Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in any of my areas of research interest or related areas, please contact me via email: anna.theakston at

Personal profile


Co-Director ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD)


Anna Theakston received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from the University of Nottingham. Following this, she was employed as a researcher at the University of Manchester working on two ESRC-funded projects investigating early language development in children between the ages of 2-3 years. She was awarded her Ph.D. based on this work. She then coordinated the Manchester-based Max Planck Child Study Centre, funded by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, before being appointed to a lectureship at the University of Manchester. She is now a Professor of Developmental Psychology, and Co-director of the ESRC International Centre for Language and Communicative Development (LuCiD).

Research interests


I am broadly interested in children’s early language and communicative development during the preschool and early school years. I situate my research within a usage-based framework, placing particular emphasis on the interaction between the child and their environment and the role of caregiver input in children’s developing linguistic representations.  Recent projects have included investigations of early gestural communication, caregiver-child communicative interactions, the acquisition of grammatical constructions, understanding the origins of children’s grammatical errors, inflectional morphology, and the interface between syntax, semantics and pragmatics in the development of complex language. A number of recent studies have involved crosslinguistic comparisons in these areas of development. In my research I employ a variety of methodological approaches including corpus analysis and experiments utilising behavioural and online measures, and collaborate with computational modellers to allow multimethod approaches to a particular issue. In addition, some projects take place within real-world contexts, such as schools, nurseries and cultural institutions, and require a variety of data collection and analysis techniques.


If you are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in these or related areas, please contact me via email: anna.theakston at


Current PhD Students

Michelle Davis, Nicola Lester, Leigh Evans, Sarah Breen, Senyu Chen, Phoebe Harding-Walker, David Price-Williams



  • PSYC21021 Topics in Developmental Psychology
  • PSYC30920 Project Supervision (3rd year)
  • PSYC31121: Language and Communicative Development in Educational Settings
  • MRes Psychology:  Dissertation supervision

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 3 - Good Health and Well-being

Areas of expertise

  • BF Psychology
  • language acquisition
  • communicative development
  • child development


  • Language acquisition
  • Communicative development


Dive into the research topics where Anna Theakston is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.
  • 1 Similar Profiles