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, minority languages, language policy and planning, contact linguistics and language change, sociolinguistics, the syntax and semantics of the verb in Irish, modern and contemporary Irish literature, creative writing, Gaelic literature in translation, applied language studies (CALL, digitization, language corpora) and Irish folklore, oral tradition and heritage studies.

Postgraduate supervision is available in almost all aspects of Irish language and literature.


The research infrastructure provided by the University is of a high quality. PhD opportunities in Irish and Celtic are overseen by both the Doctoral College on Belfast and Magee campuses and by the Research Unit for Modern Languages and Linguistics who work in close partnership.

The main objective of the Celtic Studies team 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 PhD Researchers and research degrees awarded.

PhD Researchers 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.

Current Projects

The Research Unit for Modern Languages and Linguistics is engaged in a number of academic scholarly initiatives in the area of Irish and Celtic Studies, including:

Éigse Loch Lao

Éigse Cholm Cille

An Atlas of the Verbal Morphology of the Gaelic Linguistic Traditions

Irish Language Rights: A Framework for Compliance

Language attainment In Irish medium schools

Post-print MSS Cultures on the Atlantic Fringe

European Scholars Collecting Irish Folklore in Traditional Ireland


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 Research Unit have materials on first and second language acquisition and learning; 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.

Entry requirements

Applicants should hold, or expect to obtain, a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree in a subject relevant to the proposed area of study. We may also consider applications from those who hold equivalent qualifications, for example, a Lower Second Class Honours Degree plus a Master’s Degree with Distinction.

In exceptional circumstances, the University may consider a portfolio of evidence from applicants who have appropriate professional experience which is equivalent to the learning outcomes of an Honours degree in lieu of academic qualifications.

English language requirements

In order to be admitted to research study at Ulster, you will need to provide evidence of your English language proficiency as part of your application.

Get full details on the requirements for both home and overseas applicants can be found on our English language requirements page.

Careers and opportunities

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), and while two thirds end up in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the range of skills acquired equips the remainder for employment in a wide range of contexts.

Fees and funding

Tuition fees

Details of tuition fees can be found under the fees schedule for the academic year of entry.

To work out for which fees you would be eligible and to find out more information about potential sources of funding, please view the Fees and Funding pages on the Doctoral College website.


We are delighted that you are considering Ulster University for your research studies.

Get full details on the application process and further guidance on how to apply, and what you will need to upload as part of your application.

Once you have identified supervisors, discussed a research proposal and are ready to make an application, please apply using the online application system.

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.


I'm from county Monaghan originally and I did my undergraduate degree and Masters in the Irish language in NUI Galway. For my doctoral study I carried out a research project on the performance and transmission of Irish language storytelling in Donegal in modern times and down to the current day.I am very glad that I undertook this PhD project. It was certainly the most challenging and intense piece of work that I have done in my life but as a learning opportunity and as a platform for launching into other areas of activity it was unbeatable. Those storytellers whom I was working with in Donegal formed the basis of this research and were beyond helpful. I learned a lot from them.Also, I couldn't have completed this work if it wasn't for the talented and supportive staff involved in teaching and research in the Irish language on the Belfast and Magee campuses.

Seanán Mac Aoidh - PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics

Having enjoyed a teaching career in Co. Wexford, I decided it was time to pick up the pace and challenge myself. While I researched supervisors the length and breadth of the country, it became apparent very quickly that the Irish department at the University has a fantastic team of academics with a broad scope of research opportunities. I presented my project ideas and was very lucky to have secured a VCRS research scholarship to study at Ulster University. My project looked at the stylistic features in oral and written literature in a very well known Irish speaking family in the Donegal Gaeltacht. I spent a considerable amount of time burning the midnight oil at Magee Library analysing and coding Irish material. I was very lucky to have had the support of two fantastic supervisors, Prof Ailbhe Ó Corráin and Dr Peter Smith, who provided endless encouragement and support over the years. I would sincerely like to thank the Irish Department for their dedication in promoting Irish

Michael Casey - PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics

I studied at undergraduate, masters and PhD level at Ulster University. I began my studies here in 2011, and have enjoyed my time at the university immensely. My proudest moment was without doubt completing my PhD and receiving such positive feedback from my Viva. Writing a doctoral thesis is a long and oftentimes difficult process, I am proud of myself for persevering, even when it seemed that I would never get to the end. I could not have gotten through this process without the understanding and support of my parents, husband and friends, who understood when I had to prioritise my research over time with them. My parents believed I could achieve anything, and my husband supported me through the highs and lows of doctoral research.My supervisors were an integral part in getting this piece of work over the line, Fionntán encouraged me in pursuing this line of research since my first semester in my undergraduate degree, and without he and Gearóid constantly reminding me I would see

Tricia Carr - PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics

Having enjoyed a teaching career for many years the opportunity to further my education presented itself in 2014 and I enrolled in Ulster University. I attended the Magee Campus in Derry and began a Master of Research programme. I graduated with distinction in 2016, but the journey did not end here. In September 2017, having secured a VCRS research scholarship, I enrolled as a full-time PhD researcher in Magee University. I embraced this new role with diligence and enthusiasm. My project was entitled Paidreacha Traidisiúnta, Dánta Diaga agus Stair na Comhaimsire: Lánléargas ar Mheon Spioradálta Chaitlicigh Uladh, ón Ochtú hAois Déag go dtí an Fichiú hAois (Traditional Prayers, Religious Poetry and Contemporary History: A Panorama of the Mindset of the Catholics of Ulster, from the Eighteenth Century to the Twentieth Century). This research was conducted through the lens of a thoroughgoing examination of a representative corpus of religious text in verse form that had its

Margaret McDermott - PhD in Modern Languages and Linguistics