Economics PhD

The Department of Economics in the University of Birmingham enjoys an international reputation for the conduct of research of the highest quality. The PhD programme in Economics is designed to train doctoral researchers to conduct research of high academic merit and to make important and original contributions to the subject.

Doctoral researchers are expected to participate to the fullest possible extent in the life of the Department. Amongst other things this means attending seminars organised by the Department 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 Research Groups and institutions outside the University of Birmingham.

Ultimately all doctoral researchers will have the ability to identify and pursue cutting edge research questions, characterise and solve economic problems using advanced mathematical tools, and test hypotheses using highly sophisticated statistical techniques. They should be able to derive policy implications from their research and communicate these to policy makers 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, supranational organisations or in the research arms of major financial institutions. They are expected to achieve a substantial understanding of contemporaneous economic issues enabling them to take a lead in ongoing debates within society. They will be aware of and understand the function of key economic institutions and be capable of explaining stylised economic facts to diverse audiences.

The commitment to research that exists within the Department of Economics has been underlined by the results of the recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 exercise. Economics has been placed 6th out of 28 institutions in the REF 2014 subject ranking on intensity. Research is integral to the School strategy with 90% of academic colleagues in the Department of Economics having research submitted for review. 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.

Doctoral researchers in Economics are registered for a full time 3-year PhD. In the first year of the programme students are required to take Advanced Research Methods in Economics and strongly recommended to take Advanced Research Training in Microeconomics, Advanced Research Training in Macroeconomics and Advanced Research Training in Econometrics. But depending on their needs doctoral researchers could substitute one course (other than Advanced Research Methods in Economics) from the Department’s suite of MSc programmes. By the end of their first year doctoral students will have completed a 10,000 word research proposal that they will present at a PhD workshop. 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 howto apply pages.

Support and training

Birmingham Business School provides dedicated facilities, resources and support to postgraduate students and early career researchers which includes The Midlands Graduate School and Doctoral Training Programme.

Three Minute Thesis

Three Minute Thesis (3MT®) is a research communication competition developed by the University of Queensland in 2008, in which doctoral researchers have just three minutes to deliver an engaging presentation on their thesis topic, its originality and its significance. In 2013 the University of Birmingham started running its own 3MT competition, inviting our own doctoral researchers to participate.

Marea Sing from Birmingham Business School was the 2013 3MT runner-up, delivering her three-minute presentation explaining her PhD research on structural change, economic development and macroeconomic policy.

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

If you would like to contact any of our research staff, please visit the Department of Economics staff listings for contact details.

We welcome applications relating to the following research interests of academic supervisors.


Factor models, forecasting with large datasets, time-varying structural vector autoregressions, panel data models with integrated series
Contact: Professor Anindya Banerjee (Econometrics Group leader)

Analysis of non-stationary time series, structural change in time series models, time series with long memory, non-linear time series models with applications to environmental and financial economics
Contact: Dr Marco Barassi

Applied econometrics, economics of health, ageing and education
Contact: Dr Marco Ercolani

Time series econometrics, estimation of continuous time models
Contact: Dr Joanne Ercolani

International econometrics, labour Econometrics, economic history, housing Economics
Contact: Mr Nick Horsewood

Microeconomic theory and applications

The economics of crime and economic evaluation of policy, game theoretic modelling of criminal behaviour
Contact: Dr Siddhartha Bandyopadhyay (Microeconomic Theory Group leader)

Dynamic economics, growth and development, monetary economics, income and wealth distributions
Contact: Professor Jayasri Dutta

Mechanised reasoning, weak property rights, differential games, microeconomic theory.
Contact: Dr Colin Rowat

Macroeconomics and finance

History of 20th-century economics, economic methodology
Contact: Professor Roger Backhouse

Financial sector reform, financial institutional behaviour
Contact: Professor David Dickinson

Fiscal policy: the effects of fiscal consolidation policies, stock market behaviour with rational and irrational agents, franchise extension (including female emancipation), monetary policy.
Contact: Professor John Fender (Macroeconomics and Finance Group leader)

Macroeconomics with particular interest in business cycles, news, expectations and learning, financial intermediation and financial frictions, DSGE modelling, and inventory and investment dynamics.
Contact: Dr Christoph Gortz

Financial economics and macroeconomics, links between macroeconomic activity and finance , the economics of transition in China
Contact: Professor Alessandra Guariglia (Head of Department)

Learning and imperfect information, expectations formation, business cycles, monetary and fiscal policy
Contact: Dr Pei Kuang

Banking Regulation, corporate Finance, optimal taxation, mechanism design
Contact: Dr Afrasiab Mirza

International, monetary, and public economics, and the theory of economic policy
Contact: Professor Peter Sinclair (Emeritus Professor)

International monetary economics, monetary integration, banking, finance
Contact: Dr Frank Strobel

Trade, environment, development and energy

International Economics, industrial organisation, development economics, economics of technology and innovation
Contact: Dr Facundo Albornoz

Environmental economics, international trade, energy economics
Contact: Dr Christian Bogmans

Environmental Economics, development economics, international economics
Contact: Professor Matthew Cole

Empirical international trade, intra-industry trade, economic geography, European integration, trade and the environment
Contact: Professor Robert Elliott (Trade, Environment, Development and Energy Group leader)

Empirical analyses of productivity and labour market, effects of trade and investment, liberalisation in developed and developing countries
Contact: Dr Michael Henry

Chinese studies based on economic growth, international trade, regional development
Contact: Dr Maria Jesus Herrerias

Agricultural economics, climate change, environmental valuation, natural resource economics
Contact: Professor David Maddison

Econometric theory, financial econometrics, labour economics
Contact: Dr William Pouliot

Empirical international trade, intra-industry trade, economic geography, European integration, trade and the environment
Contact: Professor Eric Strobl

International trade, corruption and development
Contact: Dr Pierre-Louis Vezina

International economics, development economics and environmental economics
Contact: Dr Ying Zhou

Experimental economics

Social preferences, voluntary cooperation in the presence of free rider incentive, coordination games, impact of emotions on economic decision-making
Contact: Dr Michalis Drouvelis (Experimental Economics Group leader)

Measuring competitiveness and risk aversion with field and laboratory experiments, personality traits in tax compliance, peer-networking in academic journals: a gender perspective, the impact of interactive whiteboard on the gender gap
Contact: Dr Amalia di Girolamo

Determinants of cooperation in collective actions, emergence and enforcement of social norms, role of behavioural biases on voting
Contact: Dr Hector Solaz

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 students who run workshops and networking opportunities with potential employers. These are especially popular with international postgraduate researchers.