Research Degrees

Research Degrees

The Department of Archaeology offers a research master degree through the two-year MPhil programme and a doctoral degree through the PhD programme. Please see the sections below for more information on these programmes and don't hesitate to contact us should you have any queries or require further information.

MPhil Research Degree

The Department of Archaeology offers a two-year research masters degree to applicants with a good honours degree in archaeology from a recognized university. This full-time programme also has a PhD-track feature for students who are approved for doctoral studies after the first year.

Students taking the research masters programme will receive training and academic supervision as part of a larger Research Group in the department. Each student agrees to undertake a particular research project leading to a major thesis after two years. Entry to the M.Phil. programme requires a 2.1 honours BA degree in archaeology or closely related discipline from a recognized university, or the equivalent in the Higher Diploma in Archaeology or comparable programme. Each MPhil applicant will initially be interviewed by the Professor of Archaeology and subsequently by the director of the Research Group s/he is interested in joining. MPhil students are required to complete their research within two years of initial registration, unless they upgrade to a PhD in the second year.


Formal application to this programme must be made on-line at: (ref: CKF13)

Contact Professor William O’Brien ( to discuss your interest in these programmes.

PhD Research Degree

This is the most important of our postgraduate programmes, where suitably qualified and highly motivated students undertake intensive work on a chosen topic over four years, as part of a particular Research Group in the department. There are two ways to enter the doctoral programme:

1. Direct entry:
This is for students who hold a masters qualification in archaeology or closely cognate discipline (minimum 2.1 honours) from a recognized university.

2. MPhil upgrade:
Students who complete the first year of the MPhil degree may apply to join the PhD programme in their second year. The formal application procedure requires the submission of written work, an interview and the support of the academic supervisor.


Formal application to this programme must be made on-line at: (ref: CKG15)

Contact Professor William O’Brien ( to discuss your interest in these programmes.

Postgraduate Research Support

There are several funding opportunities for students interested in postgraduate research in UCC. These include the award of a President’s Scholarship, College fellowships, departmental bursaries, as well as local authority grants and the Government of Ireland scholarships awarded by the IRCHSS. Research students have the option of gaining small-group teaching experience by working as paid teaching assistants and as laboratory and fieldwork demonstrators.

All research students are allocated work space in dedicated research rooms and are supported by a range of departmental facilities. The department has an induction programme for new research students and provides training in research methods and practical skills in the first year.

Staff members are available to supervise postgraduate research in the following areas:

Professor William O'Brien 
Early metallurgy and metal-using societies in Ireland and Atlantic Europe; the, Bronze Age and Iron Age in Ireland; prehistoric ritual monuments and religious belief; landscape archaeology; mining archaeology; the prehistory of south-west Ireland; the prehistoric archaeology of the Cork region.

Dr Tomás Ó Carragáin 
Early medieval archaeology especially of Ireland and other regions of Atlantic Europe; landscape and settlement archaeology; early medieval sculpture; early medieval architecture; the archaeology of Christianisation; the archaeology of ritual and religion; monastic and church archaeology.

Dr Barra Ó Donnabháin 
Bioarchaeology; Biological anthropology; hospitals and healthcare in medieval Ireland; Viking Age migration in the North Atlantic; Celts and the archaeology of identity; mortuary theory and commemoration; performative violence in medieval Ireland.

Dr Colin Rynne 
Technological development and social agency in early medieval Europe; later medieval agriculture in Ireland; the archaeology of post-medieval and later historic Ireland; buildings archaeology and conservation strategy.

Mr John Sheehan MA 
Ecclesiastical archaeology of Early Medieval Ireland; Viking age silver in Ireland and Britain; Irish settlement in the north Atlantic region.

Dr Ben Geary 
Environmental archaeology, palynology and palaeoecology; landscape archaeology

Dr Katharina Becker
My research interests span a variety of aspects of the archaeology of Later Prehistoric Ireland, including the Late Bronze Age and Iron Age. In previous and current projects I have worked on the site record of these periods ranging from settlement, industrial to burial and other ritual sites. I work on datasets contained in the so-called 'grey literature' and have an interest in methodological issues associated with the analysis of 14C radiocarbon sets. Other research, including my PhD research dealt with the interpretation of artefact deposition and hoards. Artefact studies, particular of metalwork, from typo-chronology to materiality inform my broader research interests in to the articulation of social and cultural identities and their change, in Ireland in particular relevant in relation to questions of ethnic identities and the issue of the Celts. I am happy to supervise MPhil and PhD dissertations in these and related areas.

Dr Griffin Murray
Medieval art and craftsmanship in Ireland, and the Insular and Viking worlds; medieval artefacts from Ireland, especially metalwork; the archaeology of medieval Cork and the Munster region; the history of museums and collections; the history of archaeology and antiquarianism; ethics and museums.

Mr Nick Hogan MA 
Research support: Archaeological field methods; digital archaeology

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