PhD and MLitt Research Programmes

A view of Noah's Egg

PhD Programme

** PhD applications for September 2022 start date close on 1 July 2022, unless you have already been working with a supervisor and we aware that your application submission is pending. Applications outside this criteria will not be reviewed even if submitted. Applications for January and September 2023 start dates will open this Autumn**

The School of English Drama and Film at UCD welcomes applications from potential PhD students. A UCD PhD is a four year research degree, undertaken within a clearly structured programme leading to the production of a thesis of around 100,000 words which will make an original contribution to knowledge. The programme includes taught modules, a Research and Professional Development Plan and the possibility to develop teaching skills.

Potential PhD researchers  wishing to start in the Autumn trimester are encouraged to submit their completed online application by the 1st of July at the latest. Those applying for January start need to submit by 1st December

MLitt Programme

The MLitt is a two-year research programme, leading to the production of a thesis of 40,000 to 60,000 words which will treat its subject in a systematic and independent way. MLitt students may transfer to the PhD after completing one year of research, subject to the recommendation of the supervisor and the approval of the Head of School.

General Information 

All students are assigned a primary supervisor, and in some cases where the work is interdisciplinary, co-supervision will be offered.  Students are supported in their programme of independent research which frequently culminates in the production of research worthy of peer-reviewed publications.

Consistently the School and the Humanities at UCD are ranked highly. Members of the School have attracted some of the most competitive research grants and awards available in Ireland and internationally. These include funding from the following bodies: European Research Council, Irish Research Council, Fulbright Ireland, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Foundation. School members have also played a significant and recognized role in shaping .

At the school of English, Drama and Film offer we offer experience in the supervision of PhD students and a wide-ranging expertise. Many of our PhD students have been successful in obtaining Postdoctoral funding following their research.

School members are also played a significant and recognized role in shaping their respective fields of study. You can download an excel spreadsheet of staff research interest here: 

A full staff list can be found here which includes links to staff research profiles.

Current research students in the School of English, Drama and Film

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It is expected that PhD students will have an academic background necessary to support doctoral level research. The majority of our candidates have a proven strong graduate and postgraduate record (a high MA result of 2:1- 1:1 or GPA above 3.2). We would also be looking for an IELTS score of 8, if English is not your first language. A potential supervisor may be able to advise on the knowledge they expect their potential students to have gained before applying for entry to the programme.

MLitts are also required to have an academic background necessary to support independent research. We would also be looking for an IELTS score of 8, if English is not your first language and a high BA result 2:1- 1:1 or GPA of GPA above 3.2. A potential supervisor may be able to advise on the knowledge they expect their potential students to have gained before applying for entry to the programme. It should be noted that a student if successful during their MLitt research, they may be able to request a transfer to the PhD programme. This does require academic approval.

In addition to subject specific knowledge, all PhD students and MLitt students are expected to have a basic understanding of research methods before applying for entry to the PhD and MLitt programme. If this knowledge needs supporting and the student is offered a place, it is expected that they will complete necessary modules either in the School or on the UCD campus to meet research needs.

Any candidate considering a PhD or MLitt is required to complete a detailed project proposal. These should be developed in collaboration with your potential supervisor. Please click on the link below for general guidance on how to structure your proposal.

For further information please click here: APPLYING FOR A RESEARCH DEGREE

First you need to identify what has already been done in your chosen research area, an initial MLA bibliography search is a useful as a starting point. Following this you need to develop with a clear breakdown of provisional chapters. Once complete, you should make contact with a potential supervisor to discuss possible directions to your project.

As well as an in-depth proposal a future supervisor would also need to see

  • a short academic CV, 
  • a sample of academic writing (ideally a chapter from a postgraduate dissertation, or if applying for an MLitt a lengthy chapter or research essay)

You should also arrange to meet with your potential supervisor—meetings and conversations may also take place over skype if you are unable to travel or are living outside Ireland. 
If the supervisor provisionally agrees that the work has merit, you can begin the application process.

  • Portal for electronic application

Applications must be accepted by both the School and the Graduate School Board. The finalised acceptance can take a little time—at least a month, since the Graduate School Board meet outside of the School. If you are an international student your appliction will also be processed by the International Office.

The PhD programme in Creative Writing provides you with the opportunity to engage in individual research over three years of full time study under the supervision of a member of academic staff, leading to a thesis that combines creative work with a critical commentary. The majority of your research will be practice based, that is carried out through your own creative practice, and will lead to a novel, a collection of short stories, a poetry collection or other major piece of writing. You will also need to produce a critical commentary that contextualises your writing and demonstrates understanding of the writing process. The final composition of the submitted thesis will be a matter of negotiation between the supervisor and the candidate in order to ensure that it satisfies the requirements of doctoral study, but will be approximately 70% creative work and 30% commentary.


With regard to funding- the Irish Research Council is the major source of funding for PhD studies in Ireland
Internal UCD scholarships are advertised here.
Other sources of funding include the Fulbright and the UCD China Scholarhsip scheme.

The International Office may have opportunities and information for funding for international students. Contact the representatives in your region for further information.

Irish citizens may be able to apply for financial assistance from Student Universal Support Ireland (SUSI).

The student and supervisor should meet early in the first semester of the program to mutually set expectations for the supervising support (Research Studies Panel RSP) to be provided during the first year of the program. Such meetings should occur at least annually, at the time of submission of the Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP), and as the student’s needs evolve.

The Principal Advisor is responsible for supporting the student’s progress in the PhD programme. While the ways in which an advisor might support a student will vary, it is recommended that a Principal Supervisor and student plan to meet one-on-one several times each semester. The Principal Supervisor is responsible for responding promptly to a student’s request for additional meetings. The student and Principal Supervisor and student will together set realistic goals for timing of submission of documents for feedback and the return of that feedback. Conversations between the student and Principal Supervisor may also include module planning (during the first two years of the programme) and meeting of degree milestones.

More information on the structured PhD can be found here.

For MLitt students the same expectations apply (barring requirements such as the Doctoral Supervisory panel and the Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP).

The School hosts the James Joyce Research Centre, Centre for Gender, Sexualities and Feminisms (in conjunction with the School of Social Policy, Social Work and Social Justice and UCD Centre for Canadian Studies.


MLitt and PhD students have the opportunity to gain teaching experience (paid) to undergraduate students during the course of their research.

Students are also encouraged to register for relevant research and skills development courses organised by UCD Library and Graduate Studies.

The School is home to a lively English Graduate Society (EGS) who organise an annual conference, workshops, seminars and informal social events.

The School's own research seminar hosts staff and visiting speakers takes place most Wednesday afternoons during the semester between 4-5.30pm in J208 (Newman Building).

Importantly the school has robust affiliations with UCD's Humanities Institute and The Clinton Institute  who host an impressive range of interdisciplinary symposia, conferences and visiting international speakers. Students are also welcome to attend any of the seminars hosting visiting in other Schools in the College of Arts and Humanities and beyond.


If you are unsure about which staff member may be the most relevant to your proposed research, please contact the PhD Director via the school office at

For more information about the application process please check guidelines here 

For Film Studies PhD enquiries, contact Head of Subject Associate Professor Jorie Lagerwey (
For Drama Studies PhD enquires, contact Head of Subject Dr Paul Halferty (
For Creative Writing PhD enquiries, contact Head of Subject: Associate Professor Paul Perry(

The School look forward to hearing about your proposed research.