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Nursing Midwifery & Health Systems - Research

The degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) is offered through a structured programme of rigorous training in research and offers students an opportunity to undertake a focused and critical examination of a particular topic with the aim of contributing to the development of knowledge in their field.

The UCD structured PhD programme:
•recognises that the essential elements of the PhD remain research, generation and dissemination of new knowledge, and progression of the candidate towards academic autonomy

•provides the context for a deep intellectual engagement with a topic, so that the student will develop the intellectual skills and related critical capacities for academic research and related scholarly activities

•facilitates submission of final thesis in either monograph style or in an article-based format (PhD by publication)

The UCD structured PhD degree may be completed on a full or a part-time basis. A full-time PhD will normally involve a registration period of not less than three years and not more than four years. For part-time students, the period of registration is usually five years and not more than six years.

Entrants to the PhD programme are required to undertake 30 credits of taught modules which are based on the student's needs to support the thesis work.
Each student is assigned an academic supervisor and his/her training programme is overseen by a doctoral studies panel.

Applications for entry to the programme are welcome from those in nursing, midwifery or a health-related discipline.

If you are considering applying to the programme please contact the Director of Research Degrees for an informal chat (

Entry requirements

Applications will be considered from students who are not living in Ireland. Applicants who are not resident in Ireland and who wish to register to the PhD programme may, subject to approval, remain in their home country for all or most of their PhD studies and receive supervision remotely. For these students, up to 20 credits of the required 30 credits of taught modules may be gained though the Recognition of Prior Learning process.

The additional mandatory 10 credits of taught modules may be undertaken at an institution in the country of residence during the time they are registered for the PhD at UCD. Gaining credits in this way is subject to the approval of the student's doctoral studies panel and other governance mechanisms of the university.

Students applying to the PhD programme with the intention of remaining in their home country for the duration of their studies should submit a clear written plan at the time of their application as to how they will complete the 30 mandatory taught credits. This plan must be discussed with the nominated Supervisor prior to application to the programme.

English Language Requirements for entry to Graduate Programmes at UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery & Health Systems
Candidates whose first language is not English and whose primary degree was obtained in a country where English is not the official language of instruction must provide proof of proficiency in English such as IELTS or TOEFL.

The original certificate of completion of an English language test must be enclosed with the application. In all cases the test results must not be more than two years old. There are no exceptions to this requirement. Candidates whose existing degree was obtained in a country where the official language of instruction is English may, at the request of the School, still be subject to the same requirements where English is not the candidate's first language.

The following are the English language tests and scores accepted by this School:

IELTS [International English Language Testing System–Academic]
Minimum Overall Band Score of 7.0, with a result NOT LESS than 6.5 in EACH of the individual sections.

TOEFL [Test of English as a Foreign Language]
Internet Based Test: Minimum total score of 100 out of 120, with a score NOT LESS than 22 in Reading and Listening. NOT LESS than 26 in Speaking and NOT LESS than 24 in the test of written English.

Paper Based Test
Minimum total score of 600 with a score NOT LESS than 5.0 in the Test of Written English.


Full time X239 4 years
Part time X240 6 years

Further enquiries

General Enquiries:
Nicola Berry
Programme Administrator
B105, UCD Health Sciences Centre
+353 1 716 6409

Academic Enquiries:
Dr Kate Frazer
Director Graduate Research
B224, UCD Health Sciences Centre
+353 1 716 6479


Normally a proposal should be between 1,500 and 2,000 words and may include the following:

•A working title of the topic area:

•General overview of area: brief abstract of the general area of study and identify the discipline(s) within which it falls. You might also refer to the way in which your own background gives you competences in your chosen area.

•Identification of the relevant literature: demonstrate that you are aware of the debates and issues raised in relevant bodies of literature and demonstrate that your proposed area has not been studied before, so you need to identify your niche which will lead on to the thesis preparation.

•Key research questions: Since you need to demonstrate that the topic can be completed within the normal time period allowed, you need to demonstrate that it is manageable, and so focus on key questions within your niche area.

•Aims and objectives: State specific objectives of the research to be undertaken.

•Methodology: You need to demonstrate an awareness of methods available to you and show some understanding of which would be suitable for your research.

•Timescale/research planning: You need to demonstrate an awareness of the need for planning and the timescale of the research. Please try to prepare a realistic timescale.

•Reference List: You should include a short list of references to key articles and texts included in the application.

Your research proposal must be approved by your supervisor in advance of submission. Applications will not be accepted if details for Faculty member are omitted.

Application date

You can apply once you have the agreement of a member of Faculty approving your research proposal and supporting your application

•Applications are made online through UCD Applications. ​

•Applicants may be required to undertake an interview (either face-to-face or via telecommunication) as part of the admission process.

•Documents to include with your application (please see next tab)

•Please note closing dates

These are the final dates for submission of applications. Is it advisable to submit your application as early as possible.

•January start: 16th November 2017
•May start: 14th March 2018
•September start: TBC

Major Codes:
Full time X239
Part time X240

You must upload the following documents with your online application:

•A personal statement of 150 - 250 words outlining your reasons for applying: what attracts you to that subject area, how your studies and/or work experience have influenced you, your career plans, any publications to date.

•A research proposal of 1500 - 2000 words. The proposal should be based on a contemporary issue in your field of practice or in your discipline of inquiry. (See tab below for guidelines)

•Official transcripts of your bachelor's and master's degrees as appropriate.

•Evidence of meeting the English language requirements (if applicable). (See tab below for guidelines)

•You must download the Academic Reference Form and forward to two persons familiar with your academic work. Your referees will provide details about your academic abilities and motivation and they must return a completed form directly to

•You must download the Supervisor Nomination Form. Ask your proposed Supervisor to complete and return the form to you to submit with your application.

UCD comes under the terms of the Freedom of Information Acts, 1997 and 2003. In the context of the Online Applications system, this means that an applicant can request any documentation presented as part of the applications process, including references sent directly by the referee to the institution.

Application queries should be directed to the Research Degrees Administrator:

Your application will be reviewed by the School's Research Degrees Committee and then the College Graduate School Board to determine your suitability to take a place on the PhD programme.

Only when you have been approved by the College Graduate School Board will you be eligible to register to the PhD programme.

Enrolment and start dates

Three possible start dates: January, May or September

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!