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Developmental Language Disorder in adults: nature, prevalence and availability of NHS support services

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Start date: October 2020
Duration: 3 years (full time)
Location: Colchester Campus

Approximately 10% of children have Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), a language disorder of unknown origin, experiencing significant difficulties in the understanding and expression of language. These difficulties have been linked to poorer outcomes in education, employment, and health and wellbeing in adulthood.

However, because most research has focused on children, little is known about the prevalence or trajectory of DLD post adolescence.
Without clear knowledge of how DLD presents in adulthood, its impact on longer-term health and wellbeing, and the availability of support services have not been explored.

The project

This study will tackle these four questions (nature, prevalence, long-term impact and services) using a mixed-methods approach containing three work packages:
1. A cross-sectional experimental study to investigate the verbal and non-verbal processing in a group of adults (over 18 years) with DLD
2. An online survey of speech and language therapists about the current prevalence and service provision for this group
3. Semi-structured interviews with adults with DLD, and their caregivers, to identify their needs and shape future provision.
Greater awareness of the nature of language difficulties in adults with DLD will inform our understanding of language development across the lifespan, and assist in setting up appropriate services.


- MSc in Speech and Language Therapy, OR
- BSc in Speech and Language Therapy and an MSc in a subject related to SLT or research.

How to apply

You can apply for this postgraduate research opportunity online (
Please include your CV, covering letter, personal statement, and transcripts of UG and Masters degrees in your application.
The University has moved to requiring only one reference for PhD applications and these can be received after a conditional offer has been made so the absence of these will not hold up the recruitment process.

Find out more about this studentship and information on how to apply on our website (

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