Course Overview

The PhD in Child and Youth Research is a four-year full-time or six-year part-time structured PhD programme delivered as part of a collaboration between the School of Psychology and the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre (CFRC) at the School of Political Science and Sociology.

This interdisciplinary programme responds to an identified need for researchers with the requisite, high-level and wide-ranging experience and skills to undertake the kind of work that is needed in an evidence-informed policy environment.

The programme combines thesis and taught modules.  All students must complete a major dissertation (c.80,000 words).  The taught modules which are delivered in years one and two provide course participants with the opportunity to widen their knowledge and skill base as well as feeding into the development of their thesis work. 

A wide range of topics are covered including:

  • Children’s rights
  • Child protection
  • Working with Commissioners
  • Randomised controlled trials in applied social settings
  • Social context of child development (role of family, peers, culture)
  • Pro-social behaviour and risk-taking in young people
  • Masculinity and emerging adulthood
  • Theories of child development
  • Early years provision
  • Spaces and places of childhood
  • Political Theory, Children, and Young People
  • Participatory Research Methods with young people
  • Sociological perspectives on childhood

Programme aims

  • To prepare programme participants to conduct high quality policy and practice-relevant research and programme evaluation with children and young people
  • To develop programme participants’ knowledge and skills in key theoretical, methodological, policy and practice areas relating to children
  • To provide graduates with the set of generic work-skills to facilitate their successful entry into the full range of employment settings 

Programmes Available


  • Structured PhD (Child and Youth Research), full-time 
  • Structured PhD (Child and Youth Research), part-time 

Applications are made online via the University of Galway Postgraduate Applications System

Applications must also include the following

  • A personal statement (300 words)
  • A curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of reference from academic referees.
  • A research proposal (1,000 words)

Candidates are encouraged to consult with a potential supervisor before applying.

Application deadline is Tuesday June 8, 2021


Learning Outcomes

Entry Requirements

Entrants will be expected to have an upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent international qualification) in a social science. If applicants do not have a degree of that kind, they must have demonstrated high ability by some other means (e.g., through publications or achievement in a higher degree). Garda vetting is required for students participating in this programme.

Who’s Suited to This Course

‌Applications are welcome from individuals with strong policy and practice experience in relation to children and young people.  



Current research projects

Current funded research opportunity

Work Placement

Related Student Organisations

Career Opportunities

Find a Supervisor / PhD Project

If you are still looking for a potential supervisor or PhD project or would like to identify the key research interests of our academic staff and researchers, you can use our online portal to help in that search

Research Areas

  • The Social World of the Child 
  • Research Ethics and Pragmatics 
  • Qualitative Research Methods 
  • Quantitative Research Methods 
  • Global Policy and Research
  • Youth and Society 

Researcher Profiles

See and the staff pages on the School of Psychology website for information on staff research interests.

Course Fees

Fees: EU

€5,750 p.a. (€5,890 including levy) 2024/25

Fees: Non EU

€14,500 p.a. (€14,640 including levy) 2024/25

Extra Information

EU Part time: Year 1 €4,250 p.a. (€4,390 including levy) 2024/25

All students, irrespective of funding, must pay the student levy of €140.

Contact Us

Programme Directors: 

  • Dr John Canavan, UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre (CFRC) at the School of Political Science and Sociology)
  • Dr Caroline Heary School of Psychology
  • Dr Allyn Fives, UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre (CFRC) at the School of Political Science and Sociology
  • Dr Padraig MacNeela, School of Psychology
  • Ms Nuala Donohue, School of Psychology  & the School of Political Science and Sociology

General Programme Queries:

Nuala Donohue, Programme Administrator
T: +353 91 493 678

Next Intake:

Next Intake on the Programme is September 2021. Application deadline: 8 June 2021.

What Our Students Say

Dr. Lisa Ann

Dr. Lisa Ann Kennedy |   Centre for Excellence for Looked After Children in Scotland

Taking part in the Structured PhD in Child and Youth Research was an invaluable experience. The course afforded me the opportunity to meet a range of world-class experts, to partake in workshops headed by leaders in the field of youth research, and to connect with other early-career researchers with similar interests. I found the dedicated core staff to be approachable and helpful. Being part of this course was challenging, rewarding and enriching. I gained a range of specific and transferable skills which has led to me embarking on an exciting career path that I had not considered prior to commencing the course.