Frequently asked questions


Is my academic background suitable to apply for the CDT? 

We are flexible on academic backgrounds; your suitability for the CDT will be determined based on the details of the course content of your Bachelor and/or Master degrees once you have applied (via transcripts). However, you must be able to demonstrate mathematical aptitude and experience of programming. 

Naturally, a strong interest in an area of SLT research is essential. The focus of the CDT is around AI and the use of computational approaches (such as machine learning) in the creation of SLTs – this should be a prime interest for applicants.

Should I provide a project proposal? 

No; we don’t require a project proposal for application. The first six months of the programme allows exploration of a range of SLT topics. Projects are defined in collaboration with our industrial partners after the start of the course. 

What should I put in my supporting statement?

Your supporting statement should include a brief outline of your research areas of interest and why you wish to pursue this area of research. On average it should be one to two (max) A4 pages in length in a single spaced and clear font. 

Where can I find the course under the programmes list on the admissions system? 

The course can be found when you select: Doctoral Training – Full time –  Speech and Language Technologies CDT. Please do not select PhD with Integrated PGDip. 

Am I able to use an employer as a reference? 

We ask for two academic references which include their personal opinion of your ability to undertake postgraduate research. If you have been out of education for the last two years, you can send at least one academic reference and, if relevant, a reference from a current or previous employer. 

References should be on headed paper and signed by the referee. It is preferred that you upload a PDF of the reference to your application. 

If this is not possible, you can send a link to your referee(s) to upload their statement directly. If you choose to do this, it is your responsibility to ensure they are uploaded by the referee. Your application cannot be reviewed without them. 

When will I get a response about my application? 

We aim to let applicants know the outcome of their application within six weeks of the admissions deadline.

What if I miss the deadline? 

We have two admissions rounds. The first round of admissions is open October to the end of January. The second round of admissions is open from March to the end of May and will fill any remaining places. We’d encourage you to apply early where possible. 

Eligibility and funding

Am I eligible to apply for the studentship? 

In August 2020, UKRI announced that international students will be eligible for all UKRI-funded postgraduate studentships from the start of the 2021/22 academic year

UKRI limits the proportion of international students appointed each year through individual doctoral training programmes to a maximum of 30 percent of the total. All students will receive a full award, to include a stipend and all fees.

Are there any fully-funded scholarships for international applicants?

Up to 30 percent of each new cohort’s students may be international. All fees are paid.

Would I be able to self-fund the entire cost of a studentship on the programme? 

Unfortunately, we are unable to accept applications from students wishing to self-fund the entire cost of the four year studentship.

Do I need to apply for the funding element separately from applying for a place on the CDT programme?

No – you make a single application. We view the two elements as inextricably linked; if you are offered and accept a place on the CDT programme, you will automatically receive funding.

English language requirements

If I don’t have an IELTS qualification can I submit an equivalent? 

If English is not your first language, you will need to meet our English language requirements. 

We ask for IELTS 7.5 overall, with no less than 7.0 in each component (this is higher than the standard University requirement due to the competitive nature of these studentships). You will be able to provide an updated IELTS certificate should you need to.

Equivalent scores in other English language qualifications are welcome; see the University’s guidance for more information on permitted qualifications. There are websites available (such as which allow TOEFL and IELTS scores to be compared. 

If your course was over five years ago, we would need evidence on ongoing use of English, such as a letter from your employer. If you completed your degree recently, we will not need further evidence.

My degree was from a non-UK university but taught entirely in English, does this count towards my English language qualification? 

If you have successfully completed a first degree or postgraduate diploma taught in English, it is only acceptable in lieu of an English language qualification if it was delivered in a majority native English speaking country

If not, in most cases you will need to complete an acceptable English language qualification.