Leverhulme PhD Studentship: Linguistic Integration in England and Wales

Closing date for applications: 14 June 2024

Programme length: 3 years full-time (due to the project only lasting 3 years, part-time study is not an option)

Prospective starting date: 23 September 2024

Academic year: 2024/25


Project description

In an age of increased immigration, language has emerged as a key issue in debates about integration in democratic societies. While there appears to be a common prevailing sentiment that newcomers ought to learn the host society’s language, little attention has been devoted to the practical and ethical implications of linguistic integration for newcomers and their host societies, including in settings where more than one language can serve as a language of integration.

Forming an independent project in its own right, this PhD studentship, will contribute to a broader research project on the ethics of linguistic integration by developing a comparative analysis of debates regarding linguistic integration in England and Wales. The comparison of these two contexts will be particularly insightful considering the majority versus minority language status of English and Welsh, and the recent efforts of the Welsh Government to use its powers to develop an approach to linguistic integration determinedly distinct from that pursued by the UK Government in England.

Informed by theoretical debates on linguistic integration from disciplines such as applied/sociolinguistics and political theory, the PhD will aim to address the following research questions:


  • How is linguistic integration conceived, practised and experienced by different actors in England and Wales? How do these conceptions and experiences compare with each another?
  • What language-related expectations result from these conceptions and experiences?
  • What is the relative legitimacy of these expectations when assessed against core liberal democratic values and principles (e.g. justice, equality, inclusivity, solidarity)?


Methods employed to address these questions are expected to include an analysis of a broad sample of relevant documentary materials (e.g. legislation, policy documents, media debates, speeches, campaign pamphlets) and semi structured interviews or focus groups with policymakers, second-language teachers and adult immigrant language learners in the two contexts.


What will the studentship cover?

The studentship is funded by the Leverhulme Trust and will commence in September 2024; it will run for 3 years and will cover home tuition fees as well as an annual tax-free maintenance grant that will match UKRI rates (currently £19,237 for 2024/25 for full time students but updated each year). Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is unfortunately only open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK home rate, as described by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA). Additional funds will be made available to cover necessary fieldwork during the second year as well as some conference attendance in the second and third years.


Eligibility criteria

Candidates should have an excellent academic background, holding a 1st or strong upper 2nd class undergraduate degree. Some prior knowledge of qualitative methods (e.g. content analysis, thematic analysis, discourse analysis, interview techniques) would be advantageous. The ability to speak Welsh is also desirable but not essential.


Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is unfortunately only open to applicants eligible to pay tuition fees at the UK home rate, as described by the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA).



The successful candidate will be based at Aberystwyth University and supervised by Dr Huw Lewis from the Department of International Politics as well as Dr Gwennan Higham from the School of Culture and Communication at Swansea University.

As the PhD forms part of a larger Leverhulme-funded research project entitled the Ethics of Linguistic Integration, the successful candidate will also have the opportunity to contribute to border team activities (e.g. four meetings per year, reading groups, conference participation, joint publications). The studentship therefore represents a unique opportunity to be part of an innovative and collaborative research project that seeks to promote interdisciplinary approaches to the politics of language.


How to apply?

A completed application form for admission to doctoral study in Aberystwyth University, submitted through the online submission system by the deadline of 12:00pm GMT on 14 June 2024. Incomplete applications or applications received after this specified time will not be accepted.


The application must contain the following documents:

  1. Covering letter: The covering letter must name the PhD studentship being applied for. It must set out your reasons and motivation for applying to study at Aberystwyth University; your understanding, and expectations of doctoral study; and your academic interests generally, and particularly how these relate to the description of the project supplied. The covering letter should be no more than two pages and should be addressed to Dr Jan Ruzicka, the Director of Graduate Studies at the Department of International Politics.


  1. Academic / Professional Qualifications: Where appropriate, this should also include proof of English Language Competency (see institutional entry requirements).


  1. References: All applications require two academic references to be submitted in support. Candidates must approach referees themselves and include the references with their application.


  1. Curriculum Vitae: This should be no longer than two pages.


  1. Research Proposal: The proposal should build directly on the project description that has been supplied. The proposal should be up to a maximum of 1000 words, not including bibliographic references. We suggest that you use the following headings in your research proposal:


  • Your reflections on the title, aims and purpose of the research
  • An overview of some key research literature relevant to the study
  • Your proposals for developing the design and methods of the study
  • A description of potential outcomes of the project for understanding, knowledge, policy and practice (as appropriate to the topic)
  • Bibliographic references.


Contact information

For informal enquiries about this opportunity, please contact Dr Huw Lewis (hhl@aber.ac.uk). For more general queries about applying for doctoral study at Aberystwyth University, you may also contact Dr Jan Ruzicka (jlr@aber.ac.uk), the Director of Graduate Studies at the Department of International Politics.