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We offer flexible modes of study designed to fit with your needs. Our PhD is available for study on a full-time basis over 3-4 years and part-time over 5-6 years.


Modes of Study


Support services

Doctoral Research Community

Fees and Funding

English Language Support

Life at Reading

How to apply and entry requirements



Both full-time and part-time variants are available for study in Reading, as well as PhD by Distance.

PhD by Distance students spend the first year of their studies on campus and the further years at another site and normally have a supervisor/mentor at their local site. There must be an academic rationale for this status to be granted and the University assesses each application on an individual basis.

Additionally, some of our PhD students are involved in interdisciplinary projects or projects with another academic or industrial partner. In these cases they may be followed by a supervisor from outside the university, and interact with a wider range of staff.

PhD opportunities


PhD Programmes in Applied Linguistics

We run two PhD programmes in the Department: the PhD in Applied Linguistics and the PhD in Applied Linguistics (Taught-Track & Thesis), both requiring three to four years of study. During the first year, students on both programmes are required to attend two campus-based Applied Linguistics modules and one research-related module, in addition to regular discussions on their specialist topic with their supervisor. Students on the taught-track programme are also assessed on three further research-related modules.

The PhD in Applied Linguistics programme is most suitable for applicants who have some experience of conducting research.

The PhD in Applied Linguistics (Taught-Track & Thesis) programme is recommended for applicants who have little or no previous experience of conducting research. At the end of the first year, these students will produce a 20,000-word Dissertation which will form the basis of their final thesis.


The Department of English Language & Applied Linguistics is a welcoming place, with a regular opportunity for research students to meet one another and engage in stimulating intellectual debate. Regular series of research seminars are organized by each of the Department's research centres.

As a postgraduate research student at Reading you will have access to the Graduate School. At the heart of this is Old Whiteknights House, a dedicated facility that provides space for doctoral researchers to work and network with others. Old Whiteknights House is a beautiful Victorian building that has been carefully modernised to provide a range of excellent resources and amenities. It also houses a number of support staff who deal exclusively with doctoral research matters and administration at Reading.


The University of Reading has one of the best collections of books and journals in TESOL and Applied Linguistics in the United Kingdom, including an excellent electronic collection that allows students to access many online books and articles off campus. Many MA modules are supported by specialist article collections. There is also a self-access learning centre, access to language corpus facilities and several computer laboratories.


Training is an intrinsic part of your development as a researcher. In the first two years of your degree course, we require you follow a programme of relevant postgraduate lecture courses agreed between you and one or both of your supervisors.

You will be required to undertake courses on the Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP). Depending on the respective funder for your PhD, further training via attendance at advanced courses, meetings and workshops may also form part of your PhD programme.

The Graduate School's Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP) offers a rich array of training sessions and workshops which have been especially designed to help you gain the additional skills that will enable you to carry out your research professionally and effectively. The RRDP is delivered primarily using the expertise of academic and specialist staff within the University and complements any subject-specific training that we provide. The RRDP includes training sessions on research methods, writing academic papers, getting published, public engagement and career planning.

In addition to the RRDP, doctoral researchers will also have the chance to access the following development opportunities:

Preparing to teach

A programme focused on the skills needed for teaching and learning activities.

Developing your potential as a leader

This leadership programme is jointly run with the triple accredited Henley Business School.

Academic English Programme

Supporting international students to develop their academic English skills with a range of classes and services.

PhD Plus

A scheme specifically for international doctoral researchers who are lecturers in their home country.

Find out more about PhD Plus


Over the course of your PhD you will also be involved in opportunities to communicate your work and network with other researchers, present a seminar, speak at conferences and workshops, and visit or host researchers from elsewhere.

The Department encourages you to attend conferences and other events to widen your network of contacts. To this end we assist with arranging travel and accommodation.

There are also opportunities to teach on undergraduate courses.


You will be assigned a supervisor within the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics who will normally meet with you regularly to provide support. Additionally, you will be allocated a monitoring committee of two people who will meet you twice a year to ensure that you are on track with your studies and help you to resolve any issues you may have with progression or supervision.

The Department can also provide special needs support, which you find out more about using the contact details on this page. You will have also have access to the Doctoral Research Office.

Located in the Graduate School, the Doctoral Research Office provides advice and support for current and prospective students. The Doctoral Research Office is a key point of contact for any doctoral researchers who have questions relating to registration, student status, immigration, studentships, University policy and procedures.



You will join a vibrant doctoral community within the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics, working alongside visiting researchers and academic staff. The Applied Linguistics Research Circle provides weekly talks from well-known researchers outside the University - these are open to all PhD students. Every year, all Applied Linguistics PhD students present at the annual Language Studies PhD Conference, an event that is organised by the department and which is open to the Institute of Education, Psychology & Clinical Language Sciences, International Study & Language Institute, Modern Languages & European Studies.

In addition to offering training and support to doctoral researchers, the Graduate School co-ordinates a range of activities which bring students together from across the University. These include the annual Doctoral Research Conference, an event which showcases the variety and excellence of postgraduate research taking place at Reading. The conference features a number of competitions and presentations including the PhD researcher of the year award.

Another event that celebrates academic excellence is the Graduate School's annual public lecture - the Fairbrother Lecture - delivered by a current or recent postgraduate research student. This is a fantastic opportunity for a wider audience to hear about high quality doctoral research taking place at Reading.

The achievements and success of doctoral researchers is regularly promoted through the Graduate School Bulletin and on the Graduate School homepage.


You can find out more about fees for University of Reading PhD programmes by clicking on the link below.

Tuition fees for new postgraduate research students

Sources of funding

Main sources of financial support for PhD study in English Language and Applied Linguistics are the

ESRC South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) PhD Studentship in Linguistics

University International Research Studentships

Qualified UK graduates are usually eligible for full funding by the Research Councils, whilst other EU students are usually eligible for funding of fees only.

ESRC South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) PhD Studentship in Linguistics

The Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics at the University of Reading is inviting applicants for the ESRC South East Network for Social Sciences PhD Studentship in Linguistics. The studentship will cover all tuition fees, a maintenance stipend of £14,533 per year as well as additional funding for research training and support.

Applicants wishing to be considered for this studentship must apply for a PhD place in the Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics. The department welcomes applicants interested in working in a wide range of areas including: language analysis, acquisition, bi/multilingualism, academic literacies, language pedagogies, corpus analysis, code-switching, sociolinguistic variation, discourse analysis of power and gender, world Englishes, political discourse analysis and media discourse.

The University of Reading is at the forefront in innovative research in English Language Studies and Applied Linguistics.

Find out more about South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS)

University of Reading Regional PhD Bursaries

The University of Reading is delighted to announce a new scheme aimed at supporting local residents to achieve their highest academic potential, as well as enhancing their professional

prospects. University of Reading Regional PhD Bursaries are designed to give candidates within the region the chance to study at one of the top 200 universities in the world (QS World University Rankings 2018) and benefit from the all-round training on offer to our doctoral researchers.

Find out more about University of Reading Regional PhD Bursaries.

Overseas students

Overseas students are, in general, responsible for finding suitable funding. Information on overseas scholarships can be obtained by emailing and from the British Council.

Information on potential funding for students from Commonwealth countries is also available from the Association of Commonwealth Universities.

Information on the University's studentships open to overseas applicants can be found on our Money Matters pages.

See also University International Research Studentships.

Alumni fee discounts

If you have already studied at the University of Reading you will get 10% off the fees of the first year of your postgraduate degree (up to a maximum of £1,000).

Apply for your alumni fee discount.


The Academic English Programme (AEP) enables international and EU students at the University of Reading to develop their academic English skills.

There is an extensive range of courses, including critical writing, essay and dissertation writing, speaking, listening, pronunciation, academic grammar and vocabulary, and social English. You can also have individual tutorials.

All of the courses are taught by highly qualified and experienced academic English teachers, and class sizes are kept small (generally less than 16 students), so there are plenty of opportunities to ask questions and get personalised feedback.

You can find out more information on the Academic English Programme Website


The University of Reading offers the peace and tranquillity of an award-winning parkland campus, just a short bus ride from a vibrant town centre. Our thriving community is made up of students from around the world, and our range of clubs and societies offer many opportunities to meet like-minded people.

Our Campuses


Town Life and Transport Links

The Library

Clubs and Societies

Little Learners Nursery

The Little Owl Pre-School


1. Check our entry requirements

To be accepted onto a research degree programme, you will need to have obtained a strong merit grade (equivalent to 65% or above on a UK programme for both the coursework and the dissertation) on a Master's degree in a relevant field, but applicants with other qualifications may be accepted in certain circumstances. Applications to this Department should be accompanied by an outline of proposed research of 2,000 words. For information on how to write a research proposal to accompany your application, read the PhD Proposal Guidelines document.

If you are from outside of the UK, you will also need to demonstrate you have a certain level of proficiency with written and spoken English. Our requirement is that before starting the course, you have an overall IELTS score of 7.0, with no sub-component below 6.5. The IELTS certificate must be less than two years old by the time of the course start date, even if you have studied at an institution in an English-speaking country.

2. Select a topic

There are different routes for selecting a PhD research topic:

If you are interested in a broad area of research, advertised projects covering specific research topics can be found on our Research Opportunities

If you have a clear idea about a research project of your choice, you should first determine whether the project is suitable for study at PhD level. The project must also be feasible within the resources and time frame available to you; it should also address a perceived 'gap' in the literature and, most importantly, be of interest to you.

3. Identify a Supervisor

Please contact the Department's Director of Postgraduate Research Studies by emailing Dr Jacqueline Laws [] or calling Melina Aston on 0118 378 5798.

You should contact the Director of Postgraduate Research Studies rather than a potential supervisor you may have identified.

It is not essential to communicate directly with the Department before submitting your application, but many candidates find it helpful.

4. Make an application

Please apply using the PhD and professional doctorate online application programme. This allows you to complete the necessary information and attach copies of relevant documents, including the details of two appropriate referees. Although you will be working with a specific department or supervisor, all PhD applications have to be made centrally.

We will acknowledge your application and then pass it on to the appropriate school or department.

All new students join the PhD programme in September. It is only possible to start your studies at another point during the academic year in very exceptional circumstances.





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