Marketing PhD/MPhil/MSc (Research)

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


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Doctoral researchers in Marketing 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 60 credits of core Research Methods 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. By the end of their first year doctoral students will have completed an 8,000 word research proposal that they will present 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.

Applicants are urged to study the up-to-date profiles of individual staff members' research via their personal web pages. Each student will have two academic supervisors who will work with the students in their areas of expertise.  It is essential that students applying to the department recognise the expertise of their potential supervisor. It is possible to contact a potential supervisor to discuss the possibility of working with them and this communication would involve identifying the proposed research area and methods and identifying the link with the proposed supervisor’s work.  Current priority areas include:

Arts, Heritage and Cultural consumption

A number of colleagues within the department undertake research in the area of arts, heritage and cultural consumption.  This work ranges from examining arts and heritage consumption across topics such as screen based tourism, music, visual art, film and literature as well as arts and visually based methodologies.

  • Professor Christina Goulding
  • Professor Isabelle Szmigin
  • Dr Finola Kerrigan
  • Dr Andrew Pressey
  • Dr Cagri Yalkin
  • Chelsea Bailey
  • Rohit Talwar
  • Mai Khan Tran (PhD student, supervisors Professor Christina Goulding and Dr Eric Shiu)
  • Maja Pulic (PhD student, supervisors Professor Christina Goulding and Dr Andrew Pressey)
  • Alexandra Frith (PhD student, supervisors Professor Christina Goulding and Dr Andrew Pressey)
  • Katharina Stolley (PhD student, supervisors Dr Finola Kerrigand and Dr Cagri Yalkin)

Digital/ Social Media

  • Dr David Houghton
  • Professor Isabelle Szmigin
  • Dr Doga Istanbulloglu
  • Dr Diana Gregory-Smith
  • Dr Finola Kerrigan
  • Dr Cagri Yalkin
  • Dr Rohit Talwar
  • Dr Inci  Toral Manson
  • Mr Julian Barnes (PhD student, supervisors Dr Sheena Leek and Dr Doga Istanbulluoglu)

Innovation and Creativity

Another key research theme in the department focuses on innovation and creativity.  The overall focus here lies in innovation management, technological policy, innovation and sustainability, creativity theory and new service/ product development. 

  • Dr Tao Zhang
  • Dr Eric Shiu
  • Dr Raphaël Akamavi
  • Mr Anthony Khan (research student, supervised by Dr Eric Shiu and Dr Finola Kerrigan)
  • Yingying Qian (PhD student, supervised by Dr Eric Shiu and Dr Tao Zhang)

Responsible Marketing

The research interests of colleagues in this research area are broad ranging.  This range includes a focus on consumer and marketing ethics, CSR, sustainability, healthy eating and drinking and social marketing. 

  • Professor Isabelle Szmigin
  • Professor Mike Saren
  • Professor N. Craig Smith
  • Joanne Bates
  • Dr Weiyue Wang
  • Dr Solon Magrizos
  • Dr Sheena Leek
  • Dr Sarah Forbes
  • Dr Diana Gregory Smith
  • Dr Finola Kerrigan
  • Kaiying Li (PhD student, supervisors Professor Lloyd Harris and Dr Diana Gregory-Smith)
  • Ms Misha Xu (research student supervised by Dr. Tao Zhang and Dr Diana Gregory Smith)

Business to Business and Relationships

Research of colleagues engaged in this research theme take a broad approach to understanding relationships from consumer and employee misbehavior, organizational culture to communication and branding in B2B contexts.  Additionally, research on entrepreneurial marketing takes place in this group.

  • Dr Sheena Leek
  • Professor Lloyd Harris
  • Dr Andrew Pressey
  • Dr Rosalind Jones
  • Dr Inci Toral Manson
  • Professor Mike Saren
  • Dr Weiye Wang

Most PhD students will be expected to take the core research methods training courses of the MA Social Research. You will then be able to take more advanced training as appropriate on the basis of a training needs analysis conducted with your supervisor at the beginning of each year. 

For part-time students modules are flexible and can be studied in blocks, part time or at weekends to fit your commitments.

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 Centres and Programmes. Click to find out more.

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

Title of your proposed research.

Specialism

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.

Objectives

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.

Timeline

Outline your proposed timetable of activities.

References

List the works you have cited in your proposal.

Word Limit

Your proposal should be no more than 1,500 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.

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

Applicants are urged to study the up-to-date profiles of individual staff members' research via their personal web pages. Current priority areas include:

Social Marketing and Society

  • Consumer and marketing ethics
  • Consumer behaviour and issues related to consumption
  • Ethical consumption
  • Psychology of online communication
  • Online privacy issues
  • Transformative consumer research
    Researchers linked to this priority area include Professor Isabelle Szmigin and David Houghton

Business Market Networks and Policy 

  • Business-to-business marketing
  • Antitrust and historical public policy
  • Inter-organisational relationships and conflict
  • Networks and social capital in business-to-business contexts
  • Buyer-supplier relationships

Researchers linked to this priority area include Dr Sheena Leek.

Strategic Marketing and Innovation 

  • Innovation, creativity and new product development
  • Environmental management and sustainability
  • Nascent markets and high technology fields
  • Innovation capabilities and diffusion
  • Construct development and computational simulation techniques

Researchers linked to this priority area include Dr Eric Shiu.

Most PhD students will be expected to take the core research methods training courses of the MA Social Research. You will then be able to take more advanced training as appropriate on the basis of a training needs analysis conducted with your supervisor at the beginning of each year.

For part-time students modules are flexible and can be studied in blocks, part time or at weekends to fit your commitments.

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.