Accessibility     Accessibility |
My DCU | Library | Loop |

☰       Department Menu

DCU Institute of Education

PhD Scholarships in Autism Research

PhD Scholarships in Autism Research

Applications are invited from excellent candidates for two funded PhD scholarships at the School of Inclusive and Special Education at DCU. Situated in the DCU Institute of Education, These two fully funded scholarships focus on research in the education of students on the Autism Spectrum. They are inclusive of funding for annual fees and yearly stipend to support successful candidates. The School of Inclusive and Special Education is the first such school in an Irish university. It has a critical mass of expertise in areas of inclusive education and special education and is committed to supporting the rights of all children and young people to an appropriate education and to learning for all. There is a strong research focus with staff and students creating a vibrant community of inquiry. Details of the PhD Scholarships are as follows:

Early Childhood Education for children on the Autism Spectrum

This doctoral research aims to identify the required components to enhance teaching and learning in early childhood education for young pupils on the autism spectrum (AS) and will be supervised by Dr Tish Balfe and Dr Sinéad McNally. There is national and international agreement that there has been a dramatic increase in the number of children diagnosed with autism in recent decades (Hill, Zuckerman, & Fombonne, 2015; Isaksen, Diseth, Schjølberg, & Skjeldal, 2013; National Council for Special Education (NCSE), 2015).   The primary routes for addressing the difficulties are interventions with the children’s families and through the education system (Bailey, 2008; Lord et al., 2005; National Research Council (NRC), 2001; Jordan, 2008).   The National Council for Special Education (NCSE), a statutory body tasked with planning and co-ordinating provision of educational supports in Irish schools reported that 1.55% of the general student population receive additional support because they have a diagnosis of autism (NCSE, 2015).  High quality teaching in any setting requires the teacher to focus on the individual learner, to understand what methods the learner is using to access learning and what changes are required to ensure that obstacles encountered by the learner are overcome (Koenig, 2010).  In the context of autism, Jordan (2005) suggests that teachers require more than formal knowledge of autism and advises that teachers require the ability to make changes not only by adapting the curriculum, but also adapting their pedagogical approach and the environment in which the teaching occurs, taking into consideration group and individual needs of pupils on the autism spectrum (Jordan, 2008).  The proposed research aims to identify what constitutes high quality teaching for young children on the autism spectrum embarking on their primary school education in Ireland.

Criteria: The ideal candidate will have:

  1. A minimum 2.1 honours level degree in a relevant domain
  2. Hold a teaching qualification or have experience of working with young children with autism;
  3. Evidence of a high standard of critical research and academic writing skills;
  4. A high level of competence in written and oral communication;
  5. The ability to work independently and collaboratively in meeting demanding research goals.

The PhD studentship is fully funded, inclusive of stipend and EU fees for the duration of four years. As part of the scholarship, successful candidates will undertake a maximum of six hours per week learning support activities such as tutoring, consistent with furthering their professional development. The candidate will also assist with School administrative processes.

How to Apply:  Applications can be made by submitting current CV and expression of interest document to tish.balfe@dcu.ie The expression of interest document should be submitted in Word (.doc or .docx) format, and should be no more than 500 words long. The applicant should describe their own suitability for the project (50% weighted) and how they would like to develop the project (50% weighted). It is recommended that potential applicants contact the supervisors informally in the first instance.

Selection for studentships will be competitive and will take place in late September. Shortlisted candidates should be available for interview in October. The closing date for applications: 5pm Friday, Sept 14th

Autism and the mainstream school - eliciting perspectives of students with high functioning autism

This doctoral research aims to explore the experiences of students on the autism spectrum in Irish mainstream education through the lens of student voice and supervised by Dr Neil Kenny and Dr Paula Flynn. While many children and young people with high functioning autism have the academic and cognitive skills to access education through the common curriculum (Norwich, 2005), there is an emerging evidence that such children can experience negative academic and socio-behavioural outcomes in mainstream settings, including high rates of bullying (McIntyre, Blacher and Baker, 2006; Humphrey and Symes, 2010; Hebron and Humphreys, 2015). However, there is substantial evidence from international research that student voice engagement has the potential to empower young people with, and without, disabilities to participate meaningfully and collaboratively in improving their engagement with learning in school (Rudduck and McIntyre 2007; Tangen 2009; Robinson and Taylor 2007). Given the emphasis in Irish educational policy and practice on the inclusion of children with high functioning autism within mainstream settings, it is demonstrably important that the voices of young people with autism are considered in future inclusive planning. The proposed research aims to recruit student voices to inform best practices in the inclusion of students in mainstream education settings at both primary and post-primary level in Ireland.

Criteria: The ideal candidate will have:

  1. A minimum 2.1 honours level degree or preferably a master’s qualification in a relevant domain
  2. Hold a teaching qualification or have experience of working with young people with autism;
  3. Experience of conducting interviews or focus groups with young people;
  4. Evidence of a high standard of critical research and academic writing skills;
  5. A high level of competence in written and oral communication;
  6. The ability to work independently and collaboratively in meeting demanding research goals.

The PhD studentship is fully funded, inclusive of stipend and EU fees for the duration of four years. As part of the scholarship, successful candidates will undertake a maximum of six hours per week learning support activities such as tutoring, consistent with furthering their professional development. The candidate will also assist with School administrative processes.

How to Apply:  Applications can be made by submitting current CV and expression of interest document to neil.kenny@dcu.ie The expression of interest document should be submitted in Word (.doc or .docx) format, and should be no more than 500 words long. The applicant should describe their own suitability for the project (50% weighted) and how they would like to develop the project (50% weighted). It is recommended that potential applicants contact the supervisors informally in the first instance.

Selection for studentships will be competitive and will take place in late September. Shortlisted candidates should be available for interview in October. The closing date for applications: 5pm Friday, Sept 14th


13th August, 2018
Share