.12279/full

        Matthews, R. A., Woll, B., & Clarke, M. (2012). Researching the acceptability of using Skype to provide Speech and Language Therapy. International Journal of Integrated Care, 12(Suppl1).

        McCarthy, K., Evans, B.G., & Mahon, M. (2013) The production of stops and vowels by London-Bengali speakers. Journal of Phonetics 41 (5):344-358

        McCarthy, K., Mahon, M., Rosen, S., Evans, B. (2014) Speech Perception and Production by Sequential Bilingual Children: A Longitudinal Study of Voice Onset Time Acquisition. Child Development 85, I5, 1965–1980.

        McCarthy, K.; Evans, B.G.; & Mahon, M.; (2011) Detailing the phonetic environment: a sociophonetic study of the London-Bengali community. Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS XVII) pp.1354-1357

        Remington, A., Swettenham, J., Campbell, R., Coleman, M. (2009). Selective attention and perceptual load in Autism Spectrum Disorder. Psychological Science 20 (11), 1388-1393

        Remington, A; Campbell, R, Swettenham, J. (2012) Attentional status of faces for people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice, 16 (1) 59 - 73.

        Remington, A; Swettenham, J. Lavie, N (2012). Lightening the load: perceptual load impairs visual detection in typical adults but not in autism. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 121 (2) 544 – 551

        Tillmann, J., Olguin, A., Tuomainen, J., & Swettenham, J. (2015). The effect of visual perceptual load on auditory awareness in autism spectrum disorder. J Autism Dev Disord, 45 (10), 3297-3307.

        Zhou, L. Duff, F. & Hulme, C. (2015) Phonological and Semantic Knowledge are Causal Influences on Learning to Read Words in Chinese. Scientific Studies of Reading, 19, 409-418

        Contact

        For further information about applying for a PhD in Language and Cognition please contact the PhD Administrator Richard Jardine.

        Graduate Tutor: Merle Mahon

        Deputy Graduate Tutor: Courtenay Norbury

        Open Evening
        There are no open days planned at the moment. Unfortunately due to limitations on staff time we aren't able to provide individual tours of the department.  However you can find out more about the department by watching the tour of our building, Chandler House in Bloomsbury, London:

        YouTube Widget Placeholderhttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8oLyvsZfCs

        To discover more about UCL you can take a virtual tour or do the self-guided campus walking tour.  Lecture theaters and teaching spaces in Chandler House are similar to those that are shown in the UCL virtual tour.
        FAQs
        Am I eligible to apply? / Will my application be accepted?

        You need to have or expect to have a relevant first degree of 1st class or 2.1 standard in the UK system, or a Master's degree, or equivalent for overseas degree to be eligible to apply.

        We are looking for applicants who have demonstrated ability in research. Often your previous experience and performance, such as in an undergraduate or a Master's research project, will show whether research is right for you and you are right for research.

        The whole application is used to make a decision on whether to offer you a place: This includes your academic transcript/s, your research proposal, your contact with, and provisional support from a potential supervisor in the Language and Cognition Research Department, your previous employment; your references and personal statement.

        You can make the best possible application by ensuring by writing a feasible research proposal and a strong personal statement.

        What makes a good research proposal?

        All good proposals must be both informative and persuasive. You need to clearly describe the topic, its aims and objectives, and its methodology. This should be done as concisely as possible. Your initial proposal - prior to contacting a potential supervisor should not exceed 3,000 words.  If the potential supervisor is interested in your proposal the two of you will usually refine and develop it together to produce a final research proposal.

        A good proposal will usually have the following basic elements, though their order and weighting can of course vary:

        A working title: Make this clear and descriptive
        Clear and defined research question(s).
        Explain the background and issues of your research
        What are your aims and objectives?
        What are the parameters? Explain why you have chosen them?
        What sources / data will you use?
        How realistic is your project in practical terms? Your question needs to be answerable within a set timeframe
        Are there ethical considerations that need to be considered?
        In what ways will your research create valuable and useful knowledge?

        What makes a strong personal statement?

        Your personal statement should be concise and clear.  You should demonstrate an understanding of what is entailed in doing a PhD at UCL.  Include comments about how completing MPhil/PhD in Language and Cognition will benefit your further academic or professional career.  This is your opportunity to show how your independent study, work-experience or personal interests contribute to your understanding.

        How do I find funding for my MPhil/PhD?

        Once you have a supervisor who supports your research proposal your supervisor will be able to discuss the funding options available.

        Look out for events that are organised by the department to give information on various funding options.

        How do I apply?

        All applications are completed through the UCL online application system. Before applying please do read through the 'application guideline for research programmes'.

        When you are ready to apply scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the ‘accept and apply’ button.

        It is a long time since I graduated, do I need an academic reference?

        Yes, in almost all cases your undergraduate and/or postgraduate university will still be able to provide an academic reference, whether this is from a tutor or a project supervisor. As the MPhil/PhD in Language and Cognition is an academic undertaking, these references are important. If it’s difficult to get an academic reference, get in touch with us to talk about it.

        What are the English language requirements for overseas students?

        Before you enrol you will be expected to evidence English language proficiency at the UCL Good level, UCL now accepts a wide range of tests as evidence.

        I haven't completed my Masters degree, can I still apply?

        Yes, you will need to provide a transcript of the results you have achieved to date when you apply. If an offer of admission is made it will be on condition that you complete your degree to the required standard before you start your MPhil/PhD.

        I don't have a Masters degree. Can I still apply?

        It is sometimes possible to be accepted onto a PhD programme even without a Masters degree. A potential supervisor may decide to accept you directly onto a programme if you are able to demonstrate a sufficient level of knowledge and skills. Having a publication or previous research you have done can be helpful here.

        Alternatively, you may apply for a "1+3" programme, in which you complete a Masters degree before moving directly into the PhD. Each programme requires different levels of pre-planning, and students are encouraged to think about potential supervisors for the PhD component, which starts in the second year, before starting out. These programmes are particularly useful for students who are moving into Language and Cognition-related research from other fields, and those who do not have substantial previous research experience.

        When should I apply?

        The application deadline is listed in the Key Information box at the top of this webpage.  It is recommended that you apply as soon as you are able as if you apply later, delays gathering references and completing checks can hinder your application. You should also be aware of any funding deadlines that you want to apply for.

        Can I work while doing my MPhil/PhD in Language and Cognition?

        Full-time UK/EU students

        Students are able to work whilst doing you MPhil/PhD but we would expect full-time students to be able to attend departmental meetings and seminars and to attend at least two taught modules in the first year.  Students need to be progressing sufficiently to be ready to upgrade from MPhil to PhD.

        There are restrictions if you are funded by a research council.  You are not able to receive a scholarship if you have a full-time job or have a part-time job that is a permanent post.

        Part-time UK/EU students

        You are able to work as a part-time student as long as you are able to commit to attending supervisory meetings, seminars and at least two taught modules over the first two years.

        Overseas students

        If you require a Tier 4 visa to study you must not work more than the maximum number of hours allowed by your visa. More information is on the Tier 4 Responsibilities webpage

        All applicants should be aware that doing a PhD represents a significant time commitment and we are unable to make allowances for employment.  Some students in the past have found it challenging to continue working while they study.  It would be a good idea to discuss any plans to work whilst studying with your supervisor in advance.