A PhD is awarded for the outcomes of intensive, independent study that demonstrates an original and significant contribution to knowledge in your chosen subject. You will be assessed at the end of the programme by a thesis of 80,000 words which will need to be deemed suitable for publication, in whole or in part in a learned journal or equivalent by your examiners. You will need to defend your thesis and demonstrate an in-depth knowledge of your subject at a viva voce (oral examination) before a panel of expert examiners.
An MA by Research is a research-based Masters programme assessed by a thesis of 40,000 words. An oral examination may be held at the discretion of the examiners.
Unlike our postgraduate taught programmes, there are no formal lectures or seminars in a PhD or MA by Research, and your work is not formally examined until after your thesis has been submitted. Instead, our postgraduate research programmes provide you with the opportunity to undertake research under the expert guidance of a primary supervisor, co-supervisor and mentor, supported by complementary research training.
Find out more about what to expect from a PhD/MA by Research.
Our principal areas of research are:
Corpus Research - We are well known for our innovative approaches to the analysis of large corpora, which have had a strong impact on language teaching, dictionary development, and research into academic discourses. We are home to the Centre for Corpus Research (CCR), which supports the use of corpus analysis in research, teaching and learning. The CCR provides access to a range of corpora and has a dedicated computer suite with specialist resources.
Cognitive Linguistics and Psycholinguistics - Our research in cognitive linguistics and psycholinguistics covers a wide range of areas including figurative language, idioms, embodied cognition, iconicity, language and perception, sign languages, second language acquisition, and construction grammar. We have particular strengths in British Sign Language, Australian Sign Language and gesture studies. We have a Linguistics Laboratory which includes equipment for eye-tracking studies.
Discourse Analysis and Stylistics - We are known for the development of several highly influential discourse analysis frameworks, and for our work on narrative, the discursive representation of inequality, new media, the language of politics, as well as new ideas on evaluation and phraseology. Our research draws on a variety of linguistic and theoretical traditions, including: systemic-functional linguistics; critical discourse analysis; corpus linguistics; multimodal analysis; narrative analysis; conversation analysis, and genre analysis. Our particular strength at Birmingham is that we combine discourse analysis and stylistics with corpus analytic methods of research.
Language Learning and Teaching - We research and publish in: academic literacies; phraseology; the teaching and learning of metaphor and other types of figurative language; applications of cognitive linguistics to second language learning and teaching; and the uses of corpora in language teaching.
At Birmingham you also have the option of studying languages, free of charge. Almost no other UK University offers you the opportunity to learn the intense graduate academic language skills which you may need to pursue your research.