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PhD Opportunity - Developing a Tort Law Framework for providing redress for victims of traumatic brain injury in sport

Funded Interdisciplinary PhD Position

Applications are sought for a funded interdisciplinary PhD position at Trinity Law School, including a €25,000.00 annual stipend and PhD fees for up to four years.

The selected candidate will be the recipient of a Trinity Research Doctorate Award, a pioneering PhD Program in Trinity College Dublin providing invaluable interdisciplinary experience, under the supervision of Dr. Desmond Ryan, Associate Professor and Fellow in Law at Trinity Law School.

This PhD candidate will form part of a wider team of legal experts, clinician scientists, neuroscientists, and policy-makers aiming to identify novel markers for brain damage and understand the legal implications of, and framework for providing redress for, sport-related concussions. The specific focus of this PhD will be broadly concerned with developing a tort law framework for providing redress for victims of traumatic brain injury in sport. This PhD will investigate the key challenges facing the development of such a tort law framework in Irish Law for addressing injuries occasioned by Traumatic Brain Injury in sport, and will analyse how those challenges may be overcome in order to enable the legal system to keep pace with evolving scientific understanding.

Adopting a comparative analysis, this research will explore the application of core legal concepts of the duty of care, causation, damage and remoteness in sports concussion cases, having regard to emerging international developments in the field of negligence and tort law more broadly. Related doctrines of volenti non fit injuria, contributory negligence and principles regarding damages will also be explored, as will questions of vicarious liability and the law concerning limitation periods. In addition, the legal analysis will draw on the parallel scientific research on diagnosing brain injury and considering aspects of causation in comparative legal perspective.

The selected candidate will have the opportunity to participate in regular research meetings with the other research groups associated with this project in an effort to collect and collate research data that could form the framework of a more profound understanding of how research outputs could contribute to the development of the legal framework in this area. The interactions amongst group members, as well as the multidisciplinary nature of the PhD programme, will provide a unique training opportunity in various methodologies for the PhD candidate with exposure to diverse academic fields which will contribute to the important societal topic of sports-related concussion and its neurological and legal consequences.

The selected candidate will commence in March 2024 or September 2024.

Trinity’s Law School is the only Irish Law School to be ranked in the top-100 in both QS and THE rankings. Over the coming years the School of Law is expecting to embark on an exciting development plan, which will see a significant growth in student numbers and faculty members. The school is already home to a dedicated Private Law Research Group, of which Dr. Desmond Ryan is the convenor.


A high 2.1 or 1st class degree at undergraduate level in Law is essential; a relevant Masters degree is desirable.

Knowledge, skills and experience

The successful candidate will have:

  • A background in Law at undergraduate and/or Masters level, with an aptitude for Tort Law;
  • Excellent written and oral communication and interpersonal skills;
  • Ability to work well independently and collectively as part of this project.

Other desirable experience includes:

  • Experience of conducting research as evidenced through a dissertation or Masters thesis;
  • Knowledge of and interest in employment law, sports law and related fields;
  • Knowledge of the broad parameters of sports-related concussion and its neurological and legal consequences.

Application Procedure

Interested candidates can submit a letter of interest, CV and contact information for two references to email: by 3pm Irish time on Thursday 25th April 2024. Informal inquiries are welcomed.