PhD Research Programme

The UCD School of Information and Communication Studies doctoral programme provides an environment that enables creative, energetic, and motivated students to complete original research that makes a substantial contribution to knowledge in information, communication, media and library science. Our PhD students work with research active supervisors in a variety of fields and have the opportunity to join and collaborate with research groups in the school and across the university.

Ongoing PhD Opportunities
The School of Information and Communication Studies welcomes applications on an ongoing basis for doctoral research projects in following fields of specialisation:

  • Digital Curation and Digital Heritage
  • Information and Digital Literacy
  • Human Computer Interaction and Informatics
  • Communication with and through Technology
  • Critical Information Studies
  • Information Behaviour 
  • Data and Society
  • Data Journalism

Before considering an application, prospective PhD students should first consult the school PhD policies, procedures and recommended timeline information in the UCD ICS PhD Handbook (pdf).

Prospective students can apply to the PhD programme directly via the UCD Applications System using programme code W139 for full-time study or programme code W140 for part-time study.  Only applications that are submitted through the UCD applications portal will be reviewed; applications sent by email will not be accepted. Academic staff do not review application material, such as research proposals or CVs prior to submission via the application portal.  If you have specific questions about research topics, you may send a short query to one potential supervisor after reviewing staff profiles.

Further information on requirements, fees and structures is available below.


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It is expected that PhD students will have an academic background necessary to support doctoral level research. Information and communication studies is a broad, interdisciplinary field and all students will need different knowledge to complete their thesis. 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.

In addition to subject specific knowledge, all PhD students are expected to have a basic understanding of social science research methods before applying for entry to the programme. If this knowledge is lacking and the student is offered a place, it is expected that they will complete necessary taught modules in research methods to meet basic requirements set by the department.

1. Check admission requirements.

a. A minimum 2.1 primary degree (GPA greater than 3.08) in any field of study*; OR
b. A minimum 2.1 (GPA greater than 3.08)master’s degree in information science, library science, communication studies or a related field.
For non-native English speakers, an English language certificate is required: IELTS overall score of 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each section.
*If an applicant does not hold a master’s degree, they will be required to enter the PhD programme via the MLitt programme and will be provided the option of advancing to stage two of the PhD programme after successful completion of a Transfer Assessment Panel (TAP). Only applicants who meet the master’s degree requirement will be considered for funding.

2. The online application system opens in February each year.

Although you may submit at any time, applications are not reviewed until after the May 1st deadline (if you are applying for the UCD China Scholarship Scheme or other schemes the deadlines are usually much earlier- please contact the PhD Coordinator or UCD Graduate studies). We will attempt to notify you about the outcome of your application as soon as possible. After your application is preliminarily reviewed, you may or may not be asked to complete a Skype interview, to provide the application committee with more information. An interview does not mean you are or are not more likely to be accepted to the programme, it is just a way to gather more information about your application.
If you have further questions please contact the PhD coordinator:

For current UCD Postgraduate research fees:

EU fees

Non EU fees

For information about moving to and the cost of living in Dublin.

***Unfortunately we will not be offering any School of Information & Communication Studies PhD scholarships for the 2020-2021 academic year***

Complete PhD applications submitted by the annual May 1st deadline will be considered for a scholarship if interest in funding is stated in the PhD application.


The total value of the scholarship will be equivalent to the EU fee rate and an annual stipend of €16,000, renewable for a period of up to four years upon annual review of satisfactory progress in the programme. Non-EU candidates are welcome to apply but they will have to make the shortfall for the fees through other sources. The scholarship does not cover the cost of the annual student levy fee. In exchange from the scholarship, the students will complete 10 hours per week teaching/grading/offering research assistance, to be assigned by the ICS School Administrator.

For 2019, PhD proposals on the topics of Data and Computational Journalism, Social Media for News, Data Driven Storytelling, Information Visualisation, and Science Communication will receive preference.

In order to be considered for funding, an applicant should select “yes” ” to the application question “I would like to be considered for funding” AND complete the text box describing their interest in offering teaching or research support in exchange for the scholarship stipend, on the UCD Online Applications system by 1st May 2019 to be considered for the iSchool PhD Scholarship.


In order to be considered for the iSchool PhD scholarship, the entire application package (complete answers to application prompts, necessary transcripts, references, IELTS scores, letters of reference, application fee paid, etc.) must be complete by 11:59pm GMT on 1 May 2019. Incomplete packages will not be considered for funding.

Scholarship-terms-conditions-2019 for iSchool PhD Scholarships.

Other sources of funding:

Irish Research Council




Ad Astra PhD Scholarship in the School of Information and Communications Studies, University College Dublin.

School: Information and Communications Studies
Supervisor: Marco Bastos
Starting date: 1st Sept 2020 (likely later, when academic activities resume post-COVID-19)
Position: 100%, full-time position, tuition fees waived by the School
Remuneration: PhD studentship renewable for up to four years and consisting of:
 - PhD student stipend of €18k per annum (tax free)
 - €4k per annum towards research costs of the PhD student.
Eligibility: EU and non-EU students are equally eligible for studentships under this award
Requirement: Students accepted under this scheme must meet the university entry standards.

Description of the post:
The School of Information and Communications Studies at University College Dublin is
offering one fully funded PhD scholarship under the supervision of Dr Marco Bastos.
The PhD student will work on quantifying offline phenomena through online data and/or new
theories, methods, and objectives to the study of problematic content and misinformation
We also welcome candidates interested in the social implications of technology, including the
dynamics of social influence and contagion, computational communication science, ethics of
computational research on human behaviour, and the forecasting of social phenomena with
digital trace data.
The candidate will explore computational models of social phenomena, including behaviour
modelling, social network analysis and modelling, mining of large-scale social data,
algorithms and protocols driving information diffusion on social platforms, and data mining
of social media platforms.
The candidate will be provided a desk in the School’s dedicated PhD office and a dedicated
budget for research expenses is included with the Scholarship. The School of Information and
Communications Studies has a healthy cohort of 10+ PhD students.

Substantive research area:
The post holder will be supervised by Dr Bastos, whose research addresses the cross-effects
between online and offline social networks, including the association between geography and
network formation, the direction of homophily, and the elapsed effects of online activity on
physical groups.
The substantive research question explored by the candidate may draw from communication
and information studies, sociology, political communication, geographic information
systems, and social network analysis or related areas.

The post holder will be expected to write and successfully defend a PhD thesis focused on the
areas listed in the description of the post and meet the degree requirements set by UCD to
advance through the PhD programme.
The candidate is also expected to produce research outputs in relation to their doctoral
research and attend conferences to disseminate the research findings.
Conferences of interest to the post holder include the Association of Internet Researchers, the
International Conference on Social Media & Society, the International Communication
Association, the International Conference on Social Informatics, and the International
Conference on Web and Social Media.
The candidate is expected to assist in the organisation of project meetings, workshops, and
activities within the scope of this research area.
The candidate should take part in seminars, workshops, and events organised within the
School and across University College Dublin that are relevant to the project.
Finally, the development of teaching skills and teaching activities will be considered at a later
stage of the PhD in discussion with the candidate and the supervisors.

Role profile:
Candidates are expected to be familiar with or interested in developing skills in
computational methods. Familiarity with leveraging digital media to the study of social
phenomena is highly desirable. Other key skills include familiarity with data mining, text-as-
data, network analysis, spatial statistics, machine-learning, and natural language processing.

Strong command of English is required. English proficiency at the C2 or C1 level of the
Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is advised.
UCD Graduate Studies TOEFL and IELTS score requirements can be viewed here

Candidates are expected to hold a Master’s Degree in Media and Communication,
Information Sciences, Geography, Political Science, Sociology, Digital Methods or
comparable Master’s Degree in the Social Sciences, preferably a research master/Mlitt.
Organisational experience and skills.
Preference will be given to candidates who can demonstrate experience and expertise in
quantitative methods, including network analysis and modelling, spatial statistics, automated text
analysis, and machine-learning in application material.
Affinity for data-driven research, preferably as evidenced by your Master’s dissertation,
publications, and research project.
Proven experience with R, Python, MATLAB, Julia, Ruby, JavaScript, TypeScript or
equivalent object-oriented programming language is highly desirable.
Experience with the analysis of social media data is desirable.
Applications are open to students of all nationalities and backgrounds.

Applications need to be submitted via UCD’s application portal. The candidate should apply
to Programme Code W139 using the UCD Admissions online application portal (a €50
application fee applies).
The School of Information and Communication Studies requires PhD applicants to submit
their curriculum vitae, an applicant statement, and a personal statement. Candidates are
advised to describe their research interests, explain why they believe this position fits their
profile, and include a brief description of the topic they would like to explore in their PhD
project. In addition to that, applicants should submit a writing sample, preferably a piece that
has been published, as additional information.

Applications will be reviewed through our system of open, transparent, and merit-based
recruitment of researchers.

For questions related to this post please contact Marco Bastos at

Students are expected to maintain a real presence within the School during the period of their studies, to attend supervisory sessions as defined by their supervisor and Doctoral Studies Panel or Research Masters Panel, to participate in the PhD/MLitt Roundtable discussions organised by the School, to take graduate modules offered by the School and by the College of Social Sciences and Law Graduate School and to reside within a reasonable travelling distance of UCD.

1.   Ethical Standards

UCD is committed to the maintenance of the highest ethical standards in its research. All research that involves either human or animal subjects carried out by UCD researchers requires full ethical review or an exemption from full ethical review.  This process is under the jurisdiction of the UCD Research Ethics Committee.  Full information is available HERE.

2.   Study/research outside UCD

The School of Information and Communication Studies acknowledges that students may benefit from travel/research elsewhere. This might entail:

(i) taking courses which are relevant to the student’s training and providing that the case for taking such courses has been made to the student’s Supervisor/Supervisory Panel and with the agreement of her/his Head of School. 
(ii) spending part of the academic year resident at archives or other appropriate research sites. Where such research trips are conducted during the regular teaching term of the student’s institution, students must have the prior approval of their Supervisor/Supervisory Panel and Head of School.

3.   Conferences and Presentations 

One of the core features of doing a PhD or MLitt is sharing your ideas with others. Presenting papers, School seminars and conferences provides valuable experience in structuring these ideas to communicate them effectively with colleagues in the field, while also offering an opportunity for feedback that may improve, develop or refine your research. Students are expected to attend  School Seminars regularly and should give at least one seminar presentation each year.  Papers based on ideas developed from the literature review, or empirical findings from the research, are very suitable topics for conference presentations, which often, in turn, form the basis of individual chapters of the thesis and/or academic publications.

During the course of the PhD or MLitt, students are expected to present a paper on aspects of their research. In addition, as research students progress through the programme, they are expected to attend major international conferences and present their research there. The School provides limited funding to assist with the costs of attending and presenting at conferences, and the College's Graduate School also provides funding for conference presentations.

4.   Publications 

One of the goals of doing a PhD or MLitt is to publish the thesis - whether as a book or a series of journal articles, etc. Therefore, in addition to completing the thesis, the school expects students to become progressively more involved in preparing material for publication. This is viewed as significant both for career development issues and in terms of developing writing and analytical skills that will be of assistance in writing the actual thesis. Throughout the publication process, the student's supervisors are likely to be involved in reading drafts of the submission and suggesting any appropriate changes. In addition, the supervisors may help identify suitable outlets to which the student's work could be submitted. Typically publications are based on conference presentations, which in turn are based on the thesis material itself. In this way there is considerable overlap between these various activities.

During the first year of the PhD, students should seek to publish a short book review or review essay on material relevant to their research. During the second year of the PhD, when significant progress should have already been made on various sections/chapters of the thesis, students should write and submit a paper for publication. This paper may be submitted to publications such as the peer-reviewed Irish Journal or any other suitable outlet. In the third year of the PhD, a further paper should be submitted to an international peer-reviewed journal.

5.   Teaching
For students wishing to pursue an academic career, gaining experience in teaching is often essential for securing an academic position. Research students are normally expected to become progressively more involved in the teaching of the School. As such, students typically are involved in teaching undergraduates through tutorial presentation, correcting assignments or lecturing. As they progress through their programme students are also expected to develop a teaching portfolio that reflects their broad sociological knowledge as well as their specific research interests. This can involve contributing to lectures for undergraduate modules under the supervision of a module coordinator. These activities are considered essential for the career development and are strongly supported within the School. In UCD, the Centre for Teaching and Learning provides a range of courses oriented towards the development of effective teaching skills, and students are expected to attend appropriate courses.

6.   Supervision (Doctoral Studies Panel or Research Masters Panel)

Each student accepted onto the PhD or MLitt programme will be allocated a supervisory panel - Doctoral Studies Panel or Research Masters Panel. That normally comprises your principal supervisor and two additional advisors. In special circumstances, two members of the panel may be appointed 'main supervisors', although one of these will retain overall administrative responsibility for the student. A Research and Profession Development Plan (RPDP) is required and the student’s Panel will work with them on developing this. The role of the supervisors is to direct and advise the student in developing a focused research question, conducting the research, and completing the thesis. In addition to advice provided throughout the PhD  or MLitt process, an important role of supervisors is to provide detailed written feedback on draft chapters, and to ensure that the student is making satisfactory progress in terms of career development generally. The main supervisor, in particular, can be expected to provide appropriate advice on preparing conference presentations and submitting material for publication in academic outlets.

Panel meetings should be held regularly and they may be held more often at different stages of the research, particularly as the research programme is being focused and refined. In advance of every meeting, the student should submit written work to their Panel. Following each meeting, a formal record (on an RPDP form) should be  completed and signed, outlining what has been discussed and detailing any relevant activities that student or supervisor have undertaken to do for the next meeting.

7.   Appeals Process

A student who wishes to appeal a decision of the Assessment Panel may do so through the procedures for a formal assessment appeal determined in the UCD Policy on Assessment Appeals. Information relating to Assessment Appeals can be found at:

 8.   Conflict Resolution
For information on how to access conflict resolution support please refer to the document 'Code of Practice for Conflict Resolution for Supervisors and Graduate Research Students'

9. Further Information

Further information regarding the application process, scholarships and questions, can be found on the Graduate Studies website

UCD ICS hosts visiting PhD scholars for less than 6 months or less than 12 months. As a visiting Phd student scholar you will be provided a desk to complete your work, library access and be invited to participate in school speaker series.

Application process

1. Check eligibility requirements

Currently enrolled in an accredited PhD Programme in information science, library science, communication studies or a related discipline.

Be in good financial standing with your home university

For non-native English speakers, an English language certificate is required: IELTS overall score of 6.5, with a minimum of 6.0 in each section.

2. Conduct research on School staff areas of expertise.

Search the UCD staff profiles and search published literature on Google scholar to get an idea about staff research expertise.

3. Contact a school staff member and ask if they would be willing to supervisor you for a temporary proposed project. You will not be considered for a place in the programme if a staff member has not

agreed to supervise you. While the PhD Coordinator may be able to offer advice, it is

not the role of the PhD Coordinator to match applicants with supervisors. It is

expected that exceptional applicants will locate their own supervisor.

4. Apply to the PhD Programme Coodinator using the attached application. (link) If

applying for the UCD China Scholarship Scheme, please see this page for details as the

application process differs



Applications must include all necessary documents to be considered.

Visiting PhD Students Application Form (pdf)

UCD ICS PhD HandbookPDF|974 kB