College of Business and Social Sciences PhD Studentships

Further details and the application process are outlined below

The College of Business and Social Sciences (BSS) is a multi-disciplinary research-focused College which brings together researchers in Aston Business School (ABS), Aston Law School (ALS) and the School of Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH). We are determined to find ways to further develop our research environment, particularly our postgraduate student provision, and as such we are offering up to six fully-funded PhD studentships.

To be successful, you will need to demonstrate your enthusiasm, diligence and organised approach as well as having a research idea that resonates with our departmental and research centre expertise. You can explore potential areas of interest, and supervisors, using the links found in the 'Research Areas' section below. The Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics also has specific awards which can be applied for and details are provided below.

Studentships are for full time study over three years. The competition for October 2022 entry is now closed.  

Important: Before making an application please consult the guidance notes.

Research Areas

Applications are accepted for research in any of the College's academic departments. Please follow links below for information about the departments including staff who may be willing to supervise your project.

Aston Business School 

Aston Law School

School of Social Sciences and Humanities 

The College is also home to a number of Research Centres within which your research may also be supervised.​​​​

The Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL)

The Aston Institute for Forensic Linguistics (AIFL) is inviting applications for three fully-funded PhD scholarships commencing in September 2022 and tenable for three years.

Founded in 2008 as the Centre for Forensic Linguistics and substantially expanded in 2019 following receipt of a £5.5m UK Government grant, AIFL has a focus on language use in legal and forensic contexts. We produce academically rigorous, high-impact research using insights and methods from diverse areas of linguistics to improve the delivery of justice.

Two of the PhD positions are in specific areas of our research detailed below. The third PhD position is on slightly different terms because of the source of funding and can be in any area of forensic linguistics/language and law.

Directed PhD applications

The two directed PhD applications will attract the following bursaries:

  • Fees - the bursary will cover three years of standard Aston University UK or international fees. 
  • Stipend - £16,000 to cover accommodation and living costs.
  • Conference fund of £1,000 pa to attend national or international conferences at which you will be presenting.

The successful candidates will be offered wide-ranging training opportunities from AIFL and as part of the Doctoral Training Programme at The Aston Graduate School.

For the two directed PhDs you need to respond to one of the two research area outlines below:

1. The Centre for Forensic Text Analysis (CFTA) is working to develop the theoretical underpinnings of the notion of idiolect, and to inform evidential and investigative practice in forensic authorship analysis. Our focus is on agentively construed individual variation in language. We work with very large and more limited data sets to address questions of both method validation for court proceedings and method utility in investigative work. We are currently seeking to explore two authorship attribution scenarios: (1) involving data from individuals with limited language resources and/or using restricted codes (in the sense of Bernstein), and (2) involving data from millions of authors to test the plausibility of linguistically enabled offender identification. We are also keen to examine the potential of individual pragmatic styles for authorship analysis purposes.

Applicants interested in any of these themes should contact CFTA Head, Dr Krzysztof Kredens at

2. The Centre for Language and Law (CLL) investigates language and social justice.  We are currently working on projects to further understanding of: law and policy relating to regulation of private family life, aspects of the public family law system, child and adult safeguarding, safeguarding risk prediction (particularly automated systems), legal protections for vulnerable groups involved with the justice system, expert evidence, and the potential for linguistics and AI to contribute to the law.  We welcome applications from any area of language and law that complements our current work, particularly in the following areas:

  • Public family law, child protection and safeguarding processes; and
  • Expert evidence in the family courts.

Applicants interested in any of these themes should contact CLL Head Professor Lauren Devine at The successful candidate will be qualified in law, linguistics or a cognate discipline.

Open PhD applications

In addition to the two opportunities above we have a third open opportunity to research a PhD in any area of forensic linguistic/language and law at Aston, although we will be particularly interested in applications which are distinctive from the areas described for the two directed PhD studentships.  Only established staff can supervise PhDs, which within AIFL comprises Prof Tim Grant, Professor Lauren Devine, Dr Krzysztof Kredens, Dr Geoffrey Stewart Morrison, Dr Tamineh Tayebi, Dr Kate Haworth, and Dr Stephen Parker. Their research interests can be found on the AIFL pages of Aston Research Explorer.

Because of the differences in how the PhDs are funded the terms of the open PhD application are slightly different from the two directed PhDs and are identical to PhD bursaries advertised by the College of Business and Social Sciences. For informal enquiries about the open PhD application please contact the individual you would like to become your supervisor or, for more general enquiries, Professor Tim Grant (


Applications for all of the above opportunities should be submitted through the process described on this page.

Financial Support

Will be provided to the successful applicant to cover tuition fees at either the Home or Overseas rate plus a maintenance grant at the standard UKRI rate (£15,840 p.a. in 2022/23) with the corresponding standard increases in subsequent years.

Person Specification
The successful applicant should have a first class or upper second class honours degree or equivalent qualification in a relevant subject area. They should have, or be near to completing, a postgraduate qualification such as a Masters or equivalent. An overall merit grade with merit in the dissertation is normally required.

For applicants who are not from majority English-speaking countries, it is necessary to meet our English language requirements.

Find out more about our English language requirements


Apply by completing the BSS PhD Studentship application form 

This is the only form required to apply for the BSS PhD Studentship competition and at this stage it is not necessary to provide copies of grade transcripts.

Following the application deadline a panel will review all applications and copies of your grade transcripts may be requested. Candidates may also be invited to an interview which will take place online. If this is necessary then you will be informed.

Candidates will be notified of the outcome of their application following the application deadline.

    DEADLINE: Applications for October 2022 entry are now closed.

    FURTHER INFORMATION: For further information on how to apply please contact the BSS Research Office