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PhD Opportunity

About the Project

The project will start on October 1st 2023 at the School of Education, Communication and Society at King’s College London in collaboration with the Down’s Syndrome Association of the United Kingdom. The PhD student for this project will be co-supervised by Prof Gabriella Rundblad and Dr Eloi Puig-Mayenco, as well as a designated mentor at the Down’s Syndrome Association. The student will become an active junior researcher of the School of Education, Communication and Society and will partake in an internship with the information and advisory of the Down’s syndrome association.

We can offer the project either as a +3 (PhD only) or 1+3 (MA+PhD) route. The specific route will depend on the candidate’s training prior to application. Candidates going for a +3 (PhD) route need to show that they meet the ESRC’s core research methods training requirements.

Project summary

In this project we focus on an understudied population, that of bilingual children who have Down’s syndrome in a context where bilingualism is not supported at the societal level. Children who have Down’s Syndrome are known to have experience a range of difficulties in the acquisition of speech, language and communication skills, however, the majority of research on this population has focused exclusively on children from one-language backgrounds. Given that bilingualism is an important feature of the increasingly multicultural societies in the UK and globally, understanding the impact of bilingual exposure is crucial to providing the appropriate support for these children. Although it is true there is some work that has been done exploring the effects of bilingualism on the language development of children who have Down’s syndrome, all this research has been conducted in contexts where bilingualism is in fact supported societally as in Wales, the Basque country or Quebec. Therefore, the aim of this project is extend this work to a context where bilingualism is restricted to the home environment, that of migrant families in the South-east of England. To the best of our knowledge, this will be the first project exploring this population.

Essential Criteria

Candidates for this position should meet the following essential criteria:

  • If applicants go for the +3 (PhD only) route, they should have a good undergraduate degree (2:1 or first class) in Linguistics, Psychology or relevant field and should expect to receive a Master’s degree (Merit or above) in Linguistics, Psychology or Speech and Language Therapy with relevant training in quantitative and qualitative research methods (the candidate needs to meet the ESRC Core training requirements).
  • If applicants go for a 1+3(MA+PhD) route, they should have, or expect to receive, a good undergraduate degree (2:1 or first class) in Linguistics, Psychology or relevant field.
  • We will consider candidates with good degrees from other disciplines if they have substantial related work experience.
  • Candidates should also have training and/or interest in typical and atypical language development, bi/multilingualism and Down’s syndrome.
  • Those candidates going for the +3 (PhD only) route should have knowledge of ethics, experience in designing empirical studies and analyzing  and interpreting data.
  • Excellent communication skills and an ability to work independently and as part of a multidisciplinary team.

Desirable criteria

  • Experience working with children and families in research and/or professional settings.
  • Familiarity with the relevant literature on bilingualism, Down’s Syndrome and language development.
  • Advanced training in language development and bilingualism
  • Working proficiency in one of the minority languages widely spoken in the UK (e.g., Polish, Urdu, Punjabi, Spanish, Portuguese)
  • DBS check done, though note that the successful candidate will be asked to complete an Advanced DBS check upon commencing the post.


  • Funding is available to cover the cost of UK home/international tuition fees plus a stipend of £19,668 per annum.
  • There are also additional funds available for conference attendance and research costs.
  • EU candidates with pre-settled or settled status are eligible for UK home fees.
  • The ESRC permits the funding of international students in the 2022 cohort (up to a total of 30% of the cohort can be international students). The LISS DTP will award up to 3 International CASE Studentship Awards

How to apply

Candidates interested to apply should submit the following documents/information to the following link (Link to submission form):

1. A personal statement detailing why you are interested in the project, how you meet the criteria and what relevant skills, training and knowledge you would bring to the project.
2. An up-to-date 2-page CV
3. A completed application form for the position available here (LINK to the document).
4. Academic transcripts in English
5. Contact details for 2 referees (referees will only be contacted for shortlisted applicants).

Please, email Dr Eloi Puig-Mayenco ( and Prof Gabriella Rundblad ( for any questions about the project or studentship.

Key dates and further information

  1. The deadline for applications is Monday 13th February 2023
  2. Shortlisted candidates will be contacted by Monday 27th February 2023.
  3. Interviews will take take place in the week commencing March 13th 2023 via MS teams (online).

*Due to the high number of applications, we will not be able to provide individual feedback to candidates.

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