PhD Politics and International Relations

Duration: 3-4 Years Full Time; 5-7 Years Part-Time
Entry to the programme is in September only. 

Programme Overview

We offer a structured PhD programme that includes (1) training in research methods, (2) coursework in two subject-areas of politics and international relations, (3) regular contact with a Research Studies Panel composed of academic staff with expertise related to the students interests, and (4) the writing of a doctoral thesis based on original research.

All students must designate primary and secondary subjects of specialization within politics and international relations and complete PhD seminars covering each subject's core scholarly literature. 

Conditional upon approval by the Research Studies Panel, a student's second subject seminar may be taken in a cognate discipline beyond the School. Students will also take courses in research design, and qualitative and quantitative methods. In addition, students have the option of auditing additional postgraduate modules (in SPIRe, the College of Human Sciences, and in neighbouring institutions) in order to deepen their substantive knowledge and/or methodological skills.

Entry Requirements

Applicants to our research degree programmes must have completed and earned high grades in a taught Masters (MA, MSc, MLitt, etc.) programme in the area of politics and international relations or a cognate field and articulate a research interest that fits with the expertise of SPIRe’s academic staff. If you are interested in exploring your research plans further with a member of staff, please feel free to contact us individually.

A list of SPIRe academics and their research profiles can be found here

When Can I Apply?

Applications are on a rolling basis.

Applications from EU applicants should be submitted to the school by 31st July 2021.
Applications from non-EU applicants must be submitted to the school by 31st May 2021.  

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In addition to writing the PhD thesis, SPIRe PhD students in Politics and International Relations must complete 50 credits of coursework, at least 40 of which should be completed by the time of the transfer to Stage II, which takes place within 12-18 months on the program.

Of these 50 credits, 30 will be devoted to required methodologically oriented courses (focusing on research design, quantitative methods and qualitative methods). The remaining 20 required credits (and any additional credits beyond 50) can be filled with modules selected in consultation with the student's supervisor.

There is a wide range of modules available throughout the University. The university’s Graduate Studies unit also offers a range of both taught PhD modules and PhD professional training workshops.

SPIRe collaborates with the Department of Political Science in Trinity College Dublin (TCD). We currently share modules on quantitative methods. 

To get a better idea of what modules are covered and how the programme operates in general, please visit the Current PhD Students section of the website.

And to understand the overall PhD structure and cycle at UCD, you can click here for the PhD in a nutshell.

Application Procedure

Applications will be considered when the documentation below, including references, has been emailed to dara.gannon@ucd.ie

  • Application Form (fillable Word doc)
  • Cover letter, stating reasons for interest in SPIRe programme.  
  • Thesis proposal (3-5 pages maximum)
  • Copies of all Academic Transcripts (Undergraduate and Postgraduate)
  • C.V. or Resume (2 pages maximum)
  • Evidence of English language competence, where non-native English speaking applicants have NOT obtained previous university degrees from a university in an English-speaking country. For students affected by testing centre closures due to COVID-19, UCD has approved  the use of the Duolingo English Test (DET) as a temporary measure. The overall result should be at least 110 with a minimum score of 100 in subjections. Click on the link below for further details
    English Language Requirements
  • Two academic references: These should be sent directly by the referees to dara.gannon@ucd.ie with the applicant's name in the Subject field. Actual letters (on headed institutional paper) required. If sent by email, they should be from an institutional email address. SPIRe reserves the right to verify all references. Sending only the contact details of referees is not sufficient. 

This documentation should be emailed to Ms Dara Gannon (School Manager) at dara.gannon@ucd.ie 

  • Please note: Given the current university closure due to Covid19, all references should be sent via email. Do not send by post.

The submission of original academic transcripts and other documentation will be required as a condition of the final award of a place on the programme. 

How does the application process work?

  • Once all documents, including references, have been received, the application will undergo an initial evaluation by the review committee to assess that it satisfies the minimal requirements in terms of academic achievement and language skills 
  • Once it has been confirmed that the applicant is, in principle, eligible to join the SPIRe PhD programme, the application gets circulated among the SPIRe academic staff to determine if a potential supervisor is available and interested in taking on the applicant. 
  • If someone is potentially interested in supervising / co-supervising, a Zoom/Skype call is usually arranged between the potential supervisor(s) and the applicant so that further questions on the project can be asked. The PhD Director will often sit in on the call to ask general questions and/or provide more information on the programme. 
  • Following the call, if the potential supervisor(s) is willing to take on the applicant as a student, the registration process is initiated by the PhD administrator.
  • If an application is not deemed suitable, a letter will be sent to the applicant informing them of the decision. SPIRe does not provide individual feedback.

Please note that the application review process takes approximately 10 working days from the time of receipt of all documentation including the two academic references . This can be longer if the application is received at a particularly busy time of year. 

IRC Applicants

The Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Programme, funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC) covers EU fees plus a stipend (non-EU scholars need to cover the fee differential). Typically, this scheme has an application deadline early in the academic year (October) for a start the following September. The application process is highly competitive so collaboration with a local supervisor to develop the application is recommended.

Please note: If you wish to work with a SPIRe supervisor and use that supervisor's name on your IRC application, you must go through the school application process first, even if the SPIRe academic has indicated his/her willingness to work with you.     

EU Fees

EU Graduate Research Fees for the Academic Year 2020-21

EU Graduate Research Fees for the Academic Year 2021-22 
 

Non-EU Fees

Non-EU Graduate Research Fees for the Academic Year 2020-21

Non-EU Graduate Research Fees for the Academic Year 2021-22
 

Further information relating to fees     

Fees published are inclusive of a Student Centre Levy (€254) which must be paid by all students.

Helpful Links

SPIRe Scholarships

SPIRe operates an Iseult Honohan Doctoral Scholarship, which provides a fee remission of the scheduled EU or non-EU fee plus a tax-free annual stipend of €16k. The scholarship has been suspended for the 2020/21 academic year, due to Covid-19.

SPIRe also offers PhD Graduate Scholarships which comprise a full fee remission of the scheduled EU fee plus a tax-free annual stipend of €575. The scholarship scheme has not yet opened for the 2021/22 academic year but further information can be found here.

There are also UCD Graduate Scholarships including the China Scholarship Scheme and Newman Fellowships 

Other Scholarships

Information on a selection of the top institutions currently funding graduate students at UCD can be found here

Universities of Ireland offers a North/South Postgraduate Scholarship to encourage graduate study across the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Other UCD scholarships
 

IRC Scholarship

The Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship Programme, funded by the Irish Research Council (IRC) covers EU fees plus a stipend (non-EU scholars need to cover the fee differential). Typically, this scheme has an application deadline early in the academic year (October) for a start the following September. The application process is highly competitive so collaboration with a local supervisor to develop the application is recommended.

Please note: If you wish to work with a SPIRe supervisor and use that supervisor's name on your IRC application, you must go through the school application process first, even if the SPIRe academic has indicated his/her willingness to work with you. 
  

Helpful Links

A list of SPIRe academics and their research interests can be accessed here

A list of current PhD students and their respective supervisors is available here

  • Specific information for international students planning to attend UCD can be found at UCD Global
  • Supports for students and general information about the campus and the student experience can be found here
  • And information regarding working in Ireland can be accessed here

For the most recent information on the university's Covid-19 policies, please click here.

For a letter from the Head of School and SPIRe's plans for the Autumn trimester, click here

The programme is designed for all those whose career plans require a capacity for independent and rigorous research, a broad understanding of political structures and processes, and expertise in a particular area of political analysis. 

Career Support

Current and recently graduated, UCD Graduate Researchers (PhDs and Research Masters students), can book a 60 minute appointment with a dedicated Career & Skills Consultant to discuss:

  • Individual Career Planning
  • Academic and non-Academic Career Options 
  • Job Applications
  • Interviews and Presentations

More detail can be found here

UCD School of Politics & International Relations
Newman Building
University College Dublin
Belfield
Dublin 4
Ireland

The school is currently undergoing refurbishment - please do not send postal queries

PhD Administrator
Ms Dara Gannon (School Manager)
Email: dara.gannon@ucd.ie

PhD Director 
Dr Alexa Zellentin
Email: alexa.zellentin@ucd.ie 

Specific information for International students can be found at UCD Global