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Communication - Research


The longest-established academic Communication department in the UK, with a vibrant research tradition that produces internationally excellent work.


Over nearly four decades researchers in Media Studies at Ulster have been at the forefront of the development and growth of the discipline. Ulster pioneered research led teaching in Media Studies in the late 1970s, and since then Ulster researchers have played a key and direct role in the establishment of the first RAE panel in the subject in 1996 and in subsequent research exercises such as RAE 2008.

In its current form, The Centre For Media Research was established in 2004 with a £3.1 million grant under the Support Programme for University Research (SPUR2). Building on this significant success, Ulster research in Media was ranked tenth best in the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) In the 2014 REF, the research profile for Media Studies showed that 60% of all work has been judged as being of 'international excellence'; within this proportion, 21% is judged as having the highest accolade: 'world leading'. The unit also scored highly in the Impact section of the REF, with 100% of its impact case studies scored at 4*/3*.


Looking forward to the next REF and beyond, The Centre For Media Research at Ulster is supporting and developing the work of a new generation of researchers in three related areas of activity: 1) emerging media, pedagogy and creative industries; 2) critical theory, critical regionalism, public culture and media policy; and, 3) the politics of the image in Ireland and beyond. We welcome applications from students working in these areas (broadly construed).

Applicants should indicate the research area or project they wish to be considered for. Applicants are also encouraged to contact the supervisors associated with particular projects and research areas before applying.

Applicants should be aware of the competitive nature of the funding competition, which attracts a high number of good quality applications each year for a limited number of awards.


As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.

Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.

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

Dr Anne Moorhead

School of Communication


Tel: 02890368905


Research facilities and groups

- Purpose-built Communication Skills Centre, used for teaching and research, comprising a suite of 12 rooms (6 x 2-room laboratories) all of which are equipped with the latest digital CCTV recording facilities to enable video-recording and analysis of dyadic and group interactional episodes.

- Studio-based CCTV with the full range of sophisticated video-audio equipment, related computer-mediated analysis facilities, and portable video-audio recording equipment. Range of specialist computer-mediated systems to facilitate the fine-grained coding and analysis of verbal and nonverbal interaction.

- Fully-equipped computer laboratories with integrated facilities for the design and production of advanced communication materials, together with sophisticated video-audio recording equipment, and related computer-mediated facilities, which enables fine-grained coding and analysis of verbal and nonverbal interaction.

Students and staff have 24-hour access to a large library of books, journals and IT resources. A team of technicians, library and computing staff provide support and training all year round. Doctoral students have designated rooms with computers, networking and a social space and access to state- of-the art equipment and studios. These facilities and support are available for research fellows and visiting scholars.

Application date

Application is through the University's online application system.

Research areas

Staff research areas

Dr Jill Hendron

Dr Hendron is a lecturer in Counselling at Jordanstown. She has published in the areas of vicarious impact, resilience, clergy psychological wellbeing, counselling practice and Emotional Intelligence. She is particularly interested in the impact upon individuals through helping those who have been impacted by crisis and in the complexities associated with the grief process. Also included in her research interests is the use of Emotional Intelligence abilities as a resilience tool. Jill is an accredited Emotional Intelligence trainer and assessor and an accredited Compassion Fatigue specialist.

Dr Maggie Long

Dr Long is a lecturer in Counselling and an associate member of the Institute for Research in Social Sciences (IRiSS). Her research interests include mental health, with a specific focus on self-harm and suicide. She employs an interdisciplinary approach to understanding and researching mental health that draws on sociology and psychology. She is particularly interested in sociological concepts such as help-seeking, labelling, stigma and deviance in relation to mental health. She has a keen interest in promoting the link between research and practice in the field of counselling in Northern Ireland.

Dr Aodheen McCartan

Dr McCartan has published in the areas of marketing, business communication and cross-community communication. Within the areas of marketing and business communication, she has engaged in research in small firm marketing, focusing on how owner- managers use the process of networking to further their businesses. She is presently engaged in research in the financial services sector, exploring the nature of relationships between banks and businesses and to what extent online communication, including social media, can improve service quality. She is also researching in the field of advertising, examining the concept of likeability and its impact on effectiveness.

Dr Conor McGrath

Dr McGrath teaches public relations and lobbying. He has published in the areas of: lobbying strategy and tactics; the regulation of lobbying around the world; the historical evolution and development of the lobbying industry; lobbying as a form of political communication; and public affairs as an organisational function. Recent projects include newspaper coverage of Northern Irish politics; fictional representations of lobbying and PR; and media coverage of lobbying and PR. He is also working on the professionalisation of the lobbying industry, lobbying in Northern Ireland, and British political communication.

Dr Anne Moorhead

Dr Anne Moorhead is a Lecturer in Health Communication. Her research interest is in Healthcare Communications, in particularly, communication technologies in healthcare within the areas of obesity and mental health, including social media. Dr. Moorhead has led multidisciplinary national and international research projects and teams, and has extensive publications. She is a member on different committees, including the Executive Committee of the Association for Healthcare Communications and Marketing (AHCM) UK, research committee for the European Association for Communication in Healthcare, and Vice Chair of Office of Research Ethics Committees for Northern Ireland, NHS Research Ethics Committee. She is a Board member and Section Editor for the Journal of Medical Internet Research, the leading e-health peer reviewed journal.

Dr Phil Ramsey

Dr Ramsey's research focuses on media policy and public service media in the UK. He has published on subjects that have included: BBC Online policy in relation to the BBC's Public Purposes; BBC Radio Ulster; and the move online of BBC Three. Related research interests have focused on political communication in the UK, especially on government communication under New Labour. In this field he has published on subjects such as public relations and politics, the work of the Government Communication network, and on public sphere theory in light of deliberative democracy and agonistic pluralism.

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