The Structured PhD Programme at UCD

 All students registering for a PhD or Research Masters in the College of Sciences Graduate School take part in a structured research programme. The main features of these programmes are: 

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This is the focus and central activity of your programme. Your principal supervisor will be your primary source of information, training, advice and support for your project. 

Your School (or Thematic Doctoral Programme) will appoint a Doctoral Studies Panel for you; normally early in your first year.  The purpose of the Doctoral Studies Panel is to support and enhance the supervisor-student relationship, to monitor your progress during the course of your doctoral studies and to provide advice and support both to you and your supervisor(s). This is a panel consisting of your principal supervisor and other advisors (normally two). Reports from you panel meetings, which must be returned to your School’s graduate office, feed-in to your Transfer Assessment. For Research Masters student, this will be similar with a Research Panel.

This is an integral part of the your PhD or Research Masters programme as it helps to ensure that your work is clearly focused on achieving your research and professional goals. Your plans will form the basis of discussions at your meetings with your supervisor and your study panel and will be central to the preparation of the mandatory reports from these meetings. Guidelines to assist you in producing Research and Professional Development Plans are downloadable here 

Your PhD programme is divided into two stages. During Stage 1 you develop advanced knowledge of your area and the research, technical and other skills you require to become an independent researcher in that area. During Stage 2 you carry out original, publishable research - the key requirement for a PhD. While you do this research under supervision, it must be your own independent work. 

Between 12 to 18 months from the start of your Full Time PhD you will be formally assessed for transfer from Stage 1 to Stage 2. If you are registered for an MSc (Research) and want to transfer to a PhD you also undergo a Transfer Assessment. The purpose of the assessment is to determine if, during Stage 1, you have acquired the advanced knowledge, research skills and competencies required to carry out the independent, original research required for successful completion of a PhD. 

 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. 

From September 2014, all incoming PhD students must take 30 credits of taught modules over their programme. The aim of these taught modules are to facilitate research as well as to provide you with important transferable skills enhancing your career development. Your School or Programme may recommend or require certain modules, please check with your Supervisor. Unless your School or programme stipulates specific courses, you may choose from the full range of modules available throughout the University in consultation and agreement with your Principal Supervisor and your DSP.  To register for modules, you must complete a module registration form which is available from your School after agreement with the module co-ordinator and your supervisor. This form should be returned to your School office who will register you to your chosen modules.


Being fully registered to a module means that you must attend classes, complete assignment and assessment and you will earn credits for this which will be shown on your final transcript. Students can undertake modules for audit which means attending classes but not doing the assessment or assignments but you DO NOT receive credits for this. Please note that once registered for a module, if for any reason you do not complete and have not officially withdrawn from this module within 6 weeks, a NG grade received will be entered onto your university record and will appear on your transcript. To withdraw from a module, please contact your School office within 6 weeks of the commencement of the module. Please click for more information for Taught Modules for Research Students