Finance PhD/MPhil/MSc (Research)

Please note that applications for this course for September 2016 are now closed.

The PhD programme in Finance will facilitate the creation and interpretation of new knowledge by the research student, demonstrated through the thesis.

The programme comprises a short taught component followed by a longer research phase. Taught modules allow the students to broaden, as well as deepen, their knowledge of research methods at the same time as undertaking their own research and developing a set of transferable professional skills. The taught component is designed to ensure that doctoral researchers understand the breath of techniques used in modern social science research.

Doctoral researchers will be capable of analysing a range of data using a range of qualitative and quantitative techniques. They will be able to explain theories underlying different approaches to social science research. Doctoral researchers are expected to participate to the fullest possible extent in the life of the Department of Finance and the Business School. This means attending seminars organised by the Department of Finance and more widely in the Business School thereby helping expose doctoral researchers to new ideas emanating from outside their own area of specialisation. It also requires actively participating in PhD workshops and conferences organised by the Department of Finance, the Business School and Graduate School as well as institutions outside the University of Birmingham.

Ultimately all doctoral researchers will have the ability to characterise and solve business and financial problems using advanced research tools. They should be able to derive policy implications from their research and communicate these to policy makers, practitioners and other academics in a manner which is comprehensible. They will also be able to peer review others’ research and offer constructive criticism; and to extend the frontiers of the discipline through their own innovative research.

Doctoral researchers may choose to become academics, work in Government, businesses, supranational organisations or in the research arms of major financial institutions. They are expected to achieve a substantial understanding of contemporaneous financial and business issues enabling them to take a lead in ongoing debates within society. They will be aware of and understand the function of related institutions at both a national and international level.

Birmingham Business School has been placed 17 out of 101 business schools in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, according to the Association of Business Schools. 68 percent of our research activity was judged to be 'world-leading' (4*) or 'internationally excellent' (3*) according to the national REF results. This ranking puts us ahead of Aston, Cranfield, Edinburgh, Oxford and a range of other UK Schools. The Research Excellence Framework 2014 (REF) assesses the quality and impact of research conducted at universities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and replaces the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE), which was last carried out in 2008. Recognition in the REF as a leading, research-led organization concludes a successful year in which Birmingham Business School joined the 1% of business schools worldwide awarded ‘triple crown accreditation’ from the international ranking bodies, AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA.

Please be reassured that the vote to leave the European Union does not mean there will be any immediate material change to the UK university sector’s participation in EU programmes nor to the immigration status of prospective EU students starting in 2016/17 and 2017/18. Visit our EU Referendum information page for more information.

Doctoral researchers in Finance are registered for a full time 3-year PhD or a part-time 6-year PhD. In the first year of the programme doctoral researchers are required to take Econometrics with Financial Applications module from the Department of Economics (30 credit module). They also need to take at least one of the existing MSc Investments and MSc Accounting and Finance courses and one other module to successfully complete 60 credits of study. The MSc module and one other appropriate M or D level module should be chosen in agreement with the doctorial researcher’s supervisor, as appropriate for the their research topic.  Modules available include: Financial Modelling and Forecasting Techniques (20 credits), Empirical Topics in Accounting and Finance (20 credits) and Quantitative Methods in Finance (10 credits). Doctoral researchers are also recommended to take Advanced Training Modules from the MA Social Research Programme or other modules (e.g. Qualitative Methods) as appropriate to their research and training needs.

By the end of their first year doctoral students will have completed an 8,000 word research proposal that they will present and be evaluated on at the first annual review. This forms the basis for supervised research over the remaining two years of the programme and the production of an 80,000 word thesis.

Writing your research proposal

Along with your academic record, your references and your curriculum vitae your research proposal plays a critical role in the evaluation of your application.

Your research proposal should illustrate your ability to plan an independent research study and the relevance of your topic to the research interests and expertise of Birmingham Business School.You need to demonstrate that you understand the field that you plan to research, identify an interesting and original research question, and develop a tentative plan of study. It is highly desirable that your research proposal is written to the guidelines specified below.

Guidelines for the Research Proposal



Title of your proposed research.


Identify the Department you want to join.

You may also identify potential supervisors at this stage if you wish.

Research question

Provide an overview of your research question, explaining why it is of academic and/or practical importance.



Describe the main objectives of your research, providing details of two or three key aspects.

Literature review


Discuss the importance of previous related research and how your own research question might make a useful contribution to the area.

Research techniques

State the main research techniques (interviews, case studies, modeling etc.) and data collection procedures you might use.



Outline your proposed timetable of activities.



List the works you have cited in your proposal.

Word Limit

Your proposal should be no more than 1,500 words, excluding references.


Complete applications must be received by 30 June in order to be considered for the 2015/16 academic session.

Students who are accepted must commence their programme of studies on 28 September 2015.

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the how to apply pages.

Fees and funding

Standard fees apply
Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and studentships

A limited number of scholarships may be available to outstanding applicants. International students can often gain funding through overseas research scholarships, Commonwealth scholarships or their home Government.

For further information contact the School directly or visit our helpdesk.

Entry requirements

Entry requirements include amongst other things a good first degree and a good Masters degree (with either a merit or a distinction) in Economics or a related subject including relevant mathematical and statistical techniques.

Learn more about our entry requirements.

International students

We accept a range of qualifications from different countries.

Learn more about international entry requirements.

English requirements are IELTS 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in any band or equivalent.

How to apply

When clicking on the Apply Now button you will be directed to an application specifically designed for the programme you wish to apply for where you will create an account with the University application system and submit your application and supporting documents online. Further information regarding how to apply online can be found on the How to apply pages

Apply now

Members of the Department of Finance can offer supervision within the following areas.

Corporate Finance

Capital structure decision making including interactions between corporate investment and dividend/capital structure decisions. Issues relating to capital structure and firm performance and the study of agency costs. The examination of corporate events such as  stock repurchases, corporate restructuring, mergers and acquisitions ,IPOs, delistings and financial distress & bankruptcy. Entrepreneurial finance, debt and equity gaps, venture capital and private equity, financial flexibility in firms and R&D smoothing.

Capital  Markets

Within the field of capital markets we can offer supervision which examines debt maturity, and a wide range of market microstructure topics including those relating to liquidity and liquidity risk, market architecture and the trading environment, as well as microstructure effects associated with the international cross-listing of securities.  The use of derivatives for risk management. Islamic Finance. Institutional investment, portfolio investment, risk and investment volatility

Financial Regulation and Corporate Governance

Corporate governance – including shareholder voting, engagement, stock lending, communication within the board of directors, and board behaviour and performance, executive compensation. Agency conflicts. The use of the interbank market as a regulatory device, Basel III and new rules for global finance,.

Banking and Financial Services

Banking competition and credit market performance, debt maturity, firm performance,  banking competition (market structure in the banking sector), credit information and credit market performance. Financial Innovation, financial resilience and monetary aggregation. Flow of funds modelling such as capital flight and cross-border investments,   bank pricing behaviour in the UK as well as in  emerging economies. Pensions, including defined benefit, defined contribution, collective and individual schemes, and risk sharing and pooling.

Career prospects

The University of Birmingham has recently been ranked 9th in the UK and 55th in the world for post-qualification employability in a global survey of universities commissioned by the International Herald Tribune.

Recent PhD graduates from Birmingham Business School are working in central banks, Government departments, a variety of financial institutions, accountancy firms, supranational organisations and multinational corporations. Many of our PhD graduates also go on to forge successful academic careers in other top Universities.

Doctoral Research career assistance

The University of Birmingham has invested heavily in careers and employability support. The Careers Team have been praised for enhanced developments within their team and for adopting a model of integrated employability and internship support; something that has been rolled out and implemented across all Schools and Colleges at the University.

Doctoral researchers at Birmingham Business School benefit from its own well qualified dedicated Careers Team to support students with employment opportunities, work placements, internships and how to succeed at interview. In addition, a range of career management, personal development and employer events are run each year by the Careers in Business Team to help you make the most of the opportunities available.

The University also has dedicated careers advisors for international studentswho run workshops and networking opportunities with potential employers. These are especially popular with international postgraduate researchers.