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

CAO/PAC code : MHY02 (FT), MHY03 (PT)

CAO Points :

We aim:

- To provide high quality research training in a lively intellectual atmosphere
- To promote students’ professional involvement in academic life
- To ensure that students will make a contribution to the advancement of knowledge in sociology
- And to ensure that students will make a contribution to the understanding and well being of contemporary societies

By the end of their time as a research postgraduate student in the Department it is our goal that students will:

- Have completed a thesis which is a high quality piece of orginal sociological analysis and is at least partly publishable in a peer-reviewed academic outlet
- Have developed and demonstrated a significant level of skill in at least one methodology of sociological research and analysis
- Have a broad knowledge of a number of sub-fields within sociology
- And have had the opportunity to develop teaching and administrative skills and experience

Closing date
Research applications are generally accepted at any time however the deadline for applications is the 30th of June if you wish to start in September of the same year.


Minimum 2.1 degree in BA or MA in Sociology or Cognate subject. Applications with equivalent learning are also welcomed.

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

Applicants are advised to contact the Department to discuss their research topic before submitting a required research proposal of 7-10 pages duration. Please see course website for further details.

Minimum English language requirements:

  • IELTS: 6.5 minimum overall score
  • TOEFL (Paper based test): 585
  • TOEFL (Internet based test): 95
  • PTE (Pearson): 62

Maynooth University’s TOEFL code is 8850

Dr. Mary Benson
Cityscapes, gentrification, place, community and visual representations. Current research focuses on urban agriculture.

Dr. Delma Byrne
Research interests include social stratification in education and the labour market spanning the primary, second-level and higher education sectors as well as post-secondary education and training, transitions between education and the labour market and the evaluation of educational interventions.

Dr. Barry Cannon
Research interests are on Latin American politics, with particular expertise on Peru, Venezuela and Central America, especially on issues of democratisation, power relations, Left and Right politics, civil society, and development. Current research focuses on opposition politics in Venezuela, right wing politics in Latin America, and, comparisons between collective reactions to crisis in Latin America and in Ireland and Europe.

Dr. Brian Conway
Research interests include sociology of religion, collective memory, history of Irish sociology. Current research focuses on examining Catholic public discourses and institutional arrangements, trends and patterns in the Catholic workforce, and religious institutional responses to scandal, all in comparative perspective.

Professor Mary P. Corcoran
The Irish migratory experience, public culture, and urban transformation and change. Professor Corcoran is currently engaged in research on urban agriculture initiatives and urban food policy. 

Dr. Colin Coulter
Research interests include development studies, global politics, Marxism, ethnicity and nationalism, popular culture and in particular popular music and Northern Irish politics and society.

Dr. Laurence Cox
Research interests include social movement research (movement waves, alterglobalisation and anti-austerity movements, European social movements, movement theorising, protest policing, knowledge and learning production in social movements, activist sustainability), Buddhist Studies (Buddhism and Ireland, early western Buddhists in Asia), new religious movements, sociology of knowledge and culture (history of ideas, sociology of intellectuals, counter culture), working-class studies (community organising, oral history), social theory (western Marxism, socialist feminism), and methodology (participatory action research, community research).

Dr. Pauline Cullen
Research interests include political sociology, gender inequality, social movements, civil society and state relations, nongovernmental organisations, social policy and European Integration, coalitions between diverse constituencies, activism on social rights beyond national settings. 

Professor G. Honor Fagan
Research interests include Human Security, Gender and Development Governance, and Social Sustainability.

Dr. Eoin Flaherty
I am interested in how patterns of inequality are formed and maintained, and how they change over time. I study these processes with a particular focus on income inequality during the late 20th/early 21st century, and instances of famine during the 19th century (mainly Ireland). I am also interested in how human societies have formed systems of cooperation and managed resources collectively, and whether such systems were resilient to environmental stress.  I am also interested in: Top incomes and the 'super-rich', labour's share of national income, time series and pooled time series cross-section analysis. Financialisation, rentiers, and power resources.  Famine, common-pool resource systems, primitive communism, and nineteenth-century Ireland. Complexity theory, human ecology, and environmental sociology.  

Prof. Jane Gray
Research and teaching interests include families and households, comparative-historical sociology, life history analysis.  Her current research focuses on: life histories and social change in twentieth-century Ireland,  family and community, gender, household economies and social change.

Dr. Aphra Kerr
Teaching and Research interests focus on technology and media in society and digital sociology.  Current research explores the implications of data driven digital media design, online community management work, production in the global digital games industry, and the rise of the ‘indie’.  Recent projects have explored broadcasting and diversity, innovation in animation companies, the design of future telecommunications network services and applications and gendered practices and representations in digital games culture.

Dr. Rebecca King Ó Riain
Research and teaching interests include globaliSation, emotions and technology, racial/ethnic beauty pageants; critical race theory, qualitative methods, interracial marriage and multiracial people. Her current research explores the ‘Globalisation of Love’ through qualitative research with transnational, mixed couples and their children looking at uses of digital technology to create and maintain global emotional networks.

Dr. Mary Murphy
Research interests include the impact of globalisation on welfare states, the political mediation of social policy reform, local governance and institutional mechanisms to support social innovation, social inclusion and citizenship, gender and social welfare, commodification, conditionality and welfare to work policies.

Dr. Peter Murray
Research and teaching interests include political mobilisation and the growth of the modern state, industry, work and technological change, health, illness and healing.

Prof. John O’Brennan
Research interests include the process and politics of European Union enlargement, the EU's relationship with the western Balkans and prospective enlargement to South Eastern Europe; the dynamics of EU external relations; EU-Russian relations, constructivist theories of International Politics; and the identity dimension to European integration. I am also very interested in Ireland's experience of European integration, its relationship with the European Union and the Lisbon Treaty debate in Ireland.

Professor Seán Ó Riain
Research interests are in the sociology of work, economic sociology, comparative and global political economy and social inequality.  Specific areas of interest include work organisation and workplace regimes; developmental states, the global knowledge economy, economic liberalism, changing European societies,

Dr. Paul Ryan
Research interests include masculinities, gay and lesbian studies, social movements and qualitative research methods specifically the use of life history

Dr. Eamonn Slater
Research interests include the structure of modernity, the heritage industry (including tourism), the social construction of landscape and the environment, visual sociology and historical sociology. All of these sociological areas are investigated with a special emphasis on Irish society.

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

Students acquire 30 credits in the first three years (60 in the case of postgraduates who do not already have an MA) through taking a combination of compulsory and optional courses oriented towards broadening theoretical perspectives, offering methodological expertise, and providing guidance on teaching at third level.

Course Duration: 4 years full-time, 6 years part-time

Third Level Teaching
Policy Analysis
Private, Community and Voluntary Sectors
Media and New Technology
Urban, Rural and Community Planning

Online application only

PAC Code
MHY02 Full-time
MHY03 Part-time

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

Certified copies of all official transcripts of results for all non-Maynooth University qualifications listed MUST accompany the application. Failure to do so will delay your application being processed. Non-Maynooth University students are asked to provide two academic references and a copy of their birth certificate or valid passport.

You can register to do either an MLitt or a Phd in the Department of Sociology. If you are interested in pursuing a postgraduate research degree with us the first step is to contact a member of staff to discuss your research idea. They will gladly assist you to prepare your research proposal. For a list of staff research interests please see below. For further information on our department research interests, how to apply and doing a PhD please consult our Research Postgraduate Handbook.

All applicants must submit a proposal

If you decide to do postgraduate studies with us the second step is to complete an application form and pay an application fee through the online PAC system. You will need to provide a brief personal statement in the application form and this should focus on your reasons for pursuing a postgraduate degree at MU. Please note, when filling out the application form, that the fullest possible information should be provided.

The Research Proposal

The research proposal should be typed, double spaced and approximately 7–10 pages long. It should indicate:

- The central research topic that you wish to investigate
- The central debates in the sociological and/or social science literature that the research will address
- The main data that will be collected and/or analysed and the methods that will be used to do so
- The significance of the proposed research for sociological work in the relevant field
- Any other critical issues regarding the research topic, approach and significance

It is not expected that the student will stick blindly to this proposal should they be admitted as a research postgraduate student but it will provide a useful guide for students and the department in assessing the application and in developing the research. Applicants may be called for interview by departmental staff before a decision is made regarding admission.

You may apply at any time to the department to start a PhD but the deadline for applications is the 30th of June if you wish to start in September of the same year.


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