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PhD in Strategy and International Business

PhD: 3 years full-time, 6 years part time
Course Type
Postgraduate, Doctoral research
For 2024-2025
£4,778 full-time (UK)
£23,520 full-time (International)
Funding opportunities are available

Our PhD in Strategy and International Business blends short-taught components with intensive research, equipping you with transferable skills and knowledge with a focus on business and societal challenges

On our PhD in Strategy and International Business programme, you will attend a training programme consisting of 60 credits. 

In the first year, the programme will be based around seminars and workshops dealing with debates in business and management, the practice of developing and designing research projects, and the methods and techniques required to undertake the empirical elements of research. This will allow you to broaden and deepen your knowledge of research methods whilst undertaking your own research and developing a set of transferable professional skills with a particular focus on business and societal challenges related to strategy and international business. The University also offers a comprehensive range of training courses you can attend for personal and professional career development.

The PhD programme provides you with the capabilities to characterise, research and conceptualise strategy and international business problems and challenges using advanced research tools, and to develop solutions. You are encouraged to engage with on-going debates on responsible business and with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). You should be able to derive policy, business and practice implications from your research and communicate these to policy makers, practitioners, and other academics.

Doctoral researchers are expected to fully participate in the life of the Business School and in the Department of Strategy and International Business. This includes attending seminars organised by the Business School and Department thereby helping expose you to new ideas emanating from outside your own area of specialisation. You will be also expected to actively participate in PhD workshops and conferences organised by the Business School and Graduate School.


Fees 2024 - 2025


  • £4,778 (UK) Full Time
  • £2,389 (UK) PartTime
  • £23,520 (International) Full Time

Learn more about fees and funding

Scholarships and Studentships for International students

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.

How To Apply

How to apply

To apply for a postgraduate research programme, you will need to submit your application and supporting documents online. We have put together some helpful information on the research programme application process and supporting documents on our how to apply page. Please read this information carefully before completing your application.

Apply now

Our Standard Requirements

The Business School's entry requirement is a good honours degree (first or upper second class honours) awarded by a recognised University in an appropriate subject, and a merit in a relevant Master’s degree. We usually ask students for an average of 65 in the taught component of their Masters. All international students also need to show that they have adequate knowledge of written and spoken English.

Learn more about entry requirements

Writing your Research Proposal

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's critical 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 5,000 words, excluding references.

International Requirements

Our research focuses on the processes of planning and decision-making in organizations, from small- to medium-sized entrepreneurial businesses to multinational companies. This includes trade, investment and global networks that move goods, services, technology, capital, and knowledge across borders as well as a focus on emerging markets, organisational resilience, and responsible business. Research undertaken in strategy and international business covers four broadly defined areas:

Organisations and Sustainable Development in the World Economy 

Our research addresses some of the global challenges in terms of achieving the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) in the international economy, such as the role of MNCs in the transition towards more sustainable strategies through capability development for international business and entrepreneurial co-creation opportunities. This involves strategic change to adapt to the UN SDGs, for example zero-waste policies and circular economies, climate change, clean air, and green energy. We focus on the role of organisations, innovation, and technology in solving societal problems and facilitating positive change, but also address corporate social (ir-)responsibility, misconduct and organizational corruption. Our research examines issues ranging from base-of-pyramid business approaches and the role of business in poverty reduction to the wider political, economic and social issues in cities and regions across the world, critically reflecting on the role of the natural and built environment. 

Innovation and Collaboration in Global Value Chains and Multinational Strategies

Academics in the Strategy and International Business Department focus on management innovations and collaborative strategies in the global economy, including international strategic alliances, mergers & acquisitions, global value chains and lean production, outsourcing, reshoring and bestshoring. Our global strategy research addresses issues such as strategic agility and resilience, corporate governance, global innovation networks, with a particular focus on emerging economies and emerging MNCs. We consider issues in global business from an interdisciplinary lens, critically investigating current issues such as political activities of multinationals or the impact of digital strategy and AI-applications on organizations and industries.

SMEs and International Entrepreneurship  

International expansion is increasingly undertaken by Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and our researchers are internationally recognised for their work on how SMEs make decisions and develop their networks when internationalizing, as well as how they develop business models and international new ventures. Staff also address the specific challenges faced by migrant entrepreneurs and other types of diaspora networks as well as returnee entrepreneurship – a major driver of economic development in emerging economies.

Living in a World of Global Organisations 

Academics in the Department are experts in international negotiations and the role of language and culture in multinationals. Multi-linguality and cross-cultural management can be challenging to manage for international organizations. Our researchers also continuously develop, apply and test research methods to better appreciate the changing global environment, including, cross-country surveys, machine learning, web scraping, qualitative multilingual and secondary qualitative research. These insights contribute to our teaching practice and are further developed through purposeful educational research, focusing on the internationalisation of higher education, the impact of digital technology on student learning and the role of executive education.  

Doctoral researchers in Strategy and International Business register for a full time 3-year PhD or a part-time 6-year PhD. Students are expected to take 60 credits during their PhD; these are to be decided in discussion with their supervisors and will reflect the student’s personal training requirements. Additional training can be undertaken, and students are encouraged to take advantage of internal and external opportunities to further enhance their knowledge and capabilities.

By the end of their first year doctoral students will have completed a 10,000 word research document that they will present at the first annual progress review. This document contributes to the development of the supervised research, and the production of an 80,000 word thesis.

Doctoral researchers may choose to become academics, work in Government, businesses, supranational organisations, major consultancy firms or in the research arms of major financial institutions. They are expected to achieve a substantial understanding of contemporaneous strategy, international business and business issues enabling them to take a lead in ongoing societal debates.