Institution / Ulster University Coleraine
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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.


The Communication research thrust takes place across three main sub-areas. These are Interpersonal Communication, Health Communication and Organisational Communication. Each of these sub-groupings has a leader who drives the research efforts in terms of staff publications, applications for external grant income, and doctoral students. The Clusters are a focus for discussion and development; comparing and developing research methodology; and, sharing of literature, resources and innovative ideas for research.

Research supervision is available in all areas of communication, including interpersonal communication, social interaction, health communication, counselling, organisational communication, advertising, public relations.


Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal Communication research focuses on research in workplace communication, uncertainty management, and developing skilled communication in a range of contexts. In addition it studies groups and relational communication, which focuses on the areas of intercommunity communication, communication post-terror attacks, communities of practice, and forgiveness and reconciliation.

Health Communication

Health Communication research focuses on the two main areas of health communication and counselling. Current health communication themes include: obesity communication, cancer communication, social media in health communication, health PR and promotion, and well-being within the workplace. Current counselling themes are counselling services, post-traumatic growth and secondary trauma.

Organisational Communication

Organisational Communication research spans a wide range of areas, including: auditing internal and external communications; the role of communication in facilitating change; the use of the internet as a promotional tool; public relations in Ireland; the adoption and implementation of PR evaluation systems; the power of advertisement ‘likeability’ in predicting campaign success; and, the use of new media technologies in political communication.

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.

Further details about each programme area can be found at the following links:

Project Area 1:
Key Issues in Interpersonal Communication and Social Interaction

Project Area 2:
Key Issues in Health Communication and Counselling

Project Area 3:
Key issues in Organisational Communication, Advertising or Public Relations

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. For general entrance requirements go to:

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.


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.

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 areas

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.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: September 2017

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