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The UCD Structured PhD in Education is one of the most challenging, rewarding and exciting graduate programmes in Education today. It has an international reputation, and graduates are currently employed as academics in leading universities, as teachers, as school principals, and as education policy makers and innovators in the public and private sector.

The programme has been carefully tailored to offer students a very high level of support for thesis research, along with some modular teaching in areas relevant to their thesis. A large range of supports are also available within UCD, for all graduate researchers. These include library study pods, laptop computers (on loan), training in many aspects of research and research management, and superb library facilities. UCD also has a state-of-the-art leisure centre with an Olympic swimming pool, a cinema, theatre, and a medical centre.

For enquiries on how to apply please contact Sarah Conroy at

In addition, our students are supported in writing applications for grants and scholarships, and we have a very high level of success in attracting student awards from the Irish Research Council, and the National University of Ireland. Our students present their research at the All-Ireland doctoral conference, hosted annually by UCD and QUB, and they also present at international conferences. Many of our research students have won places on prestigious graduate summer schools.

Offering the gold standard in graduate education, UCD doctoral degrees are highly regarded all over the world. Places on the Structured PhD in Education are offered following the submission of a PhD proposal and the successful completion of an interview.

PhD brochure available here

Course Code
Major Code
W245 (p/t); W244(f/t)
3/4 years full-time: 5/6 years part-time
Closing date of Entry
Friday 12th May 2017 for September 2017 entry
Larissa Lamb
Professor Dympna Devine

The Structured PhD in Children and Youth Studies is an inter-disciplinary programme specialising in research, policy and practice in relation to children and young people.  Set in the context of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the programme explores key aspects of the rights and well-being of children and young people. It does so recognising the complexity and inter-dependence of issues facing contemporary childhoods and youth.

This fast growing area is suited to those working with children and young people across a range of professional and public services including education, psychology, social work, health, law, social policy, NGO and research settings.  As a PhD student you will join a dynamic team of researchers working in the area of children and youth in the School of Education, as well as across the university through our role in the Centre for Childhood and Human Development, Geary Institute.

The programme is especially relevant to those who are interested in deepening analysis and understanding of the rights and wellbeing of children and young people across a range of services and settings.

An accelerated PhD (W246) is also available for this programme for part-time students who transfer from the MSc in Children and Youth Studies.  Please contact the course director for further details.

In line with international practice, professional training in Educational Psychology at the School of Education is now offered at doctoral level, in the form of a Professional Doctorate in Educational Psychology (D Ed Psych.). There is also a facility for advanced entry directly into Stage 2 of the Professional Doctorate in Educational Psychology, which involves the research methods and doctoral thesis, for applicants who have already completed a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology.

Course Code                                        W334/W335
Major Code  
3 years Full-time or 5 years Part-time
Closing date of Entry
Monday 5th February 2018
Sarah Walshe
Dr William Kinsella


Overview Of The Programme

The Professional Doctorate in Educational Psychology will prepare students to work as educational psychologists. It involves taught components, extensive professional placement experience and the conducting of research at doctoral level. The research will involve the completion of a 50,000 word thesis. The course is being offered full-time over three years or part-time over five years. ‘Part-time’ in this context will require availability to attend lectures and engage in professional placements on two-to-three days per week. Some modules will be delivered online and there will also be online tutorial support. This course is being offered at Level 10 within the National Framework for Qualifications (NFQ) and will carry a total of 270 Credits. As a professional training course, application will be made to the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI) for accreditation when it has commenced.

Learning Outcomes

The course aims to provide trainee educational psychologists with the theoretical framework and the practical experience necessary to work as professional psychologists within a variety of contexts, including educational and healthcare setting, to critique relevant research and to conduct research at doctoral level.

Students on the D Ed Psych course will:

  • Critically examine the discipline of Educational Psychology and the varying roles and responsibilities of educational psychologists.
  • Demonstrate a critical understanding of the main theories of Child Development, including: neuropsychological, cognitive, motor, perceptual, social and emotional, linguistic and numerical development in the context of explaining human functioning and dysfunctioning in a variety of contexts.
  • Examine a range of disabilities/special educational needs in relation to aetiology, assessment and diagnosis, as well as the main educational and therapeutic interventions used to support persons with disabilities/special educational needs.
  • Become familiar with models of curriculum development, with particular emphasis on curriculum modification for students with special educational needs.
  • Examine the discourse, assumptions, policy and legislation underpinning educational provision for students with disabilities/special educational needs, with particular emphasis on inclusive education.
  • Critically examine perceived models of best practice in relation to the organisation of provision for students with disabilities and special educational needs with a particular emphasis on an inclusive whole-school approach to such organisation.
  • Explore a range of issues in the Sociology of Education, such as intelligence, disability, ethnicity, gender and social disadvantage, from a sociologial and a sociak osychological perspective.
  • Gain an understanding of schools as systems, of school cultures and of systems theory in the context of organisational psychology.
  • Become familiar with the main approaches to counselling and develop basic counselling skills.
  • Acquire the skills to formulate and evaluate holistic individualised education programmes, relating to care, education and behaviour.
  • Become thoroughly proficient in the administration of key tests of cognitive ability, school attainment and social, emotional and behavioural functioning and become aware of the issues involved in administering such tests to persons of various ages, presenting with a variety of disabilities/special educational needs and from a variety of socio-economic and cultural backgrounds.
  • Become fully aware of the main issues involved in the conducting of psychological assessments and the production of reports of such assessments, including; informed consent, information gathering and the communication of results.
  • Become competent in interpreting psychological profiles, in writing clear, coherent and relevant reports and in formulating appropriate recommendations.
  • Demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the ethical and professional issues involved in the practice of Educational Psychology.
  • Demonstrate a competent ability to critically evaluate and compare theories, conceptual models and research, with particular relevance to the application of such theories, models and research to the professional practice of Educational Psychology.
  • Be able to design and conduct a substantial piece of original research at doctoral level that can inform the practice of Educational Psychology and be able to report the findings of their research in an accessible format that is of a standard suitable for publication in national and international refereed journals.
  • Complete a doctoral thesis that makes an original contribution to knowledge and that is relevant to the practice of Educational Psychology.
Module Components Of Professional Doctorate In Educational Psychology

Year One Full-time/Years 1 and 2 Part-time

  • Inclusion and Equality in Education
  • Child Development Theory Applied to Practice
  • Educational Psychology Practice 1
  • Psychological Theories and Interventions
  • Educational Psychology Practice 2
  • Research Methods

Year Two Full-time/Years 3 and 4 Part-time

  • Educational Psychology Practice 3
  • Educational Psychology Practice 4
  • Advanced Research Methods Qualitative and Quantitative
  • Research Thesis Preparation

Year Three Full-time/Year 5 part time

  • Educational Psychology Practice 5
  • Research Thesis Preparation and Submission
Assessment Procedures

There is a variety of assessment procedures employed on the course including; essay-based assignments, research assignments, completion of professional placement portfolios, individual and group presentations, observed administration of test instruments, supervised professional practice in schools and in psychological services, and the completion of a doctoral thesis of 50,000 words. For the award of Doctorate, the research must make an original contribution to knowledge and contain material of a standard appropriate for publication in peer-reviewed journals.

Entry Requirements

The Professional Doctorate in Educational Psychology Course is open to graduates who, prior to application, hold a first or second class honours degree in Psychology or a qualification in Psychology that is deemed to be equivalent, and who meet the requirements for Graduate Basis for Registration with the Psychological Society of Ireland or equivalent. An applicant cannot be considered for entry to the course unless the results of his or her Psychology degree/diploma are confirmed and available. Applicants must also have at least two years professional experience, excluding placement experience gained as part of acquiring professional qualifications. Periods of continuous professional experience of less than three months full-time employment will not be considered as counting towards this two years minimum requirement.

Applicants will be short listed for interview. In judging applicants’ suitability, account will be taken of academic qualifications, professional experience and interpersonal skills, as well as communication and presentation skills. Previous research experience and perceived potential to conduct research at doctoral level will also be important factors. Consideration of overall personal suitability for the role of educational psychologist and the quality of references are also integral elements of the selection process. Applicants shortlisted for interview will be required to submit a Research Proposal. 

Successful applicants will have to go through a Garda clearance procedure prior to final acceptance on to the course. Professional conduct on the course is governed at all times by the Code of Ethics of the Psychological Society of Ireland (PSI).

For Qualified Educational Psychologists

There is a facility for advanced entry directly into Stage 2 for applicants who have already completed a Master’s Degree in Educational Psychology that constitutes a professional qualification to practise as an Educational Psychologist. Such applicants may complete the Professional Doctorate in Educational Psychology over two years full-time or four years part-time. This will involve Research Methods training and the completion of a 50,000 word thesis. Applicants for direct entry into Stage 2 will be required to submit a Research Proposal as part of the application process. Applicants should contact the School of Education Office and request guidelines on the completion of a Research Proposal.

Programme brochure available here

PhD Studentship in Education (pre-school transition)

The UCD School of Education are seeking to recruit one PhD student to work on an Irish national study of primary schooling: Children’s School Lives (CSL). This project is funded by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. The overarching CSL study is designed to capture the perceptions of two cohorts of children, parents, teachers and school leaders, across a six-year period, with a focus on children’s academic attainment, engagement, rights and well-being, diversity and inclusion, school and teaching cultures, and educational transitions.

This position will require the successful applicant to contribute to the strand of CLS focused on children’s experiences of transferring from pre-school to primary school. The sample will comprise approximately 2,000 children who will make the transition from around 300 pre-schools into 100 primary schools in September 2019. Intensive data collection will be conducted in April-May 2019 and September 2019, by a team of fieldworkers, as part of the larger project. The PhD student will be expected to contribute to the recruitment of schools and pre-schools, and to the data collection and analysis, as part of the team. The focus of the PhD will be on providing an in-depth mixed methods investigation of the pre-school to primary school transition. This will provide a core component of the larger CSL study and will need to align with the CSL study objectives and priorities.

Applicants should have a strong background in education and/or children and youth studies, and/or psychology, and a keen interest in researching child development, schooling and educational transitions.

The successful applicant will be required to complete and return a Garda Vetting form (police clearance certificate to ensure suitability for working with children). This will be made available to applicants who are shortlisted for interview.

For more information, please downlode the Full Job Description for PhD Student ship in Education.