English Drama & Film - Research

PhD Programme
The School of English Drama and Film at UCD welcomes applications from potential PhD students. A UCD PhD is a four year research degree, undertaken within a clearly structured programme leading to the production of a thesis of around 100,000 words which will make an original contribution to knowledge. The programme includes taught modules, a Research and Professional Development Plan and the possibility to develop teaching skills.

MLitt Programme
An MLitt is a master's-level research degree based primarily on an independent research project, usually proposed and developed by the student, and carried out under the guidance of a supervisor and a research studies panel. In the case of the MLitt, or the research master's, the student will produce a thesis of 40,000- 60,000 words.

The MLitt degree is normally carried out over 6 trimesters (2 years) full time (or 3 years part time). MLitt students who do not complete the requirements for the degree within these timelines must apply for permission to continue.

MLitt students may be eligible to transfer to a doctoral programme on successful completion of a transfer assessment following a minimum three trimesters and maximum of six trimesters of registration (full-time) or a minimum of six trimesters and maximum of twelve trimesters (part time) on the research master's degree programme. This will also be subject to approval of the Graduate Research Board and any policy the University may establish.

General Information
All students are assigned a primary supervisor. In some cases where the work is interdisciplinary, co-supervision will be offered. Students are supported by supervisors in their programme of independent research, which frequently culminates in the production of research worthy of peer-reviewed publications.

The School of English, Drama and Film and the College of Arts and Humanities at UCD are consistently ranked highly. Members of the School have attracted some of the most competitive research grants and awards available in Ireland and internationally. These include funding from the following bodies: European Research Council, Irish Research Council, Fulbright Ireland, Marie Sklodowska-Curie Award Enterprise Ireland and the Irish Foundation.

At the School of English, Drama and Film, we offer wide-ranging experience in the supervision of PhD students Many of our PhD students have been successful in obtaining postdoctoral funding following their research.

School members have also played a significant and recognized role in shaping their respective fields of study. A full staff list can be found here . The list includes links to staff research profiles.

PhD in Creative Writing
The PhD programme in Creative Writing provides students with the opportunity to engage in individual research over three to four years of full time study under the supervision of a member of academic staff, leading to a thesis that combines creative work with a critical commentary.

The majority of any PhD research will be practice based, that is carried out through your own creative practice, and will lead to a novel, a collection of short stories, a poetry collection or other major piece of writing. You will also need to produce a critical commentary that contextualises your writing and demonstrates understanding of the writing process. The final composition of the submitted thesis will be a matter of negotiation between the supervisor and the candidate in order to ensure that it satisfies the requirements of doctoral study, but will be approximately 70% creative work and 30% commentary.

The application requirements, procedures, timelines and deadlines for a Creative Writing PhD are the same as that for all other PhD programmes in the School.

PhD Supervision in the School
Following a successful application, each student and supervisor meet early in the first trimester of the programme to mutually set expectations. Each research student is also allocated a supervisory support panel, known as a Research Studies Panel (RSP).

The Research Studies Panel provides advice, monitors your progress and supports the Student-Supervisor relationship. The members of the panel are nominated when the student is approved for admission and will comprise of

the Principal Supervisor,
any additional Co-Supervisor(s),
a number of advisers (at least two but normally no more than four). One of these will be Chair.

The RSP meet at least twice in the first year and at least once a year thereafter. For each RSP meeting, students submit a Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP) which is discussed and approved by panel.

The Principal Supervisor had the main responsible for supporting the student's progress in the research degree programme. While the ways in which an advisor might support a student will vary, it is recommended that a Principal Supervisor and student plan to meet one-on-one at regular times throughout each trimester. The Principal Supervisor is responsible for responding promptly to a student's request for additional meetings. The student and Principal Supervisor work together to set realistic goals for the timing of submission of documents for feedback and the return of that feedback. Discussion and planning between the student and Principal Supervisor may also include module planning (during the first two years of the programme).

Entry requirements

It is expected that PhD students will have an academic background necessary to support doctoral level research. The majority of our candidates have a strong graduate and postgraduate record (a high MA result of 2:1- 1:1 or GPA above 3.2). The School requires an IELTS band 8 if English is not your first language. A potential supervisor will be able to advise on the knowledge they expect their students to have gained before applying for entry to the programme.

MLitt students are also required to have an academic background necessary to support independent research. The School requires an IELTS band 8 if English is not your first language, and a high BA result 2:1- 1:1 or GPA of GPA above 3.2. A potential supervisor will be able to advise on the knowledge they expect their students to have gained before applying for entry to the programme.

In addition to subject specific knowledge, all PhD and MLitt students are expected to have a basic understanding of research methods before applying for entry to the PhD and MLitt programme. It is compulsory to complete Research Intergrity Training during all UCD research degrees and it is expected that students will complete any modules, either in the School or in UCD, required to meet research needs.

Application dates

Potential PhD researchers wishing to start in the Autumn trimester are encouraged to submit their completed online application before the 1st of July at the latest. Those applying for January start need to submit before the 15th October. For a May start, applications must be completed and submitted by the 1st of March.

Potential MLitt researchers wishing to start in the Autumn trimester are encouraged to submit their completed online application before the 1st of July at the latest. Those applying for January start need to submit before the 15th October. For a May start, applications must be completed and submitted by the 1st of March.

While you can submit an application without consulting anyone in the School, it is not advisable. You should first send a proposal to a member of academic staff that you would like to act as your supervisor. Anyone thinking of applying for a PhD or MLitt is required to share a project proposal.

If you are unsure as to who to contact, you could contact someone working in the general area that interests you, who may be able to recommend a potential supervisor. Alternatively, you can email graduateedf@ucd.ie with your proposal. Staff research interests are listed on the School webpages. This may be helpful to you in identifying a potential supervisor.

You should have at least a general proposal prepared before contacting a potential supervisor. The key purpose of contacting your potential supervisor is to satisfy yourself, as the supervisor must also be satisfied, that you can work with each other toward the completion of your studies. However, the success of this does not guarantee that you will be offered supervision or a place on the programme, as the School must consider your application in relation to a range of other factors.

Preparing a proposal and contacting a potential supervisor:

First you need to identify what has already been done in your chosen research area and identify a gap in the existing knowledge that your research could fill. Following this, you need to articulate a clear focus and approach for your research, and a breakdown of provisional chapters. Once you complete the proposal, you should make contact with a potential supervisor to discuss possible directions to your project.

As well as an in-depth proposal a future supervisor would also need to see

a short academic CV,

a sample of academic writing (ideally a chapter from a postgraduate dissertation, or if applying for an MLitt a lengthy chapter or research essay)

If a member of staff is interested and willing to provide supervision after reading your proposal, you should arrange to meet with your potential supervisor—meetings and conversations may also take place online if you are unable to travel or are living outside Ireland. If the supervisor provisionally agrees that the work has merit, you can work with the supervisor on the proposal then begin the application process. You should seek the advice of your potential supervisor about your ideas, choice of materials, methodologies, or background reading, but the potential supervisor is not expected to edit or revise your application proposal.

Portal for electronic application
All research degree applications are reviewed by the School's Research Degree Admissions Board. The time from application submission to formal communication of the application outcome takes two months on average. International students should apply with sufficient time to arrange visas in advance of degree commencement date should they receive an offer.


Z109 English, Drama & Film Master of Literature FT 02 Years
Z121 English, Drama & Film Doctor of Philosophy FT/PT 03/06 Years

More details
  • Qualification letters

    MLitt / PhD

  • Qualifications

    Degree - Masters (Level 9 NFQ),Degree - Doctoral (Level 10 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider