UCD Philosophy was ranked among the top 100 departments of Philosophy worldwide according to the recent QS World Rankings survey (2017).

Research PhD

This page describes the opportunities for studying a PhD research degree at the School of Philosophy of University College Dublin. The School has 15 full-time, permanent faculty (academic staff), offering a wide variety of expertise, including analytic philosophy, contemporary European traditions, as well as the history of philosophy. For details of the research interests and accomplishments of individual staff members, please see the Staff pages.

There is a vibrant graduate student community of roughly 25 MA students and 25 PhD students in any given year: see here for a list of current research students, with their research topics. There are close links with the Department of Philosophy at Trinity College Dublin (TCD). The School are also home to the International Journal of Philosophical Studies and the international postgraduate philosophy journal Perspectives.

For further information about Graduate Studies at UCD, please see UCD Graduate Studies.

For further information about Dublin and Ireland, see the Visit Dublin and Discover Ireland websites. Also see a general website with lots of practical information about studying in Ireland: Education in Ireland.


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The structure of the PhD

The PhD typically lasts four years full-time study. In their first year, students are required to successfully complete any four modules from those on offer in that year. See the Graduate Modules of the current year -- most of the modules are similar from year to year. In addition, UCD students may take one or two of their four modules at Trinity College. The UCD graduate modules are designed primarily for MA students, but doctoral students will be assessed more strictly.

After the four modules, the student has to write a dissertation of approximately 80,000 words, under the guidance of a supervisor (one of the permanent members of staff), and with the support of a doctoral panel (two other members of staff). There is also the option to finish earlier by writing an MLitt dissertation, which is half the length, and does not have such stringent requirements of originality.

For more details of the programme, please see the current Graduate Studies Handbook 2017-18.

Applications to the PhD programme

We accept applications for the PhD right up until the end of June prior to a September starting date. It is also possible to apply up until the end of November for a January start date. (Note that applicants who wish to apply for the PhD awards in the UCD School of Philosophy should apply by 1st of June.)

Normally a student should have an undergraduate degree with a strong philosophy component and an overall average of B in the philosophy courses. In addition, we normally require an MA in philosophy, or in some close subject such as political or literary theory. If the student is enrolled in an MA at the time of applying to UCD, we may make a conditional offer based on their performance to date.

Before applying, we strongly recommend that applicants peruse the School's staff members and their research interests. Ideally they will contact a staff member directly and discuss possible PhD projects informally. Alternatively, applicants can contact the PhD co-ordinator, Assoc Prof Tim Mooney, to discuss possible ideas and supervisors. Applicants should note that some staff members may be on research leave in a given year, or may already have too many supervisory commitments to take on new PhD students. Applicants are still welcome to apply without contacting a staff member; if they meet all the admission criteria, the School will endeavour to find an appropriate supervisor for them.

Applications should be made online. In addition, applicants should submit a detailed 2-page research proposal, together with a Table of Contents, and a Bibliography of at least ten items. After completing the online application and paying the application fee, applicants should also upload the following supporting documents:

1. Transcripts of any previous degrees, including bachelor's and master's level.

2. Two letters of academic reference.  These may be uploaded online or contact School Manager if you wish to submit them by post or electronically.

3. Philosophical writing sample.  Maximum length - 8,000 words

4. Research proposal (see above).

5. English language requirement, if necessary.

6. Statement of interest (OPTIONAL). Maximum length - 1,500 words

Any administrative questions should be sent to the School Manager.

English Language Requirement

For all programmes, fluency in written English is required. If you are not a native speaker of English and your secondary education or university degree has not been carried out in English, then you must satisfy the English language requirement: a minimum score of 600 TOEFL (250 computer based, with test of written English at 475+) or 6.5 IELTS (minimum of 6.0 in each band).

Special Option: Writing a PhD thesis in French or German

The UCD School of Philosophy will consider, as part of a general application to its PhD programme, any request to submit a PhD thesis in the French or German language.

Please note: this option is only available under the usual admission conditions, namely,

the applicant should be otherwise academically suitable;
the applicant must have certified competence in written English enabling him/her to take part in taught courses and to write work for such courses alongside English native speakers;
availability of an appropriate supervisor.
Further conditions may also be stipulated after consideration on a case-by-case basis. Please contact the School Manager if you wish to discuss this possibility.