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PhD Position in Sociology:
How do states facilitate the employment of immigrants? Evidence from Ireland’
Post specification

Post Title:

PhD Researcher in Sociology

Post Status:

48 months, Full-time

Starting Date:

September 2021 (ideal start, but with degree of flexibility)


Department of Sociology, School of Social Sciences and Philosophy

Reports to:

Dr. Camilla Devitt; Prof. Richard Layte


Trinity College Dublin (Dublin, Ireland)


PhD Researcher. Full fees (EU/non-EU); stipend of Euro 20,000 per annum; research allowance of Euro 2,500 per annum

Closing Date:

29th March 2021

Post Summary

Doctoral Researcher in Sociology

The Department of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin is seeking to appoint a highly motivated and outstanding doctoral researcher for a period of 4 full years (48 months). The doctoral candidate will conduct an innovative PhD project that will investigate the effectiveness of Irish employment services in enabling the employment of immigrants and alleviating their risk of long-term unemployment. There is very little academic research on immigrants' interaction with employment services in the European context. Ireland is an interesting case given the high levels of immigration witnessed since the early 2000s and the disproportionately negative effect of recent economic crises on immigrant employment levels. The project will analyse public policy on the employment of migrant workers between 2010 and 2020 and collect data using (a selection of) the following research methodologies: the analysis of secondary survey and administrative data; collection of survey data from foreign and Irish born residents using employment services; and qualitative interviews with service providers and immigrant users.

The project provides the PhD student with the opportunity to carry out policy relevant empirical research, which will produce new knowledge on the politically and socially relevant topic of the role of the state in fostering immigrant employment. They will gain a sound theoretical grounding in political sociology, organisational sociology and the sociology of work and migration. The student will be integrated into a project, with an innovative mixed methods approach to the study of immigrants’ access to employment, with the opportunity of developing advanced methods in policy analysis, organisational analysis, statistical techniques and qualitative research. The student also will gain skills in project management, research communication and policy-oriented research practice. They will  receive training in advanced social science research methods as part of the PhD.

The project will be funded by the TCD Provost PhD Award, a prestigious award from Trinity College Dublin. The Department of Sociology of Trinity College Dublin will provide all logistic, academic and intellectual support by integrating the PhD candidate into the large group of social science doctoral students at TCD.

Major research activities conducted by the PhD candidate will involve (1) engaging in a systematic and analytical state-of the-art literature review; (2) becoming proficient in working with longitudinal and cross-sectional micro datasets, in particular the labour force survey; (3) designing, conducting and analysing a survey and interviews; (4) summarizing and interpreting results for social science audiences and producing policy implications; (5) presenting work for different audiences nationally and internationally at conferences and workshops. While the overall project uses mixed methods (see activities (2) and (3)), the PhD student can choose to place a stronger emphasis on either quantitative or qualitative methods in their PhD project.

Informal enquiries are welcome and can be made directly to Dr Camilla Devitt (Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin; General enquires are also welcome and can be directed to Prof. Richard Layte (Professor, Department of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin;

Standard duties of the post

  • Systematic and analytical review of relevant literature for the project;
  • Conducting empirical research using mixed methods;
  • Writing academic pieces (articles/dissertation chapters) in English;
  • Writing and submitting research papers for publication and contributing to joint projects or related submissions with the PhD supervisor;
  • Organising and attending meetings, workshops and conferences;
  • Disseminating academic work to specialised and general audiences;
  • 4 hours of teaching a week during the statutory term (facilitating undergraduate tutorials)


Person Specification


  • MA, MSc or MPhil in Sociology, Social Policy, Migration and Ethnic Studies, Political Science, Population Studies, Economics or in any cognate fields (thesis should be either defended or submitted)


Essential research skills

  • excellent analytical skills;
  • advanced knowledge of quantitative methods in the social sciences, in particular analysis of micro-level quantitative data and survey design, or willingness and competence to develop such skills in a short amount of time;
  • solid knowledge of qualitative methods in the social sciences;
  • basic (preferably solid) knowledge of the literatures on labour migration, social policy, organizational sociology;


Other essential skills

  • excellent written and verbal communication skills in English;
  • willingness to contribute proactively to the development of the project;
  • strong motivation to publish in academic journals;
  • good organisational skills;
  • ability to work effectively in a team;
  • interpersonal and relational skills


The Department of Sociology

Sociology is a member of the School of Social Sciences and Philosophy, one of 24 Schools within Trinity College. The Department’s principal research clusters are: Migration, Identities and Diversity; Comparative Inequalities, Education and Families; Power, Conflict and Resistance; Digitalisation and Social Networks. The Department shows a great variety of international sociologists with a high profile, becoming increasingly international, and combining the use of advanced quantitative methods applied to real-world data with the use of sophisticated and diverse qualitative methodologies. Our research links to several College priority research themes: 'International Integration' centred within Trinity Research in Social Science (TRISS), 'Identities in Transformation' within the Trinity Long Room Hub (TLRH), and 'Inclusive Society'. The Department has a long-standing collaboration with one of Ireland’s premier research institutes, the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI). Members of the Department have successfully obtained NORFACE or H2020 funding.

The Department has an active postgraduate programme. It is home to an MSc Comparative Social Change, delivered jointly with University College Dublin, as well as an MPhil Race, Ethnicity, Conflict. It has a structured PhD programme combining advanced methodological training with transferable skills workshops. There are around 15 PhD students and our doctoral graduates have positions in academic institutions, non-governmental organisations and the private sector.

Further information on the Department of Sociology is available at:

School of Social Sciences and Philosophy

The School of Social Sciences and Philosophy was formed in 2005 and comprises the Departments of Economics, Philosophy, Political Science and Sociology, together with the Policy Institute. With over 45 full-time academic staff, the School has an international reputation in research and is committed to the dissemination of its knowledge and expertise to the benefit of the wider community, with the Policy Institute providing an important channel for policy analysis and evaluation. The School is home to the unique undergraduate degree in PPES (Philosophy, Political Science, Economics and Sociology). It also contributes to undergraduate degrees in Business, Economic and Social Studies (this includes Political Science and Sociology), Philosophy, History and Political Science, Philosophy and Political Science, Law and Political Science, Geography and Political Science, Sociology and Social Policy, European Studies and to the TSM programmes in Economics, Philosophy and Sociology. Over 100 graduate students are conducting research across the four disciplines.

Further information on the School is available at:

Trinity College Dublin

Founded in 1592, Trinity College is at the nexus of tradition and innovation, offering undergraduate and postgraduate programmes across 24 schools and three faculties: arts, humanities, and social sciences; engineering, maths and science; and health sciences. Spread across 47 acres in Dublin’s city centre, Trinity’s 17,000-strong student body comes from all 32 counties of Ireland, and 16% of students come from outside the country. Of those, 40% are from outside the European Union, making Trinity’s campus cosmopolitan and bustling, with a focus on diversity.

As Ireland’s leading university, the pursuit of academic excellence through research and scholarship is at the heart of the Trinity education. Trinity is known for intellectual rigour, excellence, interdisciplinary approach, and research-led teaching. Home to Nobel prize-winners such as scientist Ernest Walton and writer Samuel Beckett, Trinity draws visitors from across the world to its historic campus each year, including to the Book of Kells and Science Gallery which capture the university’s connection to both old and new. Trinity accounts for one-fifth of all spin-out companies from Irish higher education institutions, helping to turn Ireland into an innovation-intensive, high-productivity economy. That culture of innovation and entrepreneurship is a defining characteristic of our campus as we help shape the next generation of job creators.

Equal Opportunities Policy

Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin is an equal opportunities employer and is committed to the employment policies, procedures and practices which do not discriminate on grounds such as gender, civil status, family status, age, disability, race, religious belief, sexual orientation or membership of the travelling community.




Application Procedure

Candidates should submit:

  • a motivation letter clearly indicating how the applicant’s profile and skills fit the requirements of the job position (max. 2 pages);
  • a full curriculum vitae;
  • the names and contact details of 2 or 3 referees (with email addresses included);
  • at least one example of a written piece (in English) that shows the analytical and writing skills of the candidate in a social science discipline;
  • via email to Dr Camilla Devitt ( and cc. Prof. Richard Layte ( by Tuesday the 29th of March 2021 (23:00 GMT) indicating “PhD Application – Immigrant Employment” in the subject line.