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Complex Systems & Computational Social Science - Research

PhD Complex Systems and Computational Social Science - Programme Structure

The CSCS PhD Programme is a thematic, structured programme. CSCS PhD students may register as full-time (4 years) or part-time students (6 years). Some general information on UCD Structured PhDs is available here.

All UCD Doctoral Studies comprise two stages of training:

Stage 1 comprises the first 12-18 months (for full-time students) within which the PhD student defines the research plan, develops specific research skills through a programme of recommended modules and specialized training and initiates original research work for the doctorate degree.

Stage 2 comprising the remaining months, is primarily dedicated to continuing the original doctoral research but may also include some advanced education and training.

The CSCS PhD Programme incorporates a range of recommended taught modules, typically completed in Stage I, followed by a programme of original research leading to the award of Doctoral degree by research at the end of Stage II. CSCS students may also participate in short, external internships during the four year programme.

Module Structure

All students take one of the following three modules:

•SOC40640 Social Simulation: Methods and Models

•SOC40760 Dynamic Social Networks

•POL42050 Quantitative Text Analysis

All students are required to take:

•CSSL50020 Social Science Methodology

In addition, all students take at least 3 modules, totalling to at least 15 credits, from a list of relevant modules. Students with a technical background (computer science, engineering, statistics) take these modules from relevant offerings in the social sciences, while students with a social science background (incl business and law) take these modules from relevant offerings in computer science, mathematics, and/or statistics.

The choice of modules needs to be approved by the principal supervisor and the program director.

Transfer from Stage I to Stage II in the CSCS Programme

In order to progress from Stage I to Stage II of the CSCS PhD Programme, a formal assessment of the student's progress takes place at the end of Stage I. The formal assessment is conducted by the CSCS Transfer Assessment Panel, which usually comprises members of the CSCS Board of Studies. The Principal Supervisor, and any co-supervisors, are not normally members of the panel.

The CSCS Transfer Assessment Panel base their judgement on the following materials:

•A written statement of progress from the Principal Supervisor

•A written statement of progress and future research by the student, including an updated research proposal outlining the overall structure of the thesis

•One completed chapter or research paper

•An overview of grades obtained on the program to date

•An oral presentation, followed by a question-and-answer session, given by the student to the CSCS Transfer Assessment Panel

Description of CSCS Stage II

A PhD student is required to complete a thesis based on original research, which will form the basis of the final Viva Voce examination. The thesis concludes a programme of research under which the student may produce working papers, co-authored papers with their supervisors, attend conferences, etc. The research component of the degree programme includes regular meetings with the supervisor, meetings with the research supervisory panel (RSP) every half year and a student Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP) which is regularly reviewed.

Entry requirements

Entry normally requires a taught graduate degree in suitable disciplines from the social sciences, mathematical and/or computer sciences or related areas. The program structure is adjusted depending on the background to ensure sufficient expertise in both the social sciences and computational methods by the end of the degree.

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


03/04/06 years FT & PT

Further enquiries

01 716 8643

Application date

The deadline for applications is two months before the start of the programme. Applicants from non-EU countries need to apply to us earlier as the visa application process may take time.

All applications should include the following documentation:

•Cover letter stating the reasons for your interest in the CSCS programme

•Thesis proposal (approximately 5 pages), including

Thesis title and abstract

Theoretical argument

Brief outline of relevance given the current academic literature (including references)

Proposed methodological approach

•Curriculum Vitae

•Copies of all academic transcripts (undergraduate and postgraduate)

•Two academic references should be sent directly by the referee, on headed institutional paper. If sent by email, they should be from an institutional email address. We reserve the right to verify all references

•Evidence of english language competence, where non-native english speaking applicants have not obtained a previous university degree from a university in an english-speaking country. More detail: English Language Requirements

•If you have had contact with a potential supervisor prior to application, please indicate this clearly in the email correspondence, including detail on the extent of engagement

Please email your complete application, and have references sent, to:

Associate Professor Jos Elkink (

Enrolment and start dates

Students may be admitted to the CSCS PhD Programme in either September or January of the academic year.

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!