A PhD is not just relevant to continuing your career in a University environment. Obtaining a PhD can open a range of career opportunities in a variety of organisations - in industry, national government (such as research agencies), local government, further education, charities, and lead to the development of businesses.

The Department of Psychology offers structured PhDs in the Faculty of Education and Health Sciences (EHS). For more information about EHS structured PhDs, please click here.

For more information on pursuing a PhD in Psychology please click here

Queries about structured PhDs can be addressed to ehssphd@ul.ie or to prospective supervisors

Studying for a PhD in Psychology at University of Limerick

Welcome to the Department of Psychology's web pages which provide information on studying for a PhD in Psychology. A PhD is not just relevant to continuing your career in a University environment.  Obtaining a PhD can open a range of career opportunities in a variety of organisations -in industry, national government (such as research agencies), local government, further education, charities and lead to the development of businesses.

Why study in the Department of Psychology at UL?

The Department of Psychology at UL is the only department in Ireland dedicated to the psychological study of social issues. It provides excellent research opportunities, based on the expertise of its staff, combined with a student centred supportive and nurturing environment. This enables its research students to fully achieve their research and career aspirations.

  • You can look forward to being supervised to the highest standards by academics who are also world-class researchers.
  • You will be a full member of the academic community at UL, be able to attend research discussions and interact with a range of staff including visiting international academics, research fellows as well as other PhD students.
  • The University is currently investing in Psychology research labs and these state of the art research facilities are available to all our PhD students.
  • You will be part of a young and growing dynamic new department of Psychology.
  • During your studies you will be supported by your supervisors. A training programme is agreed at the start of your research to provide the necessary skills and development to successfully complete your research. 

The Application Process

If you are interested in applying it is essential you contact the member of staff so that you can consider ways of developing your research ideas and also to help with funding applications you may wish to make.

The Department considers applications for both full-time and part-time study. A PhD is expected to take three years full-time, or six years part-time.

General Application Criteria

Applicants should have, or be expected to obtain, a good higher Honours degree in Psychology (or a closely related discipline - in these cases individuals will need to demonstrate their research skills and abilities).

Demonstrable aptitude and interest in social psychological research.

Guidelines for transfer examinations at Post Graduate level-Department of Psychology

Transfer Report.

  1. This report should be a maximum of 20 pages.
  2. The members of the board should receive the transfer report at least two weeks in advance of the viva voce.
  3. The report should contain the following elements:
    • Clearly defined research objectives
    • A critical literature review of the subject area(s) relating to the proposed research work
    • Demonstrable evidence of the originality of the proposed research work by reference to past published material
    • Report on research work carried out to date by the candidate, which demonstrates (i) the feasibility of the proposed research work and (ii) the ability of the candidate to carry out the proposed  research work
    • A work-plan showing the main steps required to complete the research objectives.
  4. This does not need to be detailed but should demonstrate that the candidate understands the steps and risks involved in working towards their research objective.

Viva Voce
The next stage in the transfer process is for the research report to be presented to the
examination board by the candidate.

  1. The supervisor(s) may attend the viva as an observer at the candidate's request.
  2. Prior to the commencement of the examination, the board meet and the Chair of the examining committee agrees and plans the progress of the viva in consultation with examiners.
  3. The candidate is invited into the examination room. The viva then takes the following structure
  4. The candidate presents the work described in the transfer report. It is expected that the presentation should last up to 30 minutes
  5. After the presentation, the two examiners orally examine the candidate. The examination may last no longer than one hour.
  6. Subsequent to the examination the candidate and supervisor are asked to leave the room whilst the decision regarding the candidate is made.
  7. Examiners should then agree on the outcome of the examination where possible and inform the candidate.



The chairperson will normally be a UL faculty member who has supervised a PhD candidate to completion. The chairperson's role is to manage the transfer examination, ensure the candidate is treated fairly, provide guidance on UL's academic regulations and practices and communicate the outcome of the examination to the candidate and relevant parties. The chairperson also makes sure that all the required documentation is completed.


Examiners must meet the academic requirements for the supervision of PhD students. The examiners' role is to ensure that the candidate has demonstrated the capability to successfully undertake a doctoral programme by research.


Based on their determination of whether or not the candidate's research has the potential to make an original research contribution, the examiners may recommend one of the following options:

  • The candidate may transfer to the PhD.
  • The candidate may resubmit an updated report (based on recommendations by the examiners) and re-present for a viva within six months.
  • The candidate should complete the work for submission for a Masters degree.

In the unlikely event of a disagreement between the examiners as to the outcome of the transfer examination, the chairperson will record that a disagreement has occurred, summarise the nature of the disagreement and suspend the examination process. The case will be forwarded to the Head of Department for further action.

Candidates will be informed of the outcome of the examination by the chairperson of the board on completion of the viva. If successful, the candidate will be informed by the chairperson that the transfer from the Masters to PhD register is not a guarantee that the candidate will be awarded a PhD.