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Is song a superstimulus for language learning? An interventional study

About This PhD Project

Project Description

Apply to Goldsmiths, University of London for a place to study by Monday 20 January 2020.
Apply for SeNSS studentship funding by 12.00pm on Monday 2 March 2020.

This competition is open to UK and EU nationals only, subject to certain conditions (

The importance of providing infants with a rich language environment within the family home is well known. Studies on shared book reading, and those using LENA technology ( reveal a clear relationship between the amount and quality of language that the infant hears, and their subsequent competencies in understanding and forming speech sounds.

However, increasing the amount of spontaneous verbal interaction that occurs within parent-infant dyads is challenging. A promising route to increasing an infants exposure to language is through infant-directed singing. Language embedded within song is attentionally engaging and, we propose that if parents are supported to increase the amount of song singing they do with their infants at home, we will see significant improvement in language outcomes, measured longitudinally.

Partnering with the award-winning Baby College Ltd (, we will work towards a single blind randomized control trial to determine whether a programme of regular weekly classes for parent/infant dyads, tailored towards building awareness of the importance of singing for language development, as well as increasing parents’ confidence and building their repertoire of songs to use in everyday life will result in significantly language comprehension relative to a group of dyads who will be randomly allocated to engage in a similar programme of classes focussing on physical play.

You will be involved in all stages of the project, from tailoring the specific streams, to recruiting the families, and collecting quantitative and qualitative data on language outcomes.

Training Opportunities

A comprehensive package of training will be agreed in consultation with the supervisors. Elements of training will be provided by the supervisors, Goldsmiths, University of London, and by other providers.

Applicants: essential and/or desirable attributes/skills

The successful applicant will have an undergraduate and/or Master’s degree in psychology or a related subject, including research methods and statistics, and a strong interest in infant development and/or music psychology.

Studentship Details

This studentship may be taken as either a 1+3 year award (a one-year MSc followed by a three-year PhD), or a +3 award (a three-year PhD)

• It may be taken full-time or part-time
• The studentship award covers your university fees, and provides you with a stipend of £17,009 per year
• You will also be able to apply for small amounts of additional funding via the SeNSS Research Training Support Grant

How to apply for this studentship

In order to be considered for this SeNSS studentship, you must first apply for a place to study Goldsmiths, University of London, noting that you are applying for the collaborative studentship. Please go to Goldsmiths, University of London, How to apply for a PhD for information on how to make your application -

You will then need to make a separate application to SeNSS for this collaborative studentship. Please read the SeNSS Collaborative Studentship Application Guidance Notes before completing our online application form. The Guidance Notes are available at the bottom of the following webpage: Applying for a SeNSS collaborative studentship -

Starting date

On or about 1 October 2020.

Enquiries email name and address

For queries relating to the Goldsmiths application process, please email
For queries related to the project itself, please email Prof. Lauren Stewart ()

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