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PhD Quantitative and Computational Social Science

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

Programme Overview

We offer a PhD programme in Quantitative and Computational Social Science (QCSS). The structured PhD programme includes (2) extensive training in cutting-edge research methods, (2) regular contact with a Research Studies Panel composed of academic staff with expertise related to the student’s interests, and (3) the writing of a doctoral thesis based on original research. 

This programme is built around quantitative and computational social science methods and tools applied to substantive and methodological research questions in the social sciences. The programme brings together the perspectives and research methods of various disciplines such as Economics, Politics, Sociology and Statistics. The QCSS programme provides students with rigorous training in quantitative research and methods, including quantitative text analysis, machine learning, computer vision techniques, agent-based modelling, network analysis, and causal inference. Students will apply these methods in their PhD thesis to answer substantive research questions in Social Sciences. 

Successful candidates are invited to join the Connected_Politics Lab, an interdisciplinary hub for researchers using computational methods to study politics and society, the UCD Geary Institute for Public Policy, and/or the UCD Behavioural Science and Policy group, a centre for research and collaboration on integrating behaviourally-informed ideas into public policy. 

Students with a quantitative background in any area can undertake the programme. They will undertake various quantitative social science modules offered by the UCD School of Politics and International Relations, the School of Sociology, and the School of Economics. They may also choose modules that are relevant to their own research interest in other UCD Schools. 

The PhD QCSS programme is a thematic, structured programme. Doctoral studies at UCD comprise two stages:

  • Stage 1 is a period when you define your research plan, develop your research skills and initiate original research work for your doctorate.
  • Stage 2 is primarily dedicated to continuing your original doctoral research but may also include some advanced education and training. 

Some general information on UCD Structured PhDs is available here.
 

Entry Requirements

For the structured PhD programme in Quantitative and Computational Social Science, applications are welcomed from applicants with a Master’s degree in data science, computer science, quantitative political science, economics, statistics, and other social science subjects. 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.
 

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 Quantitative and Computational Social Science 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.

 

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As set out by the requirements of UCD Graduate Studies, QCSS students are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits of course works in Stage 1, followed by a programme of original research leading to the award of Doctoral degree by research. More information can be found here.

Modules

All students must take the following module:

All students take at least one of the following four modules:

In addition, all students take at least three modules, totalling to at least 15 credits. 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 range of modules is subject to change.

The students may register for other modules depending on their research theme with permission from their Supervisor and the Module Coordinator.

The College of Social Sciences and Law schools also make a range of modules available to graduate research students outside their school each year. For a sample of such modules, click here.

Please see this page for PhD module registration information. 

A formal Stage Transfer Assessment (STA) takes place in order to progress from Stage 1 to Stage 2 of the PhD. The STA should be completed within 5 trimesters for a full-time student or 7 for a part-time student. Students must submit a body of written work to a review panel, who will conduct an interview on the work submitted, and must also complete a Research and Professional Development Planning (RPDP). For more information on the RPDP click here

The PhD may take the form of a traditional thesis, or a collection of papers (including published papers or papers submitted or prepared for submission) describing a coherent programme of research that has been published or prepared for publication in peer-reviewed journals of international standing, accompanied by a critical and theoretical overview of the work presented in the papers.

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 QCSS programme are welcome 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

  • Application form (fillable word document)
  • Cover letter, stating reasons for interest in QCSS programme.  
  • Research proposal (3 to 5 pages maximum) which should include:
    • a statement of the research question;
    • a brief literature review that points to research gaps the PhD project could address;
    • an outline of theoretical approaches considered;
    • a brief discussion of the proposed methodology.
  • Copies of all Academic Transcripts (Undergraduate and Postgraduate)
  • CV 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 for further details on UCD 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) preferred. If sent by email, they must be from an institutional email address. The QCSS programme reserves the right to verify all references. Sending only the contact details of referees is not sufficient. 
  • If you have had contact with a potential supervisor prior to application, please indicate this clearly in the application form and in the cover letter, including detail on the extent of engagement

This documentation should be emailed to Ms Dara Gannon (PhD Administrator) 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 minimum requirements in terms of academic achievement and language skills 
  • Once it has been confirmed that the applicant is, in principle, eligible to join the QCSS PhD programme, the application gets circulated among the relevant 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 Programme 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 programme’s PhD administrator.
  • If an application is not deemed suitable, a letter will be sent to the applicant informing them of the decision. The programme does not provide individual feedback.

Please note that the application review process does not take place until after the relevant application deadline.
 

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 supervisor and use that supervisor's name on your IRC application, you must go through the programme application process first, even if the academic has indicated his/her willingness to work with you. The programme application deadline for the 2023 IRC round is 16th September 2022    

Note: The Quantitative and Computational Social Science 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
To be eligible, the candidate must have a SPIRe supervisor.

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 supervisor and use that supervisor's name on your IRC application, you must go through the programme application process first, even if the academic has indicated his/her willingness to work with you. The programme 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

Other UCD scholarships  

  • 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

Successful applicants are invited to attend the SPIRe PhD Forum which is a new series of events at the School of Politics and International Relations. The PhD Forum provides guidance to early-career researchers and facilitates informal discussions between SPIRe faculty and PhD students. 

Two SPIRe faculty members will provide a short overview of the topic and reflect on their experiences. The remaining time will be devoted to questions and answers. 

Events take place on Thursdays from 13:00–13:50 (in person, “hybrid”, or via Zoom, depending on current Covid-19 guidelines). Participation is limited to current PhD students and faculty members at SPIRe.

 

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

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

 

UCD School of Politics & International Relations
Room G301
Newman Building
University College Dublin
Belfield
Dublin 4
Ireland

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

Programme Director
Dr Stefan Müller
Email: stefan.mueller@ucd.ie