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PhD Programme

The PhD in Political Science is an innovative programme which combines an intensive set of courses on the substance and methodology of research along with a traditional emphasis on conducting original research.


PhD in Political Science at Trinity College

Students are taught by some of the top researchers in Europe, enthusiasts for their subjects who bring to their students not only the accumulated wisdom of the wider political science community but also the fruits of their own cutting edge research. PhD students will be taught by active researchers who can convey the excitement of not just reading about but actually doing political science research.

Since the first cohort completed the PhD programme in 2000, Trinity College Dublin has awarded doctorates to over 50 Political Science students. Graduates of the programme are eagerly sought after and most have gone on to secure full-time positions in prestigious universities.

The programme attracts students from all over the world. Graduates, or current students, have come from Ireland, Sweden, Italy, the USA, Poland, Germany, the UK, Belarus, Canada, Australia, Belgium and Moldova, to name just a few. This international mix adds a positive and exciting dimension to the life of the Department.

Course Structure

The programme involves coursework in the first two years and combines an intensive training in the substance and methodology of research along with a traditional emphasis on conducting original research.

  • In the first year students follow a number of courses in the qualitative and quantitative aspects of research, a course in political behaviour and comparative politics, which reflects the expertise and interests of most members of the Department, and develop a research proposal for the final thesis. In the second year of the PhD programme, there are further optional courses and students start work on their thesis. Visit the taught component section for additional details.

  • A significant element of the programme is the weekly  Friday Seminar at which students take turns to present their work in progress to an audience of the entire teaching staff and other PhD students. This is a constructive forum which serves to hone the skills of presentation and where the audience provide feedback to assist students in fine-tuning their approach and thesis content. Participation in these seminars prepares students on the programme for their own conference presentations and, ultimately, job presentations. Visiting lecturers and members of the department are also present at this forum, bringing an extra dimension to the professional development of graduate students.

  • Graduate students are also given the opportunity of teaching and tutoring on the Department's undergraduate courses , which contributes to their professional development as fully rounded political scientists.

PhD researchers also benefit from the Department's strong links with Trinity Research in Social Sciences (TRiSS) which brings together researchers from different disciplines. In addition, the Department is involved in the Dublin School of Social Sciences, which provides graduate training in collaboration with University College Dublin.

Is it for me?

Our four year doctoral programme is designed to give students the highest level of training to become scholars at the forefront of the discipline. It is designed in such a way as to train students not only to do research, though comprehensive research methods training, but to gain teaching experience and to be prepared for the academic job market, as borne out by the placement record of the programme. Most of our PhD graduates have gone on to careers in research and teaching at established universities, while others have gone on to careers in government and business. Visit the former students section to view completed theses and details regarding graduates' current positions.

What are the admission requirements?

The Department welcomes applications from outstanding and motivated graduates in political science or a related discipline. Admission to the programme is highly competitive. Applicants are particularly welcome from students who wish to conduct research in areas in which the Department has particular research strengths. Applications for 2024-25 are now closed, the deadline for applications was on 1st April 2024.

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