PhD Programme Structure

The CSCS PhD programme is a thematic, structured programmes. CSCS PhD students may register as full-time or part-time students. Doctoral studies at UCD comprise two stages:

Stage 1 is a period when you define your research plan, develop your research skills and initiate original research work for your doctorate.

Stage 2 is primarily dedicated to continuing your original doctoral research but may also include some advanced education and training

The CSCS programme incorporates a range of taught modules (minimum 50 credits in Stage I), followed by a program of original research leading to the award of Doctoral degree by research (270 credits in Stage II). CSCS students may also participate in short, external internships during the four year programme.

Description of CSCS Stage I

In Stage I, normally lasting about 18 months, the CSCS Thematic PhD brings together a cohort of doctoral students to follow a number of Core modules as part of Stage I of their doctoral training. Students also take a number of optional modules in Stage I and these should be selected in consultation with their PhD Supervisors. At the end of Stage I, a student may achieve up to 60 credits through Taught Modules (of which 50 credits accrue from Core CSCS modules). Students may take extra taught modules and the selection of these should be agreed with the Prinicipal Supervisor and form part of the PhD Student's Research and Professional Development Plan.

Transfer from Stage I to Stage II in CSCS Programme

In order to progress from Stage I to Stage II of the CSCS PhD Programme, a formal assessment of the student’s progress should take place. This formal assessment takes place at the end of Stage I which is normally 18 months following their initial registration to the CSCS PhD Thematic Programme. The formal assessment is conducted by the CSCS Assessment Panel, which comprises of at least 3 members of the CSCS Board of Studies. The Assessment Panel normally also includes two Advisers on the student's Doctoral Studies Panel. The relevant Head of School or his or her nominee may also be a member of the Assessment Panel. The Principal Supervisor, and any co-supervisors, are not normally members of the panel.

The CSCS Assessment Panel base their judgement on

  • A written statement of progress from the Principal Supervisor
  • A written statement of progress and future research by the student. This includes a research paper which outlines their proposed thesis research.
  • Student has completed a minimum of 50 credits of taught core CSCS modules by the end of Stage I.
  • Satisfactory grades in all the required core courses. An oral presentation, referred to as the Transfer Seminar, followed by a question-and-answer session, given by the student to the CSCS Assessment Panel.

This Transfer Seminar can take place as part of the CSCS Roundtable meetings. Normally, the Principal Supervisor attends this presentation, and may also be questioned by the panel. Following this seminar, the CSCS Assessment panel decide about the transfer of the student to Stage II of the CSCS thematic programme. Those students who wish to proceed to Stage II and who complete the transfer assessment successfully, are permitted to do so. A student who does not complete Stage II, will be assessed by the Assessment Panel for an alternative award as per Academic Council Regulation V, 5.2. At the end of Stage I, a student not proceeding to Stage II may be offered a Gradcert or a GradDip, on successful completion of the relevant modules and 30 or 60 credits accrued respectively.

Advanced Entry to CSCS Stage II

Under certain circumstances a student may seek advanced entry to Stage II of the CSCS PhD Thematic programme must successfully complete a formal Advanced Entry Assessment process. Please contact the CSCS PhD Programme Director Dr. Diane Payne at .

Description of CSCS Stage II

Students will be required to complete a thesis based on original research, which will form the basis of the final examination. The thesis concludes a programme of research under which students will be required to produce Working Papers, co-author papers with their supervisors, attend conferences, etc. The research component of the degree programme will be based on the new protocols implemented for the UCD Structured PhD. This includes regular meetings with formal supervisory panels, a two-stage assessment of research progress and a student Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP) which is regularly reviewed. For more information on the RPDP see here.

CSCS PhD Training Activities


Modules and Credits

The UCD Structured PhD operates within a credit-based framework, with one credit corresponding to 20 to 25 hours of total student effort.The CSCS PhD programme is a thematic, structured programme and is based on 360 credits over a maximum of 4 years, if the student is registered as a full-time student.

A module is a unit of learning, teaching and assessment. Comprising a defined volume of learning activity, each module is associated with a credit value - typically 2.5, 5, 7.5 or 10 credits. Modules are assigned different levels, indicating the level of difficulty. PhD students normally take modules at UCD Level 4 (graduate level). Different types of module include:

  • Academic modules serve to broaden and deepen your knowledge of your discipline, informing the development of the theoretical framework for your doctoral research.
  • Research skills modules provide advanced training in methodological issues.
  • Transferable skills modules, sometimes referred to as generic skills, provide training in the types of skills necessary for your professional development. These skills should enable you to complete your doctoral research on time and enhance your professional attractiveness for potential employers.

Ongoing Structured PhD Training

A PhD Student may be required to take extra modules and/or attend specialised training workshops or summer schools during the course of their PhD programme. This training will be discussed and agreed with the DSP as part of the PhD Student's Research and Professional Development Plan.

Transferable Skills Training

As a PhD graduate, your skill-set will naturally include the advanced research and analytical techniques required to undertake high level research in your field. You will also be expected to possess a range of transferable skills, relevant to the successful completion of your research project and to broader career development. Taught modules, online modules and workshops covering a wide range of transferable skills and research skills topics are available to assist you. Please visit Transferable Skills for further information.

Computational Social Science Roundtable (Dynamics Lab Seminar Series)

All CSCS PhD students are required to attend the Computational Social Science Roundtable (Dynamics Lab Seminar Series) throughout Stage I and Stage II of the CSCS PhD Programme. Students present their doctoral research at least once during each year of their CSCS PhD training.

For more information on the Computational Social Science Roundtable, please click here.

Doctoral Studies Panel (DSP)

The Thematic Board and Programme Director make recommendations regarding the Doctoral Studies Panel (DSP) for each incoming PhD student, to be sent to the Graduate School Board(s). The Doctoral Studies Panel comprises the DSP Chair, the Principal Supervisor, any additional supervisor(s) and the advisors (at least 2 but not more than four).

The Principal Supervisor (and additional supervisors) will be an active researcher in the broad area of the student’s research topic, with a record of peer-reviewed publication of international standing, and will normally hold a doctoral degree. The Principal Supervisor is responsible for calling the initial meeting of the DSP. The advisers appointed to the Doctoral Studies Panel will normally have sufficient experience of supervising doctoral students and/or the relevant academic expertise required to effectively support and enhance the supervisor-student relationship. They shall normally be members of the academic staff of the University, or adjunct or visiting academics or professionals.

In order to promote deeper interdisciplinary collaboration, the CSCS DSP will normally include a supervisor from a relevant school in the College of Human Sciences or College of Business and Law and a second supervisor from a relevant school in the College of Engineering, Mathematical and Physical Sciences.

Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP)

The student, supported by the Doctoral Studies Panel, shall document their educational, training and personal and professional development needs, which, along with the proposed programme of research, will inform the development of a Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP). Regular RPDP progress reports of the DSP meetings at six and twelve months are discussed and agreed with the Principal Supervisor (and other additional supervisors) and are submitted by the PhD Student to the CSCS Thematic Programme administrator. For more details and to download the appropriate RPDP form, please click here.

Student Internship

Students may spend between three and six months in a professional placement. The internship would normally take place in a research-focused national organisation or in a research institute abroad. The internship should be focused on research and should complement the academic programme. The internship should help define and illuminate the subject of the student's academic research and provide students with practical experience of the application of the academic tools and methods contained in the programme. The internship programme is also helpful in preparing students for their subsequent research careers.

Recommended Modules of the PhD CSCS Training Programme 2015-16 (DRAFT)

SOC50050 Computational Social Science Roundtable (Dynamics Lab Seminar Series)
IS20110 Social Computing and Media
IS30320 Current Trends in Social Computing
SOC40640 Social Simulation: Methods and Models
SOC40650 Social, Economic and Political Networks
ACM40580 Case Studies in Simulation Sciences
GSHS50070 Research Design in the Social Sciences
SOC 40330 Qualitative Research
STAT40470 Quantitative Research I
PEP40100 Geographical Information Systems
POL50050 PhD Quantitative Methods II (Advanced quant methods)
ACM40290 Numerical Algorithms
STAT30090 Models - Stochastic Models with Actuarial Applications
STAT30270 Statistical Data Mining
STAT40150 Multivariate Analysis
STAT40680 Stochastic Models
COMP20070 Databases and Information Systems I
STAT50010 Introductory Statistics using R for computational biologists
COMP40730 High Performance Computing
ACM40270 Simulation Modelling and Analysis

PhD CSCS students may register for various modules mainly in Sociology, Politics, Computer Science, Statistics, Mathematical Science with consultation with their supervisor.

You can view module descriptions at UCD Course Search. Click here for instructions. 

Completion of CSCS Doctoral Training

PhD Thesis Format


The CSCS PhD Theses may be presented in either of the following formats:

  • a collection of papers (including published papers or papers submitted or prepared for submission) describing a coherent programme of research which have been published or prepared for publication in peer-reviewed journals of international standing, accompanied by a critical and theoretical overview of the work presented in the papers. Please see the guidelines for this format of the CSCS PhD Thesis
  • a substantial collection of original creative material, together with a written thesis which contextualises the work within an academic framework.

The UCD Office of the Registrar has a useful webpage which provides information on UCD policy for PhD candidates. Please click here to go directly to the UCD Office of the Registrar webpage.

Guidelines for Preparing a PhD Thesis in an Alternative Format for a thesis of the standard mode

CSCS PhD theses may be submitted either in the traditional format (i.e. thesis monograph) or in the new format outlined below based on work that is published, is in review or is formatted for journal submission. If you would like to consider submitting a thesis in this format, you are advised to consult your principal supervisor at the earliest possible opportunity. Guidelines for the thesis submitted in this way follow:

  • Every PhD student doing an accumulated PhD should develop a publication strategy with his/her supervisor and present this for approval to his/her doctoral panel.
  • It remains for the examiners to decide whether the quantity and quality of work justifies award of a PhD, irrespective of whether some of it has already been published or accepted for publication.
  • Published papers (or papers for submission for publication) must be in the thematic area of the agreed PhD project and in journals of the disciplines participating in the CSCS or an interdisciplinary journal such as JASSS. The publications (or papers for submission for publication) should be in peer-reviewed journals such as listed in the Thomson SCI / Web of Knowledge.
  • Co-authored Papers: One important set of considerations arises in the case of published or to-be-published papers that are included in a new format thesis, when there are authors other than the student submitting the thesis. The overriding principle is that the thesis should remain an original contribution to the field by the student.
  • The format of the new structure is to submit a PhD thesis consisting of a set (typically 3-5) of papers (that need not be published). This will be accompanied by an extensive Introduction that provides a comprehensive literature review (if not contained sufficiently within the publications), discussion of overall Research Design and Methodology and Discussion/Conclusions for all the work. The Introduction should introduce the general issue(s) that the thesis addresses, and explain how the work was designed to address those issues. The Discussion/Conclusions should include a discussion of how the results bear on the issues set out in the introduction as the focus of the thesis and point to future work.
  • Published papers (or papers for submission for publication) will generally be included by printing the published version on paper of the same size as that used for the rest of the thesis and may be divided into chapters consisting of one or more papers. Usually each chapter will include a short introduction placing the paper in context. Additional important material may be included in the chapter or in appendices. All pages of the thesis should be consecutively numbered (with pages from published papers conforming to the thesis numbering system rather than that of the journal).
  • Appendices giving detail of additional material, any data sets used and any software or computer programs developed for the work of the thesis should also be included. If these are very extensive they may be included in electronic form.
  • The student must sign the usual declaration concerning the originality of the work.