You’ll be part of a dynamic doctoral research environment and will study alongside students from over 25 different countries; we supervise students undertaking research in key educational areas including: education in divided societies; effective education; children’s rights in education; educational assessment and inclusion.
As part of a lively community of over 200 full-time and part-time research students you’ll have the opportunity to develop your research potential in a vibrant research community that prioritises the crossfertilisation of ideas and innovation in the advancement of knowledge.
Staff in the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work publish world-class research which has local and global impact. Our funders and partners include the research councils, government departments, the EU, Council of Europe and the large foundations. School research is informing thinking and the development of policies in many areas including the well-being of children, social cohesion and mental health. Key interdisciplinary research themes in the School include:
HEALTH, WELL-BEING AND INCLUSION
Research under this theme focuses on the health and well-being of children, young people and adults in schools, the community and in institutions such as prisons. Our research relates to issues as diverse as substance abuse, socio-economic inequality, disability and inclusion, social emotions and the formation of identity, as well as undertaking evaluations of interventions programmes designed to improve health and well-being outcomes, and the inclusion of people marginalised by inequality and injustice.
CHILDREN, YOUNG PEOPLE AND FAMILIES: POLICY AND PRACTICE
Research under this theme explores the development of children and adolescents into young adulthood in their full social and structural contexts. A particular focus of our work in this area is improving social policies and social work interventions into the lives of families and young people. This multi-disciplinary research draws on a range of theoretical and methodological traditions with an overarching social justice ethos.
CRIME AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE
Research under this theme explores the antecedents of offending behaviours across the life course with an emphasis on the impact of traumatic life events and structural inequalities. The research also seeks to better understand the behaviours of criminal justice and other systems for their role in controlling or exacerbating this offending. The overarching social justice perspective that characterises this work situates these questions in the wider sociopolitical contexts in which they occur.
PEACE IN SOCIETIES
Research under this theme seeks to understand the sources, manifestations and impact of ethno-religious, national and social divisions in divided and transitioning societies, and the nature and effectiveness of efforts to build peace. Our particular interests relate to underpinning theories of conflict, the role of religion in divided societies, the impact of growing up in a divided society, the role of education and schools in promoting more positive intergroup relations in deeply divided socieities, shared education, and issues relating to identity, culture and inclusion.
EDUCATION: ADVANCING UNDERSTANDING, IMPROVING OUTCOMES
Research under this theme focuses on education in schools, further and higher education, and on how to improve educational opportunities and outcomes. Our research encompasses issues relating to curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, inclusion and
identity, and includes, for example, the effectiveness of literacy and numeracy programmes; peer tutoring and cooperative learning; teacher education; the nature of identity and authorship in higher education; teaching English to speakers of other languages and applied linguistics; digital literacy studies; children’s rights; and Applied Behaviour Analysis. As in other strands, the research is informed by diverse and innovative research methodologies and methods such as random control trials, interventions and programme evaluations, participatory action research, writing practices and knowledge production, and systematic reviews.
Access to the Queen's University Postgraduate Researcher Development Programme
Internationally Renowned Experts
- The School is home to leading international academic experts in specialist fields with a number of academics holding positions on government advisory councils, Chair positions on internationally recognised committees and memberships of several Research Centres across the University.
Research students are encouraged to play a full and active role in relation to the wide range of research activities undertaken within the School and there are many resources available including:
- Access to the Queen's University Postgraduate Researcher Development Programme
- Office accommodation with access to computing facilities and support to attend conferences for full-time PhD students
Our research comprises a variety of methodologies, among which are randomised control trials; ethnographic, children’s rights-based, multidisciplinary, projective and constructivist methodologies, and large-scale attitudinal surveys. Innovations in methodology, as well as developing innovative practice, are key drivers of our research activity. The wider influence of research is also evident in the extensive involvement of staff and students in key national and international research networks and our ability to attract major international conferences to Queen’s.
The School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work provides a rich and vibrant context for educational research. The core discipline of Education at Queen’s is one of the leading areas for educational research in the UK and Ireland and our education research has been ranked 4th within the UK in relation to research intensity with 87 per cent of the research undertaken within this subject assessed as 'internationally excellent' or 'world leading' (REF, 2014).
Our research is organised through a series of Centres and Networks in our core disciplinary research areas. Any project and funding opportunities can be found at the link below.
The Schools research funders and partners include the research councils, government departments, the EU and the Council of Europe. Our research is informing thinking and the development of policies locally and internationally.
Education is delivering a wide range of research projects including working with the CESI research centre at Queen's, supporting the dissemination of a Shared Education model with the Department for Education in Northern Ireland and internationally. Our researchers are also working towards improving literacy on an international level for primary school students with innovative methods and robust research.
Current PGR Student Profiles
PhD Title: School-based physical activity interventions and wellbeing in children
Years of Study: 2015 - Present
PhD Title: Education and Identity in Divided Societies: A Comparative Study
Years of study: 2014 - Present
PhD Title: Exploring Young People's Social Networks and their Impact on Behaviour
Years of Study: 2017 - Present
Many of our PhD graduates have moved into academic and research roles in Higher Education while others go on to play leading roles in educational practice, the public sector or within NGO’s. Queen's postgraduates reap exceptional benefits. Unique initiatives, such as Researcher Plus bolster our commitment to employability.
Employment after the Course
For further information on career development opportunities at PhD level please contact the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences Career Development Team on firstname.lastname@example.org / +44 28 9097 5175
Development Officers Cathy Wilson and Aileen Carson will be happy to provide further information on your research area career prospects.
People teaching you
Dr Caitlin Donnelly
Doctoral Programme Director
Meet our Staff
A research degree offers students an opportunity to foster their capacity for independent research and critical thought. It also allows students to explore an area of interest and so understand and solve theoretical and practical problems within the field. Undertaking a research degree can enhance a student’s written and oral communication skills and a PhD is almost always a formal requirement for an academic post.
There is no specific course content as such. You are expected to take research training modules that are supported by the School which focus on quantitative and qualitative research methods. You are also expected to carry out your research under the guidance of your supervisor.
Over the course of study you can attend postgraduate skills training organised by the Graduate School.
You will normally register, in the first instance, as an ‘undifferentiated PhD student’ which means that you have satisfied staff that you are capable of undertaking a research degree. The decision as to whether you should undertake an MPhil or a PhD is delayed until you have completed ‘differentiation’.
Differentiation takes place about 9-12 months after registration for full time students and about 18-30 months for part time students: You are normally asked to submit work to a panel of up two academics and this is followed up with a formal meeting with the ‘Differentiation Panel’. The Panel then make a judgement about your capacity to continue with your study. Sometimes students are advised to revise their research objectives or to consider submitting their work for an MPhil qualification rather than a doctoral qualification.
To complete with a doctoral qualification you will be required to submit a thesis of approx 80,000 words and you will be required to attend a viva voce [oral examination] with an external and internal examiner to defend your thesis.
A PhD programme runs for 3-4 years full-time or 6-8 years part-time. Students can apply for a writing up year should it be required.
The PhD is open to both full and part time candidates and is often a useful preparation for a career within academia or consultancy.
Full time students are often attracted to research degree programmes because they offer an opportunity to pursue in some depth an area of academic interest.
The part time research degree is an exciting option for professionals already working in the education field who are seeking to extend their knowledge on an issue of professional interest. Often part time candidates choose to research an area that is related to their professional responsibilities.
If you meet the Entry Requirements, the next step is to check whether we can supervise research in your chosen area. We only take students to whom we can offer expert research supervision from one of our academic staff. Therefore, your research question needs to engage with the research interests of one of our staff.
Please review the eligibility criteria on the webpages. If you believe that you meet these criteria then follow the steps below:
Select ONE potential supervisor from our list of Academic Staff (http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/ssesw/Connect/OurPeople/AcademicStaff/) and send an email containing:
a brief CV (1-2 pages maximum)
a concise statement that you are interested in studying for a PhD, stating when you would start, and how you would plan to fund the research
a brief statement of the research question or interest, and how you think the question could be investigated
Our academic staff welcome approaches from prospective students; staff can liaise with applicants to develop a research proposal of mutual interest. The potential supervisor should get back to you within a couple of weeks. They may invite you to meet with them or they may invite you to apply formally.
If you have difficulty identifying or contacting an appropriate supervisor, please contact Dr Caitlin Donnelly (email: email@example.com) who will be happy to help.
For part-time study – the closing date for this option is 31st August each year.
For full-time study (self-funding) – for those full time candidates who do not wish to compete for a studentship or who are not eligible to compete for a studentship the closing date is 31st August each year.
For full-time study and application for a scholarship/award; please be aware that awards are only available to full time students. Candidates wishing to apply for scholarships available within the School must apply for full-time study at the same time. Available scholarships and closing dates are detailed on the School's Scholarships web page: http://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/ssesw/Study/Scholarships/
Assessment processes for the Research Degree differ from taught degrees. Students will be expected to present drafts of their work at regular intervals to their supervisor who will provide written and oral feedback; a formal assessment process takes place annually.
This Annual Progress Review requires students to present their work in writing and orally to a panel of academics from within the School. Successful completion of this process will allow students to register for the next academic year.
The final assessment of the doctoral degree is both oral and written. Students will submit their thesis to an internal and external examining team who will review the written thesis before inviting the student to orally defend their work at a Viva Voce.
Supervisors will offer feedback on draft work at regular intervals throughout the period of registration on the degree.
Full time PhD students will have access to a shared office space and access to a desk with personal computer and internet access.
The minimum academic requirement for admission to a research degree programme is normally an Upper Second Class Honours degree from a UK or ROI HE provider,or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University. Further information can be obtained by contacting the School of Social Sciences, Education and Social Work.
For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.
English Language Requirements
Evidence of an IELTS* score of 6.5, with not less than 5.5 in any component is required (*taken within the last 2 years).
International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.
For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see: www.qub.ac.uk/EnglishLanguageReqs.
If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.
- Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
- Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.
INTO - English Language Course(QSIS ELEMENT IS EMPTY)
Fees and Funding
Northern Ireland (NI) £4,327 England, Scotland or Wales (GB) £4,327 Other (non-UK) EU £4,327 International £16,300
There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.
Additional course costs
Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.
How do I fund my study?PhD Funded Opportunities
Find PhD funding opportunities and studentships by subject area.Doctoral Training Centres at Queen's
Find out more >
Queen's has seven outstanding competitive Doctoral Training Centres, with each one providing funding for a number of PhD positions and more importantly a hub for carrying out world class research in key disciplines.New UK PhD loans
Find out more >
The UK Government will introduce new doctoral loans of up to £25,000 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes from 2019. Loans will be offered to English-resident students to study all types of doctorate at universities across the UK.International Scholarships
Find out more >
Information on scholarships for international students, is available at www.qub.ac.uk/International/International-students/International-scholarships.
How to Apply
Find a supervisor
If you're interested in a particular project, we suggest you contact the relevant academic before you apply, to introduce yourself and ask questions.
To find a potential supervisor aligned with your area of interest, or if you are unsure of who to contact, look through the staff profiles linked here.
You might be asked to provide a short outline of your proposal to help us identify potential supervisors.
Fees and Funding
Queen's University Belfast is committed to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
For more information please read our Equality and Diversity Policy.
Queen's University Belfast is registered with the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland NIC101788
VAT registration number: GB 254 7995 11