Thinking of applying to be a research student?

We welcome applications from students wishing to complete an MA or PhD in Linguistics or Applied Linguistics. The route to a research degree is generally through a taught Postgraduate Diploma. Please see the relevant pages for further details of the taught programmes.

  • Look through our priority research areas to see which types of project we particularly encourage. You might also like to look through the profiles of current and former research students below.
  • Look at the profiles of staff members in Linguistics and Languages, to identify a potential supervisor in your area of interest, and find out more about their own research. Get in touch with them via email to discuss your interests at least one semester before you hope to begin your research programme.
  • Through informal discussions with a potential supervisor (usually involving at least one face-to-face or zoom meeting), you will shape your ideas into a research proposal. This process can take up to six months.
  • Submit a completed application for admission (postgraduate), which includes your research proposal, along with a CV, transcripts and other important documents. Please check that you enclose all the necessary documents when applying and ensure you submit your application well before the deadline.

If you are an English teacher who would prefer to do an MA by coursework (without a research component), you may be interested in the MA in English Language Teaching & Leadership. See the postgraduate taught programme pages for further details.

Research programmes in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics

MA by Supervised Research Project

This is the most common route to obtaining an MA in Linguistics or Applied Linguistics, as it combines two further 400-level courses after completion of the PG Diploma (including the research methods course) with a ‘shorter’ research thesis (of approximately 20,000 words). The two 400-level courses may come from Linguistics or another approved discipline that is relevant to the research interests.

The MA by SRP can be completed in 1 year full-time or 2 years part-time (following completion of the PG Diploma).

Students must have completed a relevant PG Diploma at USP, usually with a GPA of 3.0 or above, in order to enrol in the MA by Supervised Research Project. In addition, they must have a viable research proposal and an available supervisor able to take them on.

MA by Thesis

Students who wish to pursue a more in-depth study at Master’s level may enrol in the MA by thesis, in either Linguistics or Applied Linguistics, which is examined by a thesis of up to 50,000 words.

The MA by thesis can be completed in 2 years full-time or 4 years part-time.

Students must usually complete a PG Diploma at USP (or equivalent from another university), with a GPA 3.0 or above, before enrolling in the MA by thesis. In addition, they must have a viable research proposal and an available supervisor able to take them on.


High-scoring students who have successfully completed a Master’s in either Linguistics or Applied Linguistics may have the opportunity to continue to a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). This degree is examined by a thesis of up to 100,000 words and an oral defence.

To be accepted for a PhD programme, students must have:

  • completed an MA that contains a research component (SRP or thesis) or completed a Directed Research Project (DRP) in lieu of this requirement.
  • written an outstanding research proposal for a study, in collaboration with a research supervisor who confirms their availability and willingness to supervise the project.

Current research students

Roshila Singh is working towards a PhD in Applied Linguistics. Her study attempts to document academic literacy practices in USP’s learning and teaching environments. It will reveal how these practices are engaged by the teaching staff and students as part of the process of academic socialisation into degree-level studies through the medium of English. At the heart of the study is the urge to understand what the university collectively means by ‘English proficiency’. She is supervised by Dr Fiona Willans.
Peter Sasabule has been awarded a PSERI scholarship to pursue his MA by thesis in Linguistics. He is conducting language documentation of his own language, Roviana from the New Georgia region of the Western Solomon Islands. Via elicitation with native speakers of the language, his thesis examines three domains, specifically; Vetu (traditional house), Tomoko (war canoe) and seke-batu (ritualistic headhunting) that were recorded and documented in the J H L Waterhouse 1928 dictionary but that are now considered to be undergoing attrition. He is supervised by Dr Candide Simard.
Sandhya Kumari is working on her PhD in Linguistics. She has been awarded an N-POC PhD Scholarship for her project titled “Displacement past and future: Documenting the ocean knowledge in the language of the Rabi Island (Banabans), Kiribati (Gilbertese) and Tuvalu (Nui) speakers and constructing resilient and sustainable island nations”. Her study builds on the work conducted for her MA research on lexical variation between the languages spoken on Rabi Island and in Kiribati. She is supervised by Dr Apolonia Tamata.
Evangeline Christina Narayan is working on her PhD in Applied Linguistics, investigating the way children in lower primary levels in Fiji acquire the language of Mathematics, recognising that this is typically done through a second language, English. She is audio-recording class discussion in classrooms from Years 1 to 4, and then conducting follow-up interviews with target children from the classes. She analyses all transcripts to examine the usage of Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS) and Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), following the work of Jim Cummins, and attempts to contextualise this language development within a socio-culturally appropriate pedagogy, following Russell Bishop and others. She is supervised by Dr Fiona Willans and Dr Sashi Sharma.
Rajendra Prasad is carrying out research for his PhD in Linguistics. He is analysing Fiji Hindi verb phrases as his main focus, using a corpus elicited from speakers of the language. He is supervised by Dr Candide Simard.
Yogita Mala is conducting the research component of her MA by SRP in Linguistics. She asks, ‘Who says what?’ and analyses the way male and female presenters on a popular Radio Navtarang programme use Fiji Hindi. She uses Conversational Analysis to ascertain patterns in terms of who dominates the conversation, who introduces/initiates the topics, who develops the topic, who interrupts the conversation, who provides back-channel support, who uses repetition for support, and who uses the honorific forms such as tum and aap (second person personal pronoun-you in Fiji-Hindi). This will be the first corpus-based research on genderlects in Fiji Hindi. She is supervised by Dr Candide Simard.
Tiito Kaeka is investigating lexical variation in different dialects of the Kiribati language for this MA by SRP in Linguistics. He is collecting data with the aid of picture stimuli from six of the seventeen islands of the Kiribati group of the Kiribati Islands. He is supervised by Dr Candide Simard.
Losalini Rokosuli is enrolled in the research component of her MA by SRP in Linguistics. She investigates the semantics of navigation in different dialects of the Fijian Language. Her methods include observations during talanoa sessions, together with the use of an already existent glossary that was compiled during the ‘Navigating the Weather Project’ (NaWa). The terms found will then be used in interviews and talanoa sessions with elders to elicit further information. She is supervised by Dr Candide Simard.
Ioran Teeta is conducting his research for his MA by SRP in Applied Linguistics. He is investigating the syllabus on paper versus the syllabus in practice in a case study of Kiribati Year 3 English classes on an outer island. To do this, he will conduct a two-week intensive classroom observation period of one Year 3 teacher covering one thematic unit of the syllabus. Having already analysed the syllabus and identified principles that appear conducive to effective language learning, Ioran has developed an observation checklist to help him determine how these principles come to life in the classroom. He is supervised by Dr Fiona Willans.
Jim Gure is working on his MA by SRP in Linguistics. He is carrying out an analysis of lexical innovations in Raga, from North Pentecost in Vanuatu, analysing vocabulary used on Facebook and in the constitution of the Turaga movement. He will then interview Raga speakers to elicit their attitudes towards these lexical innovations. He is supervised by Dr Marie Duhamel.
Elizabeth Fifita was awarded a two-year SPACE Graduate Assistantship to complete a full-time postgraduate diploma and MA in Applied Linguistics. She has now begun the research component of this degree and is investigating pedagogical translanguaging in a Tongan classroom. Given that Tonga currently follows an early-exit transitional policy in which the medium of instruction shifts from Tongan to English in the later stages of primary school, Elizabeth examines how the two languages are used in the classroom for different purposes during Grade 4, attempting to see how the policy plays out in practice. She is supervised by Dr Fiona Willans.
Barbara Fatiaki is investigating language attitudes of Suva based Rotumans towards Rotuman and Fijian as part of her MA by SRP in Linguistics. She is conducting a matched guise test that will elicit indirect attitudes towards the two languages. Rotuman is listed as an endangered language, but very few sociolinguistic studies have been carried out on language attitudes towards this language. Since attitudes towards a language are known to impact language shift, this is a critical area to investigate. She is supervised by Dr Marie Duhamel.
Pritima Singh is working on an MA by SRP in Linguistics, investigating attitudes towards Fiji Hindi, Shudh Hindi and English. She elicits these attitudes from adolescents from 16 to 19 years old and adults from 20 to 35 years old via a matched guise test. She is supervised by Dr Nikhat Shameem.
Reuben Tarihehe is using his MA by SRP in Applied Linguistics to investigate the way Vanuatu’s vernacular language policy plays out in three primary schools on West Ambae. He tests the language proficiency of the Year 1-4 children in each of West Ambae, Bislama and English; he observes the way the different languages are used in the classroom; and he conducts talanoa with the teachers and wider community about the value of vernacular education. He is supervised by Dr Fiona Willans.
Ariteti Botibara is focusing her MA by SRP in Applied Linguistics on the way the revised English curriculum materials are implemented in Year 7 and 9 classrooms in a junior secondary school in South Tarawa, Kiribati. She uses ‘think-aloud protocols’ to understand how teachers plan their lessons, then observes those lesson to see how the plans come to life, and then conducts reflective interviews with the same teachers about those lessons. The study emerges from her own professional role working as a curriculum development officer in the Curriculum Unit. She is supervised by Dr Fiona Willans.

Former research students

Research theses completed in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics since 2000

Year Student Programme Theses Supervisor
2024 Sandhya Kumari MA Linguistics Lexical variation in the Kiribati and Banaban dialects Dr Candide Simard
2024 Tupou Ratuva Singh MA Applied Linguistics How learners in Years 5 to 8 in Fiji acquire (or don’t acquire) verb forms in English: A systematic analysis of learner writing Dr Fiona Willans

Dr Candide Simard

2024 Virendra Prasad MA (SRP) Linguistics Phonetic variation and convergence of Hindi-speaking users of English in Suva Fiji, Fiji’s northern region, and India Dr Candide Simard
2024 Purnima Din MA (SRP) Applied Linguistics Dynamics of teacher feedback discourse in English as a Second Language students’ academic essays in Ba secondary schools, Fiji Islands Dr Nikhat Shameem
2023 Shaleshni Prasad MA Applied Linguistics Improving the oral English fluency of students at the University of the South Pacific: A case study of English for Academic Purposes students studying in face-to-face mode at Lautoka Campus Dr Fiona Willans

Dr Robert Early

2023 Vimal Kumar MA (SRP) Applied Linguistics Readability and Lexical Coverage of Texts: An Analysis of EMI Texts in the Fiji Context Dr Fiona Willans
2023 Sadia Shainaaz MA (SRP) Linguistics Language attitudes of Indo-Fijian mothers and their children towards English, Fiji Hindi and Shudh Hindi Dr Nikhat Shameem
2021 Svetlana Kiseleva Afuhaˈamango MA Linguistics Uniqueness of emphatic possessives in Tongan Dr Candide Simard
2021 Evangeline Narayan MA (SRP) Applied Linguistics In search of principles of second language acquisition in the design and unpacking of Fiji’s English syllabus Dr Fiona Willans
2021 Bhagirati Bhan MA (SRP) Linguistics Codeswitching between Standard Hindi and Fiji Hindi (in formal religious settings in Navua) Dr Candide Simard
2020 Wilfred Fimone MA Linguistics Variation and change of glottal stop deletion in Rotuman Prof Miriam Meyerhoff, Dr Fiona Willans, Dr Paul Geraghty
2018 Romina Singh MA Linguistics Sketch grammar and sociolinguistic topics in Bua Fiji Hindi Dr Paul Geraghty, Dr Fiona Willans, Dr Robert Early
2018  Lose Jenner Helu MA Linguistics Talanoa Ki Uvea: Translations and commentary (A linguistic analysis of evidence of Uvean influence on Tonga) Dr Robert Early
2017 Alice Aluta Rore MA (SRP) Linguistics Grammar sketch of Sulagwalu Dr Paul Geraghty Dr Robert Early
2017 Rajendra Prasad MA (SRP) Linguistics Grammar sketch of Nasinu Fiji Hindi Dr Paul Geraghty Prof Jeff Siegel


Carol Aru MA Linguistics A short grammar of Duidui: A language of West Ambae in Northern Vanuatu Dr Robert Early
2015 Zakia Chand PhD Linguistics Language learning strategies of Fiji students and correlations with academic language proficiency Dr Robert Early

Dr Rajni Chand


2013 Ana Kitolelei MA Linguistics The Fijian of part-Europeans: a case study of Wainunu-i-caxe Dr Paul Geraghty
2013 David Healey PhD Linguistics A grammar of Maskelynes: the language of Uluveu island, Vanuatu Prof John Lynch

Dr Robert Early

2012 Barbara Gillian Green PhD Linguistics Pacific English: what is it, why is it and its implications


Dr France Mugler

Dr Robert Early

2011 Hannah Vari-Bogiri


PhD Linguistics Phonology and morpho-syntax of Raga, Vanuatu Dr Robert Early
2009 Sébastien Lacrampe MA Linguistics Possession in Lelepa, a language of Central Vanuatu Dr Robert Early
2008 Roshila Singh MA Linguistics Language Use for Interethnic Communication among Urban Fijians and Indo-Fijians in Suva strengthening ties for a Common Identity Dr France Mugler
2007 Setsuko Wakabayashi PhD Linguistics FL Listening comprehension Dr Patrick Griffiths
Dr France Mugler
2007 Apolonia Tamata PhD Linguistics The Glottal Stop in Nasorowaqa Fijian and other Oceanic Languages Dr Paul Geraghty
2005 Mohammed Sameer MA Linguistics Teacher talk in Fijian English classrooms Dr France Mugler
2001 Jane Kanas MA Linguistics Tu kaen Bislama? Wan lukluk long nasonal langwis blong Vanuatu blong soem se i gat tu kaen Bislama we ol i toktok long hem long Vila taon Prof John Lynch


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