PhD project

Bilingualism and multilingualism in young children: Exploring the impact on learning, literacy and communication

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Application deadline

30 June 2024

Early development in a bilingual or multilingual context presents both opportunities and challenges for a young child. Much of the research on this issue adopts a general perspective on multilingual learners but this project aims to examine issues specific to the particular languages that the child is learning. The languages under investigation are not fixed in advance and could include European/Non-European or majority/minority languages (e.g. Hindi, Urdu, Mandarin, Spanish, Arabic, Portuguese, Gaelic, etc.), although a detailed knowledge of the languages in question would be preferable. The focus of interest will be determined by the interests and expertise of the student but the project will examine how knowledge of multiple languages is acquired and organised. Possible topics of interest could include: early word learning; syntactic development; code-switching/translanguaging; morphological knowledge; conceptual representation; phonological/orthographic processing; L1/L2 (pre-)literacy acquisition; or developmental language disorders.

This project will be based in Dr Lynne Duncan’s Language and Learning Lab, which has excellent facilities for online and offline experimental work. The Lab also has well-established links with policy and practice for research collaboration via the LALco network, which was co-founded by Dr Duncan. This is a highly interdisciplinary PhD project and so applications are invited from strong and motivated candidates with backgrounds in a relevant subject, such as Psychology, Linguistics, Speech & Language Therapy or another related discipline. The specialisation in the PhD would be in Psychology (PhD in Psychology).

Diversity statement

Our research community thrives on the diversity of students and staff which helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for postgraduate research. We welcome applications from all talented individuals and are committed to widening access to those who have the ability and potential to benefit from higher education.

PhD support

See applying for a research degree for more information on the different stages of the PhD application process.

PhD fees

Fees for PhD and other research postgraduate courses

How to apply

  1. Email Dr Lynne Duncan to:
    • send a copy of your CV
    • discuss your potential application and any practicalities (e.g. suitable start date).
  2. After discussion with Dr Duncan, you can apply via our direct application system.
Learn about applying for a research degree


Principal supervisor