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Admission Procedures

You submit an initial email to our Departmental Graduate Director, Dr Peter Muhlau. This should include (1) a short research proposal of 1,500 words including the aims of the study and research question(s), theoretical and/or conceptual aspects, research methodology and bibliography; (2) a short CV; (3) the name of a potential supervisor if you have identified such a person. It is not a requirement to have done so.

On receipt of this email, we will share your information with staff and pending a suitable match being made between a supervisor and the applicant, the applicant will be advised to submit a formal application to Trinity College Postgraduate Application page. There is no absolute deadline but we advise interested applicants to submit by March 31st for entry in September. Note that we no longer accept students for entry in April. On receipt of a completed application, the applicant will be invited for a panel interview, usually in May. Pending the outcome of this interview, the applicant will/will not be offered a place in the PhD programme. 

The Department offers two degrees by research only: the PhD and the MLitt. Applications for admission are invited from students in any area of research which meshes with the interests of our staff members. Applicants for research degrees should normally have a least an upper second honours primary degree in Sociology. Graduates in other disciplines will be considered, though they will usually be required to pursue appropriate additional course work in Sociology as part of a ‘conversion’ year. This may include courses in research methodology, sociological theory, and substantive courses in sociology.

Per default, graduate students apply for and are placed on the PhD register. Applicants should note that the completion of PhDs should not exceed four years of fulltime study. Prospective applicants should also consider how they might finance their postgraduate studies (see also the section on funding). Research applicants may also choose to apply to be accepted to the Masters’ register with a view to submitting a Masters’ thesis.

What are the Entry Requirements?

Acceptance to do postgraduate work in sociology at Trinity depends upon a number of factors:

  • the quality of an applicant's undergraduate and postgraduate degrees
  • the feasibility, coherence and originality of the research proposal
  • the applicant's references
  • the ability of the department to supervise the intended research.
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Admission process

The Departmental Graduate Director receives applications by prospective students via the TCD Graduate Studies Office website. The Departmental Graduate Director short-lists candidates for selection interviews. The department advises the Departmental Graduate Director in the short-listing process. Short-listed candidates are interviewed by a sub-committee of the Department of Sociology. The sub-committee consists of the Deparmtenal Graduate Director (or a replacement nominated by the Departmental Graduate Director), the Head of Department (or a replacement nominated by the Departmental Graduate Director) and a staff member nominated by the Departmental Graduate Director. Staff members who are prospective supervisors of the applicant advise the departmental sub-committee. Selection interviews are usually held in May. The departmental sub-committee decides on the basis of documentation in the application file and the interview whether the department advises the Director Teaching and Learning Graduate Studies of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy to recommend to the Graduate Studies Office to offer the applicant a PhD place at the department and suggests a supervisor or a supervisory team. The Departmental Graduate Director informally informs the applicant about the advice of the department to the Director Teaching and Learning Graduate Studies of the School and the resulting recommendation to Graduate Studies Office, the suggested supervisor or supervisory team and about conditions associated with the offer of a place such as conversion courses. Applicants will hear in due course from the Graduate Studies Office the formal decision.

Each student who is interviewed is given up to 5 points by each member of the panel in the following categories: Education, References, Proposal, Performance in Interview. The total score for each applicant is calculated and the top-scoring students are offered a place in the PhD programme. Teaching Studentships are also awarded on the basis of this score (see Fees and Funding).

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Full-time and part-time PhD students

Normally PhD students must attend college full-time. This regulation is automatically relaxed in the case of graduate students who undertake a field study. Normally part-time registration is available only to those engaged in teaching or research within the University. However, in special circumstances part-time registration may be permitted to highly qualified graduates, who are engaged full-time in an occupation which is related to their proposed research and which gives adequate opportunity to them to pursue their research. Special application for permission for such part-time registration must be made to the Dean of Graduate Studies and will need a written support of the Supervisor. Students on the full-time research register who obtain full-time employment relevant to their research after having completed the first year on the PhD register may apply in writing to the Dean of Graduate Studies for transfer to the part-time register for the remainder of their registration, which may not in this case extend beyond year 5 on the part-time PhD register in total.

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