What a PhD in Ireland Actually Looks Like
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What a PhD in Ireland Actually Looks Like

Written by Taru Medha

Academic calendar in Ireland

A typical PhD in Ireland lasts three to four years. A structured PhD is likely to take longer (closer to the full four years).

The academic year in Ireland is similar to that in the UK. It is divided into two semesters from September to December and then from January to April.

Structured PhDs in Ireland

Ireland has moved towards more structured PhD programmes with the principle that as a modern PhD student you should also develop important specialist and transferrable skills along with your original research.

Structured PhDs are very similar to traditional PhDs but also include progress monitoring by advisory and supervisory panels, ongoing professional development needs evaluation, access to development opportunities and professional placements.

On a structured PhD programme, you will usually engage with research enterprise partners. This facilitates input from non-academic stakeholders on the content of your doctoral programme. The enterprise partner may also provide a non-academic supervisor, an industry placement, and be an employment destination after completion of your PhD

How does Ireland compare to oher popular study destinations?

On the fence about your choice of study destination? Check our our guides to other popular locations including Canada, Germany and the USA and see how they compare to Ireland for PhD study.

Supervision during a PhD in Ireland

You will have at least one academic supervisor during your PhD in Ireland. You primary supervisor will be an active academic and have principal responsibility for the management and supervision of your studies and research.

You may also have a secondary supervisor (or a joint supervisor) who may be non-academic. There is also a supporting supervisory panel of other researchers to monitor your progress and the supervision process – these can be from different universities or countries.

Assessment during a PhD in Ireland

Full-time PhD students are initially registered as Masters of Philosophy (MPhil) and must complete an assessment in their first year to upgrade to a PhD.

The core component of a PhD is that you produce original research which is assessed based on a written thesis and an oral examination (viva voce). These are judged by both an internal and external examiner

You need approval from your primary supervisor to submit the thesis. If you are enrolled in a structured PhD programme, you may also be required to complete some training components.

Ireland has a lot to offer outside the classroom, from scenic views to historical places to visit. You can read our living in Ireland guide for all the information on how to make the most of your stay in the country.

More about a PhD in Ireland

You can also read our guides on the top Irish universities for a PhD and how to apply to them.

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Guide to Student Visas for PhD in Ireland

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Living in Ireland – A Guide for PhD Students

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Last Updated: 10 May 2023