Award Type and NFQ level : RESEARCH PH.D. (10)

CAO/PAC code : MHW02 (FT), MHW03 (PT)

CAO Points :

PhD students are an integral part of the academic life of MU’s Department of Psychology; we aim to deliver high-quality supervision and to produce research of international quality. The goal of the structured PhD programme is to provide a high quality research experience with integrated taught support. Structured support is offered through transferable skills modules and specialist modules to provide students with academic and professional skills needed for employment and career progression within, and outside of, academia.

Our Department makes an internationally distinctive and vibrant contribution to research and practice through four intersecting themes:
Rehabilitation, Disability & Health Psychology –  researching the well-being of individuals and communities and their service provision, in terms of impairments/disability, assistive technologies, coping and empowerment; using quantitative and qualitative methods.
Mental Health, Community & Positive Psychology – focusing on the psychology of mental health and well-being of individuals, families and communities, as well as service provision and evaluation, with emphasis on vulnerability, marginalisation, resilience, and personal growth (using mixed methods approaches).
Neuroscience, Behaviour & Cognition – employing experimental methods to understand and address fundamental challenges in intelligence, thought processes, neuronal functioning and human and animal behaviour.
Organisations, Systems and Policy – researching complex systems problems, of inter-relatedness and change; using qualitative, quantitative and policy techniques, working with a broad range of businesses, service providers and international agencies.

Our PhD students gain training and experience in conducting high-quality empirical research in an environment characterised by a warm welcoming atmosphere. 

Closing date
Research applications are accepted at any time. Commencement dates are restricted.

September (or other agreed time)




Normally, candidates for research degrees must possess a first class or upper second class honours degree in psychology that qualifies the student for eligibility for Graduate Basis for Chartership (GBC) with the British Psychological Society or for Graduate Membership of the Psychological Society of Ireland. Graduates of cognate disciplines with a first class or upper second class honours degree may also be considered for postgraduate study; such students should be aware that they will require additional qualifications in order to be eligible for GBC or Graduate Membership of the Psychological Society of Ireland.

Applicants must have a recognised primary degree which is considered equivalent to Irish university primary degree level.

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

Research Interest 
The following research interests and specialisms are within the Department of Psychology at Maynooth University:

Dr Laura Coffey
The experience and psychosocial impacts of illness and disability. Self-regulation of normative (e.g., ageing) and non-normative (e.g., amputation, cancer) developmental challenges. Personal meanings and perspectives on assistive technology use. Self-management of long-term conditions. The development and evaluation of complex interventions.

Professor Seán Commins
The neurobiology of spatial navigation, learning and memory. Consolidation of long-term memories. Neural substrates of hippocampal-cortical interactions. Investigation of cognitive deficits following stroke and other disorders. The role of cognition in driver behaviour.

Professor Louise Connell 
Cognition and cognitive science, especially the mental representation of concepts, sensorimotor grounding of cognition, and role of language and linguistic distributional knowledge in cognition. Interdisciplinary research that spans psychology (experimental and cognitive psychology, psycholinguistics), linguistics (cognitive and corpus linguistics), and artificial intelligence (computational modelling, distributional semantics). 

Professor Andrew Coogan
We are interested in circadian rhythms and sleep, and their importance for health and wellbeing. Current research interests include assessing how circadian clocks may be involved in attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, looking at circadian rhythm involvement in other important conditions, such as diabetes and depression, asking how the immune system influences circadian rhythms and assessing how cognition and behaviour may be changed following sepsis.

Dr Michael Cooke
Living and working with technology. Human factors and human-computer interaction. Understanding people living and working in complex systems (such as aviation, security, emergency management, health, manufacturing, energy production, critical infrastructures, or any system where people interact with technology), the psychology of lived experience (phenomenological perspectives), activity theory, and sociocultural psychology. I am also interested in Critical Psychology and qualitative methods.

Dr Michael Daly
Lifelong impact of childhood individual differences with a focus on self-control and mental health; psychological and health effects of major stressors (e.g. unemployment, poverty, weight discrimination, the COVID-19 pandemic); longitudinal data

Dr Constance de Saint Laurent 

Social media, internet cultures, and technological mediation: How digital technologies mediate social interactions and cognition. Social representations, misinformation, and memory: How we understand complex objects (covid, refugee crisis, generative AI), as well as the impact of misinformation and collective memory on how we understand our social environment.

Professor Deirdre Desmond
Psychosocial adjustment to illness, injury and disability; Outcomes measurement; rehabilitation; assistive technology.

Dr Unai Diaz-Orueta
Neuropsychological assessment using a process-based approach. Virtual and augmented reality applications in (neuro)psychological assessment and intervention. Cognitive rehabilitation procedures (both traditional and technology/game-based approaches). Serious games for health. Teleneuropsychology (both in terms of tele-assessment and tele-rehabilitation).

Dr Philip Hyland 
Psychological responses to stressful and traumatic life events. General mental health issues including the structure of general psychopathology. Identification of risk and resilience factors associated with mental health responses to traumatic life events. Identification of the outcomes of exposure to traumatic life events.

Dr Dermot Lynott

My research falls broadly within the areas of cognitive science and embodied cognition. I am interested in how people's linguistic, bodily and environmental experience shapes their mental representations and how this affects the way they process the world around them. This research includes investigations of the grounded and situated nature of concepts, the ability of language, body and environment to shape representations and behaviour, and the interplay of linguistic and simulation systems in human cognition.

Dr Tadhg MacIntyre
Nature-based interventions, metacognition, embodied cognition and motor cognition, resilience and mental health, and digital nature and VR.

Professor Mac MacLachlan
Disability, impairment, ageing and chronic illness; service design, implementation and evaluation; social inclusion; assistive and connected technologies; human rights and global health; policy development and implementation; macropsychology; maritime psychology.

Dr Rebecca Maguire
Quality of life and well-being in patients with chronic illness, especially in cancer or multiple sclerosis. Caregiver well-being and burden of care. Health-related decision making. Coping with uncertainty. Psychological appraisals. Cognitive basis of expectation and surprise.

Professor Sinéad McGilloway
Broadly: The psychological aspects and community context of health care and social problems across the lifespan. Specifically: Child and adult mental health and well-being in the community. Health services research. Intervention/service design, development and evaluation. The health and social care needs of vulnerable and socially excluded groups. Mental health and well-being aspects of palliative/end-of-life care. Systematic reviews.

Dr Joanna McHugh Power
Later life social functioning, focusing on the experience of loneliness in later life, using both advanced statistical modelling and epidemiological techniques, and qualitative and mixed methods. The relationship between loneliness and social isolation, and the impacts that these have on physical and mental health (particularly brain health and cognitive ageing). Interventions for reducing loneliness and social isolation and their evaluation.

Dr Joanne McVeigh
Global health; human rights, equity, and social inclusion; disability, including early childhood intervention for children with disabilities; policy development, implementation, evaluation and monitoring; systems thinking; macropsychology; organisational psychology; maritime psychology.

Dr Katriona O’Sullivan
Widening access to education; digital skills development.

Dr Bryan Roche
The experimental analysis of complex human behaviour, language and cognition (EAB). Experimental social psychology and implicit attitude measurement. Fear and avoidance conditioning models of human anxiety. Intelligence and the development of behaviourally oriented educational interventions.

Dr Richard Roche
Memory in healthy and pathological ageing. Reminiscence Therapy. Dementia. Neurorehabilitation. Synaesthesia. Acquired and Traumatic Brain Injury.

Dr Sadhbh Byrne: Child and youth mental health, including self-harm and suicide. Family, peers, schools, universities providing support for youth mental health (and how we can best "support the supporters"). Youth mental health and primary care (GPs). Emergency department care for young people's self-harm. The mental health/wellbeing needs of marginalised and socially-excluded children and young people (e.g., children seeking protection/asylum). Youth participation, co-design/co-production.    

Dr Peter Murphy: Neural mechanisms of decision-making, working memory and cognitive control; relationships between them; and how they are affected under conditions of brain change (e.g. cognitive aging) and psychological disorder. Computational modelling of behaviour and neural circuits, including training and interrogation of artificial neural networks performing cognitive tasks. Influence of arousal and 'brain state' on cognitive function. 

Dr Siobhan Woods

Athlete psychological health and well-being, especially burnout; the role of physical activity in psychological health and well-being.                                                          

For further details on the research specialisms within the Department please visit:


The core objective of the PhD programme involves a substantial and original contribution to psychological knowledge in a given research field, and the production of research outputs suitable for peer reviewed publication. PhD research students must take a minimum of 30 credits in taught modules (15 in transferable modules and 15 in specialist modules).

Course Duration: 4 years FT, 6 years PT

The structured PhD is a research oriented programme associated with a wide range of career options, depending on subject area. Your prospective supervisor will be able to offer advice on specific career options.

Online application only

PAC Code
MHW02 Full-time
MHW03 Part-time

Candidates should not make a formal application through PAC unless they have approval in principle for research supervision.

The following information should be forwarded to PAC, 1 Courthouse Square, Galway or uploaded to your online application form:

Students who have not completed undergraduate studies at Maynooth University need to provide certified copies of all official transcripts of results for their qualifications, two academic references and a copy of their birth certificate or valid passport.  (Please note that failure to do so will delay application processing.)

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