Ph.D. Scholarship : Young People, Social Values and Empathy

Background and Description

At its most basic level, empathy has been described as a response to the emotional state or condition of others and involves feeling similar to what the other person is feeling or would be expected to feel.  It is defined as ‘the ability and/or inclination to understand and vicariously experience another’s state or condition’ (Soucie et al, 2012, p.141). It is also seen as a key social skill in that it allows us to anticipate, understand and experience others point of view (Davis & Franzoni, 1991). Across a range of disciplines, research has conclusively shown that the presence of empathy is related to positive social, psychological, and personal development outcomes. This in turn contributes to the enrichment of civic society (Wagaman, 2011). Research has highlighted the importance of empathy as a deterrent to engagement in anti-social acts and as an enabler of pro-social behaviours (Davis & Franzoni, 1991; Barr & Higgins-D’Alessandro, 2009). Where levels of empathy are compromised, studies have found an increased propensity to engage in anti-social behaviour, such as bullying, aggression and offending behaviour (Thompson and Gulone, 2008). 

The UNESCO Child & Family Research Centre is engaged in a programme of research and education which focuses on social values and empathy among young people in Ireland.  To further contribute to this programme of work, the UCFRC would like to support  a two-year funded full time Ph.D.  scholarship / six-year part time Ph.D. scholarship (fees only available for part time) focusing on  Ph.D. study that relates to the broad concept of social values and empathy among youth.   Interested candidates are asked to develop a short proposal for a qualitative, quantitative or mixed methods study that is related to this theme. 

For further information on the work of the Centre see:


  • Ph.D. study that relates to the broad concept of social values and empathy among youth.


 SCHOLARSHIP FUNDING (Full-time or Part-time)

Scholarship Stipend:   €15,000 per annum & fees for 2 years.  (Stipend only available for full time Ph.D. Students) 

Fees covered



  • Minimum 2.1 in a social science undergraduate (Level 8) or Master’s Degree (This includes: psychology, sociology, social policy, social work, youth and family studies, family support, early childhood education, political science or any other related field deemed eligible by the panel)


  • Masters in Research Methods
  • Evidence of interests in the field of child and welfare services reflected in education / research (e.g. relevant modules taken; prior research or dissertation subject) and/or practice.
  • Evidence of excellent skills in either Qualitative or Quantitative Research
  • Evidence of an interest in team-based commissioned research working.


Applications must include the following:

  • A personal statement (300 words)
  • A curriculum vitae
  • A research proposal/s (maximum 800 words)
    • The proposal must include what issues you would identify in pursuing Ph.D.  research in the topic(s) specified 
    • The proposal should include a consideration of the methological approach you would adopt

Applicants must also include two letters of reference from academic referees. Referees are asked to place  hardcopy  references in a signed sealed envelope and post to the address below:

Emily O’Donnell, Businesss Manager
UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre
Institute for Lifecource and Society
NUI, Galway.

 Scholarship applications may be made (by email only) to Emily O’Donnell at

For specific queries on the Programme or the PhD Topics contact: Professor Pat Dolan-

Selected candidates will be notified within two weeks of the application deadline and will be called for interview.

Please note successful applicants will be required to enroll on the structured PhD in Child and Youth Research and to register for Ph.D.  Studies at NUIG through the Postgraduate Applications Centre (PAC).Further details on the Structured PhD in Child and Youth Research are available here

Deadline for receipt of applications: 5pm on Monday, 31st July 2017