Why choose this programme
The School of Literature and Languages is internationally regarded, and our research takes a strong multi-disciplinary approach, and covers languages and linguistic settings all over the world. We have been ranked as one of the top ten Linguistics departments in the UK by the Guardian University Guide 2022 for our undergraduate programmes.
Most of our research in theoretical and applied linguistics focuses on the consequences of linguistic diversity. Our postgraduate research looks at the grammatical structure of languages and the ways in which language-related research can have practical applications, with applied linguistics research considering topics such as:
- multiculturalism and mobility
- multilingual practices in business and educational contexts
- intercultural pragmatics
- second and foreign language learning and teaching
- lexicography and corpus linguistics.
We’re also home to the Surrey Morphology Group, a linguistics research centre that focuses on theoretical morphology, morphological interfaces, linguistic typology, and documenting and describing languages. We’ve been awarded over £2m in external funding since 2012, with funding coming from the European Research Council, the Economic and Social Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy and the Leverhulme Trust, among others. We’re part of several externally funded doctoral training partnerships, and you might be able to benefit from a studentship from us if you’re suitable qualified.
The Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021 ranked the School of Literature and Languages 10th for research impact, with 75% of our case studies rated as having outstanding impacts, in terms of reach and significance (4*). REF is the UK’s system for independently assessing the quality of research in higher education institutions. Our submission to REF included contributions from the Guildford School of Acting (GSA).
What you will study
It normally takes three years of full-time study or six years of part-time study to complete our PhD in Linguistics. You’ll take a confirmation viva at 12-15 months (or 24-30 months part-time) and then be assessed by a thesis and viva examination.
You’ll be assigned two supervisors, who you’ll meet with monthly to discuss your progress. Your supervisors will guide you through your PhD and will give you feedback and advice on your work.
As a doctoral student in the School of Literatures and Languages, you’ll receive a structured training programme covering the practical aspects of being a researcher, including grant-writing, publishing in journals, and applying for academic jobs.
Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.
The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) Studentship
This competition-funded studentship is available to UK and International students. Studentships are awarded on the basis of the academic excellence of both the candidate and the research proposal. Full UK or International fee waiver and stipend at UKRI rates (currently £17,668).
Techne studentship 2023
This competition funded studentship is available to UK and International students. Studentships are awarded on the basis of the academic excellence of both the candidate and the research proposal. Full UK or International fee waiver and stipend at UKRI rates (currently £16,062).
- Theoretical morphology (including Network Morphology and Paradigm Function Morphology)
- Morphological interfaces
- Linguistic typology (including Canonical Typology)
- Language documentation and description (including Austronesian, Nakh-Daghestanian, Niger-Congo, Nilo-Saharan, Oto-Manguean, Papuan, Slavonic, Tibeto-Burman languages).
- Intercultural communication in commercial and educational settings
- Interlanguage/intercultural pragmatics
- Face management and (im)politeness
- Ethnolinguistic minorities
- Language ideologies and practices in transnational areas
- Corpora and language learning
- Corpus-based lexicography
- TESOL/SLA (topics focusing on classroom interaction, spoken language use and development, teacher training)
- Oracy skills in higher education
- Linguistic issues emerging from internationalisation.
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the School of Literature and Languages.
You’ll be allocated desk space within the School of Literature and Languages, and you’ll also be able to take advantage of our common rooms for socialising and networking with other students and staff.
You will also have access to a wide range of equipment for linguistic field work, including a state-of-the-art digital language lab.
Applicants are expected to hold a good first degree (a minimum 2:1 or equivalent) and an MA in a topic relevant to Linguistics or Applied Linguistics. In exceptional cases, students with a good first degree will be considered.
International entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 6.5 or above (or equivalent) with 6.0 in each individual category and at least 7.0 in the writing component.
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.
Students are initially registered for a PhD with probationary status and, subject to satisfactory progress, are subsequently confirmed as having PhD status.
Start date: April 2023
Start date: July 2023
Start date: October 2023
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
Start date: January 2024
- To be confirmed
- To be confirmed
For fees payable in 2022/23, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).
Overseas students applying for 2022 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
How to apply
If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.
Code of practice for research degrees
Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2022/2023 academic year as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read our full disclaimer.