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, dynamic networks of electronic communication, diffusion processes which explain the spread of diseases, hidden networks of crime and terrorism, social networks of peer pressure and discrimination and many other such phenomena.
Complex systems are often random and non-linear in their underlying processes. Various and recent research findings suggest these systems are characterised by "multi-scale interactions, emergent behaviour, feed-back across multiple processes, pattern formation and self-organisation".
This thematic PhD in Complex Systems and Computational Social Science (CSCS) equips students to work in this new, fast-growing and innovative field which is characterised by the application of computer simulation and other computer-based methods to the analysis of complex, digital data of social systems and their complexity.
This PhD programme provides a strongly interdisciplinary doctoral training and co-supervision involving faculty from the UCD College of Social Sciences & Law and the College of Science, with a wide range of external research and industry expertise available also. 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.
CSCS PhD 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 30 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 (minimum 50 credits) completed in Stage I, followed by a programme of original research leading to the award of Doctoral degree by research (270 credits) at the end of Stage II. CSCS students may also participate in short, external internships during the four year programme.
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. See here for more information on this process. The formal assessment is conducted by the CSCS Transfer Assessment Panel, which usually comprises members of the CSCS Board of Studies. The relevant Head of School, or nominee, may also be a member of the Assessment Panel. 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. This includes a research paper which outlines their proposed thesis research, including draft theoretical framework and methodology.
- Student has satisfactorily completed a minimum of 50 credits of recommended CSCS modules by the end of Stage I.
- An oral presentation, referred to as the Transfer Seminar, followed by a question-and-answer session, given by the student to the CSCS 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-author papers with their supervisors, attend conferences, etc. The research component of the degree programme includes regular meetings with the doctoral supervisory panel (DSP) and a student Research and Professional Development Plan (RPDP) which is regularly reviewed.