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Ph.D. in Social Work and Social Policy, Ph.D.

  • Application Deadline
  • 24 months
University rank #108 (QS) Belfast, United Kingdom
The structured PhD in the School of Social Work and Social Policy will enable you to identify questions that are worthy of research in the social world, to conduct investigations on these questions and to communicate findings effectively. Your experience of contributing to knowledge through your doctoral work will enable you to understand and undertake other complex research projects.
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The outcome of the Structured PhD Programme from Trinity College Dublin is not just the product (the thesis that is produced); it is also about the process of research training that you undergo. Postgraduate research will equip you with the skills, creativity and rigour that are essential to make a contribution to knowledge. We hope that this learning will enrich your life, enhance your intellectual growth, contribute to scholarship in your field and lead you to further opportunities. 

Personal and Professional Development

Throughout your time on the programme, you will be encouraged to avail of courses focused on developing a range of generic and transferable skills. Many of our PhD students are employed as teaching assistants, providing assistance to lecturers throughout the School. We run a Teaching Assistants Programme to help you learn the skills of academic teaching and additional courses are provided by the University’s Centre for Academic Practice & Student Learning. 

There are many other centres offering skills-based modules including:

  • Tangent, Trinity's Ideas workspace
  • The Library
  • Student Learning & Development
  • Careers Advisory Service

These modules are additional and complementary to the core programme requirements described above.

Career Guidance

PhD candidates are provided with a range of career guidance to help identify and achieve your career aspirations and goals. Whether you are looking for an academic or a non-academic career, our range of career management services will help you make informed decisions to meet your personal objectives. Career support is available from the Trinity Careers Advisory Service (CAS), an award-winning professional advice service which has a dedicated postgraduate division. Included in the services provided by CAS are an extensive Careers Information Centre and an award-winning website. Front Gate Online  is Trinity’s web-based alumni community, which allows Trinity graduates to connect with other alumni and support current students. 

On graduating from the doctoral programme, you will have an advanced degree in research, as well as a sound appreciation and experience of the strategies of conducting complex, high-level research. 

Detailed Programme Facts

  • Programme intensity

    You can choose to do this programme part-time or full-time.

    • Full-time duration 24 months
    • Duration description

      2 - 4 years

    • Average part-time duration 36 months
    • Duration description

      3 - 6 years

  • Languages
    • English
  • Delivery mode
    On Campus

Programme Structure

Throughout your period of registration in the School of Social Work & Social Policy you will be working towards the completion of your research project which will be assessed on the basis of your thesis and viva voce (oral examination). You will also be required to complete structured elements that are integral to our programme. In addition to forming the bedrock of your Doctoral training, they will also introduce you to a range of academics from the School of Social Work & Social Policy and other Irish and international universities.

English Language Requirements

  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL iBT ® measures your English-language abilities in an academic setting. The test has four sections (reading, listening, speaking, and writing), each with a score range of 0-30, for a total score range of 0-120.

  • Minimum required score:


    The IELTS – or the International English Language Test System – tests your English-language abilities (writing, listening, speaking, and reading) on a scale of 1.00–9.00. The minimum IELTS score requirement refers to which Overall Band Score you received, which is your combined average score. Read more about IELTS.

    Get a free IELTS practice test
  • Minimum required score:


    The TOEFL®PBT is administered in a paper format and measures your ability to use and understand English in a classroom setting at the college or university level. It accurately measures how well you can listen, read and write in English while performing academic tasks.

  • Minimum required score:


    PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English Academic) is a language test that enables students to demonstrate their writing, listening, speaking, and reading skills when applying to study in English. Delivered and marked by computer, it reports on a scale between 10 and 90.

General Requirements

  • Applicants must normally have an excellent primary degree, and / or professional qualification, in a relevant discipline, from a reputable institution. 
  • In addition, PhD applicants should normally have an excellent Masters degree from a reputable institution, although this requirement may be waived in the case of exceptional candidates who can demonstrate firm grasp of the research methods they plan to apply in conducting their PhD research. 
  • All applicants must have a fluent command of the English language. Since the demand for places is extremely high, these minimum requirements do not guarantee admission. Preference is given to the academically strongest applicants.

Tuition Fee

Living costs for Belfast

  • 561 - 890 GBP/month
    Living Costs

The living costs include the total expenses per month, covering accommodation, public transportation, utilities (electricity, internet), books and groceries.


Studyportals Tip: Students can search online for independent or external scholarships that can help fund their studies. Check the scholarships to see whether you are eligible to apply. Many scholarships are either merit-based or needs-based.


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