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PhD Research

Trinity College Dublin has a long-established tradition of research degrees in languages, literary and cultural studies. Our research degree leading to a PhD involves intense research and structured supervision by a subject expert or a small team of co-supervisors. In addition, our doctoral researchers benefit from a tightly knit community of research students, access to a large variety of research training courses and excellent research facilities, including our world famous library, our state of the art interdisciplinary research institute for the Arts and Humanities, the Trinity Long Room Hub, and our school’s research and outreach centres: Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation, Al Maktoum Centre for Middle Eastern Studies, and Centre for Medieval and Renaissance Studies

Doctoral researchers also participate in and are invited to present at weekly research seminars. They are normally offered dedicated study spaces and are encouraged to participate in our pioneering Innovation Academy which provides entrepreneurial training for research candidates from all disciplines. Trinity also has a dedicated Postgraduate Advisory Service that research students can avail of.

The School offers a structured PhD programme of normally four years’ duration, which is assessed by a thesis. During the degree, doctoral researchers take 10-30 ECTS of taught modules (equivalent to 2-6, term-long modules) which support their research and training. Doctoral researchers also undertake teaching, organise and participate in conferences and other research-based events, and take their first steps into academic publishing.

Each year, doctoral candidates submit an annual report, and near the 18 month-mark, complete the confirmation process. This confirmation process involves an expert reader team examining a chapter of around 10,000 words the researcher has prepared, along with a description of their trajectory to date. The reader team assesses the researcher’s progress and the standard of their work in an interview. Assuming the work is of the expected level for a doctorate, the candidate is then confirmed on the doctoral register. As well as being an important milestone in the development of the project, this confirmation process acts as a dry run for the researcher in their preparation for the viva voce examination at the end of the degree.

The viva voce examination takes place between the researcher, an internal examiner and an external examiner. The process is similar to peer review, with the goal of establishing whether the researcher’s work is of sufficiently high quality to warrant the awarding of a doctorate. Vivas at Trinity are private affairs with only a small number of people present. The focus of the discussion is the quality of research thesis the candidate has produced during their PhD and their ability to respond to challenges to the work.

In some cases, permission may be granted to write research degree theses in languages other than English. However, this option requires discussion prior to undertaking the project.

Doctoral candidates may also opt to apply to pursue their degree from a distance if this is most conducive with their lifestyle and project. Distance learning PhDs have the same structure as non-distance learning PhDs, apart from that supervisions normally take place virtually. Distance learning PhD candidates are still expected to visit Dublin once or twice per year, and to play an active roll in university life where possible. Many of the scholarships that are available to doctoral researchers at Trinity are exclusively for research students working in-person in Dublin.

You are also welcome to contact the School’s Director of Postgraduate Teaching and Learning, Dr James Hadley or the School's Postgraduate Administrator.