Arts Humanities & Social Sciences - Structured Research

Entry requirements

The minimum entry requirement to a postgraduate research degree is an honours primary degree (level 8 – as defined by the National Qualifications Authority of Ireland) with a minimum classification of a 2:1 or 2:2. Individual faculties or research centres may have specific entry requirements.

International Applicants
In addition to the minimum entry requirements specified above, international applicants are advised to meet the following standard English language requirements:

Overall score of 6.5 or above, with no less than 6.0 in any one component

A minimum score of 580 (paper-based) 90 (internet-based)

Uni of Cambridge ESOL Examination
Grade C or higher on a Certificate of proficiency in English (CPE)
Grade A on a Certificate of Advanced English (CAE)

Information on visas, immigration, accommodation and insurance is available on the Graduate School website:

Application date

The first step in applying for a graduate research position is to identify a potential supervisor and project. If you have difficulty in identifying a potential supervisor you should complete an expression of interest form available from Once you have identified a supervisor and project, you should complete a research application form and submit it to the Postgraduate Admissions Office. Application forms are available from UL accepts research applications throughout the year.

Up-to-date information on research activities in faculties, departments and research centres is available on the UL website: At this stage you should also try to identify possible sources of funding.

Research areas

Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

With more than 150 research students the Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences (AHSS) is enriched by a lively postgraduate community. Over the last few years, a number of structured PhDs have been developed which provide opportunities for students to develop research skills through a combination of coursework and thesis in a thematic area such as Criminal Justice, Politics, New Media and Film, Applied Language Studies, and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. All research students acquire expertise and research skills through taking relevant modules, as well as acquiring valuable generic and transferrable skills in a range of areas through intensive courses. Research students are encouraged to participate in national and international conferences and funding is available on an annual basis to enable them to travel to conferences and also to carry out research.

The Faculty is home to a number of research centres, including the Centre for Applied Language Studies, Centre for Peace and Development, Centre for Criminal Justice, Centre for Irish-German Studies, and the Ralahine Centre for Utopian Studies, and also houses the cross-faculty Institute for the Study of Knowledge in Society (ISKS). ISKS is a crossfaculty institute providing a range of research support services for researchers in the humanities and social sciences across the university. The Institute hosts two research hubs, one concerned with civic engagement, and the other with usable knowledge.

Centre for Applied Language Studies (CALS ):
The Centre for Applied Language Studies (CALS) is the largest research centre in the Faculty and one of the largest and most active in the University with about 60 members and 20 postgraduate students. CALS has three main research clusters: New Learning Environments; Discourse, Society and Identity; and Plurilingualism and Language Policy. CALS is a multilingual centre with members carrying out research in a variety of languages and contexts, including English (Irish-English and ESOL), Gaeilge, French, German, Spanish, and Japanese. Particular strengths in applied and sociolinguistics include: ICT and language learning, corpus linguistics, language policy, bi –and multilingualism, Gaeilge and minority language sociolinguistics, and media discourse.

Department of History:
The History Department's research strengths are located in Irish, European and US history which embrace the local, national and international dimensions, with a particular focus on Eighteenth Century Ireland and Europe and Twentieth Century Germany and Ireland. Research clusters cover the early modern to modern periods around the themes of diaspora, diplomacy, republicanism, medical history and cultural history.

School of Languages, Literature, Culture and Communication:
Several researchers in the School of Languages, Literature, Culture and Communication share Eighteenth Century interests with the Department of History and help constitute the Eighteenth-Century Studies Research Group. In the Centre for Irish-German Studies, a cluster of researchers is concerned with the experiences of German exiles in Ireland. Literary and cultural studies in the School of Languages, Literature, Culture and Communication has a particular emphasis on comparative and interdisciplinary approaches, with specialisms in fields such as post-colonialism and multiculturalism, memory studies, psychoanalysis, often combined with other fields, such as gender studies. Particular strengths include Anglo-Irish literature, with a focus on Yeats, American literature, Victorian literature and Utopian studies.

School of Law:
The School of Law is home to three interdisciplinary research units: the Centre for Criminal Justice (CCJ), the International Commercial and Economic Law Group (ICEL) and the Research Cluster for Understanding Emotions in Society (CUES). Faculty members have further research interests in a number of areas, including the evolution of Irish tort law, Irish constitutional law, property law, commercial law, competition law, comparative law, legal history, medical law, human rights, gender and the law, sports law, employment law, animal rights, criminal law, criminal justice and penology.

Department of Politics & Public Administration:
In the Department of Politics & Public Administration, researchers embrace a diverse range of fields both empirically and methodologically. With a strong combination of nationally and internationally renowned specialists in post-Soviet politics, Southern African politics, international political economy, contemporary European and EU politics, Irish politics and public policy, international relations theory, critical theory, public administration and local government, and security studies, the Department retains a strong national and international focus in political studies and accommodates the Centre for Peace and Development Studies, which has a focus on peacekeeping and peace-making, and foreign aid. In its postgraduate research, the department emphasises methodological training in comparative politics, qualitative research and quantitative analysis.

Department of Sociology:
The Department of Sociology has long been committed to a critical engagement around what broadly constitutes the basis of our social membership, whether gendered, classed or linked to core issues of health, the media, migration, education or globalisation. The department has a strong commitment to and expertise in quantitative and qualitative research methods. Gender ARC – the Advanced Research Consortium on Gender, a joint initiative with NUI Galway, is based in the Department of Sociology, but works closely with a range of disciplines.

Structured PhD in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages)

In September 2013 the Structured PhD in TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) was launched in the School of Languages Literature Culture and Communication (LLCC) - the first programme of its kind in the Republic of Ireland. The programme is designed for experienced English language teachers, practitioners and researchers working in international contexts. We welcomed a total of seven students at the start of the academic year, six international students, from Brazil, Indonesia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, the USA and one student from Ireland, to this four-year programme, the first year of which is taught on campus at the University of Limerick.

In the first two semesters (Autumn and Spring), core modules are attended – these include Sociolinguistics & discourse studies, Language learning materials development and Research methodology, plus students choose electives from a suite of modules offered by LLCC and the Centre for Teaching and Learning (CTL). The core modules include a Winter School run between Autumn and Spring semesters, given by external experts (including adjunct professors and external examiners) associated with the School of Languages; the Winter School is also open to other PhD researchers affiliated to UL. At the end of Semester two, following completion of the structured part of the programme, PhD TESOL students can locate either in Ireland or in their home country, although attendance is expected at some research events, such as the summer school in Year two and the postgraduate conference in Year three.

Course fee

An up-to-date schedule of fees is available to download from

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: 09/Sep/2019

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