Language in Corona Times


Funded PhD


3 years (full-time) 5 years (part-time)

Application deadline:

Midnight 31 January 2022

About this project

Applications are invited for undertaking research for a PhD research project entitled ‘Language in Corona Times’. This project will explore literature and language expressing suffering and finding healing through grief and mourning during/after the COVID-19 outbreak.

The lead PhD project supervisor will be Dr Catherine Wynne, Reader in the Department of English, Creative Writing and American Studies at the University of Hull.

In the project the successful applicant will address the following research questions:

  • How is published prose and poetry being used (differently) to commemorate loss?
  • How has literature and language been adapted in previous pandemics?
  • What language (if any) is useful/comforting in unprecedented times?
  • How is the language of memorialisation and eulogies, adapted/ changed in online funerals and commemorations?

It is anticipated that a range of research methods will be used including discourse analysis to examine languages of loss and how language /literature are (or not) adapted to the pandemic. The successful candidate will carry out data collection via the cluster project website, blogs, webinars and an online questionnaire (target N=500) including space for individuals to post poems and writings. This approach builds on the Legacies of Loss (2019) poetry and prose collection (editors Wynne et al, supported by the University of Hull) and the PhD project will involve the collation of a new anthology to be distributed to death workers in assessing responses to the literature of loss, with a vision of new words for Corona times.

This is an interdisciplinary project. The successful candidate will be a member of the Department of English and American Studies, with an additional supervisor from the School of Education. They will also have a base in the cluster's home Department of Geography, Geology and Environment.

The supervisory team for this doctoral project also includes Dr Bethan Jones (English, Creative Writing and American Studies) and Dr Duncan Hunter (School of Education).

For informal enquiries, please contact Dr Catherine Wynne.

About the 'Living with Death – Learning from COVID’  research cluster 

Since spring 2020 the UK has experienced unprecedented waves of premature deaths with the COVID-19 pandemic. Dying has been taking place under circumstances far from ‘normal’. Modes of remembrance associated with a ‘good death’ have been impeded by public health measures. More than 17 months of infection control restrictions and limited funeral arrangements are associated with many emergent – but largely un-researched – socio-economic consequences including for mental health and well-being (e.g. complicated grief, post-traumatic stress) for health, social care and death professionals, bereaved relatives, friends and co-workers.

This multi-disciplinary research cluster programme with five PhD projects will investigate, identify, understand and suggest mitigations for the unintended medium-longer term consequences of socially distanced death. In collaborating across social sciences, health and humanities the cluster will engage with and evaluate approaches (e.g. funeral practices, story telling) to alleviating the intense suffering, grief and bereavement of COVID-19.

The ‘Living with Death – Learning from COVID’ research cluster is led by PI Dr Elsbeth Robson, Reader in Human Geography.

Click here to watch a recording of our recent webinar about this funded postgraduate research opportunity.  You'll hear from programme leaders, supervisors, and students and listen to queries from other applicants in the Q&A.

Other PhDs in this cluster


Place, Death and Inequalities

Dealing with Socially Distanced Death on the Frontline

Digital Dimensions of COVID-19 Death Across Communities

Memorialising Pandemics

Watch: find out more about postgraduate study at the University of Hull

Watch the video


The successful applicant will receive a fee waiver and a maintenance grant/stipend for three years (full time) or five years (part-time), which covers the research period of the PhD. The fee waiver for 21/22 is £4,500 (Home fee) and the maintenance grant is £15,609. This rises each year in line with the UKRI’s recommended stipend allowance.

Submission of thesis

Submission of your final thesis is expected within three years and three months from the start of your PhD scholarship for full time and within five years and six months if studying part-time.

If you need to move into a fourth year (full time) or sixth year (part-time) to complete your thesis, please note that you will not receive a tuition fee waiver or maintenance grant during this period.

Entry requirements

Minimum first class or 2:1 undergraduate degree in English (Language, Literature or Creative Writing) or related subject. If unsure please get in touch. A Masters in English, Poetry, Creative Writing or related subject and/ or relevant experience would be an advantage.

We welcome and encourage applications from under-represented groups in academia including candidates who are female and/or from Black and Minority Ethnic backgrounds.

For more details on our entry requirements please visit the postgraduate admissions webpage.

This scholarship is available for full-time and part-time study.

Research training

As a PhD student here at the University of Hull you will undertake the Postgraduate Training Scheme alongside your main degree, to help you develop the research skills and knowledge you’ll need in your future career. You will gain a Postgraduate Certificate or Diploma in Research Training in addition to your PhD.

International applicants

This opportunity comes with a home fee waiver only.

How to apply

You will need to supply a personal statement when applying for this scholarship position. Find out more about writing a personal statement. Please also ensure you include the following information:

  1. What motivates you to pursue PhD study
  2. Why you are interested in this project
  3. How your skill set matches the requirements for your choice of project and/or any additional training you will need
  4. The wider significance of research in this area and potential future research directions for the project.

Apply now

Apply for this scholarship: Full time | Part-time 

Closing date: Midnight on Monday 31 January 2022.