Baker, Giulia

Start date:
October 2012
Research Topic:
Jokes/wordplay in the primary curriculum; children’s cognitive/humour/linguistic development and children’s ability to decode different types of verbal ambiguity in joking riddles across KS2
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Michelle Aldridge-Waddon
Supervising school:
School of English, Communication & Philosophy,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

An investigation into different types of ambiguity used in children’s jokes and into when children understand these different types of ambiguity (using Piaget’s framework of cognitive development and an Incongruity Resolution theory of humour). Findings from the study are aimed at informing content planning and implementation of developmentally appropriate jokes in the primary curriculum – specifically KS2

Barber, Kate

Kate Barber
Start date:
October 2017
Research Topic:
The reframing and recontextualisation of sexual violence cases as an online radicalisation tool by right wing extremists
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Frances Rock and Dr Amanda Potts
Supervising school:
School of English, Communication & Philosophy,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

Right-wing extremism is growing, particularly within the present political climate. While previous academic focus has been on right-wing rhetoric on race, little has examined how its anti-feminist agenda presents itself, especially in relation to sexual offences against women. Recent campaigns to prevent rape on campuses, provide education on consent, and an increasing trend to look at ‘hookup culture’ from a feminist viewpoint have led to the Alternative-Right (Alt-Right) proclaiming that men are often victims of ‘rape paranoia’. Understanding how this extreme right-wing propaganda influences men’s views of rape and sexual assault is crucial in order to develop counter-measures.

The proposed research will be based on linguistic analyses of comments on Alt-Right websites which discuss convictions for rape and sexual assault. The analyses will examine portrayals of convicted rapists presented as being victims of feminist-driven ‘rape paranoia’. Such construals targeted towards young men will be investigated with reference to current radicalisation frameworks. The two main research questions to be addressed by the research are:

  1. How, linguistically, are rape and sexual assault cases recontextualised by promoters of right-wing extremism?
  2. Which of the recontextualised features are the most salient for audience members who comment within the online forums?

Bowen, Neil Evan

Neil Bowen
Start date:
October 2013
Research Topic:
The development of academic writing in the digital age
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Lise Fontaine, Gerard O'Grady
Supervising school:
School of English, Communication & Philosophy,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My thesis explores the dynamics of choice in digital text construction. Specifically, it focuses on the development of academic writing from a social semiotic viewpoint, drawing on Systemic Functional Linguistics (e.g. Halliday), semiotic sociology (e.g. Bernstein), and sociogenetic psychology (e.g. Vygotsky). Its primary aims are: (i) To contribute to the dearth of longitudinal studies that provide an emic understanding of the development of academic writing practices, particular with regard to L2 writers; (ii) To illustrate how the logogenesis of texture can reveal the ontogenetic development and potential of the individual with regard to context and co-text; (iii) Demonstrate how a more holistic approach to the study of writing development can be beneficial to advancing theory, educational practice, and interdisciplinary knowledge.

Campbell, Rowan

Rowan Campbell
Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
Dialect Levelling in Cardiff
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Mercedes Durham
Supervising school:
School of English, Communication & Philosophy,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

This PhD project aims to examine the accents of English spoken in Cardiff from the perspective of dialect levelling – a process occurring across Britain whereby some regional accent variants are losing ground in favour of supralocal variants. Apparent-time methodology will be used along with archive data in order to see any changes that have occurred and are occurring in Cardiff English, which will be identified by a range of phonological and morphosyntactic features. Cardiff’s history of diversity and in-migration make it an interesting location to examine from this perspective, as it is accepted that these factors have already played a role in the difference and ‘non-Welshness’ of CE when compared to other South Walian Englishes.

The data will consist of sociolinguistic interviews with older and younger speakers from Cardiff, and archive audio recordings from the 1980s and 1990s. Mixed methods in variationist sociolinguistics will be used to analyse the rates of selected features across the datasets, as this approach can give a fuller understanding of any processes underlying language change.

Chrispin, Lucy

Lucy Chrispin
Start date:
October 2016
Research Topic:
A cognitive functional account of indeterminate verbal categories
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Lise Fontaine
Supervising school:
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My proposed research focuses on the indeterminate nature of certain types of verbs. Theories address the categorisation of verbs in terms of grammatical and semantic approaches, however do not identify the language processes involved and whether these categories have any psychological validity. Certain verbs are problematic with regards to categorisation, for example in behavioural processes the grammar and the semantics encode different information. Therefore, this research proposes to merge what is already known about these problematic verbs with psycholinguistic testing, in order to identify how conceptual events that are being represented are processed and categorized by speakers.

Kelly, Paul

Paul Kelly
Start date:
October 2014
Research Topic:
An Analysis of Modern Conservative Party Rhetoric; Representing Politics/Economics in the Age of ‘Post-Democracy’
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Gerard O’Grady
Supervising school:
School of English, Communication & Philosophy,

Following the work of Fairclough on the political rhetoric of New Labour (2000; 2010), this research will attempt to diachronically analyse the rhetoric of the Conservative Party in order to examine the similarities and differences in the current rhetorical strategies of both political Parties. Fairclough connected rhetorical strategies of New Labour to changes in the mode of governance: the incorporation of marketing practices into the political decision making process was claimed to be connected to linguistic patterning in a corpus of New Labour texts. Since the modern Conservative Party also employs such marketing practices, there is reason to expect some aspects of linguistic continuity in rhetorical strategies. If continuity in rhetorical strategies of two major political Parties were taken to be damaging to the concept of political representation, this investigation could, therefore, have powerful implications for the state of democracy as we know it.

Powell, Emily

Emily Powell
Start date:
October 2015
Research Topic:
A corpus stylistic analysis of agency in pre-crime narratives
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Chris Heffer and Dr Dawn Knight
Supervising school:
School of English, Communication & Philosophy,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My project explores the use of linguistic features to navigate agency in narratives written by offenders before they commit crimes. It will take the form of a diachronic corpus stylistic analysis of pre-crime manifestos, diaries and vlogs, and will aim to analyse how agency changes as the perpetrators move closer to committing their crimes, with a view to developing a diachronic model of agency in pre-crime narratives.

Singh, Jaspal

Start date:
October 2011
Research Topic:
The uses of English in urban, middle-class India: social meaning and identity constructions
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Frances Rock and Dr Mercedes Durham
Supervising school:
School of English, Communication & Philosophy,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The project presents a synchronic, local and group-specific report of the various uses of English in urban India. I chose to study the everyday interaction of young members of the so-called middle-class in one of India’s big cities. I regard the middle-class as a discursively constructed social stratum which is ideologically intertwined with language. I am planning to observe a community of practice (Lave and Wenger 1995) – ideally a friendship clique – and analyse their habitual uses of linguistic and social interaction. Thus speakers will not be studied individually but in an environment of collaborating actors who are jointly negotiating, contesting and refining personal and group identities. Above and beyond a description, the research is therefore able to explore the social meaning of linguistic performances.

Steel, Kate

Kate Steel
Start date:
October 2017
Research Topic:
Interactions between police and alleged victims at the scene of domestic abuse incidents
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Michelle Aldridge Waddon and Dr Frances Rock
Supervising school:
School of English, Communication & Philosophy,
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

My thesis focuses on encounters between police officers and alleged victims at the scene of domestic abuse incidents. Specifically, I am interested in the discursive negotiation of social relations during the course of police-victim interactions. Interpersonal work at the scene has the potential to determine how the incident continues to unfold, both in the immediate context of the call-out and in the wider context of the legal process. Yet communication can be complicated by officers’ institutional obligations and restrictions, along with the sensitivities around interacting with vulnerable witnesses.

The study will draw from a relatively new policing technology, body worn video (BWV), which has opened the door to previously inaccessible research data. Conversation Analysis of BWV footage will be informed by ethnographic research involving both police and lay participants.

My project is motivated by the belief that a more contextualised and nuanced understanding of these pivotal interactions could inform the improvement of services provided by the police and other agencies to those affected by domestic abuse.

Cardiff University’s Centre for Language and Communication Research and Swansea University’s Language Research Centre match compatibility with distinctiveness and complementary offerings. Swansea specialises in language testing and media discourse and memory. Cardiff offers sociolinguistics (especially variation), functional grammar, language and law (especially courtroom discourse and police-lay interaction), word association, formulaic language, language and ageing, including dementia interaction, multimodality including graphic novels and comics and corpus linguistics. The pathway is therefore located in a dynamic hub for the development of new theory at the interface of language form, function, use and processing, and corpus-based discourse linguistics.

The Linguistics pathway sits within a rich research environment, recognised in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework for its very high quality and containing several major externally-funded research projects.  It offers all students opportunities such as discourse analytic training, deepening understanding of the richness and potential of theoretically-informed and linguistically-mediated approaches to content analysis. Corpus linguistics training is also on offer, enabling the examination of large bodies of text for patterns.

Students on this pathway are fully engaged in broader research activities, including committed involvement in our research committee, student-staff panel, postgraduate research seminar series and other forums, and in social events, which, like the summer postgraduate research conference, are organised by the students themselves.

Students on the ‘1+3’ route complete the specialist Language and Communication Research Masters programme which has a linguistically-oriented exemplification of core concepts and techniques.  Subject-specific training and student development continues throughout the doctorate including two annual PhD conferences with external expert guests, providing students with feedback on the content and presentation of their research.