Ulster University pioneered the development of Communication and Media Studies in higher education, introducing one of the first communication and media studies degrees in the UK and Ireland in 1978. For over forty years Ulster scholars of Media and Communication have been at the forefront of pioneering research-led learning in the field and have played a significant and direct role in establishing the first RAE panel in the subject in the mid 1990s, as well as in subsequent research exercises in the 2000s. In 2003, our researchers were awarded a £3.1 million grant from SPUR (Support Programme for University Research) to set up the Centre For Media Research (CMR) and, since 2016, all research across media and communication at Ulster is conducted through the CMR, located within the School of Communication and Media. In the 2008 Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), we ranked as the tenth best research department in the UK. In the 2014 REF, the research profile for Media Studies shows that 60% of all work has been judged as being of ‘international excellence’; within this proportion, 21% is judged as having the highest accolade: ‘world leading’. The unit also scored highly in the Impact section of the REF, with 100% of its impact case studies scored at 4*/3*.


Looking forward to REF 2021 and beyond, The Centre For Media Research at Ulster is supporting and developing the work of a new generation of researchers in the following areas of activity:

1) emerging media, pedagogy and creative industries

  • (supervisors: Adrian Hickey, Alan Hook, Helen Jackson, Colm Murphy).

2) critical, cultural and political theory, media policy and political communication

  • (supervisors: Richard Ekins, Robert Porter, Phil Ramsey,)

3) the politics of the image in Ireland and beyond

  • (supervisors: Steve Baker, Gail Baylis, Sarah Edge, Jolene Mairs-Dyer).

4) health communication, organisational communication, inter-personal communication, PR/Lobbying and marketing

  • (supervisors: Noreen Giffney, Maggie Long, Aodheen McCartan, Kerry-Ann Porter)

We welcome applications from prospective applicants working in and across any of these areas.



In order to support our internationally excellent and world leading research PhD candidates will have access to a range of high end production facilities and industry level equipment. PhD Researchers have access to both broadcast and black box television studios across the campuses, industry standard production equipment for film and televisual content (4K cameras, field recorders, lighting kits, outside broadcast equipment), immersive content (high spec edit suites, 360 cameras, VR Headsets), audio (sound studios, portable audio recording equipment) and access to high end edit and production computer equipment as well as the full Adobe CC suite.

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 moved overseas from Canada to Northern Ireland to pursue my PhD studies in 2017. Before this, I was a museum curator who spent a lot of time researching, designing and installing large public exhibitions. Having spent some (work-related) time in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland before my PhD studies, I was delighted to return to the beautiful island as a PhD researcher. My PhD research was (predictably) full of all kinds of challenges, but it was also incredibly rewarding—especially in terms of building knowledge around my research area and establishing research (and social) networks with individuals from around the world.Some of the brightest moments along the way, included the opportunity to present my PhD research and conduct additional field research in various non-western nations. These were important events that eventually led to the beginnings of what is now a growing co-authored publication record. I also owe much of the above success to my incredible PhD

Amy McCroy - PhD in Communication, Cultural and Media Studies, Library and Information Management