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Celtic Studies is an area of high importance with research in the subject being carried out within the Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute


Study Celtic Studies at Ulster University in the United Kingdom.

In REF 2014 the Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute was assessed as having:

  • 100% outstanding or very considerable impact in research
  • 66% of overall research world-leading or internationally excellent
  • 90% of research environment internationally excellent or world-leading

The subject has a high income stream, and staff and student support arrangements and postgraduate training are excellent. The Institute is committed to fully supporting its postgraduate students.

Specialisms include medieval Irish language and literature, textual scholarship, the transmission of senchas and historical verse, voyage literature, the Gaelic manuscript tradition, bardic poetry, place-names research, dialectology, lexicography, stylistics, minority languages, language policy and planning, the syntax and semantics of the verb in Irish, 18th and 19th century Irish language, literature and learning with particular reference to Ulster, modern and contemporary Irish literature, Scottish Gaelic literature from the eighteenth century to the present time, creative writing, Gaelic literature in translation, applied language studies (CALL, digitization, language corpora) and Irish folklore.

Postgraduate supervision is available in almost all aspects of Irish and Scottish Gaelic language and literature and in a range of subject areas in the other Celtic languages.

About this course

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The research infrastructure provided by the University is of a high quality. The Institute has a Director who is responsible for the day-to-day running and management of the subject area. There is also a Faculty of Arts Research Committee and a Faculty Research Graduate School. A Pro-Vice-Chancellor has special responsibility for research matters in the University and a Research Department oversees and administers all aspects of research provision. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor meets with the Director of the Research Institute on a regular basis to discuss strategy and priorities and to assess progress.

The main objective of the Institute is to foster and develop a vibrant research culture and
ethos in all aspects of its work. This is reflected in a variety of ways, such as the number of high-quality publications by members of the group, externally-funded research projects,
the organization of conferences and colloquia, international collaborations, and the large number of research students and research degrees awarded.

The Institute has close ties with the scholarly Societies, Societas Celto-Slavica and Societas Celtologica Nordica. Members of the Institute occupy the positions of President and Vice- President of these Societies respectively and edit their academic journals. The Institute also runs a series of research seminars on various aspects of Celtic Studies at which papers are presented by members of the Institute, including research students, and invited guests. Members of the Institute edit Studia Celtica Upsaliensia and Studia Celto-Slavica.

Students are of central importance to the research culture of the subject: they maintain close contact with their supervisors and other staff; they are allocated dedicated space; and they are closely integrated into the fabric of the subject as a whole.

Doctoral Training Centre in the Celtic Languages, Literatures and Cultures

In addition, Ulster is a partner in the new collaborative Doctoral Training Centre in the Celtic Languages, Literatures and Cultures, funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council for the period 2014-19. A consortium of 12 higher education organisations across the UK award doctoral studentships and support the training of students in a new, collaborative fashion. The Consortium Members are the universities of Aberdeen, Bangor, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Oxford, Swansea, Queens University Belfast, Ulster University, the University of the Highlands and Islands/Sabhal Mòr Ostaig, the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, and the University of Wales Centre for Advanced Welsh and Celtic Studies; the Centre is managed by the University of Glasgow. Students are enabled in an unprecedented way to partake of shared supervision and resources across these universities, and to engage with partners outside the higher education sector.

Current Projects

The Institute has generated significant funding and is engaged in a number of prestigious scholarly projects. On-going projects include the following:

  • Languages for the Future: Northern Ireland Languages Strategy (DENI-funded project)
  • Stories of the Sea: A Typological Study of Maritime Memorates in Modern Irish and Scottish Gaelic Folklore Traditions (AHRC-funded project)
  • Concise Irish-English/English-Irish Dictionary (RCUK-funded project)
  • The History of Celtic Studies
  • POOLS and Tools for CLIL Teachers
  • Celtologica-Nordica, Celto-Slavica and Celto-Indica Studies
  • Displaced Poets: Migrant Writing from the Margins in a Scottish Gaelic Context – 1780–1930 and beyond (RCUK-funded project).


As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.

Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.

How to apply

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements.

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Entry Requirements

You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.

If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants

The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.

Careers & opportunities

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Career options

Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).


Ulster University welcomes applications from all sections of the community and from persons with disabilities. It is University policy to assess all applications using academic criteria and on the basis of equality of opportunity and you should be assured that reasonable adjustments will be made should you require them.

Once you have selected your chosen project from the lists available on the Faculty pages, you are advised to make contact with the named supervisor on the project as they will be able to guide you in writing your research proposal.

You should then apply using our online application system:

How to apply

Fees and funding

A number of funded scholarships are available across the University each year for PhD projects. Applications for studentships will be considered on a competitive basis with regard to the candidate's qualifications, skills, experience and interests.

Sources of funding

Fees (per annum)

Full Time:

Home and EU £4121

Overseas £13400

Part Time:

Home and EU £1455

Home and EU (with External Sponsor paying fees) £2070

Overseas £7635

Distance Research Study (Home and EU) £6225

Research facilities and groups

Resources in Irish and Celtic Studies

Research students in Irish and Celtic studies are allocated dedicated space to carry out their research and they have access to computers, library carrels, and the Language Resource Centre. The University and Institute have materials on first and second language acquisition and learning; data banks on errors and error analysis; Modern Irish lexicographical data; a collection of Irish manuscripts of 18th and 19th century texts relating to south-east Ulster; the Enrí Ó Muirgheasa library collection containing important works from the period 1880-1940. The University also collaborates with a number of other Universities on minority language research, corpus linguistics and other projects.

Internet Resources

This guide contains pointers to Internet resources of interest to students and staff in Irish Studies at Ulster. It is not a comprehensive list but is intended to help you begin exploring the Internet: General Irish and Celtic Studies Sites, Irish and Scottish Place-names, Language, Newspapers and Magazines, Dictionaries and Encyclopaedias, Media, Literature, Electronic Journals (mainly table of contents only), Celtic Culture, Electronic Databases, Music, Discussion Lists, Booksellers and Publishers, Institutions specialising in Irish, Gaelic and Celtic Studies.

Princess Grace Irish Library (PGIL)

EIRData 2000 is an extensive set of electronic literary text files dealing with Irish literary authors and their works in all periods, and is a tribute to Irish achievements in literature as well as testament to the Princess Grace’s attachment to her Irish roots. The project is conducted by the University under the aegis of the Princess Grace Foundation (Monaco) with funding dedicated for the purpose by the Ireland Fund Princess Grace Memorial Library in Monaco. PGIL EIRData is an ambitious Internet project in Irish studies comprising an extensive set of digital records dealing with Irish literary authors and their works in all periods. It is the most comprehensive reference source of its kind in any medium, thus providing a robust and uniquely flexible platform for future advances in Irish cultural informatics.

Staff research areas

Professor Ailbhe Ó Corráin

Professor Ó Corráin has written extensively on aspects of Irish and Celtic linguistics and literature. His research interests include the syntax and semantics of the verb in Irish, stylistics, minority languages, Bardic poetry and Irish lexicography. He is author of A Concordance of Idiomatic Expressions in the Writings of Séamus Ó Grianna (Belfast, 1989), a number of books on Bardic poetry and is co-author of The Northern Ireland Languages Strategy (Belfast 2012), is Editor-in-Chief of Studia Celtica Upsaliensia and has edited a number of volumes in the series. He is a Senior Distinguished Researcher at Ulster University and Visiting Professor at the University of Uppsala. He sits on the Management Boards of the School of Celtic Studies, DIAS, the DAH (TCD Long Room Hub) and IHA (Irish Humanities Alliance). With Professor Mac Mathúna, he is Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Concise Irish-English/ English-Irish Dictionary.

Mr Niall Comer

Mr Comer is Lecturer in Irish at Magee and formerly Irish Language Technologist in the Centre for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. He is President of Comhaltas Uladh, the Ulster branch of Conradh na Gaeilge (The Gaelic League) and is working on a doctorate on the place-names of Coleraine and surrounding areas.

Dr Fionntán De Brún

Dr de Brún’s main research interests are in 20th century Modern Irish literature, the Irish Revival, cultural history, film and creative writing. He has written widely on Modern Irish literature, and is the author of the monograph Seosamh Mac Grianna: an Mhéin Rúin (2002). He is also editor of Belfast and the Irish Language (2006). Dr de Brún is in addition a creative writer in Irish and has a won a number of awards for his works.

Dr Liz Doherty

Dr Doherty lectures in traditional music at the Magee campus. As a traditional arts consultant she has worked on various national and international projects, and was a Traditional Arts Specialist with the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon (2005-2008). Her research fields include Cape Breton fiddle music, Irish traditional music, Performance – fiddle Safe Trad (Performance Injury Prevention project) and Traditional arts industry.

Dr Maxim Fomin

Dr Fomin has research interests in Early Irish and Sanskrit. He has written a number of scholarly papers on the question of kingship in early Ireland and India and was Assistant Editor of the AHRC- funded eDIL project, the digitization of the Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of the Irish Language and published Instructions for Kings. Secular and Clerical Images of Kingship in Early Ireland and Ancient India. Heidelberg, 2013. Lecturer in Humanities, he is a founding member and Secretary of Societas Celto-Slavica and is co- editor of the Society’s academic journal.

Dr Art Hughes

Dr Hughes has written on various aspects of Irish and the other Celtic languages, including work on the Irish revival in Belfast in the 18th and 19th centuries, Irish place-names, the dialects of Ulster Irish, bardic poetry and the influence of the Irish language on Ulster English and recently published Late Old Irish lenition and the modern pan-Gaelic verb, pp. 310, Curach Bhán, Berlin 2013. He is on the editorial board of the Journal of Celtic Linguistics and is Celtic languages and literature review editor for Seanchas Ard Mhacha.

Mr Iain MacPherson

Mr MacPherson is a lecturer in Scottish Gaelic and Director of the research project ‘Displaced Poets: Migrant Writing from the Margins in a Scottish Gaelic Context, 1780-1930 and beyond’. He has written and presented the acclaimed film Ìompaireachd nan Gaedheal which had its world premiere at the Belfast campus in 2007. Mr MacPherson is also a creative writer and has published a number of poems in Scottish Gaelic. He was formerly Lecturer in Scottish Gaelic at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the Isle of Skye.

Dr Nioclás Mac Cathmhaoil

Dr Mac Cathmhaoil is Lecturer in Irish at the Magee campus. A specialist in Ulster Irish of the 18th and 19th centuries, he was awarded his doctorate in 2010 for a thesis on the author and scribe Muiris Ó Gormáin which has been published as Muiris Ó Gormáin: Saol agus Saothar Fileata. Cló-Iarchonnacht. 2013. He is currently working on editing a number of bardic poems.

Professor Séamus Mac Mathúna

Professor Mac Mathúna is Professor Emeritus and has published widely on various aspects of Irish language and literature. His research interests include medieval voyage literature, Irish linguistics, bardic poetry, minority languages, and Irish lexicography. Founding President of Societas Celto- Slavica, he is joint editor of the Society’s scholarly journal, sits on the Editorial and Management Boards of the Dictionary of Modern Irish (Foclóir na Nua-Ghaeilge) based in the Royal Irish Academy, and is consultant editor and external reader for the academic series Studia Celtica Upsaliensia. Chair of the 2008 UK Research Assessment Exercise’s Celtic Studies Sub-Panel, he is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and Member of the Royal Irish Academy. With Professor Ó Corráin, he is Co-Editor- in-Chief of the Collins Concise Irish Dictionary.

Ms Nóilín Nic Bhloscaidh

Ms Nic Bhloscaidh is Lecturer in Irish at the Belfast campus. She has a Masters in Early Irish from University College Galway and is presently completing her doctoral dissertation on loan words in Irish.

Dr Gearóid Ó Domagáin

Dr Ó Domagáin is RCUK Fellow working on the Concise Irish-English/English-Irish Dictionary. He was awarded his doctorate on the present state of Irish in the parish of Gort a’ Choirce, Co. Donegal, in 2009. His is course director for the MA in Modern and Contemporary Irish at the Belfast campus.

Dr Caoimhín Ó Dónaill

Dr Ó Dónaill has research interests in Early Irish and in the application of technology to the study of Modern Irish. He is Ulster’s representative on the Tools for CLIL Teachers, has been a researcher on the research project Linking Dictionaries and Texts, is Irish Language Technologist for the Centre of Excellence for Teaching and Learning, and has published an edition of Talann Étair in the Maynooth Monograph Series of the Department of Old Irish.

Dr Malachy O’Neill

Dr Ó Néill is head of the School of Irish language and Literature having been appointed to a Lectureship in Irish at the Magee campus in 2008. His doctorate – an edition of An Leabhar Eoghanach – was awarded in 2007. Formerly editor of An tUltach (2007-10), Dr Ó Néill is Irish language editor of Dúiche Néill.

Dr Frank Sewell

Dr Sewell has research interests in Modern and contemporary writing in Irish, bilingual writing in Ireland, translation, creative writing, and international aspects of Irish literature, especially Russian and Slavonic links. He has written extensively on all of these areas and has received a number of prestigious awards for his work, including the Arts Council Literature Award in 1999 and 2001. He is author of Modern Irish Poetry: A New Alhambra (Oxford: OUP, 2000), published in 2001 and Selected Poems: Seán Ó Ríordáin. Yale University Press 2014.

Dr Peter Smith

Dr Smith has research interests in both modern and medieval Irish, Irish folklore and folk song, and sociolinguistics. Among his publications is a Bibliography of Irish literature relating to South-East Ulster and a number of articles in peer-reviewed publications on Irish historical verse. In 2008 he published Three Middle-Irish Historical Poems Ascribed to Gilla Cóemáin: A Critical Edition of the Work of an 11th-Century Irish Scholar and Politics and Land in Early Ireland: A Poem by Eochaid Úa Flainn. Éitset áes ecna aíbind, Berlin: Curach Bhán Publications, 2013.

Dr Iwan Wmffre

Dr Wmffre is Lecturer in Brittonic and Celtic Studies. He is a specialist on Breton and Cornish, Welsh place-names, and Celtic phonology and sociolinguistics. In addition to having published a number of academic articles in scholarly journals, he is author of Language and Place-names in Wales: The Evidence of Toponomy in Cardiganshire (Cardiff, 2003) and The Place-names of Cardiganshire (Oxford, 2004) Dynamic Linguistics: Labov, Martinet, Jakobson and other precursors of the dynamic approach to language description Peter Lang 2013 and A Dynamic Description of Lampeter Welshː Volume 1, Bangor, 2013.


Contact: Professor Jan Jedrzejewski

Acting Director, Irish and Celtic Studies Research Institute

Tel: +44 (0)28 7012 4553



I graduated from Ulster University in 2012 with a first class Bachelor of Arts Honours Degree in Irish Language and Literature. I gained invaluable experience during the course of my studies while researching for my undergraduate dissertation and while researching for a Masters of Research. I graduated with distinction for my thesis entitled ‘Tradisiún an Cheoil ar Oileán Thoraigh’ in 2013.

At present I am a graduate student researching for my PhD thesis entitled ‘The Irish of An Tearmann, Co Donegal’ under the supervision of Professor Ailbhe Ó Corráin and Dr. Peter Smith.

I intend to carry out a comprehensive linguistic analysis of the Irish dialect of An Tearmann, Co Donegal in its terminal phase. This important dialect has not been previously linguistically investigated. There is a very small number of native speakers remaining in the parish of An Tearmann and it is important that this is recorded and archived for a number of reasons.

Póilín Uí Ghallachóir PhD Student