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Research in the School

A thriving and dynamic research unit with a strong research culture.

We are committed to ensuring that we undertake the highest quality research that contributes fully to the development of policy and practice locally and globally.

Undertaking a PhD is a highly rewarding experience and you will have the opportunity to work with some of the most passionate researchers in their field.  Our Doctoral Centre has over 200 full time and part time research students from 25 countries worldwide, and therefore enjoys the many benefits that this brings to its research community.

We run regular School research seminars which often attract leading researchers in the field and an annual doctoral conference which is organised by research students in education at University College Dublin (UCD) and Queen's University.

You can learn more about the School's research activities, our facilities and internationally recognised research centres by visiting our Research page.

PhD Information

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Funding Opportunities

We have a number of PhD studentships available for Full Time students.

Candidates wishing to apply for scholarships within the School must apply for full-time study at the same time.

PhD Studentship Awards
Research event

Further Information

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.

Who should study for PhD?

The research degree is open to both full and part time candidates. The PhD 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.

What is the course content?

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 will attend postgraduate skills training organised by the Graduate School, carry out a piece of independent research and complete a thesis of 80,000 words. The thesis is awarded after a successful oral examination with an internal and external examiner.

What do I need to think about before applying?

Before applying, you should ensure that you:

  • Have or expect to have a relevant first degree at 1st class or 2.1 standard or a first degree 2:2 standard and a relevant Master's degree, or equivalent for overseas degrees.
  • Have a commitment to and demonstrated some ability in research. Often your previous experience and performance, such as in an undergraduate or a Master's research project, will show whether research is right for you and you are right for research.
  • Overseas applicants also need to satisfy the English Language requirement [IELTS 6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in all four elements of the test or equivalent qualification acceptable to the university].

If you meet the above criteria, the next step is to check whether we can supervise research in your chosen area. We only take PhD 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.

How do I contact potential supervisors?

Select one potential supervisor from our list of Academic Staff and send them an email containing:

  • 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 are very happy to receive approaches like this to work with you 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 Kathryn Higgins who will be happy to help.

How do I apply?

Applications to study for a PhD are handled centrally by the University’s Postgraduate Admissions Office.
To apply, you should use the online application system.

What documents do I need in support of my application?

To make an application you will need to complete or provide the following:

  • A fully completed online application.
  • A research proposal of not more than 2000 words (excluding bibliography), drafted according to our guidelines on proposal writing.  You must contact a potential supervisor who will provide feedback on your draft. You should not submit an application and proposal unless you have received feedback on your draft from a potential supervisor within the School.
  • Two references [including at least one academic reference]. Please choose your referees carefully, since we shall be contacting them for an opinion as to your suitably for research.
  • If your first language is not English, a language certificate (IELTS  6.5 with a minimum of 5.5 in all four elements of the test or equivalent qualification acceptable to the university, or other proven expertise in English writing and reading e.g. undertaking a higher degree through the medium of English]

Also, take care to describe clearly the level of your primary degree. If you obtained your primary degree from a university outside the UK it can speed up the application process if you can relate your qualification to the UK system.


For more information please contact:

Mrs Lara Sittlington

PhD Programme Secretary

Tel:  (028) 9097 5961


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