Development of novel intra-operative language testing protocols for brain tumours in speech eloquent areas


NHS logo and words spelling out NHS Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire Cancer Alliance

An opportunity to apply for a full-time PhD in the Faculty of Arts, Creative Industries and Education. The studentship will be co-funded by the Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire Cancer Alliance and UWE Bristol: Ref 2022-FEB-ACE01.

The expected start date of this studentship is 1 February 2022 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The closing date for applications is 28 November 2021.

About the studentship

At UWE Bristol’s Bristol Centre for Linguistics (BCL), we are dedicated to cutting-edge research, which promotes the visibility of linguistics and the relevance of language research to the wider public, and to form partnerships for the exchange of expertise with other universities and organisations outside academia. One of our close partners is the North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT), where we are working with a team of neurosurgeons, speech and language therapists and neuropsychologists at Southmead Hospital to develop contemporary and comprehensive language tests in order to preserve communication and quality of life for patients requiring brain tumour surgery.

We are seeking to recruit a versatile and motivated PhD candidate for a research project at the intersection of psycho- and neurolinguistics, who will be prepared to collaborate closely with our NBT partner during the clinical testing phase with patients undergoing awake craniotomy. This project offers the potential to improve outcomes for patients with brain tumours, in whom preservation of communication is a vital component of quality of life.

The successful candidate will need a solid understanding of current debates revolving around linguistic systems, lexical processes and mental representations, or show willingness and aptitude to gain an excellent understanding of areas less familiar to them in a short space of time. The project will involve creating and carrying out psycholinguistic experiments, so a good knowledge of relevant tools and statistic procedures will be advantageous. The successful candidate will benefit from excellent technological working conditions, international contacts, and a stimulating interdisciplinary work environment.

Supervisors: Dr Anna Piasecki, Dr Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan and Mr Neil Barua, PhD, FRCS(SN).

For an informal discussion about the studentship, please email Dr Anna Piasecki (


The studentship is available from the Somerset, Wiltshire, Avon and Gloucestershire Cancer Alliance/UWE Bristol for a period of 3.5 years, subject to satisfactory progress, and includes a tax-exempt stipend, which is currently £15,609 per annum.

In addition, full-time tuition fees will be covered for up to three years (Home/EU rates only). Overseas applicants will be required to cover the difference between Home/EU and the overseas tuition fee rates in each year of study.


Applicants must have a first class or upper-second class BA and Masters level degree (or international equivalent) in Linguistics, Psychology, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Speech and Language Therapy or a related field.

The PhD studentship is open to applicants worldwide. A recognised English language qualification is required.

How to apply

Please submit your application online. When prompted, use the reference number 2022-FEB-ACE01. 

Supporting documentation: You will need to upload your research proposal, all your degree certificates and transcripts and your proof of English language proficiency as attachments to your application, so please have these available when you complete the application form. 

References: You will need to provide details of two referees as part of your application. At least one referee must be an academic referee from the institution that conferred your highest degree. Your referee will be asked for a reference at the time you submit your application, so please ensure that your nominated referees are willing and able to provide references within 14 days of your application being submitted.

Closing date

The closing date for applications 28 November 2021.

Further information

It is expected that interviews will take place in the week of 13 December 2021. If you have not heard from us by 6 December 2021, we thank you for your application but, on this occasion, you have not been successful.

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