Simon Kirby

Head of Linguistics and English Language

Undergraduate teaching

I teach an understanding of human language as the result of evolutionary processes. I am keen to emphasise how close we are to the limits of our knowledge of how language works and where it comes from. Because of this, I try and get my students quickly to the level where they can make genuinely novel discoveries about the origins and evolution of language. To this end, my courses, while covering fundamental theoretical concepts, are nevertheless highly practical. My students acquire practical skills in carrying out empirical research so that they can replicate and extend existing recent research findings. I emphasise depth and student-led discovery over breadth and extensive reading of the traditional literature.In addition, I have extensive experience of supervising research projects having mentored over 100 masters students, and over 40 PhD students.

Current PhD students supervised

Research summary

Origins and evolution of language; cultural evolution; bridging scientific and artistic practice