Funding Opportunities

PhilSoc offers funding for (1) Master's Bursaries; (2) Travel and Fieldwork Bursaries for PhD students; (3) unaffiliated members via Martin Burr awards. and (4) Public Events and Outreach. The scope of each and application procedures are described below.

Master's Bursary Scheme

Master’s Bursary Scheme – 2024 Competition (for the academic year 2024–25)


The Philological Society is pleased to offer up to 5 bursaries for students embarking on a taught postgraduate programme in the UK in the areas of linguistics or philology, in accordance with our mission:

to investigate and promote the study and knowledge of the structure, the affinities, and the history of languages. As well as encouraging all aspects of the study of language, PhilSoc has a particular interest in historical and comparative linguistics, and maintains its traditional interest in the structure, development, and varieties of Modern English.  

One bursary, the Anna Morpurgo Davies Master’s Bursary, is normally awarded to someone working on Ancient Languages (including non-Indo-European ones).

The intention is that the bursaries will make a contribution to maintaining and furthering the breadth and diversity of language-study in the UK by providing support for outstanding young scholars in the field.

Bursaries up to the value of £15,000 each may be awarded, which may be used for either fees or maintenance. A bursary will not be granted to anyone who has full fees and maintenance from any other source, but it may be used to supplement another award which covers only fees. Candidates must inform the Philological Society if they receive any other award(s) towards study on the programme. The Society will not consider repeat applications from people who have already received a Master’s bursary from the Society in the past.

Candidates will normally possess or expect to be awarded a first-class honours degree or equivalent. All candidates must have been accepted or provisionally accepted onto a full-time Master’s programme at a United Kingdom university in the fields of philology or linguistics. In the case of candidates who have not yet received their first degree, a provisional offer may be made. Priority will be given to applicants on a one year Master's course. Applicants already enrolled in and part way through a two year course may apply but will be held to a commensurately higher standard.

Applications and references must be uploaded to the Society’s Online Portal. Anything sent by any other means will not be accepted. Candidates must have two referees and are advised to inform these referees in advance of their intention to submit their names as referees. Notes for referees can be found at the end of this announcement.


The deadline for submitting applications AND references is 5.00pm BST on 3rd June 2024. These CANNOT be uploaded after that time and NO EXCEPTIONS will be made. Correspondence about late submissions will not be entertained. Applicants are strongly advised to submit their application well in advance to give their referees sufficient time to prepare and submit their references.

Applications will be assessed by a panel of members of the Society’s Council. The decisions of the panel will be final.

All candidates will be notified of the outcome of their application in early August 2024.

Successful candidates will receive their bursary later in the summer. They will be expected to inform the Society of the outcome of their studies and their future plans (employment, research degree) in February 2025 and in due course to contribute a 500-word article on their areas of interest for our blog.

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Please read the notes above about how to submit your reference and the deadline for doing so. In your reference, please include comments on the following points:

  1. Quality of Work: Please provide a realistic assessment of the applicant’s abilities, based on the quality of their academic and/or professional performance to date, providing evidence to support your comments. Please indicate how this candidate compares with other students in your experience. Please indicate your relationship with the applicant (module teacher, dissertation supervisor, course co-ordinator etc.).
  2. Undergraduate performance. Please provide an explanation of the applicant’s examination marks, e.g. what proportion gain firsts, whether the final-year marks are based just on that year, what level of supervision any dissertation has received etc. Please also indicate whether the candidate is in the top 5%, 10%, 20%, or below in the cohort, and also the size of the cohort. If there is a first-degree examination result outstanding, please provide some indication of the class of degree that you expect this candidate to obtain and why.
  3. Potential for postgraduate study. Please give your opinion on this candidate’s academic and personal suitability for the proposed course of study and their potential to complete the programme. Please also comment, where appropriate, on any future plans for further research the student might have.

Travel and Fieldwork Bursaries

Student associate members who are enrolled on a doctoral programme can apply for bursaries to cover the cost of travel and subsistence when: (a) giving a paper at a conference in the UK or overseas, or (b) carrying out fieldwork and data collection in the UK or overseas. The maximum such award is £1,000, and associate members may apply for both, but one application only may be made in each category. Successful applicants will be expected to provide an illustrated report for posting on the Philological Society Blog  within two months of the completion of their conference or fieldwork.

Applications must be submitted via the Society’s online portal. Anything sent by any other means will not be accepted. The candidate's supervisor must provide a reference in support of the application.

Previous reports on travel and fieldwork supported by the Philological Society can be found here.

Robins Prize

Once every two years PhilSoc holds a competition for the R. H. Robins student Prize for an article on a linguistic topic that falls within the area of the Society's interests. It is named after the former PhilSoc President Professor R. H. (“Bobby”) Robins.

The Prize is awarded in open competition to anyone who is both:
(i) a registered student (at the time of submission); they should submit a letter from their supervisor, or from a person of similar standing, attesting to their status and that the submission is their own work); and,
(ii) a Member or Student Associate Member of PhilSoc.

Submissions can be singly or jointly authored, and can (but need not) have been based on some part of a projected doctoral or masters dissertation. The submission should not have been published before (except possibly in a departmental working paper or the like), nor should it have been submitted for publication elsewhere.

The author(s) of the winning submission will receive a cash prize of £500 (shared equally between the authors of a jointly authored submission); the author(s) of the runner-up essay will receive a cash prize of £250 (again, shared equally as appropriate).  Additionally, the prize-winning and runner-up submissions will be considered for publication in Transactions of the Philological Society, subject to the usual peer-review process. In making a submission, authors must undertake to give the Transactions first refusal to publish the article.

The prize will be awarded by PhilSoc Council on the recommendation of a prize committee formed from members of Council and selected peer-reviewers, with the President in the Chair. In awarding the prize the Council will take into consideration the originality of the submission and the theoretical and/or empirical contribution it makes to the discipline. Council reserves the right not to award the prize if there are no submissions of sufficient merit.

Past Winners:


Emily Lindsay-Smith

Revisiting the Clitic/Affix Distinction in Arabic


Amanda Thomas

Multiple factors in the licensing of null arguments: null objects in Brazilian Portuguese


Laura Arnold
(joint winner)

Highs and lows: towards reconstructing the word-prosodic system of proto-Ambel


Mari Aigro
(joint winner)

Polar question particles and their sources: a semantic approach to grammaticalisation


Jade Jørgen Sandstedt

Transparency and blocking in Early Old Norwegian height harmony


Charlotte Hemmings

Kelabit voice: Philippine-type, Indonesian-type or something a bit different? (TPhS 113.3, 383–405)


Silva Nurmio

Collective nouns in Welsh: a noun category or a plural allomorph?


Helen Sims-Williams

Analogical levelling and optimisation: the treatment of pointless lexical allomorphy in Greek


No prize awarded



Thomas Rainsford
(Runner up)

Dividing lines: the Changing syntax and prosody ... in Medieval French verse (TPhS 109.3 265-283)


Francesco Ciconte

The emergence ... of the existential pro-form: evidence from ... Italo-Romance (TPhS 109.3 284-306)


Petros Karatsareas

The loss of grammatical gender in Cappadocian Greek (TPhS 107.2: 196-230)


Susana Afonso
(Runner up)

Existentials as impersonalising devices: the case of European Portuguese (TPhS106.2: 180-215)


Louise Mycock

Constituent question formation and focus: A new typological perspective (TPhS 105.2: 192--251)


Sarah Turner
(University College, Oxford)

Post-verbal subjects in Early East Slavonic (TPhS 104.1: 85--117)


Virve-Anneli Vihman (Edinburgh)

Middle voice in Estonian (TPhS 100.1: 131--160)

Unaffiliated member awards (Martin Burr Fund)

The Martin Burr Fund was established as a result of a generous bequest from the estate of Mr Martin Burr, to provide small grants to support activities by members of PhilSoc who do not have an academic affiliation and do not have access to other sources of funding. For example, it may be used to support conference travel and accommodation costs for an unaffiliated member of the Society to present a paper at a conference or carry out fieldwork, data collection or archival research. For further information contact the Society's Hon. Treasurer. Applications should be made using the Society's online portal.

Public Events and Outreach

PhilSoc has a fund to support public events and outreach events which promote interest in the structure and history of languages, or public support for the teaching and study of languages in the UK.  For more information please contact the Society's Hon. Treasurer.