PhD Degree Courses

The School of Chemistry at University College Cork has a strong research tradition and is an excellent place to pursue an advanced-level degree in chemistry. These are exciting times in the school. We have expanded considerably over the last few years with the addition of new academic staff as well as new and upgraded facilities and equipment. With a massive increase in research funding and the strong emphasis now being placed on science and technology, Ireland at this time is an excellent place to pursue an advanced degree.

‌Our academic staff are active researchers and are seeking to push back the boundaries of knowledge in their respective fields. The School is well represented in the four traditional areas of chemistry; inorganic, organic, analytical, and physical, where we have strong research groups. At the same time, we are carrying out productive interdisciplinary research and have strong collaborations across other scientific disciplines and research institutes at UCC.

Opportunities for postgraduate MSc Research or PhD studies at UCC or abroad are enormous. We have one of the largest postgraduate schools in UCC. It has established an international reputation in many areas of research, and staff members have received international recognition in their fields. Many graduate level training and research links have been established with local, national and international industry and other departments and research centres in UCC.

Postgraduate Doctoral Degrees

Students who excel in their undergraduate studies and enjoy their experience of research during their undergraduate training may want to continue their education by pursuing a PhD degree. Doctoral research allows students to probe a scientific problem at a very deep level and make an original contribution to advancing knowledge in a particular field. During the doctorate, which typically takes three to four years, students will be exposed to and use a wide range of scientific techniques that they learned about during their undergraduate studies, get practice in analysing their data, and gain the valuable experience of writing a PhD thesis and publishing their results in the scientific literature. It is also the time when young scientists learn to work independently, develop their skills in setting up and carrying out experiments, and hone their scientific intuition.

As the highest academic qualification, a PhD provides the holder with a superior qualification, not only for chemistry, but in a diverse range of technical, academic, and managerial careers. The doctorate is essential for an academic career. In fact, while doctoral studies postpone regular employment, the significantly higher starting salary and superior possibilities for progression in most careers mean that PhD holders typically make up and surpass holders of bachelors or masters degree in just a few years, as the American Chemical Society finds in its annual career analysis.

‌Take advantage of the School of Chemistry’s reputation, international collaborations, and research strengths when considering where to pursue your doctorate. Interested students with a first or upper second in chemistry or a closely related discipline should contact a potential advisor to discuss suitable research projects before applying for the PhD programme. Please also see information about funding for doctoral studies.

Structured PhD in Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry

NFQ Level 10, Major Award

The structured PhD in Organic and Pharmaceutical Chemistry, in the School of Chemistry and ABCRF, is a full-time programme of four years duration from the date of first registration of the candidates; the programme applies automatically if mandated by a funding agency.

The possibility of a three year arrangement is not excluded for self-funded individuals, if judged to be appropriate by the research supervisor. Students will take the six mandatory modules: PG6026, CM6101, CM7002, CM7003, CM7006 and CM7007). Additional modules taken either for credit or on a voluntary basis (agreement of the supervisor is required) cannot be offset against the time required for laboratory based research. Research supervisors may prescribe additional modules to cater for any deficiencies in the primary degree background of the student. Assignment of additional modules in these circumstances will be decided at a meeting involving the student and the research supervisor/supervisory team (as appropriate) early in the PhD 1 year.

For further information, contact Professor A.R. Maguire.

Studentships & Funding

Our academic staff are always pleased to hear from talented students who are interested in pursuing an advanced degree. We are also eager to support academically gifted students in their applications for funding. 

There are generally two sources of available funding:

  • Funding for studentships that individual UCC researchers have as part of their research grants.
  • Funding that is awarded by an external funding agency directly to the student.

Each of these options has their own deadlines and requirements, and both are competitive processes. For studentships advertised by members of the School of Chemistry, interested students should contact the person involved directly (preferably by e-mail first) providing a cover letter, CV, and academic transcripts. For applications to external funding agencies, suitably qualified students should get in touch with their desired PhD advisor well in advance (preferably one to two months) of the deadline. In this case, the student and PhD advisor will discuss a suitable project and then apply for the funding together.  

Please note that students from outside the European Union pay higher tuition fees to the university, which is not always figured into studentship funding.

A limited number of studentships are granted each year by the various funding bodies and competition for these awards is very intense. Typically, students wishing to apply for these studentships should have excellent academic credentials: a first (or equivalent) would normally be a prerequisite for these awards. The award would require some effort from your side and would be applied for in conjunction with your desired PhD advisor, who would have to prepare a project proposal for the award. These competitive awards are an excellent option if you are a high academic achiever and think that you are a serious contender for one of these awards. While the awards typically cover fees, a stipend for living expenses, a laptop, and conference travel expenses, their real value lies in being able to list the award on your CV, which would be a very strong point in your favour in future job applications.  As such, you should consider applying for one of these awards even if your desired advisor has their own funding for studentships. Remember to contact potential advisors well in advance of the funding deadline. The Irish Research Council is the main avenue for postgraduate (MSc, PhD and Postdoctorate) funding.

Applications for Irish Research Council studentships are generally due in October or November of each year. Only a very limited number of awards are granted every year and competition is open to all students wishing to study in Ireland and is across all science and technology subjects.  For more details, please visit the Irish Research Council.

How to Apply

Full details on how to apply for a postgraduate research course are availabe from the Graduate Studies Office. Information is also available for Non-EU postgraduate applicants.

School of Chemistry

Scoil na Ceimic

Second Floor, Kane Building, University College Cork, T12 YN60