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PhD Politics & International Relations

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 a minimum of a 2.1 grade (GPA: 3.6) 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

General Information for Incoming Students

A Welcome Note from the Dean of Graduate Studies, with information on registration, fees, support services and orientation, can be found here
 

When Can I Apply?

There are three application deadlines to the Politics and International Relations programme:

1) Applicants to the Iseult Honohan Doctoral Scholarship: 31 January 2022

2) All other funded applicants: 15th June 2022

3) IRC Government of Ireland Doctoral Scholarship 2023 applicants: 16th September 2022

Note: The Politics and International Relations PhD programme only accepts students who have either a Honohan Doctoral scholarship or alternative external funding, to include a full fee remission and appropriate living expenses. Self-funded applicants are not eligible.

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 across the College of Social Sciences and Law and the student may register for these, dependent on their research theme, with the permission of their supervisor.
For a sample of the various modules on offer click here.
Please see this page for PhD module registration information.

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.

UCD/TCD Collaboration
SPIRe collaborates with the Department of Political Science in Trinity College Dublin (TCD). We currently share modules on quantitative and qualitative research methods. In addition, TCD operates a Maths and Coding Bootcamp for incoming students, as a preparatory course for Quants I.
Students enrolling on the Politics and International Relations programme are strongly encouraged to attend one or both camps. These usually take place prior to the start of term.

Application Procedure

Applications will be considered when the documentation below, including references, has been emailed to dara.gannon@ucd.ie
Note: Applicants must have a minimum grade of 2.1 (GPA: 3.6) in a relevant Master's degree.

  • 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. Applicants must provide a cert that complies with UCD Minimum 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. If sent by email, they must be from an institutional email address and ideally on institutional headed paper. 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 

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 does not take place until after the relevant application deadline. For Honohan Scholarship applicants the application deadline is 31 Jan 2022, for other externally-funded students the deadline is 15th June 2022 and for 2023 IRC candidates the deadline is 16th September 2022.

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). The 2023 call opens on 8th September 2022. The application process is highly competitive so collaboration with a local supervisor to develop the application is recommended. See this page for more information.

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. The deadline for 2023 IRC applicants to the SPIRe PhD Programme is 16th September 2022    

Note: The Politics and International Relations PhD programme only accepts students who have either a Honohan Doctoral scholarship or alternative external funding to include a full fee remission and appropriate living expenses. Self-funded applicants are not eligible. 

EU Fees

EU Graduate Research Fees for the Academic Year 2022-23 

Non-EU Fees

Non-EU Graduate Research Fees for the Academic Year 2022-23

Further information relating to fees     

Fees published are inclusive of a Student Centre Levy (€254) which must be paid by all students.
Note: The Honohan scholarship does not cover the Student Levy.

Helpful Links
  • Information on estimated living costs in Ireland can be found on the UCD Global website
  • Specific information for international students can be found at UCD Global

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 €17k.  The 2022 application round is now open with a closing date of 31st January 2022

Click here for more details

There are also UCD Graduate Scholarships available.  

IRC Scholarships: Call for 2022 now closed.

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). The current round is closed as of 21st October. 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. The SPIRe application deadline for the 2023 IRC round is 16th September 2022.

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  

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

  • Further information on estimated living costs and grants can be found here. Please visit the Irish Dept of Justice website for information on obtaining a visa

  • Further information can be found on the Citizen's Information website

  • 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.

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 and International Relations (SPIRe)

School Office: G301, Newman Building, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.