(Structured PhD) Child and Youth Research

College of Arts, Social Sciences, & Celtic Studies,
School of Psychology & UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre

Course overview

Course Overview
The PhD in Child and Youth Research is a four year full-time or six year part-time structured PhD programme delivered as part of a collaboration between the School of Psychology and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre (CFRC) at the School of Political Science and Sociology. 


This interdisciplinary programme responds to an identified need for researchers with the requisite, high-level and wide-ranging experience and skills to undertake the kind of work that is needed in an evidence-informed policy environment.


 Course structure
The programme combines thesis and taught modules.  All students must complete a major dissertation (c.80,000 words).  The taught modules which are delivered in years one and two provide course participants with the opportunity to widen their knowledge and skill base as well as feeding into the development of their thesis work.  A wide range of topics are covered including:



  • Children’s rights

  • Child protection

  • Working with Commissioners

  • Randomised controlled trials in applied social settings

  • Ecology of child development (family, peers, culture)

  • Early years provision

  • Spaces and places of childhood


Programme aims



  • To prepare programme participants to conduct high quality policy and practice-relevant research and programme evaluation with children and young people

  • To develop programme participants’ knowledge and skills in key theoretical, methodological, policy and practice areas relating to children

  • To provide graduates with the set of generic work-skills to facilitate their successful entry into the full range of employment settings 

Programmes available

Structured PhD (Child and Youth Research), full-time: GYG00
Structured PhD (Child and Youth Research), part-time: GYG42

Entry requirements

Entrants will be expected to have an upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent international qualification) in a social science. If applicants do not have a degree of that kind, they must have demonstrated high ability by some other means (e.g. through publications or achievement in a higher degree). Applications are welcome from individuals with strong policy and practice experience in relation to children and young people.  Garda vetting is required for students participating in this programme.

 Application Process

Applicants must include the following:

  • A personal statement (300 words)
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of references from academic referees.  Referees are asked to place their reference into a signed sealed envelope
  • A research proposal (1000 words)

Please see the list of Supervisors and Topics 2015 where potential supervisors may be available.  Candidates are encouraged to develop a proposal in one of these areas.  The research proposal (1000 words) should outline:

  • A title/topic
  • The relevant literature
  • The research question/rationale
  • Proposed method

Areas of interest

See Supervisors and Research Areas for current research areas/topics that potential supervisors may be available. Research proposals in other areas that candidates are interested in are also welcome.

Programme Modules

  • The Social World of the Child 
  • Research Ethics and Pragmatics 
  • Qualitative Research Methods 
  • Quantitative Research Methods 
  • Global Policy and Research
  • Youth and Society 

Researcher profiles

Researcher Profiles

See http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ieand the staff pages on the School of Psychology website for information on research interests of staff.

Contact Us

Dr. Caroline Heary | Dr. John Canavan
T +353 91 495 059 | +353 91 495 397
E caroline.heary@nuigalway.ie | john.canavan@nuigalway.ie

PAC code

PhD (full-time) GYG00
PhD (part-time) GYG42

Current project

Elaine Byrnes
Supervisor: Dr Padraig MacNeela
PhD Title: A Mixed Methods Exploration of the Intersection of Alcohol Use, Sexual Behaviour and Gender in Emerging Adulthood.
Thomas Conway
Supervisor: Dr Padraig MacNeela
PhD Topic: An exploration of into how the current economic recession is affecting the adult development of young Irish males experiencing different socioeconomic circumstances.
Maire Hanniffy
Supervisor: Dr Michelle Millar
PhD Title: Life Foundations - An Exploration of School Readiness
Marcella Horrigan-Kelly
Supervisor: Dr. Michelle Millar
PhD Title: Connecting with Families: Exploring Teenage Parent Service Users Perceptions of Universal Primary Health Care Child and Family Health Services in the Community Setting
Siobhan Kavanagh
Supervisor: Dr Padraig MacNeela
PhD Title: An Exploratory Study of Positive Interventions for Mental Health.


Fees for this course

EU: €4,275 p.a. 2016/17

Non-EU: €13,250 p.a. 2016/17

Full time EU Fee €4,275 p.a. 
Part time EU Fee €2,250 p.a.


What Our Students Say

Dr. Lisa Ann

Dr. Lisa Ann Kennedy |   Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland

Taking part in the Structured PhD in Child and Youth Research was an invaluable experience. The course afforded me the opportunity to meet a range of world-class experts, to partake in workshops headed by leaders in the field of youth research, and to connect with other early-career researchers with similar interests. I found the dedicated core staff to be approachable and helpful. Being part of this course was challenging, rewarding and enriching. I gained a range of specific and transferable skills which has led to me embarking on an exciting career path that I had not considered prior to commencing the course.