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What is a PhD

The term PhD is short for Doctor of Philosophy. It is sometimes referred to as a Doctorate.

The doctoral programme at the School of Business and Management is one of the most vibrant and intensive research degrees in London. Working towards your PhD at the School places you within an internationally recognised research community. We attract students from around the world, all of whom benefit from our expertise, energetic research culture and excellent facilities. As a PhD student, you will be expected to pursue structured, supervised research into one of the many research areas within the School’s expertise.

Doctoral degrees normally consist of three years of full-time study in which an original contribution to an academic field is made. At the end of the three-year period, you will be expected to write an extended thesis, demonstrating evidence of your capacity to pursue scholarly research.

Studying for a PhD is extremely demanding and should not be undertaken lightly. Before applying for a PhD, you need to be sure that you have a keen personal interest in the topic you will be researching, and an interest in the process of research.

You may also choose to study a PhD in order to further your career prospects. For employers, a PhD demonstrates originality of thought along with the capability and tenacity to complete an extended piece of work, as well as a whole host of other transferable skills.

Whilst those taking a PhD frequently end up working in fields close to their research – including research positions in academia, business and industry or the third sector – these broader qualities are of interest to a wide range of employers and can significantly enhance your career prospects.

Degree Structure

The doctoral programme normally takes three years to complete (full-time). You will undertake the Doctoral Taught Programme in your first year. During this year, you will be exposed to a range of methodological approaches, which will equip you with the knowledge and skills necessary to complete independent social scientific research. The Doctoral Taught Programme offers research training modules in the areas of qualitative and quantitative research methods. The philosophy behind the content of the first-year courses is that they cover the true core material: ie the basics in which any researcher of social science, irrespective of discipline, should be familiar with.

Examples of the modules which make up the Doctoral Taught Programme (2016/17):

  • Systematic literature reviews: basic principles
  • Programme evaluation: microeconometric studies of casual impacts
  • Quantitative marketing research methods
  • Doing qualitative research in a multi-layered research strategy
  • Fama – MacBeth (1973) methodology for asset pricing
  • Elite/non-elite interviewing techniques
  • Ordinary least squares and limited dependent variables
  • Panel data - fixed and random effects
  • Conducting ethnographic research
  • Analysing qualitative data
  • Using diaries as research methods
  • A practical overview of identification strategies
  • Accounting research methodologies

In order to continue onto the second year of the PhD programme, you will need to pass ‘Progression’. This occurs approximately nine months after your initial registration, and is dependent upon your submission of written documentation relating to your proposed research (introduction, literature review, outline methodology) to the Progression Panel, along with a successful defence at Viva Voce.  

Whilst year two is typically spent gathering research data ‘in the field’, year three is usually spent analysing this data and writing up the final thesis. During these year, you will continue to develop your research skills through self-initiated training. Formal training is a compulsory component of your work as a postgraduate. Each student is responsible for formulating their own training programme in consultation with their supervisors. The School awards each student a research and training allowance of £1,000 per annum (£500 for part-time students). This research allowance can be used to subsidise conference attendance, travel for research purposes, and appropriate research training suited to your needs.

Progress towards final submission of the thesis and preparations for your future plans will be monitored at meetings with your supervisors. Supervisors will offer detailed advice on final drafts of the thesis, on plans for publication, and for future employment.

PhD students usually start in the autumn term, but deferral to January may be possible, subject to agreement of the PhD Director and the supervisors.

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