PhD Application Guidelines

The Huston School encourages PhD degree applications, its involvement is in collaboration with other Arts Faculty departments; students undertaking doctoral studies in film must also be registered in an existing department of the university (e.g., English, French, History, Information Technology, Sociology and Politics for example) depending on the topic of their research. Students are supervised by a small team comprising staff from the Huston School and the relevant department. Students will normally register in the College of Arts Structured PhD Programme. For further details on this programme see or contact

The Huston School offers two Doctoral programmes: a traditional, thesis-only programme and a practice-based programme. For details on the practice-based programme please follow the ‘Practices-based PhD' link under the Courses tab of this website.

Doctor of Philosophy in Film, Television and Digital Media (Thesis only)

According to the university regulations, a PhD thesis should make a substantial and original contribution to its field of knowledge. The PhD degree is awarded for work that is ‘worthy of publication, in whole or in part, as a work of serious scholarship' (NUI Galway Calendar). The length of the thesis is normally 60,000 to 80,000 words. The duration of research is usually four years (full time) or six years (part time).


The minimum qualification necessary to be considered for admission to the PhD programme is a high honours primary degree. It is more usual, however, for successful applicants to have already gained a Master's degree. Applications can be made at any time of year; however, the closing date for application is normally June 15.

Before applying, we strongly urge prospective applicants to discuss their plans with the  School's  Acting Director Research and Development  (  )Applications are made online via CRM

In addition to your online application, you must submit in hardcopy a sample of academic writing (e.g. a recent BA or MA course essay) and a 1500-word research proposal. This proposal must be structured under the following headings:

1. Description of proposed research (800 words)
This section should describe clearly the subject and scope of your research. You should indicate the critical problems or questions you propose to investigate.

2. Critical context (350 words)
This section should describe, as far as you can tell, the extent of the scholarly work already done on your topic. You should be able to explain how your research will challenge or extend this existing knowledge.

3. Methodology (250 words)
Here you should describe the research methodologies you will employ, and explain why you have chosen them (e.g. semiotic analysis, feminist analysis, genre study, practice-based, etc.)

4. Sources and archives (100 words)
Give a preliminary indication of the primary and secondary material you expect to examine, and how much of the material may be found at NUI Galway. You will be able to avail of inter-library loans and will be eligible to apply for some travel funding during the course of your research .

Applications are first reviewed by the Huston School. If your application is approved by the Huston School it is then recommended to a relevant department of the Arts Faculty, who also assess the application. The success of your application will depend on a number of factors: the quality and viability of the proposal; your qualifications and achievements to date; the reports of two referees; and the availability of appropriate supervision.


The Huston welcomes applications from a wide range of research areas. For details on the research interests of staff members at the Huston please go to the staff page on this site.


Supervision is undertaken by a supervisory committee, including staff members of the Huston School and other departments and centres at NUI, Galway, as appropriate. Prior agreement by a member of staff to mentor a new student is an important consideration in acceptance of stUdents into the PhD programme.


Students will receive an oral examination in the first year so as to ‘confirm' her/his status as a doctoral student

- This examination will be conducted by the student's supervisory committee during the period April to June; a second opportunity to present for the oral will be provided before the end of August

- The supervisory committee will provide continuous scrutiny of the student's progress throughout the duration of the programme

- Students whose PhD status remains ‘unconfirmed' after the second attempt at the oral may be recommended for transfer to the standard MLitt (year 2)

- The opportunity for transfer may also be provided at the end of second year

- The supervisory committee will report to the College Office on student progress, recommending either continuation on the PhD track or a change of status to MLitt

- In normal circumstances the principal supervisor will remain in place for the duration of the M.Litt

Additionally, two defined pieces of work (at least one of which must be written) must be achieved by the end of the first years in order to progress further towards completion.

The final examination is in two principal parts: the submission of a thesis that embodies the student's contribution to knowledge and understanding in his/her field of enquiry and the student's participation in a viva voce examination. Both elements of the examination must be passed.


By the time of graduation, students should also demonstrate a mastery of knowledge-based and research-based competencies appropriate to their specialisation. Completion of a PhD dissertation demonstrates that the student has learned investigative and critical techniques, has made a contribution to knowledge and has developed skills that will prove useful in assuming a professional role. Students have been successful in securing lecturing positions in third-level institutions.


The PhD is awarded by the National University of Ireland, Galway within the regulations and terms for the PhD degree and subject to the guidelines and protocols of the University, as published in the General Calendar of the University, and other sources as may be in place from time to time.

Useful links

    FAQ for Postgraduates
    Guidelines on Thesis Submission
    Structured PhD Programme details