PhD Politics and International Relations

Duration: 3-4 Years Full-Time; 5 Years Part-Time

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 Doctoral 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 Doctoral 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.


Show/hide contentOpenClose All

SPIRe PhD students in Politics and International Relations must complete 60 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 60 credits, 30 will be devoted to required methodologically oriented courses, one on research design, one on quantitative methods, and one on qualitative methods; 10 will be reserved for a third year PhD Thesis Workshop. The remaining 20 required credits (and any additional credits beyond 60) can be filled with modules/courses selected in consultation with your supervisor.

A list of current core and optional modules for 2016/17 can be found 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.

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: View staff profiles

When Can I Apply?

Applications from EU applicants should be submitted to the school by 10th August 2018. 
Applications from non-EU applicants must be submitted to the school by 31st May 2018.
Entry to the programme is in September. 

Application Procedure

Applications cannot be considered until we have received the following documentation, which should be emailed to

  • 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)
  • Two academic references (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.
  • 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. Click on the link below for further details
    English Language Requirements

For information, a list of SPIRe academics and their research profiles can be found here

This documentation should be emailed to Ms Cathrina Gaffney (School manager) at 

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. SPIRe reserves the right to verify references.

You may also be requested to conduct a Skype interview as part of the application process.


For information on EU graduate research fees for the academic year 2019/20 click here.

For information on Non-EU graduate research fees for the academic year 2019/20 click here.

For further information relating to fees click here

For information on SPIRe and other scholarships click here

Information for international students planning to attend UCD can be found here

UCD School of Politics & International Relations
Room G314
Newman Building
University College Dublin
Dublin 4

PhD Administrator
Ms Cathrina Gaffney (School Manager)
Tel: +353 (0)1 716 8670

The PhD Director is

Dr Stephanie Dornschneider
Tel: +353 (0)1 716 

Information for International Students