PhD English Language and Applied Linguistics (Distance Learning)

We offer excellent candidates the opportunity to carry out research in one of the most dynamic institutions in Britain, while remaining in your resident country.

We specialise in, and welcome applications from prospective PhD students interested in the following areas: Corpus Research, Cognitive Linguistics and Psycholinguistics, Discourse Analysis and Stylistics, and Language Learning and Teaching.

We also offer a campus-based PhD in English Language and Applied Linguistics.

Gordon Myskow, Modular PhD student based in Japan

“I cannot say enough about how satisfied I was with the modular PhD program. As I work full-time, I was worried how I could find the time to complete it. But the modular structure allowed me to work at my own pace depending on how busy I was at work. This helped me to divide up the workload into manageable chunks. Receiving feedback from the examiners after each module reassured me I was on the right path.”

Doing a PhD in English Language and Applied Linguistics via distance learning allows you to study while remaining in your resident country, keeping in contact with your supervisor via email and skype.

This is a perfect way to study, especially if you are interested in relating research work to your current professional environment.

Extensive online research training is provided in the first year of the programme and, whilst there is no requirement to spend any time in Birmingham, you are encouraged to visit for short periods, if possible. These visits provide valuable opportunities for face-to-face supervision, to meet other PhD students and to make use of the library and other research and training opportunities. 

There are two distance learning PhD programmes in English Language and Applied Linguistics: a standard programme and a modular programme. Both programmes involve regular contact with a supervisor by email and/or Skype. There is no assessed taught component, but students follow online research training modules.

Distance PhD

The standard programme requires a traditional 80,000-word thesis. The work is examined at the end of the programme, as with other PhD programmes. Students identify and refine a thesis topic and research design in consultation with their supervisor and send drafts of the various chapters for comment as they work through the programme.

As with all PhDs, progress is monitored throughout the registration period.

Distance Modular PhD

The modular programme requires three modules: two shorter research papers (Module 1 - 12,000 words, Module 2 - 20,000 words) and a final thesis of 50,000 words (Module 3). The work is examined in three phases, at the end of each module. The final product (in terms of total quantity and quality of work) is therefore similar to the standard PhD; however the modular option provides an incremental, continuously assessed route allowing students to progress through explicitly marked stages to a PhD. Students identify a topic they wish to work on and to which all their written work should be related; the nature of the assessment means however that the topic may not be as tightly focused as that in a traditional PhD. 

Why study this course

  • The department celebrated excellent results in the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) exercise: 34% of research at the University of Birmingham for English Language and Literature was top 4* rated ‘world-leading’. A further 53% was rated 3* ‘internationally excellent’.
  • The department has many years of experience in delivering high quality distance learning programmes at postgraduate level. Staff also have expertise in supervising doctoral research at a distance.
  • While the programmes are rigorous in their standards and expectations, they also provide excellent support and a high degree of flexibility.
  • Students have electronic access through the University library to a wide range of applied linguistic research journals and e-books.
  • The University of Birmingham was ranked 41st in the World for English Language & Literature by the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2017. These rankings are compiled annually to help prospective students identify the leading universities worldwide in a particular subject.

Modules

Modules

Content and assessment for the Modular PhD

Module 1 - Subject-focused work, to include some research training and preparation related to the subject, such as empirical work, literature searches, and research methodology.

The 12,000-word assessment may be divided into 3 x 4,000 papers or combinations amounting to the total (60 credits). Pass/Fail.

Module 2 - Structured research and writing on the research topic. It may be linked in a linear way to Module 1, or the connection may be looser.

The 20,000-word assessment may be divided into one or two papers amounting to the total (120 credits). Pass/Fail

Module 3 - The thesis (maximum 50,000 words - 360 credits). Pass/Fail

The assessed work from Modules 2 and 3 should be of publishable quality.

Each assessment (i.e. each module) is submitted and passed before the student can proceed to the next. One re-submission of each module is permitted. The external examiner is consulted when each module is completed. Like all PhD theses at Birmingham, a Modular PhD is examined in a viva voce examination which takes place after the submission of Module 3.

Fees and funding

We charge an annual tuition fee. Fees for 2018/19 are as follows: £9,180 part-time

Tuition fees will be payable each year for between four years (minimum registration) and six years (maximum registration). Students who go into Writing Up after four or five years will pay a nominal continuation fee (the same as for the full-time PhD).

Paying your fees

Tuition fees can either be paid in full or by instalments. Learn more about postgraduate tuition fees and funding.

Entry requirements

Our requirements for postgraduate research are dependent on the type of programme you are applying for:

  • For MRes and MA by Research programmes, entry to our programmes usually requires a good (normally a 2:1 or above) Honours degree, or an equivalent qualification if you were educated outside the UK.
  • Applicants for a PhD will also need to hold a Masters qualification at Merit level or above (or its international equivalent).

Any academic and professional qualifications or relevant professional experience you may have are normally taken into account, and in some cases, form an integral part of the entrance requirements.

If you are applying for distance learning research programmes, you will also be required to demonstrate that you have the time, commitment, facilities and experience to study by distance learning.

If your qualifications are non-standard or different from the entry requirements stated here, please contact the admissions tutor.

International students

Academic requirements

We accept a range of qualifications; our country pages show you what qualifications we accept from your country.

English language requirements

You can satisfy our English language requirements in two ways:

How to apply

Before you make your application

Please refer to our six step process on applying for PhD, MA by Research and MRes opportunities for Arts subject areas.

You may wish to register your interest with us to receive regular news and updates on postgraduate life within this Department and the wider University.

Please note: Postgraduate research can start at any time during the year, but it is important to allow time for us to review your application and communicate a decision. If you wish to start in September, we would recommend that you aim to submit your application and supporting documents by the end of June.

Additional guidance for applicants to the PhD Distance Learning study mode.

Making your application

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

We specialise in, and welcome applications from prospective PhD students interested in Corpus Linguistics, Cognitive Linguistics and Psycholinguistics and Stylistics and Discourse Analysis.

General queries which are not subject specific (including fees, scholarship enquiries and paperwork) are best directed to the College of Arts and Law Graduate School.

You will find an introduction to each area below. Please click through to our staff profiles using the links provided to find academic expertise to support your research for each area.

Corpus Linguistics

The University of Birmingham is one of the world’s leading centres for research in corpus linguistics.

Our research is characterised by a strong cross-disciplinary reach with a particular focus on corpus-based approaches to literary stylistics, discourse analysis, critical discourse analysis, second language acquisition, specialised discourses, psycholinguistics, cognitive linguistics, historical linguistics and statistics.

Browse our staff profiles to find out more about our research expertise in Corpus Linguistics.

Cognitive Linguistics and Psycholinguistics

Our research expertise in cognitive linguistics and psycholinguistics includes figurative language, idioms, embodied cognition, language and perception, sign language, gesture, second language acquisition and construction grammar.

Our current research projects are designed to ensure that the work we conduct has a significant impact on the lives of people outside academia. This includes the role played by metaphor and other types of figurative language in advertising and the ways in which it is understood by people from different cultures. We are also working on a Global Challenges project which explores the use of metaphor by people who have experienced pregnancy loss or stillbirth (and those who support them).

Browse our staff profiles to find out more about our research expertise in Cognitive Linguistics and Psycholinguistics.

Stylistics and Discourse Analysis

Our research expertise includes the impact that gender, institution, and nationality have on the dominant patterns of form and function in various kinds of discourse. We have particular strengths in the analysis of academic, workplace and professional discourse and the application of this.

Our research often combines discourse analysis with corpus analytic methods. Ongoing projects reflect our interdisciplinary and intradisciplinary work, including research into language of the media, education, the language of evaluation and embodied interaction. We also have a long tradition of work in literary stylistics (especially of prose fiction) and narratology.

Browse our staff profiles to find out more about our research expertise in Stylistics and Discourse Analysis.

Your degree will provide excellent preparation for employment and this will be further enhanced by a range of employability support services offered by the University.

The University's Careers Network provides advice and information specifically for postgraduates that will help you to develop an effective career and skills development strategy, and to make the most of your time with us at the University. The College of Arts and Law also has a dedicated careers and employability team to deliver tailored programmes of careers events and local support.

You will have opportunities to: meet employers face-to-face at on-campus recruitment fairs; attend employer presentations and skills workshops; receive individual guidance on your job applications, writing your CV and improving your interview technique; and access to comprehensive listings of hundreds of graduate jobs and work experience opportunities.

You will also be able to access our full range of careers support for up to two years after graduation.

Postgraduate employability: English Language and Applied Linguistics

Birmingham's English Language and Applied Linguistics postgraduates develop a broad range of transferable skills that are highly valued by employers, particularly in relation to verbal and written communication. They also develop crucial skills in organisation, time management, analysis and interpretation of information.

Many of our graduates enter roles for which their programme has prepared them, such as teaching and lecturing; others use their transferable skills in a wide range of occupations including journalism, marketing and events.