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University of Essex

PhD study

PhD programmes

Two students in the library

We have PhD courses for those with and without a Masters degree. Find out about our PhD programmes in areas such as accounting, finance, management and organisation studies, business analytics, entrepreneurship, and marketing.

Join the next generation of researchers shaping business theory, policy and practice. By studying for your PhD at Essex Business School, you not only further your understanding of contemporary business issues, you make lasting contributions to your field. You’re part of a vibrant research community, challenging conventional thinking to shape the organisations of the future.

You work with enthusiastic academics, producing world-renowned, cutting-edge research. With more than 100 doctoral students, totalling 41 nationalities, we’re the business school to launch your international research career.

Research areas:

We supervise research in areas such as:

"By undertaking a PhD, you identify as a researcher who has something important and original to say about the world of business. At Essex Business School, we nurture critical thinkers - those who ask not only ‘what’, but ‘why’ and ‘how’.

"You’re supervised by world-leading researchers, who embrace your aspirations and support your individual needs. You develop skills in research, critical judgment, self-discipline and the presentation of complex ideas. If you’re looking for an opportunity to transform both yourself and the world, then a PhD at Essex Business School is an excellent place to start.”
Professor Michael Lamla, PhD Director at Essex Business School

Why choose us?

  • World-renowned for research

    We’re a research-intensive school, ranked amongst the world’s best:

    • UK top 5 university for social science research (REF, 2014)
    • UK’s top 25 for research excellence and research intensity (REF, 2014)
    • 97% of our research submissions were assessed as of international quality (REF, 2014)
    • 72% of our research is world leading or internationally excellent (REF, 2014)

    Our academic team includes leading journal editors and our research has been cited in the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve. You can read our latest working papers in the Essex Research Repository.

  • Expert supervision

    More than two-thirds of our research is ‘world leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ (REF, 2014). Our research expertise means you’re supervised by internationally recognised academics, in a collaborative, welcoming and supportive environment.

    You're normally assigned two supervisors in your chosen research area. You work closely with your supervisors, who offer regular feedback on your ideas and findings. Our staff pages and Postgraduate Research Finder can help you find potential supervisors. Feel free to contact our academics directly to discuss your ideas, or our PGR Academic Services Administrator can put you in touch with staff in your proposed research area.

  • Lively PhD community

    At Essex Business School, you become a member of a lifelong, international, community of researchers. Our research centres host regular seminars, giving you the chance to network with students and academics from around the world. Our students organise social and educational events, including the annual PhD conference where you can showcase your work to colleagues.

  • PhD funding

    We offer a variety of doctoral scholarships and discounts to help fund your study, including special awards for international students.

    Essex is also home to one of just 21 ESRC Doctoral Training Centres, offering fully-funded PhD studentships across the social sciences. All of our PhD programmes are eligible, although competition for funding is high.

  • Research facilities

    Our Colchester and Southend campuses provide excellent facilities for conducting research.

    Our Colchester home is the UK’s first zero-carbon business school building. Our postgraduate study area provides IT access and a quiet place for conducting desk research and our GTA pods make great study spaces. The University library is less than a ten minute walk and overlooks the lake. You can also access Bloomberg business data in our virtual trading floor.

    In Southend, you are part of a unique and close-knit research community. The award-winning Forum features a library, social space and a 24-hour learning hub with study space and computer suites.

  • Career support

    You can take advantage of bespoke careers support and employability opportunities. You also have access to the University’s Employability and Careers Centre.

Current PhD research

Our PhD students are producing cutting-edge research into important areas of management, marketing, entrepreneurship, finance and accounting.

Read some of their abstracts to get a flavour of what it's like to study at Essex Business School, or read their research student profiles.

  • Saranzaya Manalsuren - PhD Management

    Saranzaya Manalsuren

    My research

    Untangling Mongolian Management: Thriving in Turbulent Times

    “I’m undertaking the first ever academic study into management practices in Mongolia, one of the world’s last remaining nomadic countries.

    “Since the fall of its socialist regime in 1991, the country’s untapped mineral resources have seen Mongolia become a destination of choice for western companies. Faced with the challenges and opportunities of trading internationally for the first time in seven decades, the country was fast-tracked into the world’s economy.

    “My research examines the experience of being a manager in Mongolia both during and after socialism. I’m exploring how managers are influenced by their personal and career experiences when making business decisions, as well as national culture and economic ideology. I view management as a dynamic process, creating ‘temporary-models’ to fit current socio-economic and political systems. So far, I’ve found that Mongolian management takes a hybrid approach, with a variety of players and influences."

    Studying at Essex Business School

    “Doing my PhD at Essex has been a social experience. There’s great peer support, dedicated study areas for research students, regular seminars and social gatherings. There are lots of opportunities to share feedback and encouragement, which have helped keep me motivated through the highs and lows of studying for a PhD."

  • Bahar Afrahi – PhD Entrepreneurship

    Bahar Afrahi

    My research

    Entrepreneurial Disengagement

    “Why do some entrepreneurs leave a successful venture but others continue working in poorly performing businesses? My research explores this issue, known as “Entrepreneurial Exit”, by looking at the personal experience of being an entrepreneur throughout the start-up journey. I’m examining areas such as team dynamics, interaction between co-founders and business decision making.

    “After I complete my PhD, I’d like to continue in academia and work closely with practising entrepreneurs.”

    Studying at Essex Business School

    “I get to work with people from all over the world, each bringing fresh perspectives and experiences. I love being able to share ideas with people from so many different backgrounds.”

  • Nima Zarrabi - PhD in Finance

    My research

    Essays in International Finance

    “My research examines issues in forecasting exchange rates. We live in a globalised economy, where imports and exports are usually paid for in foreign currencies. Therefore, it’s vital that traders can accurately forecast exchange rates so they can anticipate likely costs and revenue.

    “I am evaluating the effectiveness of using fluctuations and trends in commodity prices, such as crude oil, gas and copper, to forecast industrial currencies. I am also trying to find whether speculators can use trading rules to ensure that they will make a profit when trading currencies. I am testing whether it is possible to improve predictability by combining economic models and technical indicators.”

    Studying at Essex Business School

    “My PhD has helped me to develop both academic and practical business skills through an internship at asset management company Invesco. The University’s library provides instant access to databases and journals and my supervisors are knowledgeable and supportive. Whenever I’ve had a question, I’ve found the School’s Student Services Team friendly and helpful.”

  • Peterson Ozili - PhD Accounting and Finance

    My research

    Peterson Ozili Bank Loan Loss Provisioning and Income Smoothing Practices in Africa.

    “There’s increasing evidence that banks seek to influence loan loss provision estimates to smooth earnings so they can report stable profits over time.

    “The practice is common in banks in developed nations, but it is not yet clear whether this behaviour occurs in developing countries. My research explores whether banks in Africa influence loan loss provision estimates to smooth bank earnings and aims to identity factors that either encourage or discourage this behaviour.

    “My preliminary findings have been accepted for publication in the Review of Accounting and Finance journal, which is due to be published in 2016.”

    Studying at Essex Business School

    “I did my Masters at Essex Business School. I knew that EBS had a lively and supportive PhD community and I wanted to be part of it.

    “Now that I’m doing my doctorate, I really enjoy the opportunities to present my work and lead seminar discussions. Being able to contribute to intellectual debates with leading academics gives me the confidence that I can follow in their footsteps after I graduate.”



Proficio is our programme of courses and resources for research students. It includes everything available across our University to help you manage your PhD, develop your career potential, and meet and collaborate with students and staff.

PG funding

Postgraduate funding

We offer scholarships and bursaries to talented postgraduates, ranging from research council studentships and University of Essex scholarships to awards funded by charities and other external organisations.

PG events

Book a place at a postgraduate event to find out about studying at a top 20 UK research university. Staff will be available to answer your questions and you can speak to students about life at Essex.

ESRC funding

ESRC Doctoral Training - scholarships for PhD study

We're one of just 21 ESRC Doctoral Training Centres in the UK, reflecting our outstanding reputation for social science. We offer a number of PhD studentships and outstanding training opportunities.