Language and technology

Qualifications Duration Start dates Application period
PhD or Professional doctorate PhD:
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Professional doctorate:
Part time: 4–8 years
October November to January
PhD or Professional doctorate
Full time: 3–4 years
Part time: 6–8 years
Professional doctorate:
Part time: 4–8 years
Start dates
Application period
November to January

Recently the AI sector has begun delivering technology that could serve as a catalyst for human communication, revolutionizing the way we interact, learn, and innovate. From automated translation to intelligent voice assistants, from personalization to large-scale search systems, AI-driven investigation of language and technology is having a transformative impact on society. Yet, despite such advances, this technology is often designed without involvement of language researchers, all too often leading to projects which fail to deliver to end users.

Regardless of what has been achieved, many of the most complex challenges of modelling language and communication remain seemingly intractable. In the School of LAL, several engagements are underway attempting to address these challenges, and to increase the representation of language researchers in building language technology. By examining real-world applications across industries and domains, we aim to investigate new avenues for advancing human-machine interaction and enhancing communication across languages and cultures.

Entry requirements

Minimum 2:1 undergraduate degree (or equivalent) and an MA or research methods training at MA level (or equivalent). If you are not a UK citizen, you may need to prove your knowledge of English.

Potential research projects

  • Use of language technology (e.g. dialogue systems, machine translation, etc.) to enhance teaching and learning
  • ​Investigating how to work with domain experts, particularly in highly technical domains (such as law, science, etc.) with their own distinct forms of communication, to improve the applications of language technology (e.g. dialogue systems, machine translation, etc.)
  • Using technology to support linguistic analysis, especially in areas where there is very little data available (such as minority languages, non-standard language varieties, face-to-face conversation, etc.)
  • The role of social knowledge (e.g. norms, morals, conventions, etc.) in improving language technology for highly specialised areas (such as the legal sector, STEM, etc.)
  • The limits of technology in modelling language use and communication (e.g. everyday communication, creative forms of language use)
  • Using language technology to model patterns in spoken or signed languages (e.g. understand and generate prosody in non-standard dialects of English, support the automatic translation of signed language into other languages)

Current/recent research projects

  • An exploration of the ways in which academics who teach on higher education courses engage and interact with a chatbot designed to augment professional development opportunities
  • Digital literacy: Neural machine translation in the L2 translation classroom

Potential supervisors

Fees and funding

PhD fees

UK fee International fee
Full time: £4,786 per year Full time: £12,146 per year
Part time: £2,393 per year Part time: £6,073 per year

Professional doctorate fees

UK fee International fee
Part time: £3,643 per year Part time: £9,250 per year

Some of our research students are funded via the Open-Oxford-Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership or The Grand Union Doctoral Training Partnership; others are self-funded.

For detailed information about fees and funding, visit Fees and studentships.

To see current funded studentship vacancies across all research areas, see Current studentships.


Women learning language online

How to apply

Get in touch

If you have an enquiry specific to this research topic, please contact:

Dr Mara Fuertes-Gutierrez, PGR Convenor in Languages 
Phone: +44 (0)1908 654224

Apply now

If you’re interested in applying for this research topic, please take a look at the application process.