Research in the department

Our research focus is human communication - speech, language, and interaction. We conduct research with children, adolescents, and adults at different stages of their lives. Our interests include normal ageing, the impact of education and experience on development of language, bilingual and multi-lingual language development, reading development, sex differences in speech and language.

Of central concern are the ways in which communication is affected by developmental or acquired problems with speech or language. This includes for example cleft palate, hearing impairment, and autism in children, and acquired difficulties following stroke or the onset of dementia. Our aim is to develop better diagnostic tools and effective methods of rehabilitation and therapy, thus providing a stronger evidence base for the profession of speech and language therapy.

One of our research themes is technology and its impact on communication. We have developed apps which help children develop language, and which support people with speech production difficulties, and software to provide therapy for people recovering from stroke.

Developmental difficulties can have profound effects on education and employment. Some of our research looks at how such difficulties affect people’s life chances.

A multidisciplinary approach

Our research draws on the disciplines of linguistics, phonetics, psychology, education, cognitive neuroscience and speech and language pathology, and is approached from the multiple perspectives of behavioural, cognitive and medical science.

All of our research staff and research students belong to one or more of our three research clusters – find out more below:

Further information can be found on the Research and Innovation Services Faculty Contacts page.

Research excellence

In the Research Excellence Framework 2014 we received our highest ratings to date for the quality of our research.

100% of our research impact was world-leading or internationally excellent.

Human Communication Sciences submitted staff to two subpanels, Sub-Panel 28 and Sub-Panel 3. Our Sub-Panel 3 submission was in combination with staff from the Schools of Dentistry and Nursing and Midwifery.

Sub-Panel 28 assessed Modern Languages and Linguistics. Our research impact ranked 4th overall in the UK with 80% of impact in the world-leading category.

Sub-Panel 3 assessed Allied Health Professions, Dentistry, Nursing and Pharmacy. Over 90% of our research was rated as world-leading and internationally excellent. We were in the top 10 Russell Group Universities for research outputs.