PhD Opportunities

Update: I have now agreed to support a number of students though the application process for the coming application cycle and so no longer have any vacancies for 2022 entry.

If you are interested in applying for 2023 entry I suggest you get in touch later in the year.

The aim of this page is to explain how the PhD application process works for students who are interested in joining my lab.

This information should be read together with the departmental pages on PhD applications which also provide helpful general guidance and some more specific information about deadlines and procedures.

Applying to join the lab is a 3-stage process:

1. Informal discussion with potential supervisor (Prof Jenni Rodd)

This typically takes place Sept-Nov in the year before you want to start. In general the sooner you get in touch the better

This stage is very important. The main aim is to see if there is overlap in our research interests and if I would be good fit as your supervisor. It is always a good idea to speak to a few different potential supervisors so that you can make an informed decision. This is a really important decision!

In general we are looking for smart, enthusiastic people with a strong interest in understanding how people learn and process language. Most applicants have an undergraduate degree in psychology or linguistics (usually minimum 2.1 or equivalent). Many students come to us with a relevant Masters qualification or are currently studying a Masters degree, but this is not essential.

I’m particularly keen to speak to people who have come to graduate studies via a non-standard route. The lab really benefits from being a diverse group of people with different experiences and perspectives.

Before you get in touch is helpful (but not essential) to have an outline idea of what you might want to study. Ideally this should be clearly linked to the existing research in the lab. Have a look at the current research and publications section of this website to get some ideas about potential topics.

In addition, we are particular interested in recruiting students to work on the specific topics of:

  • Vocabulary learning from TV and Audiobooks (in children and adults)
  • Vocabulary learning from online games (in children and adults)

Note that PhDs are often co-supervised by other members of staff at UCL so that students have access to expertise from more than one individual. I currently co-supervise students with Prof Courtenay Norbury and Dr Jo Taylor, who have overlapping interests in language learning and language comprehension. But there are many other potential co-supervisors – this is something that can (and should) be discussed before a formal application is made.

If you want to start this process, then send me an email (j.rodd at that contains

  • an up-to-date copy of your CV (including any relevant module/degree marks)
  • a very brief outline of the topic that you’d like to study
  • an indication of your likely fee status (i.e., UK vs. Overseas) to help guide discussion of funding opportunities

I will also encourage you to speak to other students and staff in the lab to get a sense of how things work and help you to make a better choice about whether this would be a good fit for you.

The end point of this part of the process is that you would decide if you wanted to make an application to apply to join the lab. And I would decide whether to support this application.

2. Formal application to the Department of Experimental Psychology

This is the part of the process where a departmental panel will decide if you meet the requirements to be offered a place as a PhD student. Note that although I have some input into this decision, ultimately the decision is taken by the panel who will assess all applications to join the department. Note also that this offer of a place would not guarantee that this place would be funded.

I will help you with the application process. In particular the research proposal will be something that we work on together.

The deadline for applications has not yet been set for 2022 entry, but is likely to be very early in January 2022. It is a really really good idea to have most of the application done before the Christmas break. The research proposal is the most time-consuming part of the process and so needs to be started in very good time as I am not available to help with this over the xmas break when I will taking time out with my family.

3. Application for funding

In many ways this is the most challenging part of the process. Funding for PhD studies is very limited and it can be a bit of a lottery – each year some really excellent students will sadly miss out. So I always encourage students to apply to more than one university to improve their chances of getting funding.

Locally administered funding schemes

Most students who do get funding do so through a variety of funding schemes that are administered by our department/division. These include some 4-year demonstratorships, where you would do some form of work for the department alongside your research, e.g., help with undergraduate teaching. Other studentships are funded by organisations such as the Economic and Social Research Council and do not come with such requirements. These typically provide 3 years funding. Unfortunately many of these places are limited to students with UK fee status.

These different funding schemes have different deadlines, but these deadlines come after the main departmental application deadline mentioned above. So applicants should initially focus on getting their main application in and then we will help guide them through the funding application process. The application process for these internal studentships is usually quite ‘light touch’ as you will already have submitted extensive documentation as part of your main application. We will help you through this process if you get to this stage.

External funding schemes

Some overseas students come to the lab with funding from their home country. It is worth exploring such funding opportunities as early as possible as some have very early deadlines and these will differ depending on the country.