PhD studentship in NLP approaches to estimating text difficulty

*** Closing date 23 May 2016 ***

The Research Group in Computational Linguistics ( at the Research Institute of Information and Language Processing of the University of Wolverhampton invites applications for a 3-year University of Wolverhampton PhD studentship in the area of estimating text difficulty.

The proposed topic of the PhD research will be to develop a Natural Language Processing (NLP) methodology to predict text difficulty not only at the grammatical level (e.g. lexical or syntactic complexity) but also at the level of text content: the complexity of concepts mentioned in a specific text and the relationships between those concepts. Much of the research on quantifying text complexity so far has relied on readability measures which have often been criticised for being inaccurate or unreliable.

The developed methodology will be applied to a user scenario, e.g. student assessment.

This is a funded bursary which will consist of a stipend towards living expenses (£14,500 per year) and remission of fees.

Entry requirements

A successful applicant must have:

  • A good honours degree or equivalent in Computer Science, Computational Linguistics or Linguistics, with strong programming skills and statistical / mathematical background
  • Experience in Computational Linguistics / Natural Language Processing, including Machine Learning approaches to Natural Language Processing.

Experience in linguistics, particularly psycholinguistics or clinical linguistics, would be a plus.

Application procedure

Applications must include:

  • Curriculum vitae listing degrees awarded, courses covered and marks obtained, publications, relevant experience and names of three referees who could be contacted for a reference
  • Cover letter with statement of research interests, outlining why you are interested in this PhD position/topic, how you plan to approach the research task and why you consider your experience to be relevant.
  • Expression of interest form which can be obtained by emailing


The application deadline is 23 May 2016. The short-listed candidates will be notified by email by 1 June 2016 and interviewed via Skype on 7 June 2016. The starting date of the PhD position is 1 October 2016 or any time as soon as possible after that.

Established by Prof Mitkov in 1998, the research group in Computational Linguistics delivers cutting-edge research in a number of NLP areas. The results from the UK research assessment exercises confirm the research group in Computational Linguistics as one of the top performers in UK research with its research defined as ‘internationally leading, internationally excellent and internationally recognised’.

Informal enquiries and electronic applications can be sent to by email to:

Prof. Dr. Ruslan Mitkov
Director of the Research Institute of Information and Language Processing
University of Wolverhampton
Please copy your email or application to Prof. Mitkov’s PA (