The Department of Education at the University of York invites Home/ EU/ International students to apply for a White Rose Social Sciences Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP) ESRC PhD studentship, either as 1+3 programme, which funds a Masters in Social Research followed by a PhD programme, or +3 programme, which funds the PhD programme only.

The PhD project will focus on child language development, with a broad scope for the successful PhD candidate to develop their own research ideas. The PhD is funded by an award to Professor Sophie von Stumm (, who directs the Hungry Mind Lab ( and will serve as primary supervisor.

For their PhD studies, the successful applicant will (a) conduct systematic literature reviews of effectiveness studies of language-focused interventions that seek to improve children’s educational achievement; (b) analyse original, primary quantitative data to test why child language development predicts educational achievement; and (c) collect qualitative data from research stakeholders (e.g., pupils, parents) to study the feasibility of broadly implementing language-focused education interventions across schools in the UK.

This PhD will follow open science principles and apply open science practices, including preregistering all research studies, sharing data and methodology, and making written reports publicly available (e.g., preprints). The PhD award is expected to be achieved via publication (i.e., 2-3 journal article type contributions that are preprinted, submitted under review, or accepted for publication by a journal).

This PhD position is based in an ambitious research group that studies the causes and consequences of individual differences in the ability to learn, integrating approaches and methods from the disciplines of psychology, education, sociology, epidemiology, and behavioral genetics ( The PhD supervisor Professor von Stumm’s research focuses on how family background, early life experiences, and education opportunities inform children’s cognitive development and their educational outcomes.

In addition to weekly 1:1 supervision and lab group meetings, the successful PhD studentship applicant will receive various development opportunities, especially in advanced statistical methods, oral and written communication skills (e.g., conference presentations, writing for journal publications), and professional training in speech, language, and communication needs (SLCN).

Candidate profile & Criteria

The successful PhD studentship candidate will have completed BSc degree in psychology, education, or another relevant subject area, achieving at least a 2.1 degree classification overall. A MSc degree in a relevant discipline is desirable but not essential. The successful candidate will aim for a career in academia, be passionate about reading, conducting, and writing up empirical science, and have excellent statistical skills (appropriate to their prior degree and research experiences). The successful candidate will have outstanding oral and written communication skills, work well independently as well as in team, and be highly motivated to collaborate with research stakeholders across organizations (e.g., charities, schools, universities) to co-produce scientific evidence.

How to apply

Please email your CV and your letter of motivation to Prof Sophie von Stumm at as preliminary enquiry by March 16th 2023.