Funded PhD Opportunity A Critical Analysis of Citizenship Education in Northern Ireland

This opportunity is now closed.

Subject: Education


The signing of the Northern Ireland peace agreement in 1998 and the establishment of a new, devolved Assembly had significant implications for education in terms of how children and young people might learn about the political conflict, the new political arrangements and the functioning of democracy within their society. For more than ten years the School of Education at Ulster University was centrally involved in the development of a new civic and political education programme piloted within post-primary schools. This programme was eventually adopted by the Department of Education and curriculum authorities. By 2007, Local and Global Citizenship (LGC) was introduced as a statutory requirement for all schools at Key Stage 3 (age 12–14) and an optional GCSE examination subject at Key Stage 4 (age 15–16).

LGC is an inquiry-based curriculum that explores four core sets of concepts (‘Diversity and Inclusion’; ‘Human Rights and Social Responsibilities’; ‘Equality and Social Justice’; and ‘Democracy and Active Participation’). It includes opportunities to ‘investigate how and why conflict, including prejudice, stereotyping, sectarianism and racism may arise in the community’.

The citizenship framework also includes opportunities to examine key human rights commitments and investigate ways of strengthening democratic participation as an alternative to violence. Proposals designed to investigate the current status and impact of citizenship  education are welcome, particularly the extent to which it has contributed to the ‘political literacy’ of children and young people in NI.

Research designs may wish to draw on previous surveys that include relevant questions such as the Young Life and Times survey, and more international data generated by the IEA Civic and Citizenship Education Study.


Arlow, M. 1999. “Citizenship Education in a Contested Society.” Development Education Journal 6 (1):14–15.

Smith, A. 2003. “Citizenship Education in Northern Ireland: Beyond National Identity?” Cambridge Journal of Education 33 (1): 15–32.

Worden, E.A. and Smith, A. (2017) “Teaching for democracy in the absence of transitional justice: The case of Northern Ireland.” Comparative Education, 53(3): 379-395.

Websites: Northern Ireland Council for the Curriculum Education and Assessment (CCEA) Young Life and Times IEA Civic and Citizenship Education Study

Essential Criteria

  • Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC)
  • Sound understanding of subject area as evidenced by a comprehensive research proposal
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • Research project completion within taught Masters degree or MRES



    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £15,009 per annum for three years. EU applicants will only be eligible for the fees component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided).  For Non EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK.

Other information

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Key Dates

Submission Deadline
Monday 19 February 2018
Interview Date
31 March 2018

Contact Supervisor

Professor Alan Smith

Other Supervisors

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Visit and quote reference number #238642 when applying for this PhD opportunity