13 four-year fully-funded studentships available: apply now!

What are Speech and Language Technologies?

Since the inception of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the 1950s, a central vision of the field has been of machines that can understand spoken and written human language.

This capability would enable natural interaction between people and computers, translation between all human languages, and tools to analyse and answer questions about vast archives of text and speech.

Speech and Language Technologies (SLTs) are a range of approaches which allow computer programs or electronic devices to analyse, produce, modify or respond to human texts and speech.

SLTs are underpinned by a number of fundamental research fields including natural language processing, computational linguistics, mathematics, machine learning, physics, psychology, computer science, acoustics, and speech processing.

In the last two decades the societal shift to digital media, coupled with spectacular advances in computer storage, processing power and software capabilities, especially in machine learning and SLTs, has meant this vision is no longer science fiction but is turning into reality.

SLTs are now established as core scientific/engineering disciplines within AI and have grown into a world-wide multi-billion dollar industry, with massive application potential (global revenues for the industry were valued at $33bn in 2015 and predicted to rise to $80bn by 2020, an annual average growth rate over 19%).

What is our CDT?

Centres for Doctoral Training (CDTs) bring together diverse areas of expertise to train engineers and scientists with the skills, knowledge and confidence to tackle today’s evolving issues, and future challenges. They also provide a supportive and exciting environment for students, create new working cultures, build relationships between teams in universities and forge lasting links with industry.

Students are funded for four years and doctoral programmes include technical and transferrable skills training, as well as a research element. We are funded by UKRI, the University of Sheffield as well as industry.

The UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) in Speech and Language Technologies (SLT) opened in 2019. The CDT will host 60 studentships on our PhD with Integrated PGDip, over a period of 8 years. Hosted within the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield — a world-leading institution in the field — the CDT goes far beyond standard research training.

Students undertake a unique Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) with Integrated Postgraduate Diploma (PGDip) in SLT Leadership programme.

Students and industry work with a team of over 20 internationally leading SLT researchers, covering all core areas of modern SLT research within the context of a PhD project. These projects are underpinned by a real-world application defined by our industry partners.

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