The UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
Centre for Doctoral Training in speech and language
technologies and their applications

Speech and Language Technologies (SLTs) are a central element of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Located at a world leading research institution in the field, this UKRI AI Centre for Doctoral Training (CDT) will host at least 60 PhD students over a period of 8 years.
Far beyond standard research training, the CDT students will be part of a vibrant research centre that further provides training in engineering skills, leadership, entrepreneurship, and responsibility to society.
AI had been identified in the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy and one of the four Grand Challenges and an area for strategic growth. The CDT will help address this by training students in the theory and application of computational speech and language processing.

The centre is hosted within the Department of Computer Science which has an international reputation for the quality of its research and teaching. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF – the UK Government’s national assessment of university research), 92% of our research work was rated world leading (4*) or internationally excellent (3*) in terms of its originality, significance and rigour.

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The Department has a REF grade point average of 3.39, ranking them 5th out of 89 computer science departments in the UK. The department currently hosts 131 research students and at present it has research funding from many sources including from RCUK of over £14m.

The Department is a national leader and a highly respected global player in Speech and Language Technologies, with arguably the largest mass of Speech and Language Technologies researchers in a single department in the UK. The academic quality of the Speech and Language Technologies team is reflected in their very significant contribution the high score of the Department of Computer Science in the last REF exercise and by the number of EPSRC/ERC fellowships awarded to team members. The team has an outstanding track record in research grant awards, impact and award of PhDs; in addition, they have an extensive set of international industrial collaborators, across many sectors and ranging from SMEs to global players. In summary, they have the know-how, the experience, the external support and the passion to deliver outstanding research outputs in SLT with demonstrable national and international need.

EPSRC prosperity outcomes

The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) have identified that the future competitiveness and creativity of the UK economy requires the successful development of world-leading products, processes and technology based on the discovery and innovation in the mathematical and physical sciences, information and computing technologies, and engineering.

The EPSRC aims to anticipate economic and social change, and re-skill the UK workforce with a particular requirement to achieve technical leadership through the development of future scientists, engineers and technologists.

The CDT is committed to contributing to the four EPSRC prosperity outcomes
Healthy nation

Healthy nation

The CDT targets SLT applications in the areas of improving healthcare (e.g., assistive technology, clinical applications of speech technology, analysing medical forums for newly reported drug side effects, problems with healthcare provision, misinformation).

Connected nation

Connected nation

SLT applications support a safe and trusted society (e.g., analysing social media for hate speech, political abuse, terrorist activities); supporting policy makers, government organisations, media, and political scientists in studying, e.g., barriers to inclusion, influence of alternative media on the democratic processes and society and online propaganda.

Resilient nation

Resilient nation

The CDT will include joint PhD projects with the Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures, which will be aligned with ongoing joint research using NLP infrastructure.

Productive nation

Productive nation

The focus will be on SLT applications that boost productivity via robotics, IoT, and big data analytics. The CDT fits well within the “AI and Data-Driven Economy” grand challenge of the Government’s Industry Strategy Challenge Fund, which specifically mentions SLT.

Centre Directors

Professor Thomas Hain

Head of the Speech and Hearing Research Group

Prof Hain is a world leader in speech recognition, heads the Voicebase Centre for Speech and Language Technology and is a leader in the speech community. His research interests cover many areas in natural language processing, speech (large vocabulary continuous speech recognition, speech processing, etc), audio and multimedia technology, machine learning, and complex system optimisation and design.

Professor Rob Gaizauskas

Head of the Natural Language Processing Research Group

Prof Gaizauskas is internationally known for his research on information extraction and text mining, temporal information processing, question answering and summarisation.

Research Supervisors

Dr Nikos Aletras

Professor Jon Barker

Professor Kalina Bontcheva

Professor Guy Brown

Dr Heidi Christensen

Professor Hamish Cunningham

Dr Yoshi Gotoh

Professor Philip Green

Dr Mark Hepple

Dr Diana Maynard

Professor Roger Moore

Professor Lucia Specia

Dr Mark Stevenson

Dr Loïc Barrault

Dr Chenghua Lin

Dr Anton Ragni

Professor Aline Villavicencio

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