The School of Applied Social and Policy Sciences has a vibrant and multi-disciplinary research environment, which is home to a wide range of research projects that tackle important questions in the social sciences. We have an excellent international reputation for producing high quality research which has global impact. Our work is centred around three key themes: persistent and emerging socio-economic challenges, policy and practice in divided societies, and national global social justice.

If you are interested in joining our School as a PhD candidate, you can be confident that you’ll be joining a community of committed researchers, who offer dedicated and tailored supervision.  You will be fully integrated into the research environment within the school and join a lively research student community.

The School has three pathways for applicants: we assess applications for self-funded study all year round; we invite applicants to apply to the University’s annual competition for doctoral scholarships; and we participate in the Northern Ireland and North-East Doctoral Training Partnership of the Economic and Social Research Council.

For more information on each of these pathways, and how to prepare an application, including how to draft a research proposal, please visit our School’s webpage that describes the variety of PhD Opportunities.


Youth and Community Studies at Ulster University

Our centre of research has excelled in collaboration both internally and internationally on a range of prioritized multi-disciplinary themes. We provide a unique opportunity for highly motivated and exceptionally talented people to invest in their future career by embarking on their PhD study within our distinguished and highly acclaimed centre of research.

We have developed a healthy culture of sharing supervision across multi-disciplinary subjects, bringing fresh perspectives to the research, enhancing the student experience and knowledge. The empirical marker of our academic productivity and success, can be traced through the number of PhDs that have completed with us, and impacted their specific professional practice.

We encourage applicants who are interested in pursuing research in our areas of expertise that include: emancipatory praxis; social justice, community initiatives in regeneration, community planning, critical dialogue in transforming local communities by community led participatory action research. We are committed to the pedagogical study of discourses in adult education and in particular, widening participation to include marginalised non-traditional students in higher education. We have initiated a range of peace and conflict innovations. We are currently actioning study around community responses to Covid-19 within an All-Ireland context, and working in partnership with colleagues from Social Work on community development as a core component of social work practice.

Our priority research interest is about transforming communities through emancipatory praxis led by local community development professionals, and we have established a significant All Ireland partnership through our Professional body which broadens our research reach.

Key research themes include:

  • Grassroots experience of post-conflict transition and transitional justice studies
  • The impact of disadvantage and widening participation
  • Adult education transforming individuals and communities
  • Community Relations and peace building
  • Professional development in Community Development
  • Social justice promoting policy change that impacts local communities and transforms lives of the disenfranchised

We welcome interest from prospective PhD candidates in any of these areas.

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.