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).

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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.

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
  • 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.
  1. All interested candidates are asked to download and complete an Enquiry Form (Form A): download here.
  2. Once completed, candidates are asked to upload their completed Enquiry Form (Form A): here.

Note: Before uploading your file, we ask you to name the file with the date, your name and the type of form. Please use the format: YY-MM-DD-Surname-Firstname-ENQUIRY. e.g.: "20-03-29-Bloggs-Jo-ENQUIRY"

  • As part of this process, you are asked to name the person whom you would like to work with (a potential supervisor) from the available Faculty. You can review the Faculty profiles 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.


Faculty will review enquiries (Form A) and you will be notified if they will work with you on an application. If so, then:

  • You will work with the prospective supervisor to submit your Application Form (Form B) with a research proposal. This Form B application should be accompanied by the following:
    • Original transcripts. Non-UCD Applicants must supply originals of degree/s, course transcripts and birth certificate.
    • Sample of academic writing. For example, this may be an academic assignment or a research publication.
    • An academic reference letter. Applicants can accompany their application with the letter or referees can submit this letter directly to the School of Psychology.
    • Evidence of English Language Proficiency. Applicants whose first language is not English must demonstrate English language proficiency of IELTS 7.0 (no band less than 6.5 in each element), or equivalent.
    • Application fee. Applicants must pay €40 to the School of Psychology UCD.
  • Only when you have been approved by the College Graduate School Board will you be eligible to register to the research programme. For this reason, it is prudent that you make your application (Form B) about two months prior to your expected start date. The programme accepts new candidates in September, January or May of each year.
  • Application Deadlines: Initial Enquiry Forms (Form A) are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis. If initial Enquiry Form A is progressed, then the subsequent application (Form B) must be submitted by the following deadlines, depending on the proposed start date:
    • 13th February 2020
    • 21st May 2020
    • 18th August 2020

Assessment of Candidate's Application

Your application will be reviewed by the School Graduate Research Committee and then the College Graduate School Board to determine your suitability to take a place on your chosen programme.

Your application will be assessed on the basis of

(1) the quality of your research proposal, including the feasibility of the proposal in the programme timeframe and  the alignment of the proposed research with the Schools academic strategy.

(2) the extent to which you meet the entry requirements for the programme, including your academic qualifications and, where relevant, your English language proficiency.

(3) your motivation and understanding of the programme, as evidenced in your personal statement.

For further information about the MLitt, please contact Muriel Keegan at or +353 1 716 8120.