Deadline: 2015-01-15
Level Of Study: PhD

PhD candidate in Linguistics

Research at the Faculty of Humanities is carried out by six research schools  under the aegis of the Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR). The Amsterdam Centre for Language and Communication, one of the six research schools, currently has two vacant PhD positions as part of the NWO-funded project Examining the contribution of procedural learning to grammar and literacy acquisition in children, led by dr. Judith Rispens (University of Amsterdam). 

Applications are now invited from excellent candidates who wish to conduct experimental research on language learning in children with developmental language impairments. One PhD  project focuses on ‘procedural learning in children with Specific Language Impairment’ and the second one on ‘procedural learning in children with developmental dyslexia’.

Project description

Children acquire language in their early years of life without explicit or formal instruction to the rules of their language. A mechanism that potentially facilitates this is the ability to discover rules without explicit awareness to those rules and to store these in long-term memory. This is known as procedural learning. Deficiencies in this ability have been observed in children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and in children who have problems with learning to read and spell (developmental dyslexia). Children with SLI and developmental dyslexia show overlap in the grammatical and literacy problems that they experience, but the cognitive nature of this overlap is not understood. In this project, the relation between procedural learning and grammar and literacy development in children with developmental language disorders will be investigated. The main research question that is central within the Ph.D. projects is whether deficiencies in procedural learning are associated with the grammatical and literacy problems of children with SLI (subproject 1) and developmental dyslexia (subproject 2). 

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Tasks of the two PhD candidates will include:

  • conducting experimental research with children;
  • completion and defence of a PhD thesis within four years;
  • regular presentations of intermediate research results at workshops and conferences;
  • publication of peer-reviewed articles;
  • co-organization of expert meetings and an international workshop;
  • participation in the training program of the research school.


  • MA (or equivalent) with excellent grades in general linguistics. Substantial knowledge of developmental language disabilities and psycholinguistics is required;
  • excellent research skills;
  • excellent academic writing and presentation skills;
  • excellent communication, social and organisational skills;
  • proficiency in Dutch;
  • proficiency in English.

Further information

For further information, please contact:


The PhD candidates will be appointed at the Faculty of Humanities at the University of Amsterdam. Each appointment is for 4 years for 1,0 fte under the terms of employment currently valid for the Faculty. In the first instance, a contract will be given for 12 months, with an extension for the following 36 months on the basis of a positive evaluation. The intended starting date of the contract is 1 April 2015. The gross monthly salary will be €2,083 during the first year to €2,664 during the fourth year, based on 38 hours per week, in accordance with the Collective Employment Agreement of the Dutch universities.

Job application

Applications for the PhD position should include:

  • a letter of motivation, stating why you want to do this research (no more than one page). If you want to apply for both PhD-positions within this NWO-funded project, please explain your motivation;
  • a CV;
  • a list of grades obtained for your Bachelor and Master (or equivalent) programmes;
  • names and contact details of two academic referees;
  • a writing sample, e.g. a published paper or a chapter from your MA-thesis. 
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