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PhD in European Law and Governance

PhD in European Law and Governance

The PhD in European Law and Governance (ELG) is designed for students who want to develop multidisciplinary expertise on the structures and dynamics of European governance. This complex and increasingly important field of study encompasses relations between the member states and institutions of the European Union, Council of Europe and other European bodies, processes of treaty negotiation and supranational law-making, issues of political economy, citizenship and human rights, foreign policy, and environmental protection, and controversies related to sovereignty and democratic legitimacy, compliance and enforcement, and lobbying and social mobilisation, among many others.

Duration 3-4 years full time or 5-6 years part time
Starting September & January
Fees 24/25 EU - Full Time €7,130, Part Time 4,710. Non-EU - Full Time €13,730 Part Time €9,200

Admissions Requirements

In order to be considered for admission, applicants will normally have completed and earned high grades in a taught or research Masters in the areas of law, politics and international relations, or a cognate field, and articulate a research interest that fits with the expertise of an academic staff member in either of the sponsoring schools. (Applicants with a very good primary degree in law will also be considered.) In most cases, applicants to the ELG PhD with prior training in politics, international relations and other social sciences are considered for admission through SPIRe, whilst applicants with prior training in law are considered for admission through the School of Law.

English Language Requirements for the PhD in Law Programme

  • Applicants whose first language is not English must submit satisfactory evidence of competence in written and spoken English, i.e. overall IELTS 7.5 (including a minimum of 7 in all bands) or a score of 109 overall in the TOEFL iBT, 27/30 in reading and writing and 23/30 in speaking and listening. The test results must be less than 2 years old.

  • International applicants should visit the UCD International Office website (www.ucd.ie/international) for information regarding our campus, location of UCD, visa information, registration and orientation.

Application Process

Applications cannot be considered until we have received the following documentation:

  • Thesis proposal (3-5 pages maximum) which indicates a research question and intended methodology and explains how the proposed project relates to existing scholarship in the proposed area of study (with an indicative bibliography)
  • Copies of all academic transcripts (undergraduate and postgraduate)
  • C.V. or resume (two pages maximum)
  • Two academic references: Actual letters required. If sending by email they should be on headed institutional paper.
  • Evidence of English language competence, where non-native English speaking applicants have NOT obtained previous university degrees from an English-speaking country. 

Prospective applicants should submit their materials by email to both Prof. Cathryn Costello ((opens in a new window)cathryn.costello@ucd.ie) and Dr Alexa Zellentin ((opens in a new window)zellentin@ucd.ie) explaining their motivation for pursuing the degree and briefly identifying their intended area of research.  

This structured PhD programme is designed for students who want to develop multidisciplinary expertise on the structures and dynamics of European governance – a complex and increasingly-important field of study. The programme is offered jointly by the UCD School of Law and the UCD School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe), both of which have a large, internationally-renowned faculty in this area. 

The ELG programme is offered jointly by the UCD School of Law and the UCD School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe), both of which have large, internationally-renowned academic staffs in this area. The programme includes (1) substantive coursework in both of the sponsoring schools, (2) training in research methods, (3) regular contact with a supervisor from either of the sponsoring schools and a Research Studies Panel of three staff including at least one from each sponsoring school, and (4) the writing of a doctoral thesis based on original research. Students in the programme register to the school where their supervisor is located. They are also associated during their studies with the UCD Dublin European Institute, Ireland’s largest and oldest university research centre on European integration and governance. 

In addition to writing a research thesis, ELG students must complete 40 credits of taught coursework. The content of this requirement differ slightly (see below) depending on whether they are registered through Law or SPIRe. All ELG students also have the option of pursuing additional coursework in Law, SPIRe or other Schools (such as Business, Economics, Sociology, etc.) to deepen their substantive knowledge and/or methodological skills.
The core seminars for students who enroll in the ELG programme through SPIRe are:

  • POL 50020 European and International Governance
  • LAW 41040 Law and Governance of the EU
  • POL 50030 Research Design
  • GSBL 50050 Methods for Qualitative Research

In addition, it is strongly advised that SPIRe’s ELG students take the POL 50150 PhD Thesis Workshop in their 3rd year. 
The core seminars for students who enroll in the ELG programme through Law are:

  • POL 41650 The Global Political Economy of Europe
  • LAW 41040 Law and Governance of the EU
  • LAW 50010 Advanced Research in Law

And any one of the following:

  • POL 50030 Research Design
  • GSBL 50050 Approaches & Techniques in Qualitative Research
  • POL 50150 PhD Thesis Workshop

For more information on the academic specializations of academic staff in the two sponsoring schools, see www.ucd.ie/law and www.ucd.ie/spire.

For more information on the UCD Dublin European Institute, see www.ucd.ie/dei.

For information on Sutherland School of Law scholarships and other scholarships click here

For information on SPIRe scholarships and other scholarships click here

For students with a law supervisor:

All law PhD students receive a desk in the Matheson Doctoral Studies Suite in the Law School and the School provides a PhD common room and a kitchen shared with staff.

All law PhD students receive research support of €250 a year and are eligible to apply for competitive research support funds at School, College and University level in particular to present their work at conferences.

Those who receive a Sutherland School of Law scholarship are required to undertake some teaching and support responsibilities (e.g. to assist in conference organisation or to assist in mooting competitions) of not more than 6 hours per week. They are also required, where eligible, to apply after their first year of study for a prestigious Government of Ireland scholarship.

All other law PhDs can also avail of paid teaching opportunities in the School mainly related to undergraduate tutorials.

For students with a SPIRe supervisor, please see the SPIRe handbook.

With their sophisticated multidisciplinary understanding of European law and governance, expertise in a particular substantive area, and excellent research skills, graduates of this programme will be well-positioned to pursue careers in law, policy analysis and academia.

We have an excellent Careers Development Centre here at UCD, designed to help you with information regarding future employment or studies. Individual supervisors and the Programme Director work closely with Doctoral students on their career plans. In addition, UCD hold a number of graduate events throughout the year including a dedicated law fair at which at which many big law firms will be in attendance. The School of Law has a dedicated careers advisor on its Academic staff and a staff member from the careers office is in attendance at the School of Law on a number of occasions throughout the academic year.  To see the full range of services offered by the careers office go to http://www.ucd.ie/careers/

UCD Sutherland School of Law

University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.