(Structured PhD) Child and Youth Research

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

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.


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
• Social context of child development (role of family, peers, culture)
• Pro-social behaviour and risk-taking in young people
• Masculinity and emerging adulthood
• Theories of child development
• Early years provision
• Spaces and places of childhood
• Political Theory, Children, and Young People
• Participatory Research Methods with young people
• Sociological perspectives on 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 


 Application Process


Closing date for 2017 entry is 5pm on Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017


 Applications must include the following:


 A personal statement (300 words)



  • A curriculum vitae

  • Two letters of reference from academic referees. Referees are asked to place their reference into a sealed envelope and to sign the seal of the envelope.

  • A research proposal (1000 words)

  • All candidates must identify what staff member(s) they have consulted (if any) during the development of their proposal. Candidates are encouraged to consult with a potential supervisor before applying.


 The research proposal (1000 words) should outline:


A title/topic



  • Background / literature review

    • Please draw on relevant literature, identify gaps in the literature and identify the novel contribution of the proposed research

    • What is the issue you want to address?

      • Identify your research question & ensure you have given a rationale for this research

      • How do you intend investigating the proposed area of research?

        • Possible issues to consider include proposed design, participant details, procedure for data collection, data analysis, ethical issues.


        Before preparing your proposal, applicants are required to make contact with potential supervisors and consult the research topics or themes in which supervision may be available. See link below. You are encouraged to develop a proposal in one of these areas.


        The proposal plays an important role in the assessment process, as it provides the panel with information on the candidate’s research knowledge and suitability. However, depending on the number of applicants and supervision capacity, the proposal may not necessarily be the topic of your thesis.


        An offer of a place on the programme is contingent on the availability of an appropriate supervisor. Please consult Supervisors Intake  for 2017 intake. 


        Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview. 







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.

Areas of interest

  • 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

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

Contact Us

Programme Directors: 

  • Dr John Canavan, UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre (CFRC) at the School of Political Science and Sociology)
  • Dr Caroline Heary School of Psychology
  • Dr Allyn Fives, UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre (CFRC) at the School of Political Science and Sociology
  • Dr Padraig MacNeela, School of Psychology
  • Ms Nuala Donohue, School of Psychology  & the School of Political Science and Sociology

General Programme Queries:

Dee Quinn- email: Dee.Quinn@nuigalway.ie 

PAC code

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

Fees for this course

EU: €4,275 p.a. 2017/18

Non-EU: €13,250 p.a. 2017/18

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.