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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 9 trimesters (three years) and not more than 12 trimesters (four years). For part-time students, the period of registration is not less than 15 trimesters (five years) and not more than 18 trimesters (six years). Each student is assigned at least one academic supervisor and his/her training programme is supported by a research studies panel.

Entrants to the PhD programme are required to undertake 30 credits of taught modules which are based on each student's needs to support their research and from September 2019 all students commencing a research degree are required to complete a Research Integrity Training programme.

The UCD structured PhD programme is pursued in two stages. Stage 1 doctoral studies must be completed by a full-time student within five trimesters from the date of registration and by a part-time student within seven trimesters from the date of registration.

a) Stage 1 is an initial period of advanced education, training and research.
b) Stage 2 is largely dedicated to original doctoral research but may also include advanced education and research and generic training.

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 / 6 years Part-time

Further enquiries


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

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 Graduate Research for an informal chat (

Enrolment and start dates

Three possible start dates: January, May or September

Remember to mention gradireland when contacting institutions!