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Two PhD positions in Experimental Phonetics

Vacancy number
21-556 9981
Job type
PhD positions
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
2 November 2021
Closing date
1 December 2021 Vacancy closed

The Faculty of Humanities, Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) invites applicants for 
Two PhD positions in Experimental Phonetics (1,00 FTE)
Vacancy number: 21-556 9981

Are you looking for a PhD. position to understand language and speech communication?

Are you excited about working in an interdisciplinary group?

Do you look forward to contributing as a highly motivated and cooperative team member?

If yes, you are cordially invited to apply and join us!

Project description

The Leiden University Center for Linguistics invites applicants for two PhD. positions in experimental phonetics, where you are encouraged to combine knowledge and skills from language documentation, laboratory phonology, computational linguistics, and psychology.

The positions are funded by Prof. dr. Yiya Chen’s vici grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (VI.C.181.040; Project Summary). You will be a member of the Leiden University Center for Linguistics (LUCL and affiliated with the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC). Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC) 

In the context of the vici project, you will work in an interdisciplinary team, which gives you the possibility to expand your horizon to other disciplines. You will collaborate with senior researchers and contribute to creating new knowledge about phonetic/behavioral experiments in the field, language variation, comparative linguistics, and more specifically, about speech melody production and processing.

The two PhD. candidates will work together and investigate the production and perception of intonation in lexical tonal languages. You will be responsible for collecting linguistic data in under-described languages in China and Ghana, combining phonetic documentation in the field with online experiments. You will also participate in collecting psycho- and neurolinguistic data in cooperation with the other team members. For your dissertation, you will design and conduct a series of experiments aimed to develop and test explicit theories concerning the following two questions: 1) How do speakers of typologically different tone languages differ in the way they vary pitch to signal both word-level tone and sentence-level intonation; and 2) how do these differences affect the way listeners use pitch variation to recognize words and interpret sentences?

Key responsibilities

  • Participate in group meetings and contribute to the formation of an interdisciplinary and cooperative research team;
  • Take part in the LUCL Ph.D. program;
  • Disseminate research results at academic conferences and in outreach activities;
  • Publish high-quality research articles (3-4) in international peer-reviewed journals;
  • Co-organize project workshops and conferences;
  • Complete a PhD. thesis within four/five years.

Selection criteria

  • MA degree in linguistics or related disciplines such as speech and hearing sciences, psycholinguistics, or cognitive sciences; (We will also consider degrees such as mathematics, physics, musicology, anthropology, and speech technology if affinity with linguistics and experimental research can be shown.)
  • An excellent academic track record and a strong interest in fundamental research;
  • A broad interest in computational approaches to speech documentation and analysis with demonstrable skills in one or more programming languages (e.g., Praat, R, Python, Matlab);
  • Training in phonetics, laboratory phonology, and/or psycholinguistics is preferred
  • Knowledge of pragmatics, syntax, and comparative linguistics is valued;
  • Prior experience with eye-tracking is desirable;
  • Excellent command of English is a must, and knowledge/interest in Chinese/African linguistics is an advantage;
  • Exceptional students with only a BA degree will also be considered.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Humanities is rich in expertise in fields such as philosophy, religious studies, history, art history, literature, linguistics and area studies covering nearly every region of the world. With its staff of 995, the faculty provides 27 master’s and 25 bachelor’s programmes for over 7,000 students based at locations in Leiden and in The Hague. For more information: see the website.

The Faculty has seven Institutes, among which the (
Leiden University Centre for Linguistics . LUCL has a longstanding tradition in the study of the world’s languages and features unique linguistic expertise. Current theoretical insights are combined with modern experimental methods in its research profile area ‘Language Diversity in the World’.

The Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC) is a network focusing on science valorization and outreach, stimulating interdisciplinary exchange of knowledge and expertise on topics related to brain and cognition. Its research members come from a broad and diverse spectrum of specialized academic fields ranging from psychology, medical science, linguistics, biology, computer science, and philosophy.

Terms and conditions
(Full-time appointment with the possibility of an extension)
The appointment will be according to the terms of the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO Nederlandse Universiteiten). The employment will be for four years:
 first a contract of 18 months with an extension of 30 months after positive evaluation of capabilities and compatibility. You are expected to start on Feb.1, 2022, or as soon as possible after that. The appointment must lead to the completion of a PhD. thesis. Salary range from 2434.- to 3111.- gross per month (pay scale P), in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses(8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions.
 For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at the website.

We firmly believe that diversity together with inclusion is the key driving force for creativity and innovative ideas. We strive to create a working environment where everyone feels empowered to bring their full, authentic selves to work. Therefore, applicants of all backgrounds are welcome.



For further information on this project, please get in touch with Prof. dr. Yiya Chen (yiya.chen@hum.leidenuniv.nl). On practical matters, please write to the LUCL institute manager Ms. Maarit van Gammeren (m.s.k.van.gammeren@hum.leidenuniv.nl).


Your application package should be submitted no later than 1-12-2021 via the blue button in our application system. The selection process will continue until the positions are filled. For those shortlisted, you will be invited to submit a short proposal (no more than 800 words) and come to Leiden (or online) for an interview.

Applicants should submit online:

  • A motivation letter (no more than 2 pages)
  • A detailed curriculum vitae
  • A sample academic writing
  • Names, affiliations, and contact information of two referees (no reference letters).

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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