Adam Charles Schembri


Accepting PhD Students

PhD projects

I am currently working with PhD students conducting research into interpretation between African-American Vernacular English and American Sign Language (Sharon Hill), on co-speech gestures in Polish/English bilinguals (Paulina Poplawksa), on attitudes towards sign language variation in Algeria (Hadjira Cherif), and on the grammar of Kafr Qasem Sign Language in Israel (Marah Jaraisy). I am also co-supervising a PhD student in Psychology with Robin Thompson who is working on sign language attitudes in younger deaf people (Kate Groves), and another student at Ghent University in Belgium conducted research into the grammar of Serbian Sign Language (Dragana Raičević Bajić ).
I am primarily interested in supervising students with an interest in sign language linguistics, gesture studies, as well as sociolinguistic variation and change in both spoken and signed languages.


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Personal profile


I began working at the University of Birmingham in January 2016. Prior to that, I was associate professor at La Trobe University in Melbourne (Australia) during 2011-2015, and Senior Research Fellow at the Deafness Cognition and Language (DCAL) Research Centre at University College London during 2006-2010. I was a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Newcastle and Macquarie University (both in Sydney, Australia) during 2003-2006. I worked as a lecturer at the Centre for Deaf Studies at the University of Bristol during 2000-2002 while completing my PhD.

Research interests

I am interested in research investigating the signed languages of deaf communities. I am currently working on the European Research Council SignMorph project, looking at the relationship between the grammar of signed languages and iconicity, language age, and social structure in signing communities. I am working on an Australian Research Council Linkage Project with Louisa Willoughby (Monash University) and Melbourne Polytechnic investigating individual differences in second language learners of Auslan (the majority sign language in Australia), see I am also continuing to work with colleagues Kearsy Cormier, Gabrielle Hodge, Neil Fox, and Heidi Proctor (University College London) on the BSL Syntax Project (

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Issues in the analysis of polycomponential verbs in Australian Sign Language, University of Sydney


Award Date: 1 Oct 2002

Master of Letters, University of Sydney


Award Date: 1 Oct 1993

Bachelor of Arts, University of Sydney


Award Date: 1 Jun 1989


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