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How to apply

These are the minimum requirements for applicants hoping to take our PhD:

  • A minimum 2.1 honours class undergraduate degree from an Irish university or its international equivalent. A master’s degree in a related subject is very strongly recommended, ideally with a distinction classification;
  • A demonstrable working knowledge of the languages you plan to work with, as well as any other technical aspects that underpin the project;
  • Candidates who are not native English speakers and have not completed a degree through the medium of English, must pass English language proficiency requirements. For more information on English language proficiency requirements please visit:

In planning your application for a PhD, a long list of factors will come into play: academic reputation, research experts, location, quality of training and availability of funding. Applying for the PhD itself, and applying for funding are both competitive processes that depend on your qualifications, experience and research aspirations. The first stage in the process is to come up with an idea of what you would like to study. You should write out your idea in the form of a 300-word abstract, being sure to identify precisely and specifically:

  • What your overarching research question will be;
  • What books, poems, films, or other materials you will analyse in order to answer your research question;
  • What discreet steps your analysis will go through in order to use your materials to answer your research question;
  • What answering your research question will allow us to do which we cannot currently do;
  • Any contextual information that a reader will need to understand the other four points.

Avoid making general statements of any kind, and do not assume that your question has not been asked before. Research at the doctoral level almost always builds heavily on a wide range of existing research. Although the abstract is short, it should take a substantial amount of time and background research for you to write it.
Once you have an abstract you are happy with, you should next approach potential supervisors with this abstract and your current CV. These academics will help you identify whether your idea is feasible in the four years of the Trinity PhD programme, whether the question is sufficiently original, and especially, whether they would be interested in supervising it.

You should look at the staff profiles of the School of Languages, Literatures, and Cultural Studies for potential supervisors. Don’t forget that you can have more than one supervisor, and this is particularly advisable in the case of inter-disciplinary and multi-disciplinary research. Secondary supervisors can be drawn from within the school or from another school. It is recommended that you try to make a short list of possible supervisors and start reaching out to them with your abstract. You should do this early, as the process of creating the full proposal is long, and often requires many rounds of edits. The whole process of creating a full proposal with a supervisor’s help frequently takes several weeks at least.

After you have spent the time you need to write your proposal, and you have worked with your supervisor to edit and polish it, you are ready to apply for the degree. These are the documents you will need to supply in order to make your application:

Proposal Form

The Proposal Form is available here.
Please follow the instructions above carefully on completing this form

Sample of academic writing

You will require a sample of no more than 2,500 words of your best academic writing in English or Irish.
When we assess your application, we would like to know:

  • that you are able to build a convincing academic argument
  • that you are able to create a logical structure to your argument
  • that you can critically analyse others' options and the evidence you see to create new findings
  • that you have an excellent understanding of the apparatus of academic writing, including referencing, quoting, signposting, and using a bibliography
  • that your command of academic English is very strong

English language proficiency qualifications

Unless you have completed a degree through the medium of English or are a native speaker, you are required to prove your proficiency with the language.
Trinity prefers IELTS, but will accept alternative tests run by international organisations, such as TOEFL (please see table below for further details).


Grade 6.5 (No less than 6.5 in any section)

Certificates are valid for up to two years

Duolingo English Test

Overall score of at least 120/160 with no less than 110 in any category

Certificates must be dated since January 2020


iBT = 88

Certificates are valid for up to two years

Computer based = 230

Paper based = 570

University of Cambridge

180+ with no less than 175 in each skill

Certificates are valid for up to two years

Proficiency Certificate

Grade C or better (CEFR Level C1 or C2)

Advanced Certificate

Grade C or better (CEFR Level C1 or C2)

First Certificate

Grade A (CEFR Level C1)

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

A minimum score of 63 (no less than 59 for any section)

Certificates are valid for up to two years


Degree certificate(s)

You will require the certificates that prove you have completed all the degrees you mention in your application. If you haven’t yet completed one or more of your degrees, you can still apply and supply the details on these when you have them.
In case your certificates are in languages other than English, you will also need to supply certified translations. Trinity parchments are an exception.

Degree transcripts

You will need official transcripts showing all the components you have completed as part of your degree(s).
In case your transcripts are in languages other than English, you will also need to supply certified translations.

Two reference letters

You should ask two people who are not related to you to write letters of reference, recommending you for this course and laying out why you would be a good candidate.

Online application form

Once you have all these materials ready, you are ready to apply. To make your application, visit this page, and locate the correct degree title and month of entry. If you are unsure as to which degree title is correct, you should ask your supervisor. The degree title corresponds with the department your supervisor is in, rather than the subject of your research. This is only an administrative formality. The title does not appear on your final degree certificate.