Psychology - Research

PhD students are an integral part of the academic life of MU’s Department of Psychology; we aim to deliver high-quality supervision and to produce research of international quality. The goal of the structured PhD programme is to provide a high quality research experience with integrated taught support. Structured support is offered through transferable skills modules and specialist modules to provide students with academic and professional skills needed for employment and career progression within, and outside of, academia.

Our Department makes an internationally distinctive and vibrant contribution to research and practice through four intersecting themes:

Rehabilitation, Disability & Health Psychology – researching the well-being of individuals and communities and their service provision, in terms of impairments/disability, assistive technologies, coping and empowerment; using quantitative and qualitative methods.

Mental Health, Community & Positive Psychology – focusing on the psychology of mental health and well-being of individuals, families and communities, as well as service provision and evaluation, with emphasis on vulnerability, marginalisation, resilience, and personal growth (using mixed methods approaches).

Neuroscience, Behaviour & Cognition – employing experimental methods to understand and address fundamental challenges in intelligence, thought processes, neuronal functioning and human and animal behaviour.

Organisations, Systems and Policy – researching complex systems problems, of inter-relatedness and change; using qualitative, quantitative and policy techniques, working with a broad range of businesses, service providers and international agencies.

Our PhD students gain training and experience in conducting high-quality empirical research in an environment characterised by a warm welcoming atmosphere.

The core objective of the PhD programme involves a substantial and original contribution to psychological knowledge in a given research field, and the production of research outputs suitable for peer reviewed publication. PhD research students must take a minimum of 30 credits in taught modules (15 in transferable modules and 15 in specialist modules).

Entry requirements

Normally, candidates for research degrees must possess a first class or upper second class honours degree in psychology that qualifies the student for eligibility for Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society or for Graduate Membership of the Psychological Society of Ireland. Graduates of cognate disciplines with a first class or upper second class honours degree may also be considered for postgraduate study; such students should be aware that they will require additional qualifications in order to be eligible for GBC or Graduate Membership of the Psychological Society of Ireland.

Applicants must have a recognised primary degree which is considered equivalent to Irish university primary degree level.

Minimum English language requirements:
Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study. For information about English language tests accepted and required scores, please see here. The requirements specified are applicable for both EU and International applicants..

Maynooth University's TOEFL code is 8850


4 years Full-time, 6 years Part-time.


In general, there are two levels of fees payable. EU students from EU countries including Ireland pay a subsidised level of fees for both taught courses and research programmes. Tuition fees for students from outside the EU are not subsidised and are thus somewhat higher than for EU students.

Enrolment dates

Commences September (or other agreed time)

Post Course Info

The structured PhD is a research oriented programme associated with a wide range of career options, depending on subject area. Your prospective supervisor will be able to offer advice on specific career options.


The following research interests and specialisms are within the Department of Psychology:

Dr Laura Coffey

The experience and psychosocial impacts of illness and disability. Self-regulation of normative (e.g., ageing) and non-normative (e.g., amputation, cancer) developmental challenges. Personal meanings and perspectives on assistive technology use. Self-management of long-term conditions. The development and evaluation of complex interventions.

Dr Seán Commins
The neurobiology of spatial navigation, learning and memory. Consolidation of long-term memories. Neural substrates of hippocampal-cortical interactions. Investigation of cognitive deficits following stroke and other disorders. The role of cognition in driver behaviour.

Professor Andrew Coogan
We are interested in circadian rhythms and sleep, and their importance for health and wellbeing. Current research interests include assessing how circadian clocks may be involved in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, looking at circadian rhythm involvement in other important conditions, such as diabetes and depression, asking how the immune system influences circadian rhythms and assessing how cognition and behaviour may be changed following sepsis.

Dr Michael Cooke

Living and working with technology. Human factors and human-computer interaction. Understanding people in complex systems (such as aviation, security, emergency management, health, manufacturing, energy production, critical infrastructures, etc.), the psychology of lived experience (phenomenological perspectives), activity theory, and sociocultural psychology.

Dr Michael Daly

Impact of individual differences in self-control; mental health and employment; health inequalities; weight discrimination; biosocial surveys; longitudinal data

Dr Deirdre Desmond
Psychosocial adjustment to illness, injury and disability; Coping; Outcomes measurement; rehabilitation; assistive technology.

Dr Unai Diaz-Orueta

Neuropsychological assessment using a process-based approach. Virtual and augmented reality applications in (neuro)psychological assessment and intervention. Cognitive rehabilitation procedures (both traditional and technology/game-based approaches). Serious games for health.

Dr Philip Hyland

My main interest is understanding how people respond to traumatic and stressful life events. Currently, I am evaluating the validity of stress- and trauma-related disorders as outlined in the ICD-11, along with psychotic responses; identifying the differential predictors of these responses to traumas and stressors; and examining the short- and long-term outcomes associated with these psychological experiences. I also conduct research testing the validity of dimensional models of general psychopathology using large, epidemiological datasets.

Professor Fiona Lyddy
Psychology of Communication. Computer-mediated communication. People and technology.

Professor Mac MacLachlan

Social inclusion, human rights, assistive technology, global health, policy development and implementation, macropsychology, maritime psychology,

Dr Rebecca Maguire

Quality of life and well-being in patients with chronic illness, especially in cancer or multiple sclerosis. Caregiver well-being and burden of care. Health-related decision making. Coping with uncertainty. Psychological appraisals. Cognitive basis of expectation and surprise.

Professor Sinéad McGilloway
The psychological aspects and community context of health care and social problems. Child and adult mental health and well-being in the community. Health services research. The health and social care needs (including employment and social integration) of vulnerable and socially excluded groups Mental health and well-being in palliative/end-of-life care.

Dr Carol Murphy
Applied behaviour analysis and language development in populations with and without learning disorders. Relational frame theory and derived relational responding. Development of special education programmes. The experimental analysis of human behaviour. Clinical behaviour analysis. Implicit cognition.

Dr Brenda O'Connell
Positive psychology, health, and wellbeing. Emphasis on if, how, and when positive psychological constructs (gratitude, resilience, optimism etc.) influence mental and physical health (somatic and biomarkers). Stress buffering effects of gratitude and compassion. Design, delivery and evaluation of wellbeing- promoting interventions.

Dr Bryan Roche
The experimental analysis of complex human behaviour, language and cognition (EAB). Experimental social psychology and implicit attitude measurement. Fear and avoidance conditioning models of human anxiety. Intelligence and the development of behaviourally oriented educational interventions.

Dr Richard Roche
Memory in healthy and pathological ageing. Reminiscence Therapy. Dementia. Neurorehabilitation. Synaesthesia. Acquired and Traumatic Brain Injury. Human Electrophysiology.

For further details on the research specialisms within the Department please visit:

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Doctoral (Level 10 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

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