PhD Studentship in Developmental Cognitive Science

University of Edinburgh

We invite applications by 3rd May 2017 for a three-year PhD studentship in developmental cognitive science, starting in September 2017 (or very shortly thereafter).

You will use experimental techniques to study how pre-school children learn artificial languages, in order to understand how irregularity, redundancy, and other kinds of linguistic complexity help or hinder language learning. You will be supervised by Dr Kenny Smith, Dr Hugh Rabagliati, and Dr Jennifer Culbertson, and will join the thriving PhD programme in the Centre for Language Evolution in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences. This PhD work forms an integral part of a major ERC-funded project “The Evolution of Linguistic Complexity” (Principal Investigator: Dr Kenny Smith). We aim to explore how complex linguistic structures evolve through learning, use, and the transmission of language in complex social groups.

You will be expected to take a key role in designing, developing and running experimental studies with young children, analyzing the data, and disseminating the results of this research at conferences and via publication. Training in a developmental cognitive science discipline (e.g. linguistics or psychology) is essential; experience of running experiments with young children and conducting statistical analyses of experimental data is highly desirable.


  • The studentships are funded by the ERC and the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences.
  • The award provides for tuition fees at UK/EU level, and an annual stipend of £14,057 per year over three years.


  • The successful applicant will have an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline and will ideally have, or will be studying for, a Masters Degree (or equivalent).
  • Existing doctoral researchers (i.e. those in their 1st or 2nd year of doctoral study) are not eligible for this award.
  • Overseas applicants are welcome to apply for this studentship but should note that they will have to pay themselves for the additional tuition fees.

Application Procedure

Complete the studentship application form available on our website and submit with the required supporting documentation by 3rd May 2017.

Interviews (by Skype if necessary) will take place in the week beginning 22nd May 2017.

Further information

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