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Frequently Asked Questions

Before Applying

How competitive is admission to Trinity’s PhD programme in Political Science?

The admissions process is very competitive - we admit fewer than 10% of our applicants. We certainly encourage you to apply to other PhD programmes if you wish to be sure of admission to a programme.

What sort of qualifications do I need to be admitted to the PhD programme? Do I need a Master’s degree or a previous degree in Political Science to apply?

There are no absolute requirements for admission to the PhD programme. We look for promise of academic excellence in Political Science in the round. We admit both students with and without Masters Degrees, and with and without previous degrees in political science. We encourage applications from prospective students with a wide variety of backgrounds.

What are the English language requirements for the students who do not speak English as their first language?

Regarding English language requirements, the programme follows the standardised requirements set by the Graduate Studies Office.

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Research Topics

What sort of topics can I study in the PhD programme for Political Science at Trinity?

Look at the web pages of academic staff in the department and see the research topics that they focus on, or at the Department's research page. Staff interests cover a wide variety of topics, but many staff have an interest in different aspects of the politics of European integration and in party politics, and of course in Irish politics. You would be wise to apply for a topic which matches the interests of at least one member of our staff.

Are there any guidelines for the research proposal to be submitted with an application?

We recommend a 2-3 page research proposal, identifying a research question on the basis of the existing scholarship addressing the topic. A shorter research proposal is often better than a longer one. We know of course that applicants have not yet been properly trained in research design, so that we do not expect perfection in applicants' research proposals, but we do expect evidence of reading and assessment of at least some of the existing scholarship. You may also wish to include a writing sample, such as a chapter of an undergraduate or Masters thesis. The Department may contact applicants to ask them to provide such a writing sample if available.

Should I contact one of Trinity’s academic staff before applying?

You are invited to contact Trinity’s academic staff with a short email outlining your academic background (your degrees, your grades) and a brief indication - one paragraph should be enough - of your research proposal/interest. That will ensure that this staff member is aware of your application when the department meets to discuss applications and admissions.

Can I expect an academic staff member to review my research proposal in advance of my application?

We regret that we do not review research proposals before applications are submitted.

Do graduates of Trinity’s PhD in Political Science frequently follow an academic career?

Yes, to learn more have a look at our Former Post-Graduate Students webpage.

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Financial Support and Scholarships

Does the Department support applicants who are applying for support from the China Scholarship Council (CSC)?

Yes - we welcome applications from those who are seeking support from the China Scholarship Council. Please contact the member of staff who has a research interest that matches the proposed research project, and if both sides deem it suitable, we will support your application to the CSC. View Trinity’s guide to CSC applications. Please remember that applications must be made both to Trinity and to the CSC itself, and that deadlines are early. In the first instance, you should approach a suitable supervisor in the Department by email with a brief description of your proposed project so that we can start considering whether Trinity offers a good match for your research interests. View a list of our staff.

What financial package does Trinity offer to PhD students in Political Science?

In recent years, the Department of Political Science has ensured that all entering PhD students have their fees paid and generous stipends provided, whether by Trinity or by an outside funding body. As part of admission and in return for financial assistance, the Department expects all PhD students to participate in teaching Trinity’s undergraduate courses, which provides postgraduates with valuable professional training for the job market.

What do I need to do to be considered for financial aid when I apply?

All applicants (both EU and non-EU) are considered for financial aid as part of the process of considering admission, no special application is needed.

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Course Structure

Can I start the PhD programme in January?

We admit new PhD students only in September because of the structured nature of the first two years of the programme.

Can I pursue the Trinity PhD programme in Political Science on a part-time basis?

The Political Science PhD programme is available on a full-time basis only.

Can I pursue the Trinity PhD programme in Political Science through distance learning?

Students must expect to be resident in Dublin throughout the PhD programme at Trinity, except for any necessary field trips agreed with supervisors.

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Application Process

How should reference letters be submitted?

All applicants are asked to provide the names and email addresses of two referees in the online application system. Upon the successful submission of the application, the system will automatically send emails to the referees that will include a link through which they can submit their reference letters. We strongly encourage you to submit your application as early as possible to ensure that your referees have ample time to upload their letters. If we do not receive your reference letters within a week of the application deadline, we will not be able to process your application in a timely manner.

Where can I find the application materials?

Please see the PhD Admissions section of this website, and the Graduate Studies website.

I have an offer of a place from another PhD programme and I need an early decision from Trinity. What can I do?

We do not make early decisions and all applicants are notified at the same time in May/June.

How and when will I hear the results of my application?

Trinity College’s Graduate Studies Office will write informing students of the results of their applications, within approximately eight weeks of the application deadline.

Can I ask for feedback on my unsuccessful PhD application?

We regret that we cannot offer feedback on unsuccessful applications to the PhD programme.

Contact Us

Prospective applicants can contact the Course Administrator or Course Director of the PhD programme, Dr Alexander Held