Our research students – Linguistics & Languages

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.

Thinking of applying to be a research student?

  • 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 recent research students.
  • 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.
  • 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 intent.
  • Submit a completed application for admission (postgraduate), which includes your research intent, along with a CV, transcripts and other important documents. Please check that you enclose all the necessary documents when applying.

Information for Current Research Students

  • Research students work with a principal supervisor, and often one or more secondary or associate supervisors. Your supervisor should be your first port of call with questions regarding your studies.
  • For administrative queries, you may also sometimes need to contact the Administrative Assistant for SPACE (Ms Temalesi Waqainabete).

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’. Roshila is currently part of USP’s Student Learning Support team.

Sandhya Kumari is working on her MA Linguistics and she investigates lexical variation in the Kiribati and Banaban dialects. This research is vital in developing an in-depth description of the Banaban dialect, which has not received much attention so far. Since minority groups and languages of the Pacific are under described, this research will fill a gap in the sociolinguistic studies of the Pacific Islands. Sandhya also personally believes that this research will provide a much clearer picture about her identity as a speaker of the Banaban dialect. She is currently a Graduate Assistant in SPACE, funded by a PSERI scholarship.

Shaleshni Prasad, enrolled on an MA in Applied Linguistics, is investigating the role of oral speaking skills within the learning of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). The research involves an experimental case study design with a cohort of UU114 students at Lautoka Campus, examining whether EAP teaching can be enhanced through the addition of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) activities to the regular curriculum. Shaleshni has been teaching for eight years, including EAP at USP and the University of Fiji, English as a second/foreign language in New Caledonia, and French as a foreign language at the University of Fiji.


Recently completed theses

Bhagirati Bhan completed his MA (SRP) in Linguistics in 2021. He investigated codeswitching between Standard Hindi and Fiji Hindi in formal religious settings in Navua. Bhagirati is a teaching assistant in SPACE, currently teaching both Hindi Studies and English for Academic Purposes.



Evangeline Christina Narayan completed her MA (SRP) in Applied Linguistics in 2021. Her study “In search of principles of second language acquisition in the design and unpacking of Fiji’s English syllabus” used a framework by Nation and Macalister (2010) to analyse syllabus documents, teaching materials and LTPs. She examined the extent to which these texts, and the process through which they were unpacked by teachers, were based on principles of effective second language acquisition.



Svetlana Afuhaamango completed her MA Linguistics thesis in 2021. In the study “Uniqueness of Emphatic Possessive Pronouns in Tongan”, she researched semantic variations of emphatic possessive pronouns, pronominal adjectives and benefactive pronouns. The research also identified the characteristics of emphasis of each of the possessive types. It has previously been observed that one category of benefactive pronouns – adverbial possessives – is very rare in usage. In fact its rapid extinction makes it difficult to find its exact connotations. The work therefore helps to determine whether change is in progress or just a slight shift towards using a few types only. Svetlana teaches French and Humanities at the International School, Nadi in Fiji.


Wilfred Fimone completed his MA in Linguistics in 2020, and was awarded the gold medal for the best MA thesis submitted in 2020 across USP. His thesis titled “Language variation and change in Suva Rotuman” examined the social and linguistic constraints of glottal stop deletion in onset and coda deletion. Some important findings were assimilation driving deletion, change-in-progress towards glottal stop retention, and the prestige variant (glottal retention) favoured by women – confirming theories and findings of sociolinguistic studies on urban speech communities. Wilfred is a teaching assistant in SPACE, currently teaching English for Academic Purposes.


Completed Theses

Research theses completed in Linguistics and Applied Linguistics since 2000

Year Student Programme Theses Supervisor
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
2005 Mohammed Sameer MA Linguistics Teacher talk in Fijian English classrooms Dr France Mugler
2007 Apolonia Tamata PhD Linguistics The Glottal Stop in Nasorowaqa Fijian and other Oceanic Languages Dr Paul Geraghty
2007 Setsuko Wakabayashi PhD Linguistics FL Listening comprehension Dr Patrick Griffiths
Dr France Mugler
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
2009 Sébastien Lacrampe MA Linguistics Possession in Lelepa, a language of Central Vanuatu Dr Robert Early
2011 Hannah Vari-Bogiri


PhD Linguistics Phonology and morpho-syntax of Raga, Vanuatu 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

2013 David Healey PhD Linguistics A grammar of Maskelynes: the language of Uluveu island, Vanuatu Prof John Lynch

Dr Robert Early

2013 Ana Kitolelei MA Linguistics The Fijian of part-Europeans: a case study of Wainunu-i-caxe Dr Paul Geraghty
2015 Zakia Chand PhD Linguistics Language learning strategies of Fiji students and correlations with academic language proficiency Dr Robert Early

Dr Rajni Chand




Carol Aru MA Linguistics A short grammar of Duidui: A language of West Ambae in Northern Vanuatu Dr Robert Early
2017 Rajendra Prasad MA (SRP) Linguistics Grammar sketch of Nasinu Fiji Hindi Dr Paul Geraghty Prof Jeff Siegel
2017 Alice Aluta Rore MA (SRP) Linguistics Grammar sketch of Sulagwalu Dr Paul Geraghty 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
2018 Romina Singh MA Linguistics Sketch grammar and sociolinguistic topics in Bua Fiji Hindi Dr Paul Geraghty, Dr Fiona Willans, Dr Robert Early
2020 Wilfred Fimone MA Linguistics Variation and change of glottal stop deletion in Rotuman Prof Miriam Meyerhoff, Dr Fiona Willans, Dr Paul Geraghty
2021 Bhagirati Bhan MA (SRP) Linguistics Codeswitching between Standard Hindi and Fiji Hindi (in formal religious settings in Navua) 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