Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



School of Languages and Applied Linguistics

Start dates

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

This 3-year self-funded PhD will be based in the School of Languages and Applied Linguistics in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, and will be supervised by Dr Alessia Tranchese, Dr Natalya Vince and Dr Mario Saraceni.

The work will include:

  • Exploring the representation of terrorism in the media of different countries, including former colonies and colonial powers;
  • Selecting case studies of reports on terrorism involving different countries, news sources, and specific attacks;
  • Carrying out a corpus-based discourse analysis of media reports on terror attacks;
  • Investigating knowledge production in terms of training of journalists, sources used, interaction with social media;
  • Interviewing journalists during an internship at BBC Afrique in Dakar (optional).

There is an abundance of literature on how terrorist attacks are reported in Europe and the US; it's also well known that terrorist attacks in the Global South receive far less coverage than those perpetrated in the Global North.

Thanks to this fully-funded studentship, you’ll be able to explore the representation of terrorism in the media from a different angle. You'll have the possibility to look at how the UK media reports on terrorist attacks happening in France and/or former French colonies; how the French media reports on terrorist attacks happening in the UK and/or former British colonies; and how countries such as Algeria and Nigeria (i.e. former colonies of either countries) report on these same events. Some of the questions you’ll explore are:

  • Is “expert knowledge” about Africa still filtered through the colonial power in the French and British media?
  • How are regimes of knowledge produced?
  • Do similar ‘zones of knowledge’ apply in reverse when media outlets in, for example, Algeria or Nigeria report on terrorist attacks in Britain, France, India or Mali?
  • What can language use tell us about the place that journalists and experts give to colonial history as an explanation, among others, for terrorism in former colonies or ‘second generation radicalisation’ in France or Britain?
  • How is the colonial past constructed linguistically and used as an explanatory framework in analyses of terrorists and terrorism?

You'll be able to refine, revise and/or expand these research questions, and you'll have the chance to choose case studies involving different countries and news sources, as well as specific terror attacks. 

This interdisciplinary project approaches a contemporary theme of major global significance through methods drawn from Applied Linguistics (Corpus Linguistics, Critical Discourse Analysis, Corpus-based Discourse Analysis).

You'll also become part of an exceptionally supportive environment, working across two research groups within CEISR: ‘Languages across Borders’ and ‘Francophone Africa’. Both centres are well established in their own right, and have a growing track record of working together collaboratively on cutting-edge interdisciplinary research. Moreover, both clusters have an excellent international network of contacts and collaborations with academic and non-academic partners, which you will benefit from and contribute to.

The optional internship offers an additional opportunity for you to gain a fuller understanding of the practice, by directly observing and/or interviewing journalists.

Fees and funding

Funding Availability: Self-funded PhD students only

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only).

2019/2020 entry

Home/EU full-time students: £4,327 p/a*

Home/EU part-time students: £2,164 p/a*

International full-time students: £15,900 p/a*

International part-time students: £7,950 p/a*

*Fees are subject to annual increase

By Publication Fees 2019/2020

Members of staff: £1,610 p/a*

External candidates: £4,327 p/a*

*Fees are subject to annual increase

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

  • You must be a UK or EU resident and hold a good honours degree (2:1 or above) from a recognised higher education institution.
  • English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

We welcome applications from candidates with a background in Applied Linguistics, especially Critical Discourse Analysis and Corpus Linguistics, (or related disciplines). Good language skills in French are also a requirement. Ideally, candidates will have a master’s degree in a relevant area, excellent IT skills (knowledge of webscraping would be desirable, but not essential) and good knowledge of the recent history and contemporary politics at least of one of the countries in the study.

How to apply

Please contact Dr Alessia Tranchese ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting both the project code and the project title.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form and select 'Languages and Applied Linguistics' as the subject area. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV.  

Please also submit a research proposal (up to 1000 words), detailing how you would develop this project:

  • What research questions would you pose?
  • How would you design the project?
  • What research methods would you use?
  • How would you engage with/ build on existing research?

Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process. 

Please note, to be considered for this self-funded PhD opportunity you must quote project code SLAL4390219 when applying.

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