PhD Studentship Opportunity: “Silence as an integration strategy?”

Please find below details of a 3-year PhD Studentship available from October 2016 working with case study 2 of the RM Borders project.

Studentship Package

Each studentship is tenable for three years of full-time study, and offers the following financial support package:

  • An annual stipend at RCUK rates for three years (full time) (see rates at;
  • Fee waiver from the College of Social Sciences for three years (full time);
  • Access to research training support funds, including conference and travel support.

Successful applicants will possess:

  • a first-class or 2:1 undergraduate degree in Law or related discipline (exceptionally candidates possessing an undergraduate degree with lower classification but who have equivalent relevant professional and academic experience may be considered);
  • an LLM/MSc (completed or in progress) in a relevant subject area; or relevant equivalent qualification and experience is desirable but not essential;
  • an outstanding academic record and research potential.


We are looking for an applicant who has an outstanding academic pedigree and research potential, such as through the publication of journal articles and other publications. Applications are considered according to their academic merit. Factors such as financial status and nationality are not taken into account.

Awards can be held on a full-time basis only over three years. The successful candidate is expected to complete the doctoral research within three years. They are required to be based in the School of Law, University of Glasgow during this period to benefit from the support and networking offered by the large grant project.

It would be of benefit to the candidate to have one or more European languages.

How to Apply

Please provide the following documentation to apply:

  • Current CV;
  • Two academic references;
  • Transcripts of your previous degree(s);
  • English Language certificate. Applicants whose first language is not English are required to include evidence of their English Language ability, this should be a minimum IELTS score of 7.0 with no sub test less than 6.5 or equivalent.;
  • A proposal of maximum 1500 words, describing a self-standing project. It should show how it would contribute to Case Study 2’s work within the Researching Multilingually project (see Project Topic below).

Send all application documents including references in one email to Sarah Craig ( & Karin Zwaan (
DEADLINE FOR APPLICATIONS: Friday 29 April 2016 (5pm GMT).

Your application for the studentship will be reviewed by the proposed supervisors, Sarah Craig (School of Law, University of Glasgow) and Karin Zwaan (Centre for Migration Law, Radboud University, Nijmegen). Sarah and Karin lead Case Study 2 “Translating Vulnerability and Silence into the Legal Process” of the Researching Multilingually project.

Shortlisted applicants will be invited for interview by skype, or in person, in May 2016. Applicants will be notified whether they have been successful in late May 2016. The start date of the studentship is 1st October, 2016.

Informal queries about the studentship can be directed to Sarah Craig ( & Karin Zwaan (

More information about the Researching Multilingually Project

This large-grant AHRC-funded project is embedded within the “Translating Cultures” theme. The theme addresses the need for understanding and communication within, between and across diverse cultures. It supports research that explores the role of translation, understood in its broadest sense, in the transmission, interpretation, transformation and sharing of languages, values, beliefs, histories and narratives.

The project brings together an international, multidisciplinary team of researchers and collaborators to work on an imaginative programme that integrates the following: (i) empirical research on translation and interpretation at different kinds of border (relating to language, the body, law, and the state); (ii) the development of theory, ethical research practices and research methodologies; and (ii) a range of creative arts projects.

The innovative project structure has the following components: (a) a Researching Multilingually and Translating Cultures (RMTC) ‘hub’; (b) five original case studies (involving research in the UK and US, as well as in Bulgaria, Gaza, The Netherlands, Romania and Uganda); and (c) a Creative Arts and Translating Cultures (CATC) ‘hub’. This overall structure provides for the development within a single, integrated project of new theoretical, conceptual and empirical understandings of processes and practices of translation, interpretation and representation, and also of the methodological, ethical and epistemological issues that arise when research is conducted in contexts where more than one language is used.

The studentships is embedded within this research programme. Doctoral students will be working alongside members of the team, focusing on their own project and contributing to the research and publication programme of the project.

Project Topic: Silence as an integration strategy?

Adjudicative processes typically require communication in one language only (English) and interpreters are often used. Applicants may feel silenced, or pressurised to speak. What happens when language is replaced by silence as decisions about immigration status are taken? How do interpreters, legal practitioners, decision makers – and researchers – address the issue of silence in this field, where the fundamental human rights of extremely vulnerable people are often at stake?

Courts and tribunals have consistently required communication in adjudicative processes to take place in English. In recent years other public institutions have also adopted requirements regarding communication in English. Such developments may be portrayed as an indicator of integration, with the result that the ability to speak English/Dutch becomes a substantive condition to be met.

For people applying for leave to remain under Immigration provisions, the ability to speak English may be one of the required conditions (see UK Immigration Rules for spouses or partners). Speaking English may also be regarded as a sign of integration when applying for citizenship. When UK Courts and tribunals are considering, under the Immigration Acts, whether the public interest justifies a breach of a person’s human right to respect for private and family life, they must regard, among other considerations, the ability to speak English as being in the public interest (Nationality Immigration and Asylum Act 202 s 117). Current policy proposals would make the ability to speak English fluently a requirement for front-line public service workers (UK Immigration Bill 2015-16 Part 7).

Such requirements have both procedural and substantive implications.

In most immigration and asylum cases, the applicant’s first language will not be English, and translation/interpretation is likely to be relied on during the adjudicative process. The implications of such reliance for access to and participation in the adjudiative process have been the subject of research by linguists (Inghilleri, Rycroft, Pollabauer) and by social anthropologists and sociologists (Good, Gibb), and the processes of power negotiation in intercultural encounters have also been scrutinised (Piller, 2011). These procedural, linguistic barriers to participation in the process can have substantive consequences where they influence or determine whether (or not) refugee or other immigration status is granted. This project will explore such questions from an “access to justice” perspective. The methods and forums for that study will be explored with the successful candidate, but could cover immigration detention, or the overlap between immigration and criminal law and process, as well as immigration and asylum adjudication.

Substantively, the requirement to demonstrate an ability to speak English can influence, and in some cases determine, a person’s future work prospects or immigration status. The level of fluency required raises issues which concern colleagues working in the hubs and other case studies in the Researching Multilingually project. Where the ability to speak English determines a person’s future work prospects or immigration status, how is fluency to be measured? What tests will be applied? How are decisions on such matters arrived at, and their reliability and fairness ensured?

Where the question of a person’s entitlement to stay in the UK depends on the communication between an applicant, an interpreter and an adjudicator, what are the expectations on each side? This project will explore the scope for that duty to be interpreted so that its communicative dimensions are emphasised (Hathaway, Foster). Existing procedural rules, protocols and standards at EU and national levels provide for translation and interpretation. To what extent could an emphasis on communication incorporate the role of the interpreter more fully? What would be the procedural implications of such an approach?

Participation in a judicial process requires communication, silence may be treated as prevarication, and language is under pressure. To what extent can the human rights framework (international, European, national) be called on to assist in finding a more appropriate space for communication in such circumstances? What scope if there for equality/human rights perspectives on language and communication (e.g. on the role of the interpreter in immigration and asylum adjudication) to be developed? This project will explore the implications, from the legal perspective, of substantive English language requirements and/or of reliance on interpretation and translation in immigration contexts and procedures.

This project will develop (some of) the procedural and/or substantive issues outlined above, and the precise scope of the project will be developed in conjunction with the successful candidate. It will draw on legal standards and international, EU and UK norms and consider how they relate to the developing findings of the Researching Multilingually project. It will draw down knowledge and expertise from the wider project, and will contribute to the Researching Multilingually theme by providing knowledge and insights from a legal perspective. For example, where legal provisions specify a level of linguistic fluency, or provide for testing, interdisciplinary perspectives of the sort developed in the Researching Multilingually project are essential to the production of informed explanations of and critiques of such developments. The project will contribute to the work of Case Study 2, in particular in relation to its comparative examination of UK procedures, as outlined above, but also in relation to substantive aspects and consequences.

The project will also contribute to the wider Researching Multilingually theme in that the PhD student will have the opportunity to explore and develop methodological insights into ethnographic and narrative methods of inquiry where multiple languages are present. This part of the research is complementary to the PhD- research already being done on the topic of CS 3 (Project Topic 2: Intercultural dialogue at borders). The project will develop alongside the work of the hubs, and of CS3, and will contribute in key respects to the ongoing work of the Researching Multilingually project by providing crucial input on relevant legal and policy developments.

Supervision and support

The PhD student will be supervised by Co-I Craig and by Co-I Zwaan. The project student will receive full research training in a range of social science methods and conceptual frameworks and will join a cohort of PhD students in the College of Social Sciences and thoughout GRAMnet’s PG network who provide regular for a for discussion and presentation of work, seminars, student led conferences and publishing. Knowledge exchange and impact activities will also be part of the comparative scope of this project, with the multilingual film series and translated reading group texts generated in collaboration with GRAMNet The PhD student will conduct his/her own research with its unique and specific focus. As with the other PhD student projects, this student will benefit from being part of the RMTC hub team in receiving supervisory and research training in researching multilingually. The PhD student’s development is complemented by Co-I Craig’s role in researcher development and synthesis of PhD projects across the entire Researching Multilingually project.

Further information:

Informal queries about the studentship can be directed to Sarah Craig ( & Karin Zwaan (

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