Politics & International Relations - Research

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.

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.

Subjects taught

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.

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.


3-4 Years Full Time

Enrolment dates

Entry to the programme is in September

Post Course Info

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 details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Doctoral (Level 10 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Daytime

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    Course provider