Call for Applications: Funded (LAHP) KCL & The National Archives Collaborative PhD Project

A fully funded PhD position is now available at King’s College London on the project “‘Lost for words’: semantic search in the Find Case Law service of The National Archives”, a Collaborative Doctoral Award received by King’s College London in collaboration with The National Archives and funded by the London Arts & Humanities Partnership (LAHP). This interdisciplinary project is an exciting opportunity to work in natural language processing (particularly computational semantics and information retrieval) applied to legal texts and digital humanities. 

About the project: 
Access to case law is vital for safeguarding the constitutional right of access to justice. It enables members of the public to understand their position when facing litigation and to scrutinise court judgements. Since April 2022, UK court and tribunal decisions are preserved by The National Archives’ Find Case Law service as freely accessible online public records. This project seeks to improve Find Case Law by enhancing it with meaning-sensitive (semantic) search functionality. It will study how individuals without legal training use language to navigate court judgments and it will develop tools to facilitate this navigation. In most digital cultural heritage catalogues, while we can search for words within the metadata describing their records, we cannot search for records based on the meaning of words contained within these records, for example the different words to refer to “knife crime”. Therefore, users’ access to collection is determined by their ability to articulate their information need precisely. Recent advances in natural language processing unlock new possibilities for querying documents via state-of-the-art semantic search. Incorporating such search capabilities in the Find Case Law collection is crucial for democratising access to digital collections, helping expose the social impact of how the law is written. 

Skills required  


  • Experience with Natural Language Processing research and applied work, including developing new tools.   
  • Interest in working with UK case law for improving access to justice  


  • Background in law or legal research.  
  • Experience working with digital archives   
  • Knowledge of User experience (UX) research   
  • Knowledge of lexical semantics.   
  • Experience with semantic search.   
  • Experience with NLP applied to legal texts.  


About application process: 
Applicants will need to submit an application for a PhD in Digital Humanities at King’s ( ) and an application for the LAHP ( Both applications need to be submitted by 26 January 2024 at 5pm. 

Application Deadline: 26-Jan-2024 

Web Address for Applications:  

For queries specific to the project, please contact the project’s lead supervisor Barbara McGillivray on   

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