Ad Astra PhD Scholarships in

UCD School of English, Drama and Film


The School of English, Drama and Film at University College Dublin is pleased to announce three generously funded Ad Astra PhD studentships, one to be supervised by each of the Ad Astra Fellows detailed below. The award includes a stipend of €18,000 per annum (for a maximum of four years, renewable each year subject to satisfactory progress), full fee waivers (EU and non-EU), and an annual €4,000 research allowance. For more information about the School, please go to

In order to apply, please complete an online University Postgraduate application available at: by 10th April 2020.  You will need to submit the following:

  • Personal statement and CV (as one document);
  • proof of English-language proficiency if English is not your first language (minimum of 8 IELTS);
  • writing sample (e.g. an essay or section of MA dissertation);
  • 2 academic references;
  • academic transcripts;
  • and a proposal (1000-1500 words, including a provisional chapter breakdown, plus indicative bibliography).

Applicants are strongly advised to contact the relevant supervisor in advance of submitting an application.

Applications will be reviewed by a committee at School level, and a shortlist of candidates will be invited for interview by video conferencing in the week beginning 20th April. All awards will commence in September 2020 and it is a requirement that applicants have been awarded a master’s degree before commencing the PhD studentship.

Additional information to help applicants in the application process can be found below.


Details of the three Ad Astra Fellows:

Dr Sarah Comyn is an Assistant Professor and Ad Astra Fellow in English Literature. She has recently published Political Economy and the Novel: A Literary History of “Homo Economicus” (Palgrave, 2018), and Early Public Libraries and Colonial Citizenship in the British Southern Hemisphere (Palgrave, 2019; with Lara Atkin, Porscha Fermanis and Nathan Garvey). She is currently working on a monograph exploring the mechanics’ institute on the goldfields of Australia and is co-editing a collection, Worlding the South: Nineteenth-Century Literary Culture and the British Southern Colonies (Manchester University Press, 2020). Her work is also forthcoming in a number of edited collections including the Routledge Companion to Jane Austen and the Cambridge Companion to Literature and Economics. Her current research interests are in the literary culture and institutions of the long nineteenth century, settler colonial literature, and the transhistorical relationship between literature and political economy. You can find Dr Comyn’s research profile here:

Dr Comyn is interested in supervising projects in the following research areas:

  • literary and economic criticism (especially of the long nineteenth century);
  • Romantic women writers (especially Jane Austen);
  • settler colonial literature (especially Australia and South Africa);
  • emigration/travel literature;
  • book history and history of reading in the nineteenth century;
  • postcolonial literature (especially Anglophone literature of the Global South)

For informal queries, please contact Dr Comyn at


Dr Treasa De Loughry is an Assistant Professor and Ad Astra Fellow in World Literature.  Her main research interests are the study of environmental humanities in world and postcolonial literature, especially around issues of energy, waste, and pollution. De Loughry has articles published in the Journal of Postcolonial Writing, the Journal of Commonwealth LiteratureGreen Letters and the Irish University Review, and chapters in various edited collections. Her first monograph The Global Novel and Capitalism in Crisis - Contemporary Literary Narratives (2020), is forthcoming with the Palgrave Macmillan Series “New Comparisons in World Literature”, and applies materialist world literary criticism to contemporary global novels from the UK, India and the US, examining their registration of planetary economic and ecological crises, or capitalism-in-crisis. She is currently working on her second monograph, a comparative cultural approach to waste, especially interdisciplinary responses to the uneven impact or “slow violence” of toxicity in world literatures from Ghana, Bangladesh, India, and the Pacific Islands. You can find Dr De Loughry’s research profile here:

Dr De Loughry is interested in supervising projects in the following research areas:

  • global, world and/or postcolonial literatures (20th/21st century);
  • world-literature, world-ecology, world-systems;
  • ecocriticism, toxicity, waste;
  • energy humanities, petrocultures, resource extraction ;
  • global climate change fiction, crisis, futurity

For informal queries, please contact Dr De Loughry at 


Dr Martha Shearer is an Assistant Professor and Ad Astra Fellow in Film Studies. She is the author of New York City and the Hollywood Musical: Dancing in the Streets (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), and her work has also been published, or is forthcoming, in the journals Screen, The Soundtrack, and JCMS: Journal of Cinema and Media Studies, as well as a number of edited collections. She is currently working on a second monograph on real estate and contemporary US film and television, and she is also co-editing two books: Musicals at the Margins: Genre, Boundaries, Canons (Bloomsbury) and Women and New Hollywood (Rutgers University Press). You can find Dr Shearer’s research profile here:

Dr Shearer is interested in supervising projects in the following research areas:

  • US film history;
  • film and geography, especially cities;
  • genre, especially the musical and the romantic comedy;
  • women’s authorship and creative labour

For informal queries, please contact Dr Shearer at


Additional Information

When making an application, bear in mind the following:

1. Your academic references should be sought from academic staff who are familiar with your work. If possible, they should also have expertise in the area of study you intend to pursue in your research. Academic references are not required for applicants who have graduated in English, Drama or Film from UCD.

2. Your proposal statement should provide a provisional title for the thesis, explain the central idea, question, or problem you wish to research, and justify the choice of material (texts, writers, period, genre or theories) you intend to study. You should give an indication of how this research might be organised into a thesis, outlining how the thesis might be divided into chapters. It may be useful to consult successful PhD theses for ideas about how to organise a thesis into chapters. You should also give an indication of how you expect your research to contribute to knowledge on your chosen topic and in wider fields of study. You should explain what methodologies will be used in the course of your research, and also what resources you may need to consult or use.

3. Your bibliography should provide a list of the major publications on the topic you wish to research, or in the general area of your research. This should indicate that you have conducted a preliminary survey of existing research, and understand how your research might build upon existing research and scholarship.