Software Engineering - Research

Our postgraduate research students are involved in diverse research projects across the entire spectrum of Computer Science. The school also offers competitive funded studentships; these positions attract a tax-free scholarship as well as payment of University fees.

Completion of a PhD typically takes about 4 years full-time and 6 years part-time, after a Masters or a Bachelors degree. The School is now following UCD's Structured PhD programme. We currently have over 100 postgraduate research students, and the School has a strong international flavor, with students and academic staff from around the world.

Software Engineering involves the use of an engineering approach to the development of software that solves real-world problems. Every task that computers perform uses software to do it. Software engineers take engineering principles such as measurement, modelling and trade-off analysis and apply them to the creation and management of software.

Entry requirements

The minimum requirements for entry into the PhD programme regarding prior degree and language are given below:

Degree: minimum 2.1 grade (or equivalent) in an undergraduate or postgraduate degree in Computer Science, Maths/Stats, Physics, Engineering, or similar technical discipline. This typically means achieving minimum 60% or higher in the award of the BSc or MSc (Second Class Honours, Upper Division), see link for more details about the honours grading system.

Language: Non-native English speakers require IELTS at least 6.5 (with at least 6 in all components) or equivalent (see link for details on test equivalence).

DUOLINGO - This test of English will be accepted in 2022 and 2023. It may not be recognised after that depending on the outcome of a review. The minimum requirement will be a DET score of 120 is required with at least 110 in each subscore.

Application dates

New student registrations take place in January, May and September each year. Our students generally have a high honours standard in an MSc or BSc primary degree in Computer Science or a cognate discipline, and we welcome high quality applicants from diverse backgrounds. The application process has two steps:

First, the applicant should contact relevant members of the department to discuss potential topics and projects, starting dates, funding, etc. To identify a prospective supervisor, the applicant can browse our academic staff page, or look under staff research interests. Academic staff that have open positions typically advertise them on the school webpage, their personal webpage and/or social media (e.g., Twitter), so it is good to keep track of those opportunities. If the applicant contacts academic members of staff directly, they should specify their research interests and attach evidence of their high academic standard (e.g., CV + short cover letter detailing relevant grades, research experience, research outputs, awards, other relevant experience).

Next, if these initial discussions are successful, the applicant should complete the formal application form obtained from the future supervisor. As described in this form, the applicant must submit a Statement of Research Interests, university transcripts, English test results (if applicable), copy of passport and reports from two referees.

Application Forms
For All Applicants

1. Completed MSc/PhD Application Form - can be obtained from the supervisor

2. Certified copies of transcripts of previous academic qualifications. Candidates must have a first class or upper second-class honours primary degree (BSc, MSc), or equivalent.

3. References from two referees, commenting specifically on the candidate’s academic suitability to pursue a MSc/PhD (see attached form).

For International Applicants

4. If the applicant's first language is not English evidence of proficiency in English (IELTS or TOEFL score) is required. See further information regarding English requirements at the following link: Students can opt for Duolingo online, (cost EUR30 approx.) and this cann be done quickly. No other English proof will be accepted (e.g. not accepting a degree done and assessed through English as proof anymore).

5. Visa status as required (this usually follows School approval).

Once the supervisor selects a PhD/MSc candidate, the next step is to start the process of registration by submitting the required documentation to the Graduate Research Director, copying the graduate research programme manager on the email, for review. Once reviewed the application is then forwarded to the Graduate Reseach Board for approval, and this board meets once a month.

Part-time research: There are opportunities for part-time research MSc and PhD and this is agreed with individual academic supervisors and depends on the funding source. For details on regulations for part-time study please also consult the UCD Academic Regulations.

Teaching: All research students can participate in teaching via Teaching Assistant or Demonstrator roles. This is highly encouraged in our school as it contributes to developing valuable transferable skills during PhD. Once registered, the student is contacted by the student teaching coordinator with details on teaching opportunities and resources. The teaching opportunities and workload should also be discussed with the supervisor and DSP.

Networking and career advice: We have several research postgraduate events in the school that play an important role in networking and career building, e.g., two poster sessions each year (June and December), monthly research postgrad lunch, student induction, weekly school research seminars. Once registered, you will receive e-mails about how to participate in these events.


T129 3 years full-time, 6 years Part Time

Enrolment dates

New student registrations take place in January, May and September each year.

More details
  • Qualification letters


  • Qualifications

    Degree - Doctoral (Level 10 NFQ)

  • Attendance type

    Full time,Part time,Daytime

  • Apply to

    Course provider