If you are interested in pursuing a postgraduate research degree with us the first step is to contact a member of staff to discuss your research idea. They will gladly assist you to prepare your research proposal.
For a list of staff research interests please see the people pages and our research pages. For further information on our department research interests, how to apply and doing a PhD please consult our
If you decide to do postgraduate studies with us the second step is to complete an online application form and pay an application fee through the online PAC system based in Galway. You will need to provide a brief personal statement in the application form and this should focus on your reasons for pursuing a postgraduate degree at Maynooth University. Please note, when filling out the application form, that the fullest possible information should be provided.
The final step in the application process is to submit a research proposal in hard copy within ten days of submitting your electronic application form to the Postgraduate Applications Centre, 1 Court House Square, Galway, Ireland. Your proposal must be marked with your Postgraduate Application Number given to you by PAC.
The Research Proposal
The research proposal should be typed, double spaced and approximately 7-10 pages long. It should indicate:
- the central research topic that you wish to investigate;
- the central debates in the sociological and/or social science literature that the research will address;
- the main data that will be collected and/or analysed and the methods that will be used to do so;
- the significance of the proposed research for sociological work in the relevant field;
- any other critical issues regarding the research topic, approach and significance;
It is not expected that the student will stick blindly to this proposal should they be admitted as a research postgraduate student but it will provide a useful guide for students and the department in assessing the application and in developing the research. Applicants may be called for interview by departmental staff before a decision is made regarding admission.
You may apply at any time to the department to start a PhD but the deadline for applications is August the 15th if you wish to start in September of the same year.
The Structured PhD
Please note that entrants from September 2010 will be required to take a programme of taught modules. There are three required modules within the Department of Sociology: 'Crafts and Logics of Social Research I and II' and 'Teaching and Learning in Social Sciences'.
These will be supplemented with a range of methodological and theoretical courses delivered at a Faculty, research institute and inter-institutional level. Your supervisor will advise you on the most appropriate programme for you.
Incoming students who already have an MA are required to take fewer credits than those without.
For more information on the structured PhD please see the relevant pages on the Graduate Studies website.
I am thinking of doing a PhD in Sociology, where do I start?
The best place to start is to read the sociology
It provides background information about the program, as well as staff research interests and areas of expertise. It also outlines the structure of the program and modules available; describes the process of formal application; lists departmental resources and funding opportunities available to PhD students.
It is strongly advised that you identify a member of staff who is an expert in the area of your proposed PhD research and that you contact that staff member and begin an informal conversation about you and your project BEFORE you apply to the department via PAC.
What is a structured PhD?
General information can be found here. Information about modules can be found here. A preliminary list of modules is also available.
The specific information on what a structured PhD entails in Sociology (credits, compulsory and optional modules) can be found in the Postgraduate Handbook.
How long does it take to do a PhD and how much does it cost?
There are full- and part-time options available. Please see here for detailed information.
Every student is different (some are part time, some are full time, some have large caring/work commitments in addition to studying, etc.) so finishing times vary greatly.
What funding opportunities are available for PhD students?
General information about funding opportunities and scholarships can be found in the postgraduate students’ handbook.
Specific information regarding internal (NUIM) and external (IRC etc) funding can be found here.
The department may be in a position to offer some funding to research postgraduate students. Please contact the Department office to find out what is available.
How do I go about applying for a PhD?
Before starting the process of formal application, you are welcome to contact the postgraduate student coordinator, Prof. Honor Fagan to discuss your ideas, draft research proposal and discuss supervision options.
The process of formal application and the guidelines for writing a research proposal are outlined in the postgraduate students’ handbook. All applications are made via the online PAC system.
How do I choose a supervisor?
Please browse through the People tab of sociology website to find out more about staff research interests and their areas of expertise. You could contact either your prospective supervisor directly or the postgraduate coordinator to make an informal query.
What specific facilities does the Sociology department provide?
Apart from intellectual support and professional advice, on a very practical level Sociology PhD students are offered: shared office space, access to computer lab, printer and photocopier; as well as access to separate kitchen/coffee room.
We also run on-going skill workshops to support students. This year we have run workshops in: how to do a conference presentation, writing for publication, documentary research methods, SPSS (beginners and improvers), MaxQDA, and others.
What are other PhD students like?
Currently there are about 30 students pursuing their PhDs in the Sociology Department. They create a varied and vibrant research community. Please see Postgraduate Students section of the website to find out more about their research.
What is Maynooth like?
Maynooth is Ireland’s only ‘college town’ and is conveniently located on the public transport lines to Dublin and by bus/train to the rest of Ireland. We run special feeder buses from many locations daily. The Maynooth University has a lovely campus surrounded by the Irish countryside and it is a small and personable campus.
Why to do a PhD?
PhD is the highest degree that can be earned in a university. Pursuing a PhD is a way of gaining maximum knowledge and becoming an expert in a particular area. This degree is typically required to become a top researcher or a third level teacher.
What skills and experience will I get?
Pursuing a PhD in Sociology allows a student to advance their research skills, analytical skills, writing and presentation skills. Typically students are required to write papers/report and to present at conferences.
Can I get teaching experience with the Department?
There are numbers of teaching and tutoring positions available within the department allowing students a chance to gain significant teaching experience. In 2017/18 we offered a teaching fellowship in the Department. Please keep an eye on our website and our twitter account if you are interested in these types of positions.