Award Type and NFQ level : PROFESSIONAL DOCTORATE (10)

CAO/PAC code : MHB06

CAO Points :

Closing Date : 30 June 2023

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The DSocSc programme is a four year ‘practitioner led doctorate’ offered by the Department of Applied Social Studies in Maynooth University. The Department’s mission is to “contribute to human rights, social justice and equality nationally and internationally’’. The programme is designed to provide advanced professional and research skills to qualified, experienced practitioners in lead roles in youth work, community work, social work, rights and social change focused organisations.

Aims and Outcomes

The DSocSc programme aims to:

1. further progress the commitment of the Department and the University to combining the highest levels of academic achievement with excellence in professional education by educating flexible, innovative and skilled practitioners who can contribute to development of theory and practice in youth work, community work and the realisation of rights for marginalised groups.

2. enable experienced practitioners to undertake original, rigorous research in youth work, community work and rights based contexts that contributes to the development of their disciplines.

At the end of the DSocSc students should be able to:

  • demonstrate critical analysis and understanding of complex issues in theory, policy and practice
  • synthesise theory and practice in a ‘unity of praxis’
  • demonstrate advanced professional research and evaluation skills
  • take leadership in working towards realising rights in a variety of organisational and policy contexts
  • undertake, present and defend a rigorous doctoral thesis that contributes to the development of their discipline.

The DSocSc programme is underpinned by four inter-related commitments:

  • intellectual rigour and critical analysis in all aspects of the programme, from initial engagement in taught modules to the production of a substantial individual research project;
  • realising rights in theory and practice embedded in all aspects of the programme and across all modules;
  • development of theory and practice in the disciplines of community work, youth work, social work and associated social professions;
  • creation of a challenging and participative learning environment embedded in principles of reflexivity, mutuality and collegiality.


Who should apply?

All candidates should hold a professional qualification in one of the social professions and at least an MA or equivalent level 9 academic qualification, ideally in a social science discipline.

They should have a minimum of five years post-qualifying professional experience in youth work, community work, social work, social policy or rights and social change work.

We particularly welcome applications from social professions practitioners working in higher education.

Minimum English language requirements:

Applicants for whom English is not their first language are required to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study. For information about English language tests accepted and required scores, please see here. The requirements specified are applicable for both EU and International applicants..

Maynooth University's TOEFL code is 8850

The Department of Applied Social Studies engagement and research focuses on the areas of social justice, policy and professions. It is the longest established provider of professional community work and youth work in the Republic of Ireland and also offers a BSocSc and an MsocSc (Rights and Policy). In addition, the Department and has recently introduced a Master’s in Social Work (MSW). In addition to providing innovative academic education and training, the Department’s staff ( contributes to human rights, social justice and equality nationally and internationally through research in the social sciences and associated public contribution

DsocSc students have undertaken original research in the areas of youth work policy, radical community work, participatory governance, LGBTI youth policy, community work with older men, Traveller activism as well as various dimension of professional community work and youth workers.


"I believe it was the content and construct of the DSocSc course, together with the support, encouragement, and guidance from the dedicated and passionate staff of the Department of Applied Social Studies that enabled me to achieve my doctoral qualification, while continuing to work. From the beginning when developing the research question to the Viva Voce programme end point, support and expertise was readily available. My doctoral research was located in, and concerned with community work and development which produced new learning that both informed my practice and. subsequently community work and development discourse.’’  

Dr. Tommy Coombes, Manager Bluebell Community Development Project, and Coordinator of Bluebell Community Council Regeneration Programme. 

The programme combines block modules on campus with self-directed learning off campus, including some online components. There are four block weeks (Monday-Friday) plus a summer school on campus each year.

Year 1 and Year 2 : four 'on-campus block weeks' across two semesters with online sessions between blocks.

Learning blocks in years three and four are designed to support the research process and enable students to complete their thesis. They will be agreed with the thesis supervisor(s) and programme director and may vary somewhat for each student.

Taught modules in years 1 and 2.

  • Social science, the social professions and the foundations of social research
  • Social Research Debates & Processes
  • Participatory and Feminist Analysis and Research
  • Critical Debates in Practice
  • Research Design
  • Professional Practice: Perspectives on Education, Development, Gender, Diversity and Conflict & Mediation Studies
  • Governance, Organisations, Leadership and Change
  • Realising Rights: Social Policy Debates & Issues


In years 1 and 2 students complete an assignment associated with each module between blocks. Students undertake a 50,000 word thesis in years 3 and 4.

Other information

Low-cost accommodation is available on campus. See

Maynooth University is easily accessible by road and public transport including an airport shuttle. See

While the participants on the DSocSc will be skilled professionals on entry to the programme, experience over the four years will prepare them to further advance in their professional and academic careers in the areas of senior management, policy development, teaching and research.

'Now recruiting for 'Sept. 2023'

Apply on [MHB06] . Online application only

Note: If you are applying on, please write: 'To be decided in Year 2' in response to any query re. research topic.

Candidates are required to supply:

  • Two references (one professional and one academic)
  • A personal statement outlining reasons for wanting to undertake the DSocSc
  • A sample of recent writing (report, article, etc)
  • Non-MU graduates will be asked to upload additional information i.e. ID, certified copies of all official transcripts of results for all non-Maynooth University qualifications listed in the application.

Please note: a course minimum of students is required in order to proceed with this programme.

We welcome expressions of interest prior to the closing date. Please contact the Programme Co-ordinators Dr. Sinead McMahon and Dr. Ciara Bradley  at

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