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PhD/MPhil/MSc Accounting (Research)

Start date
PhD – 3 years full-time equivalent; MPhil – 2 years full-time equivalent; MSc (Research) – 1 year full-time equivalent
Course Type
Postgraduate, Doctoral research
For 2024-2025
PhD £4,778 full-time (UK)
PhD £23,520 full-time (International)
Funding opportunities are available

The PhD Accounting comprises a short taught component followed by a longer research phase. Taught modules allow you to broaden, as well as deepen, your knowledge of research methods as well as conducting your own research and developing transferable professional skills.

The PhD programme in Accounting 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 Accounting and the Business School. This means attending seminars organised by the Department of Accounting 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 Accounting, 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 accounting 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 accounting 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.


Fees 2024 - 2025


  • Code 015B - £4,778 (UK) Full Time
  • Code 017B - £2,389 (UK) PartTime
  • Code 015B - £23,520 (International) Full Time


  • Code 018B -  £4,778 (UK) Full Time
  • Code 018B - £23,520 (International) Full Time

MSc (Research):

  • Code 043B - £4,778 (UK) Full Time
  • Code 043B - £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 our entry requirements.

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 5,000 words, excluding references.

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.

International Requirements

International Students

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

  • IELTS 7.0 with no less than 6.5 in any band
  • TOEFL: 95 overall with no less than 22 in any band
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) including online: PTE Academic 76 with no less than 67 in all four skills
  • Cambridge English (exams taken from 2015): Advanced or Proficiency – minimum overall score of 185, with no less than 176 in any component

Social and Environmental Accounting

Accountability & sustainability, social accounting, carbon accounting, biodiversity accounting, ecological accounting (internal & external) for corporations, public sector, 3rd sector and activist/community groups
Contact: Professor Ataur Belal, Professor Elena Giovannoni, Professor Tom Cuckston, Dr Melina Manochin

Sustainability Reporting and Sustainability-related Financial Disclosure 
Contact: Professor Nick Rowbottom

Financial Accounting and Reporting

The role, work undertaken and information used by investment analysts and fund managers
Contact: Professor Shahed Imam, Dr Melina Manochin

Narrative reporting, digital reporting/XBRL, standardisation, Management Commentary
Contact: Professor Nick Rowbottom 

Corporate communication (in relation to corporate crises, climate change and carbon emissions). Textual analysis of reporting disclosures (analysts’ reports, credit rating agency reports, annual reports, including CEO tone and climate risk disclosure)
Contact: Professor Shahed Imam, Dr Annika Beelitz

Management Accounting & Management Control

Design/implementation of management accounting  / performance management and measurement systems in different contexts
Contact: Professor Elena Giovannoni

Public sector, Not for Profit, NGO Accounting & Accountability

Accounting, accountability and control in the public and not for profit sectors
Contact: Professor Ataur Belal, Dr Florian Gebreiter, Dr Ann-Christine Frandsen, Dr Melina Manochin

Accounting Education & Professionalisation

Recruitment, professional socialisation and social mobility at accountancy firms. Employability, social mobility and the effects of marketisation on higher education.
Contact: Dr Florian Gebreiter, Dr Melina Manochin

Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Accounting

Accounting and calculative practices, Accounting as a valuing practice in contemporary/historical settings. Accounting and strategy. Accounting embodiments. Accounting in relation to time and space.
Contact: Professor Tom Cuckston, Professor Elena Giovannoni, Dr Ann-Christine Frandsen

Information Systems, Analytics & Knowledge Management

Digital innovation and the adoption of emerging technologies (with an emphasis on how IT shapes user behaviour and organisational practice).
Contact: Dr Shuyang Li

Doctoral researchers in Accounting are registered for a full time 3-year PhD or a part-time 6-year PhD. In the first year of the programme (first two years for those registered part-time) students are required to take and successfully complete 60 credits of core Research Methods modules.

Those researchers using more qualitative methodologies will take modules from the MA Social Research programme. They are also recommended to take Advanced Training Modules from the MA Social Research Programme as appropriate to their research and training needs. Depending on their needs and accredited prior learning and subject to supervisory approval doctoral researchers can substitute 20 credits of the introductory MA Social research modules for Advanced Training Modules.

Those researchers employing quantitative methodologies 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 International 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 all doctoral students in Accounting 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.

Career prospects

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.