The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

Read more about the RIA

Masterclass Series

An Academy Masterclass consists of one speaker and 15 participants. The speaker is an expert in his or her field with experience and knowledge in facing challenges in their research or practice. The participants are at an early stage in their research, with some places filled by representatives from a related industry or agency.

The speakers

The series has been running since 2012 and, to date, speakers have included Nobel Laureates, Field Medalists, Gödel Prize winners, and recipients of the RDS Irish Times Boyle Medal and the National Medal of Science. The Academy organises approximately 10 masterclasses each year covering disciplines in the sciences, humanities and social sciences.

Eric Ladizinsky, masterclass speaker and John Bell Day speaker 2015. Recording of his John Bell Day lecture.

Class structure

Each masterclass features a short introduction from the expert. This is followed by a Q&A session with participants, concluding with informal networking. The masterclass differs from a public lecture in that the participants are selected and invited to attend. This allows for a unique format – the participants can sit around a table with a high-profile expert and have a face-to-face discussion, rather than sit in a lecture theatre. The objective of the masterclass is to engage and motivate early-career researchers and forge relationships and networks.

Hamilton Masterclass 2015 - Daniel Spielman

Participant selection process

Since the series started, over 400 researchers have participated in the classes. Participants can be undergraduates, postgraduates, PhD students or post-doctoral researchers and are nominated by their third level institutions. The response from participants is overwhelmingly positive with our participants indicating the class was very beneficial:

“I think that the exchange with different students and sharing the difficulties in writing the PhD was very beneficial. Hearing Prof. Bellamy’s ideas, thoughts and his own life story has helped me to understand the struggle as a PhD student/researcher” -  Thamil Venthan Ananthavinayagan, LL.M., PhD researcher at the Irish Centre for Human Rights, Galway

“I really enjoyed the masterclass, particularly the friendly and relaxed atmosphere. I definitely learned a lot about the importance of trusting your instincts and standing your ground as a researcher, and the critical value of some of the fellowships available” - Sara Vero, Teagasc Environmental Research Centre

“I personally found it enjoyable to hear from a seasoned experienced researcher who explained the ups and downs from starting as a novice to becoming an expert” - Paul D Kirwan, MISCP, BSc, MSc, Senior Physiotherapist

"The intimidate setting provided a good opportunity for those in attendance to ask a question and follow up on Williamson's reply, if desired." - Seán Pierce, BA, UCD

"I found Professor Ellis' incite very interesting. As a young researcher, hearing about his career path has helped approach my own career plan with a different” - Anthony Donohoe, IRC funded PhD candidate, NUIM

A full list of all the masterclasses that have taken place since 2012 is available to view here

Contact us

If you are a head of department or a researcher who is interested in the Masterclass Series, please contact us at for further information.

Stay up to date with the Royal Irish Academy newsletter

Sign up now