UCC Postgraduate courses

Cohort PhD in Education

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Course Fact File
Duration4 Years
NFQ LevelLevel 10
Closing DateClosed for applications
Non-EU Closing DateClosed for applications
Start DateSeptember 2024

Course Outline

The Cohort PhD in Education is a full-time cohort-based programme which runs for 48 months from the date of first registration for the programme.

The programme involves the completion of high-level research work leading to the submission and examination of a PhD Thesis (up to a maximum of 60,000 words), work on which is undertaken over the 48 months of the programme. The thesis will be completed and submitted for assessment at the end of Year 4. To support preparation of the thesis candidates take a minimum of coursework/research training modules to the value of 40 credits over the first three years of the programme.

Academic Programme Catalogue

See the Academic Programme Catalogue where you can search for the complete and up-to-date content for this course. Note that the modules for all courses are subject to change from year to year. For complete descriptions of individual modules, see the Book of Modules.

Why Choose This Course

In keeping with its strong emphasis on research and publication, the School of Education UCC offers a Cohort PhD programme in Education that welcomes applicants both national and international

The introduction of the Cohort PhD in the School of Education in 2008 was a response to the demand for doctoral-level work in the field of education in Ireland. It was also a response to changing views about doctoral study reflected in the international critique of the solo scholar/supervisor model of the traditional PhD, particularly concerning the need for more systematic training in a broader range of advanced research methodologies. The Cohort PhD offers a cohort experience from the beginning of the four-year programme, requiring the kind of collaboration and responsibility expected in high-level professional practice.  

 It aims to enhance high-level professional practice in the field of education by enabling professionals to articulate existing and new expertise and develop the knowledge and skills required of the expert. An expert is someone who has an intellectual and practical ability, particularly in terms of collaboration, reflexivity and responsibility, to meet the challenge of developing new and responsive practices and to mediate knowledge in increasingly complex professional environments. The Cohort PhD develops such expertise by meeting professional research needs within a structured learning environment. The central aim of the programme is to enable education professionals to develop the kind of advanced knowledge and analytical skills necessary to interpret and undertake varied kinds of research to enhance policy and professional practice in a wide range of educational settings.

Skills and Careers Information

Cohort PhD researchers in Cohort 1 (2008), Cohort 2 (2011), and Cohort 3 (2019) have been or are working in schools (teachers and school management), adult/further education sectors, third-level (lecturers in university) and others working in the field of education (agencies, government departments) or cognate areas of professional practice with an interest in developing their expertise in teaching, learning, assessment and/or policy analysis. 


Applicants must have: 

  • A Second Class Honours Grade 1 in a primary honours degree (NFQ, Level 8) and an appropriate Postgraduate Diploma (NFQ, Level 9) and/or Master’s (NFQ, Level 9) with at least a Second Class Honours and
  • At least three years relevant professional experience in education or cognate field. 

As part of the online application applicants must supply statements detailing: 

Research interests, which must include each of the following headings: 

  • What area/topic do you plan to research 
  • What research experience do you have 
  • What is the significance of your research area/topic and why does it motivate you 

Please note that the above is not a detailed research proposal but rather a brief statement (max. 2,000 characters/~500 words) of your research interests and experience in research to date.  The detailed research proposal will be developed later, post admission.

Motivation statement, which must include each of the following headings: 

  • Why do you want to do a PhD 
  • What elements of doing a PhD do you expect to be most demanding for you 
  • What elements are you most looking forward to 

Consideration under Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) may also be given to applicants who do not meet the minimum academic entry requirements as stated above but who present with suitable professional qualifications and substantial education-related professional experience. In such cases, the applicant must clearly set out the grounds upon which they wish to be considered in the motivation statement. 


For Applicants with Qualifications Completed Outside of Ireland

Applicants must meet the required entry academic grade, equivalent to Irish requirements. For more information see our Qualification Comparison page.

International/Non-EU Applicants

For full details of the non-EU application procedure visit our how to apply pages for international students.

  • In UCC, we use the term programme and course interchangeably to describe what a person has registered to study in UCC and its constituent colleges, schools, and departments.
  • Note that not all courses are open to international/non-EU applicants, please check the fact file above. For more information contact the International Office.
English Language Requirements

Applicants who are non-native speakers of the English language must meet the university-approved English language requirements. Vsit our PG English Language Requirements page for more information.

Fees and Costs

Postgraduate EU and International Fees 2024/2025

See our Postgraduate EU and Non-EU (International) Fee Schedule for the latest information.


If your course requires a deposit, that figure will be deducted from your second-semester fee payment in January.

Fee payment 

Fees are payable in two equal instalments. First payment is at registration and the balance usually by the end of January.

How can I pay? 

See different options on our How Do I Pay My Fees? page.

Any questions? See the 'Contact Us' section on the Fees Office page.

How To Apply

1. Check dates

Check the opening and closing dates for the application process in the fact file boxes at the top of the page.

2. Gather documents

Scanned copies of supporting documents have to be uploaded to the UCC online application portal and include:

  • Original qualification documents listed on your application including transcripts of results from institutions other than UCC.
  • Any supplementary items requested for your course if required.

3. Apply online

Apply online via the UCC online application portal. Note the majority of our courses have a non-refundable €50 application fee.

Any questions? Use our web enquiry form to contact us.

The closing date for non-EU applications is Closed for applications

Apply Now

For queries regarding course content or timetables please contact