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Communicating COVID: Messages from the Downing Street Briefings

Faculy of Arts and Humanities

Wednesday, October 07, 2020 Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

About the Project

Coventry University (CU) is inviting applications from suitably-qualified graduates for a fully-funded PhD studentship

Applications are invited from linguists keen to understand how messages about the COVID-19 pandemic have been conveyed through scientific papers, political statements, the Downing Street Briefings and reports in a range of journalistic and online sources.

The aim of the project is to determine how messages, such as advice to the public from politicians and medical experts, are shaped for different audiences in different contexts - in written papers, in spoken monologue and dialogue, and online. A multimodal corpus will be developed and made available for ongoing research on these historic discourses. A series of discourse analyses will be conducted. Findings will be shared with academics and professionals concerned with political and medical/public health communication.

The supervisory team includes Professor Sheena Gardner and Dr Benet Vincent of CAMC at Coventry University.

Training and Development

The successful candidate will receive comprehensive research training including technical, personal and professional skills.

All researchers at Coventry University (from PhD to Professor) are part of the Doctoral College and Centre for Research Capability and Development, which provides support with high-quality training and career development activities.

Entry criteria for applicants to PHD

• A minimum of a 2:1 first degree in a relevant discipline/subject area with a minimum 60% mark in the project element or equivalent with a minimum 60% overall module average.
the potential to engage in innovative research and to complete the PhD within a 3.5 years
• a minimum of English language proficiency (IELTS overall minimum score of 7.0 with a minimum of 6.5 in each component)

For further details see:

The successful applicant will be familiar with corpus linguistics and with approaches to discourse analysis. They will be aware of ways in which corpus research can complement discourse analysis. They should be able to demonstrate an aptitude for corpus development, an understanding of issues in corpus design, and an interest in the analysis of political discourse, such as the Downing Street Briefings. Experience with multimodal corpora, and with how messages ‘change’ to reflect different social contexts would be particularly valuable, as would a working knowledge of Systemic Functional Linguistics, and a background in journalism or medical communication.

How to apply

To find out more about the project please contact Sheena Gardner () or Benet Vincent ().

To apply on line please visit:

All applications require full supporting documentation, a covering letter, plus a 2000-word supporting statement showing how the applicant’s expertise and interests are relevant to the project.

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