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Celtic Studies - Research

Celtic Studies is an area of high importance with research in the subject being carried out within the Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute

In REF 2014 the Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute was assessed as having:
- 100% outstanding or very considerable impact in research
- 66% of overall research world-leading or internationally excellent
- 90% of research environment internationally excellent or world-leading

The subject has a high income stream, and staff and student support arrangements and postgraduate training are excellent. The Institute is committed to fully supporting its postgraduate students.

Specialisms include medieval Irish language and literature, textual scholarship, the transmission of senchas and historical verse, voyage literature, the Gaelic manuscript tradition, bardic poetry, place-names research, dialectology, lexicography, stylistics, minority languages, language policy and planning, the syntax and semantics of the verb in Irish, 18th and 19th century Irish language, literature and learning with particular reference to Ulster, modern and contemporary Irish literature, Scottish Gaelic literature from the eighteenth century to the present time, creative writing, Gaelic literature in translation, applied language studies (CALL, digitization, language corpora) and Irish folklore.

Postgraduate supervision is available in almost all aspects of Irish language and literature and in a range of subject areas.

Entry requirements

Entry conditions
We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University's General Entrance Requirements.

Entry Requirements
You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.

If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.

English Language Requirements
English language requirements for international applicants
The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.


PhD Research
You can study for a PhD on a full (3 years) or part-time (6 years) basis and by the end of your programme, you will have produced a body of work that makes a contribution to knowledge in your chosen field.

We have various routes to obtaining a PhD - for example, in some areas you can submit a practical element as part of your submission, such as a piece of art or a musical composition.

The MPhil programme is studied over a 2 year period on a full-time basis or 4 years on a part-time basis.

We would recommend that you contact one of our academic staff whose interests align with your own to discuss your intended research prior to submitting an application.

Careers or further progression

Career options
Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).

Further enquiries

Contact: Dr Maxim Fomin
Tel: +44 (0)28 7167 5213
Email: 


Research facilities and groups
Resources in Irish and Celtic Studies
Research students in Irish and Celtic studies are allocated dedicated space to carry out their research and they have access to computers, library carrels, and the Language Resource Centre. The University and Institute have materials on first and second language acquisition and learning; data banks on errors and error analysis; Modern Irish lexicographical data; a collection of Irish manuscripts of 18th and 19th century texts relating to south-east Ulster; the Enrí Ó Muirgheasa library collection containing important works from the period 1880-1940. The University also collaborates with a number of other Universities on minority language research, corpus linguistics and other projects.

Internet Resources
This guide contains pointers to Internet resources of interest to students and staff in Irish Studies at Ulster. It is not a comprehensive list but is intended to help you begin exploring the Internet: General Irish and Celtic Studies Sites, Irish and Scottish Place-names, Language, Newspapers and Magazines, Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias, Media, Literature, Electronic Journals (mainly table of contents only), Celtic Culture, Electronic Databases, Music, Discussion Lists, Booksellers and Publishers, Institutions specialising in Irish, Gaelic and Celtic Studies.

Princess Grace Irish Library (PGIL)
EIRData 2000 is an extensive set of electronic literary text files dealing with Irish literary authors and their works in all periods, and is a tribute to Irish achievements in literature as well as testament to the Princess Grace's attachment to her Irish roots. The project is conducted by the University under the aegis of the Princess Grace Foundation (Monaco) with funding dedicated for the purpose by the Ireland Fund Princess Grace Memorial Library in Monaco. PGIL EIRData is an ambitious Internet project in Irish studies comprising an extensive set of digital records dealing with Irish literary authors and their works in all periods. It is the most comprehensive reference source of its kind in any medium, thus providing a robust and uniquely flexible platform for future advances in Irish cultural informatics.

Application date

Application is through the University's online application system.

Research areas

Staff research areas

Dr Niall Comer
Dr Comer is Lecturer in Irish at Magee and formerly Irish Language Technologist in the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. He is President of Conradh na Gaeilge (The Gaelic League) and has completed his doctorate on the place-names of Coleraine and surrounding areas. He supervises in the area of Irish traditional music and place-name tradition.

Professor Ailbhe Ó Corráin
Professor Ó Corráin is Professor Emeritus of Modern Irish. He has published extensively on various aspects of Irish language and literature. Most recently, he published a number of books on the Irish Poet Giolla Brighde O hEodhasa. He also specialises in the Irish grammatical and metrical traditions, Irish verb, language planning, lexicography and Celto-Nordic LInguistic interface.

Dr Liz Doherty
Dr Doherty lectures in traditional music at the Magee campus. As a traditional arts consultant she has worked on various national and international projects, and was a Traditional Arts Specialist with the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon (2005-2008). Her research fields include Cape Breton fiddle music, Irish traditional music, Performance – fiddle Safe Trad (Performance Injury Prevention project) and Traditional arts industry.

Dr Maxim Fomin
Dr Fomin has research interests in Early Irish and its comparison with other Indo-European linguistic and cultural traditions, including Armenian, Latin, Sanskrit and Greek. He has published extensively on the question of kingship in early Ireland and India and was Assistant Editor of the AHRC- funded eDIL project, the digitization of the Royal Irish Academy's Dictionary of the Irish Language and published Instructions for Kings. Secular and Clerical Images of Kingship in Early Ireland and Ancient India. Heidelberg, 2013. Dr Fomin is Principle Investigator on the AHRC-funded Stories of the Sea: Maritime Memorates in Irish and Scottish Gaelic Folklore Traditions, and also specialises in oral heritage and material culture of the modern-age Celtic traditions. He is a founding member and Secretary of Societas Celto-Slavica and is co- editor of the Society's academic series. He also specialises in Irish folklore and oral tradition, having supervised students in the areas of Irish folklore collection, Irish story-telling and the Irish belief system with an emphasis on the Otherworld. .

Dr Art Hughes
Dr Hughes has written on various aspects of Irish and the other Celtic languages, including work on the Irish revival in Belfast in the 18th and 19th centuries, Irish place-names, the dialects of Ulster Irish, bardic poetry and the influence of the Irish language on Ulster English and recently published Late Old Irish lenition and the modern pan-Gaelic verb, pp. 310, Curach Bhán, Berlin 2013. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Celtic Linguistics and is Celtic languages and literature review editor for Seanchas Ard Mhacha.

Dr Nioclás Mac Cathmhaoil
Dr Mac Cathmhaoil is Lecturer in Irish at the Magee campus. A specialist in Ulster Irish of the 18th and 19th centuries, he was awarded his doctorate in 2010 for a thesis on the author and scribe Muiris Ó Gormáin which has been published as Muiris Ó Gormáin: Saol agus Saothar Fileata. Cló-Iarchonnacht. He is Principal Investigator on the project between Ulster and University of Copenhagen exploring the influence of the printed medium on the oral traditions of Ireland and Scandinavia.

Professor Séamus Mac Mathúna
Professor Mac Mathúna is Professor Emeritus and has published widely on various aspects of Irish language and literature. His research interests include medieval voyage literature, Irish linguistics, bardic poetry, minority languages, and Irish lexicography. Founding President of Societas Celto- Slavica, he is joint editor of the Society's scholarly journal, sits on the Editorial and Management Boards of the Dictionary of Modern Irish (Foclóir na Nua-Ghaeilge) based in the Royal Irish Academy, and is consultant editor and external reader for the academic series Studia Celtica Upsaliensia. Chair of the 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercise's Celtic Studies Sub-Panel, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Member of the Royal Irish Academy. With Professor Ó Corráin, he is Co-Editor- in-Chief of the Collins Concise Irish Dictionary.

Dr Gearóid Ó Domagáin
Dr Ó Domagáin is Lecturer in Modern Irish working on the Concise Irish-English/English-Irish Dictionary. He was awarded his doctorate on the present state of Irish in the parish of Gort a' Choirce, Co. Donegal, in 2009. His is course director for the MA in Modern and Contemporary Irish at the Belfast campus.

Dr Caoimhín Ó Dónaill
Senior Lecturer in Irish, Dr Ó Dónaill has research interests in Early Irish and in the application of technology to the study of Modern Irish. He is Ulster's representative on the Tools for CLIL Teachers, has been a researcher on the research project Linking Dictionaries and Texts, specialises in Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL), and has published an edition of Talann Étair in the Maynooth Monograph Series of the Department of Old Irish at NUI, Maynooth..

Dr Malachy O'Neill
Dr Ó Néill is Provost of the Magee campus since 2016. He works closely with Irish language public organisations across the island of Ireland, and has extensive links with the USA and Canada in the field of Irish Studies. His doctorate – an edition of An Leabhar Eoghanach – was awarded in 2007. Formerly editor of An tUltach (2007-10), Dr Ó Néill is Irish language editor of Dúiche Néill.

Dr Frank Sewell
Dr Sewell has research interests in Modern and contemporary writing in Irish, bilingual writing in Ireland, translation, creative writing, and international aspects of Irish literature, especially Russian and Slavonic links. He has written extensively on all of these areas and has received a number of prestigious awards for his work, including the Arts Council Literature Award in 1999 and 2001. He is author of Modern Irish Poetry: A New Alhambra (Oxford: OUP, 2000), published in 2001 and Selected Poems: Seán Ó Ríordáin. Yale University Press 2014.

Dr Peter Smith
Dr Smith has research interests in both modern and medieval Irish, Irish folklore and folk song, and sociolinguistics. Among his publications is a Bibliography of Irish literature relating to South-East Ulster and a number of articles in peer-reviewed publications on Irish historical verse. In 2008 he published Three Middle-Irish Historical Poems Ascribed to Gilla Cóemáin: A Critical Edition of the Work of an 11th-Century Irish Scholar and Politics and Land in Early Ireland: A Poem by Eochaid Úa Flainn. Éitset áes ecna aíbind, Berlin: Curach Bhán Publications, 2013.

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