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PhD Economics

Start date
4 years full-time (usually reduced to 3 years for students who have already completed a taught MSc)
Course Type
Postgraduate, Doctoral research
For 2024-2025
£4,778 (UK)
£23,520 (International)
Funding opportunities are available

The Economics PhD is designed to train you 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.


Fees 2024 - 2025

  • Code 2258 - £4,778 (UK) PhD Full time
  • Code 2259 - £2,389 (UK) PhD Part time
  • Code 3758 - £4,778 (UK) MPhil Full time
  • Code 2258 - £23,520 (International) PhD Full time
  • Code 3758 - £23,520 (International) MPhil Full time

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.

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.


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

The Department of Economics is home to over 50 academic staff and is able to provide a stimulating and supportive environment for students who want to work in almost any area of theoretical, empirical or experimental economics.

Before applying we encourage you to browse the individual webpages of faculty members, to familiarize yourself with the research going on in your preferred areas. Each of these contains detailed information on research interests, current projects and recent publications.

When you apply, you can suggest one or two potential supervisors, who you think might be good fit for you. However, this is not essential. If you know what you want to work on, but are unsure on supervisors, you can indicate this in your application and the PhD programme co-directors will study your proposal in detail, and judge who is best suited to be your supervisory team. You can also contact one of the PhD programme co-directors in advance for advice – Anthony Heyes ( or Aditya Goenka (    

You are encouraged to apply by February 28 each year if possible. While you are still welcome to apply after that date, you will likely be too late to be considered for the limited number of financial support packages that the Department of Economics has available to it.  

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. 

Students nominated successfully by the Department for an ESRC Doctoral Training Partnership award will normally be required to enrol for the MASSR. Full details are available from the following websites:

Assessment Methods

Assessment of the programme involves you presenting your work in the PhD workshop series. Year 2 students present their research agenda (thesis proposal) in the Autumn term. Year 3 and 4 students give a one-hour presentation of their work in the spring and summer workshop series respectively. Thus, every PhD student presents the research agenda and two pieces of work during their study. All the presentations are attended by all the PhD students and the first and second supervisors of the speaker and some other faculty members. 

A research student's progress is reviewed formally at the end of each session. In the first year, students are required to achieve a high standard in any examinations and to submit a satisfactory literature survey and detailed research proposal. Each summer (until completion), students receive a form (GRS3) on which they are asked to review their progress.

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.