A PhD is the highest degree awarded at universities in Ireland. Study is based around a substantial research project in an area of academic interest, typically up to 100,000 words in length, written as a thesis which then must be defended in an oral examination at the end of the programme. All PhD students are assigned a supervisor and the duration of a PhD is typically three years full-time and six years part-time.
Very few research degrees feature taught modules, and as such a student is expected to take more responsibility for their work and schedule. Universities in Ireland are known for their academic excellence and state-of-the art research infrastructure along with their support for enterprise partnerships lending much value to a PhD degree from Ireland.
Irish universities are free to admit anyone to a PhD programme, with admission generally conditional on the prospective student having successfully completed an undergraduate degree with at least upper second-class honours, as well as a masters degree. English language ability proof is a must and a minimum IELTS score of 6.5 is generally required. There is usually a first-year assessment to remain in study and the thesis is submitted at the end of the completed programme.
Once you have decided on an area of research and have looked into how you will fund your study, there are a number of documents required when submitting your application. They include:
A research proposal (example) is required by all students when applying to study a PhD. The proposal should clearly address the research you wish to undertake, how you will do it, and why it is important. The proposal must be accepted by a panel of experts before your programme can begin.
If you wish to study a PhD, you may first need to begin an MPhil and then transfer to a PhD programme after 12-18 months. An MPhil is also a qualification in its own right and is generally thesis-only, lasting one year full-time and two years part-time. The thesis must present the results of a study and research and be a maximum of 60,000 words.
Students choose to study an MPhil is the proposed research has insufficient scope for a full PhD.
An MRes is an advanced postgraduate research degree within the areas of art, humanities and social sciences. Some PhD’s require an MRes qualification before beginning a PhD proper, and the student is required to complete a 40,000 word dissertation.
An MRes is a good test to see if you enjoy conducting your research without fully committing to and finding funding for a full PhD.
Professional doctorates are similar to a PhD but are intended to advance professional practice, rather than improve academic ability. Common professional doctorates include law, education, business, engineering and medicine.
Funding and researching a PhD can be expensive, with non-EU students paying up to £9,000 to £30,000 per year or more depending on the chosen programmes and institutions.
It is rare for a PhD student to not be supported by some form of bursary, grant or scholarship though, and many universities and research councils provide monetary support for part or all of a PhD programme.
If you are interested in studying a research degree in Ireland, arrange a free consultation with SI-Ireland today.