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Complex Systems & Computational Social Science - Research

A core challenge for 21st century science is to develop fundamental new insights for understanding and managing the complexity of social systems such as dynamic systems of technological innovation, diffusion processes which explain the spread of diseases, hidden networks of crime and terrorism, dynamic networks of electronic communication and many other such phenomena.

Complex systems are often random and non-linear in their underlying processes. Various and recent research findings suggests these systems are characterised by "multi-scale interactions, emergent behaviour, feed-back across multiple processes, pattern formation and self-organisation".

Recent scientific advances in the field show that our understanding of social complexity is greatly enhanced by innovative computational experimentation, where computational modelling allows successful "experiments"to take place through simulation, to facilitate the systemtic investigation of realistic complex societal phenomena.

Computational social science is an interdisciplinary field applied to the analysis of the underlying processes of social systems. This new and fast-growing field of research is characterised by the application of computer simulation and other computer-based methods to the analysis of social systems and their complexity.

Computational social science is a strongly emergent area of scientific innovation with numerous applications in both the public and private or commercial sectors in Ireland and elsewhere across the world. Members of the CSCS group are engaged in a range of different types of research, some focus on core theoretical development in the field, while others' approach has clear empirical applications, often based on large scale, funded research projects.

Who is Involved?

The CSCS PhD programme is an innovative collaboration of research groups at the UCD Geary Institute and CASL and a number of UCD schools.

PhD Programme Structure

The CSCS PhD programme is a thematic, structured programmes. CSCS PhD students may register as full-time or part-time students. Doctoral studies at UCD comprise two stages:

Stage 1 is a period when you define your research plan, develop your research skills and initiate original research work for your doctorate.

Stage 2 is primarily dedicated to continuing your original doctoral research but may also include some advanced education and training

The CSCS programme incorporates a range of taught modules (minimum 50 credits in Stage I), followed by a program of original research leading to the award of Doctoral degree by research (270 credits in Stage II). CSCS students may also participate in short, external internships during the four year programme.

Entry requirements

Entry normally requires an undergraduate degree (Minimum GPA 3.08) in suitable disciplines from the social sciences, mathematical and/or computer sciences or related areas. Students from life sciences may be admitted but may need to take extra electives in the social sciences.

Prior to entry all students must have acquired an undergraduate, intermediate level competance in calculus or equivalent.

Normally a student enters Stage 1 of the CSCS PhD programme. Under certain circumstances, advanced entry to Stage II of the CSCS PhD programme may be faciliatated for suitably qualified graduate students and/or transferring PhD students.


W198 4 Years full time
W265 6 Years Part Time

Further enquiries

Please contact Dr Diane Payne ( for more information.

Application date

Students may be admitted to the CSCS programme at three points during the academic year. The corresponding deadlines for submission of applications to the CSCS programme are as follows:

27th November 2017 (For January 2018 start)

Please contact Dr Diane Payne ( for more information.

Applications are subject to completion of the documentation below. All applications should include the following documentation:

Application Form (Word)

Transcripts of all University records

Two completed referee forms (Download Referee Forms here: Word / PDF)

Students whose education prior to university level has not been carried out through the medium of English should provide details of TOEFL qualifications obtained within the past two years.
Minimum acceptable TOEFL score: Paper-based test score 597; Computer based test score 247; Internet based test score 98

Applications can be sent as scans via email or as post to:

Gillian Johnston
CSCS Thematic PhD Programme Graduate School,
College of Social Sciences & Law,
Room D111 Newman Building,
University College Dublin,
Belfield, Dublin 4,


Tel +353 1 716 8643

Enrolment and start dates

Start date: To be agreed with School.

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