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Ph.D. and Other Research Students

Supervised Research Degrees in the School of English:

There are typically around seventy research students in the School of English who work on a wide range of topics and employ diverse critical and theoretical methodologies. Areas in which the School's intellectual community is particularly strong include: Irish literature in English; American poetry and prose; contemporary poetry; 18th Century poetry and prose; Drama; Print Culture; Popular Literature and Film; 19th Century prose; Cultural Studies; Renaissance and Early Modern Literature; Folklore; Post-Colonial Literatures; Medieval Literature.

You can undertake research either for a Master's Degree (M. Litt), or for the Ph. D. Both involve a minimum period of research working closely with a supervisor, and the writing of a thesis. At entry all postgraduates in English are registered as M. Litt students. Those intending to transfer to the Ph. D. register will, after a suitable period of research, present materials to be considered by a committee in the English Department who will decide on the transfer. The degree is awarded after the thesis has been successfully examined; the Ph. D. will require an oral examination.

The Department has a strong commitment to postgraduates teaching Freshman tutorials, and this is seen as important for those who plan an academic career. Usually research students do not teach in their first year of registration.

If you are interested in applying to do research here, go to for general details on how to apply for this postgraduate study at Trinity College.You do not apply directly to the Department. You should, though, consult the list of staff research interests and contact the member of staff whose interests seem most relevant to your proposed area of research. Acceptance depends on several criteria; your undergraduate degree (normally at least a II.1 honors degree is required), the viability and originality of your research proposal, and the references. Note that the demand for research places in English is very high, and that sometimes very good candidates have to be turned down because of the unavailability of staff to supervise in that area.

Go to for general details on how to apply for this course at Trinity College.

Structured PhD Programme in the School of English:

The School of English provides doctoral training through provision of a structured programme of research and study. The core component of a structured PhD programme is the advancement of knowledge through original research. Through conducting research, engaging in associated research-related activities and attending courses our PhD students are supported in their development of a range of skills that meet the needs of an employment market that is wider than academia. The high quality research experience, training and outputs are consistent with international norms and best practice
 The structured PhD programme, in support of the original research activity, includes the following elements:

A formalised integrated programme of education, training and personal and professional development activities.

PhD students undertake original research via a structured PhD which promotes the development of in-depth knowledge of their field of study, research skills, critical analysis and communication skills. Any skills gaps that may be identified are addressed by the availability to formal training.  Professional development is facilitated through the student’s participation in seminars, workshops and conferences at national and international level. PhD students are expected to undertake taught modules during their PhD (a minimum of 10 ECTS and a maximum 30 ECTS within the first 18 months of enrolment). A number of modules from the Schools of English, History & Humanities, and Languages, Literatures & Cultural Studies are designated as open to PhD students from all three Schools. Students can enrol for modules in consultation with their advisor. For students in their third and fourth years we offer sessions on preparing for the academic job market.

The development of discipline-specific knowledge, research skills and generic / transferable skills.

The School of English offers a 5 ECTS Postgraduate Research Methods Seminar for students on the PhD register. This module covers: i) Orientation to the research programme in the School of English; ii) Library resources; iii) Presentation of work, both written and oral; iv) Developing a proposal for conferences, funding, etc.; v) Conferences; vi) Print culture from manuscripts to digital (i.e. a short version of the JS Book module) Trinity College offers a range of modules to develop generic and transferable skills through the Innovation Academy (innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership); Centre for Academic Practice (personal effectiveness, teaching skills), Library (information literacy) and Career’s Service (career management). The School of English strongly encourages all PhD students to take the Centre for Academic Practice’s teaching and supporting learning module (5 ECTS).

 Declared outcomes and graduate attributes in line with national and international best practice.

The School offers a doctoral training programme in accordance with the learning outcomes expected of a research doctorate (Level 10, National Framework of Qualifications), as specified in the Calendar Part 2 (1.27.4) and the IUQB guidelines for Good Practice in the Organisation of PhD Programmes in Irish Higher Education (2009) and the IUA Irish Universities’ PhD Graduate Skills document which has identified the following skills as relevant to PhD student education: -research skills and awareness; ethics and social understanding; communication skills; personal effectiveness; team-working and leadership; career management ; entrepreneurship and innovation.

Supervision by a principal supervisor(s), normally with a supporting panel approved by the institution.

Trinity College has a policy for eligibility to supervise research students (Calendar Part 2, 2.9). All students are appointed a primary supervisor and may also have a co-supervisor and/or adjunct supervisor and/or supervisory panel.  A panel is convened to consider the student’s progress and their continuation on the PhD register.

Progress to completion is formally monitored against published criteria and supported by formal institutional arrangements in line with national and international best practice.

PhD students undergo a formal annual progress review as well as a robust panel review to confirm continuation on the PhD register within the first 2 years of registration. The final examination of the thesis involves the appointment of 2 examiners, at least one of which is external to Trinity College and an internationally recognised expert in the research area of the thesis. PhD examiners are approved by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

 Appropriate placements, rotations and assignments across wide sectors of the economy are encouraged for inclusion as part of the structured PhD programme.

PhD students are eligible to participate in the Innovation Academy ( which provides access to industry-mentored projects as part of the Opportunity Recognition module.

Representation for Research Students and Postgraduates:

The current TA (Teaching Assistant) representatives, Alex Runchman and Alison Lacivita, represent the interests of teaching assistants and postgraduates. They attend school committee meetings where they raise and respond to issues concerning TAs and postgraduates. They also liaise with individual TAs and postgraduates, host TA meetings, and maintain the TA office in room 316, 3-4 Foster Place. Most importantly, they strive to maintain a strong, supportive and cohesive postgraduate and TA community. Alex and Alison can be contacted directly at or

Staff-Student Seminar Series:

Staff and reseach students present papers at seminars held once a week during term time. More information will be posted here when term begins.

Last updated 12 March 2013 School of English (Email).