PhD Research Programme

The UCD School of Psychology PhD enables candidates to achieve the best possible experience of graduate research and training. This programme provides the highest level of specialisation in applied or experimental research. It is designed for students who wish to pursue research, teaching or applied psychology positions in academia or industry.

PhD candidates work under the supervision of a Faculty member and are supported by a number of other key programmes and personnel to guide them through the process and achieve their academic and professional objectives. Making a substantial and original contribution to knowledge, normally leading to peer-reviewed publications remains the core objective of doctoral studies.

A PhD typically takes 3 years full-time (9 trimesters) or 6 years part time (18 trimesters) to complete. The examination of the degree of PhD is based on a description of the candidate’s research, written up as a thesis and defended in a viva voce (oral examination).

For more general information about doing a PhD in UCD, See the short guide here.

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Full Time option suitable for:

Domestic(EEA) applicants: Yes

International (Non EEA) applicants currently residing outside of the EEA Region: Yes

Candidates may apply for admission to the PhD programme if they have the following:

1. Primary Degree

  • Candidates must have:
    • A Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, with upper second-class honours or international equivalent.
    • Or a Higher Diploma in Psychology with at least upper second-class honours
  • We will also consider applicants with at least an upper second-class honours degree in a cognate area that provides appropriate background to their proposed research programme.

2. Graduate Degree

  • Direct entry to the PhD programme requires candidates to have obtained:
    • An upper second-class honours in a Master’s degree.
    • Or at least three years’ experience in a field relevant to your PhD topic.
  • Without a graduate degree, successful applicants will be first registered to the MLitt research degree with a view to transferring to the PhD programme after one year.

English Language Requirements

  • Applicants whose first language is not English must also demonstrate English language proficiency of IELTS 7.0 (no band less than 6.5 in each element), or equivalent.

Each PhD student is supported by a three-person research studies panel (RSP) which includes their thesis supervisor and two other academics. Candidates develop a research and professional development plan (RPDP) that their research studies panel use to monitor their progress annually. The RPDP describes their proposed programme of research and documents their educational, training, personal, and professional development needs. Their transfer from Stage 1 to Stage 2 is assessed by a Transfer Assessment Panel, based on a report and their research progress.

As part of a structured PhD programme candidates are required to earn 30 credits from taught modules. Students are often free to take modules from across the university offerings but should discuss this with their supervisor. Common modules taken in the School of Psychology can be found here.

The PhD is examined in an oral viva voce examination with internal and external examiners where candidates defend their PhD thesis. PhD theses describe research which makes an original, substantial, publishable contribution to knowledge and the degree is awarded to candidates who have demonstrated the capacity to pursue original research and scholarship.

  • For more information on course fees please visit the Fees & Grants Office website at www.ucd.ie/fees
  • Some candidates on the PhD programme fund their time through a grant or scholarship that they have acquired. Others will be funded through a larger grant as part of their supervisor’s research programme. Other candidates self-fund their studies (fully or partially) through part-time work and or relevant research and teaching opportunities that arise from time to time within and outside of the UCD School of Psychology.

Applications to the programme in collaboration with a research supervisor. Before making an application to the programme interested candidates are ask to submit an Enquiry form following the steps below. Please follow these instructions carefully.

Step one: (Enquiry Phase)

  1. All interested candidates are asked to download and complete an Enquiry Form (Form A): download here.

Step two: (Enquiry Phase)

  1. Fill in your Enquiry Form referencing  the faculty member whom you would like to work with (this is your  potential supervisor).  The Faculty profiles and their research interests may be found here. Please note: at any given time, particular Faculty members may not be accepting students, for example, if they already have a large cohort or if they are on sabbatical.

Step three: (Enquiry Phase)

  1. Once completed, candidates are asked to upload their Enquiry Form (Form A) here: Before uploading your file, we ask you to name the file using the following format, forename and surname (i.e Smith, Mary).

Once this step is completed, the Faculty member you have selected will review your enquiry form (Form A).  If the Faculty member wishes to work with you as a potential research student, they will contact you directly and you will both work together towards a formal application for entry to the M.Litt PhD Application (Form B).  

If the Faculty member cannot take you on as a potential research student the School will notify you that you have been unsuccessful in obtaining a supervisor.  You may then repeat the process choosing another Faculty member and submitting another Enquiry Form.

For further information about the MLitt, please contact Muriel Keegan at muriel.keegan@ucd.ie or +353 1 716 8120.