PhD Complex Systems and Computational Social Science - Programme Structure

The CSCS PhD Programme is a thematic, structured programme. CSCS PhD students may register as full-time (4 years) or part-time students (6 years). Some general information on UCD Structured PhDs is available here.
All UCD Doctoral Studies comprise two stages of training:


Stage 1 comprises the first 12-18 months (for full-time students) within which the PhD student defines the research plan, develops specific research skills through a programme of recommended modules and specialized training and initiates original research work for the doctorate degree.


Stage 2 comprising the remaining months, is primarily dedicated to continuing the original doctoral research but may also include some advanced education and training.

The CSCS PhD Programme incorporates a range of recommended taught modules, typically completed in Stage I, followed by a programme of original research leading to the award of Doctoral degree by research at the end of Stage II. CSCS students may also participate in short, external internships during the four year programme.

Module structure

All students take one of the following three modules:

  • SOC40640 Social Simulation: Methods and Models
  • SOC40760 Dynamic Social Networks
  • POL42050 Quantitative Text Analysis

All students are required to take:

In addition, all students take at least 3 modules, totalling to at least 15 credits, from a list of relevant modules. Students with a technical background (computer science, engineering, statistics) take these modules from relevant offerings in the social sciences, while students with a social science background (incl business and law) take these modules from relevant offerings in computer science, mathematics, and/or statistics.

The choice of modules needs to be approved by the principal supervisor and the program director.

Transfer from Stage I to Stage II in the CSCS Programme

In order to progress from Stage I to Stage II of the CSCS PhD Programme, a formal assessment of the student’s progress takes place at the end of Stage I. The formal assessment is conducted by the CSCS Transfer Assessment Panel, which usually comprises members of the CSCS Board of Studies. The Principal Supervisor, and any co-supervisors, are not normally members of the panel.


The CSCS Transfer Assessment Panel base their judgement on the following materials:

  • A written statement of progress from the Principal Supervisor
  • A written statement of progress and future research by the student, including an updated research proposal outlining the overall structure of the thesis
  • One completed chapter or research paper
  • An overview of grades obtained on the program to date
  • An oral presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session, given by the student to the CSCS Transfer Assessment Panel

Description of CSCS Stage II

A PhD student is required to complete a thesis based on original research, which will form the basis of the final Viva Voce examination. The thesis concludes a programme of research under which the student may produce working papers, co-authored papers with their supervisors, attend conferences, etc. The research component of the degree programme includes regular meetings with the supervisor, meetings with the research supervisory panel (RSP) every half year and a student Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP) which is regularly reviewed.