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PhD Research Excellence Award - Speech & Language Therapy

This PhD programme is situated within the Doctoral Training Centre for Communication Disorders and contributes to the research area of instrumental techniques for the assessment and treatment of Speech Sound Disorders.

Number of places

1

Funding

Home fee, Stipend

Opens

14 December 2017

Deadline

23 March 2018

Duration

3 years

Eligibility

The student should have a first or second class Honours degree (minimum 2.1) and/or a Masters degree in a closely related discipline.

International students are welcome to apply but must pay the difference between the EU and the International fee each year.


Project Details

This PhD programme is situated within the Doctoral Training Centre for Communication Disorders and contributes to the research area of instrumental techniques for the assessment and treatment of Speech Sound Disorders. Training will be available via the University Researcher Development programme and opportunities such as teaching undergraduate students, attending research meetings, and becoming involved in writing and reviewing research publications and grant applications will be available.

Outline:

Speech Sound Disorders (SSD), where children have difficulty acquiring the speech sounds of their native language in the course of normal development (producing certain sounds incorrectly, substituting them for other sounds or omitting them altogether), are the most common type of communication impairment. While treatments exist that can remediate SSDs, choosing treatments can be problematic because of difficulties with the differential diagnosis of subtypes of SSDs.  This PhD project will focus on the differentiation of two subtypes of SSDs: namely Inconsistent Phonological Disorder (IPD) and Childhood Apraxia of Speech (CAS). Both of these disorders are characterised by surface level inconsistency (at token-to-token level, for example a child produces “cat” as [kat], [tak], [pot] on three different occasions). However, IPD is a difficulty with phonological assembly whereas CAS is a difficulty with motor programming and planning. CAS is in fact a symptom cluster which includes three diagnostic markers (ASHA, 2007): 1. Inconsistent errors on consonants and vowels in repeated productions of syllables or words. 2. Lengthened and disrupted co-articulatory transitions between sounds and syllables; and 3. Inappropriate prosody, especially in the realization of lexical or phrasal stress. In contrast IPD is mainly characterised by inconsistency only.  This PhD proposal aims to determine an objective method of differentiating IPD and CAS using instrumental techniques. Given that IPD and CAS are similar in inconsistency, the instrumental analysis will focus on co-articulatory transitions and sequencing for differential diagnosis.

This project will use both acoustic and ultrasound analysis of children’s speech to look at coarticulatory transitions in children with CAS and IPD and to determine whether children with SSDs can be differentially diagnosed using acoustic and/or articulatory measures.

Funding Details

Home/EU Tuition Fees, plus Stipend starting at £14,917 p.a. (October 2018).  International students are welcome to apply but must pay the difference between the EU and the International fee each year.

How to apply

All candidates must apply online.

In the "Programme Name" field, pleases select “PhD Speech & Language Therapy”

In the "Funding" section, please write ‘REA Scholarship’.

You should upload the following documents with your application:

  • A short research proposal of no more than 1000 words that provides an overview of the research context and proposed research design.
  • CV
  • Covering letter describing in detail your interest in and suitability for undertaking this project
  • Degree transcripts (this may be an interim transcript if you are still studying)
  • Two academic references