Trudgill studied modern languages at King's College, Cambridge. He was later awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Edinburgh in 1971. He taught in the Department of linguistic science at the University of Reading from 1970 to 1986, before becoming professor of sociolinguistics at the University of Essex. He was professor of English language and linguistics at the University of Lausanne from 1993 to 1998, and after that at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, from which he retired in September 2005. He is now part time professor of sociolinguistics at the University of Agder in Kristiansand, Norway; and adjunct professor at the Research centre for linguistic typology at La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia, as well as honorary professor at the University of East Anglia, Norwich, England.
He has carried out linguistic fieldwork in Britain, Greece and Norway, and has lectured in most European countries, Canada, the United States, Colombia, Australia, New Zealand, India, Thailand, Hong Kong, Fiji, Malawi and Japan. Peter Trudgill is the honorary president of the Friends of Norfolk dialect society, and a fellow of the British Academy.
Trudgill is a well-known authority on dialects, as well as being one of the first to apply Labovian sociolinguistic methodology in the UK, and to provide a framework for studying dialect contact phenomena.
Peter Trudgill is also the author of Chapter 1 ("The Meanings of Words Should Not be Allowed to Vary or Change") of the popular linguistics book "Language Myths" of which he is also a co-editor.
His works include: