Alan Dench was educated at the University of Western Australia and at the Australian National University. His main research interest is the grammatical description and historical reconstruction and comparison of Australian Aboriginal languages, especially those of Western Australia. He has published grammars of three languages of the Pilbara — Panyjima, Martuthunira and Yingkarta — and is writing a description of Nyamal. He has also collected materials in Kurrama and Yinhawangka, and has worked on aspects of Noongar.
He is Pro Vice-Chancellor Humanities and Professor of Linguistics at Curtin University. He is a member of the Australian Linguistics Society and the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, and a Fellow of the Australian Academy of the Humanities.