Difficult Language Training

The White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP) receives an annual amount from the ESRC towards the costs of up to one year’s support beyond the original funding date if a student needs to acquire or develop a working ability with a difficult language in order to carry out fieldwork or other parts of their research.

The White Rose Doctoral Training Partnership (WRDTP) funds up to one year’s support beyond the original funding date if a student needs to acquire or develop a working ability with a difficult language in order to carry out fieldwork or other parts of their research.


  • As a result of Covid-19, many of our partner institutions have implemented new procedures for overseas travel, fieldwork and data gathering e.g. updated risk assessments, travel insurance arrangements etc. Students making an application to any of the WRDTP’s additional funding schemes will be asked to evidence their adherence to any relevant policies from their institution, by uploading the relevant documentation to the application form. If you are unsure how to evidence this, please email enquiries@wrdtp.ac.uk prior to submitting your application.
  • For any requests involving overseas travel, students should ensure that at the point of submitting their application, any mandatory periods of self-isolation/quarantine are taken into account when confirming the length/dates of a trip. 
  • Only full-time PhD students undertaking the +3 element of their award are eligible for this funding.  It cannot be applied for by Masters students in the 1 of a 1+3 award.
  • Full-time ESRC studentship award holders undertaking the +3 element of their award may be able to make one claim for DLT in the life of the award (funding cannot be provided for students in their writing-up year).
  • Any anticipated DLT must have been outlined in the original ESRC award proposal.
  • Extensions beyond 6 months should only be allowed if the student needs to spend an extended time overseas in order to obtain these language skills.
  • Students are expected to visit only one country if extended time overseas is required.  It is the student’s responsibility to ensure that an appropriate visa is obtained.  If the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against visiting the country concerned, the relevant institution must not authorise DLT.
  • It is strongly recommended that students take out insurance to cover any period of DLT spent overseas.  If for any reason the DLT is prematurely terminated you must inform your Postgraduate Scholarships Office, so that the period of your extended funding can be adjusted.
  •  The duration of DLT should not exceed twelve months.

Group A: A case can be argued for 12 months

Included in this group are unwritten languages or languages in early stage of being analysed and for which no grammars, vocabularies, or other learning aids are available.  These might include Amerindia, Papuan languages, etc.

Group B:  A case can be argued for 9 months

Included in this group are:

  • Languages for which there are limited descriptive and learning resources available
  • Languages which present intrinsic difficulties for speakers of English because they are click, tonal, object-verb-subject, agglutinating, etc
  • Languages that require knowledge of a different non-alphabet script, such as Chinese, Japanese, Arabic and South and South East Asian languages.

Group C: A case can be argued for 6 months.

Included in this group are difficult languages (as defined in Group B above) which have been well described in grammars, vocabularies etc, but for which no learning aids exist, and the language will have mainly to be learnt in the field from unskilled teachers.  These might include various African, Melanesian, and Amerindian languages plus some from the Indian sub-continent.

Group D:  A case may be argued for 3 months (this includes all European languages).

Included in this group are languages similar to those in Group C but for which intensive learning materials exist, for example, courses, language laboratory, materials, tapes etc.

How to apply

Students can preview a list of the application form questions by viewing the following file: WRDTP DLT Application Form Preview

All applications for DLT must be made in advance by the award-holder using the WRDTP Application for Difficult Language Training Form. Within this form award-holders are required to detail the DLT and extension required.  Award-holders must secure the support and authorisation of their main supervisor for their application, confirming their need for the DLT and that the student is making good progress.

The Form requires the following file uploads. Please use the following nomenclature when uploading to the Google Form.

  2. If travel is required, your institution’s necessary documentation for overseas travel – e.g. approved risk assessment, travel insurance certificate etc – (STUDENT SURNAME_STUDENT FIRST NAME_HEI_OIV_COVID DOCUMENTATION)


If travel is required for your DLT, we expect the relevant Covid-19 related travel documents for your institution to be complete and provided at the point of submitting your funding application. Applications without the necessary paperwork will not be reviewed. If you have any questions about this, please email enquiries@wrdtp.ac.uk before submitting your application.*

The student’s local university Postgraduate Scholarships Office is responsible for liaising with the student on matters relating to the award and any subsequent WRDTP funding scheme applications.  The local nominated contacts at each university can be found on the Contacts Page in the VIRE.

Received applications are checked by the relevant Scholarships Officer to ensure they are eligible for funding, logged and then passed to the WRDTP Office to be considered by the AQC.

All applications received will be reviewed in conjunction with the award-holder’s original studentship application, their latest doctoral project plan, their Training Needs Analysis (TNA) and recent progress reports from their supervisory team. The WRDTP will notify the Scholarships Officer when a decision has been made which will be passed on to the applicant.

WRDTP ESRC Funding Scheme Timescales

A call for applications will be made 4 times per annum, via the VIRE on the WRDTP website

Call Deadline AQC Panel
1 Friday 22 September 2023 Friday 3 November 2023 Thursday 9 November 2023
2 Friday 1 December 2023 Friday 26 January 2024 Friday 9 February 2024
3 Friday 8 March 2024 Friday 26 April 2024 Thursday 2 May 2024
4 Friday 10 May 2024 Friday 21 June 2024 Thursday 6 July 2024

*Panel decisions will be available no earlier than 10 working days after the panel sits.

You must read the scheme guidance notes above before completing the application form.

If you are awarded funding from any of the ESRC schemes you agree to report back to the WRDTP on your DLT experience either on the VIRE Forum, a DTP Matters Newsletter article or by speaking at training sessions/conferences. Also as a recipient of funding any correspondence or event materials should be appropriately branded, see our Branding Information page in the VIRE for details.

If you have any questions please email enquiries@wrdtp.ac.uk