Postgraduate Research Finder

PhD Accounting

Location: Colchester
Duration: 3 Years
Tuition fee: Find out using our fee pages
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days

About PhD Accounting

This three-year programme gives you the opportunity to develop new insight into accounting and accountability processes with a view to influencing policy and practice. The programme is open to those who have previous experience in academic research in Accounting.

You can follow a traditional thesis approach, where you write a dissertation providing a complete and systematic account of your research. Alternatively, you may produce a “three paper” thesis, where you create three research articles, framed by an introduction and conclusion. Our supervisors will support you to submit these papers to conferences and for publication in international journals, so you can begin to build you international research portfolio well before graduation.

Throughout the programme, you are encouraged to reflect on contemporary problems facing the world of accounting.

You study at Essex Business School (EBS), world-renowned for research on governance, the impact of auditing and the effect of accounting practices in a globalised world. As one of the few centres of Excellence for Critical Accounting Practices, we explore alternative aspects of accounting through a social science lens. We champion issues such as responsible management, sustainability and global development, business ethics and social responsibility, producing cutting-edge research that aims to make organisations better places to do business. Essex Business School is home to cutting-edge researchers, such as Emeritus Professor Prem Sikka, who is regularly cited in the national and international media.

You benefit from our accounting research centres:

They organise seminars throughout the year where you have access to the latest academic thinking and the opportunity to network with colleagues and visiting scholars from across the world.

You may decide to study on a full or part-time (usually six years) basis and we also offer an Mphil and a Masters by dissertation in this subject.

Why study PhD Accounting at Essex?

Essex Business School (EBS) is the largest department at the University of Essex.

By studying with us, you join the next generation of social scientists influencing business theory, policy and practice. You become part of a lively, international research community, challenging conventional wisdom to make organisations better places to do business.

Reasons to undertake your doctorate at EBS:

  • you may be eligible for a PhD scholarship
  • Essex Business School is ranked in the UK’s top 25 for research excellence and intensity (REF, 2014)
  • the University of Essex is in the UK’s top five for social science research (REF, 2014)
  • work with enthusiastic, well-connected and experienced academics, producing world-renowned research
  • we have strong relationships with external stakeholders and funders, including UK research councils and EU framework programmes
  • we maintain strong links with professional accounting bodies, including the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA), Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) and Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland (ICAS)
  • benefit from excellent research facilities
  • experience personalised career support
  • you may have the opportunity to become a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and gain valuable experience for your CV

We are recognised for being at the forefront of research in:

  • business ethics and corporate social responsibility
  • organisation studies
  • leadership and strategy
  • finance and banking
  • risk management
  • international management

We are a business school with an international outlook, with more than 100 doctoral students, totalling 41 nationalities. We have close links with a range of doctoral programmes across Europe. For example, a number of our students attend specialist methods workshops at Copenhagen Business School and we run doctoral workshops across Utrecht and Copenhagen.

Our facilities

PhD Accounting is based at our Colchester Campus, in the UK’s first zero carbon business school building. The building reflects our commitment to sustainability and our pledge to promote business ethics in line with the UN Principles for Responsible Management Education (PRME) .

You benefit from excellent research facilities, such as:

  • a dedicated postgraduate study area, offering PC access and a quiet place for conducting research
  • Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) pods, providing office space for GTAs to meet with students
  • a virtual trading floor, complete with industry-standard software
  • access to databases such as Bloomberg, Compustat, Passport GMID, Bankscope and Datastream
  • e-book finance and business packages to support part-time and distance learning (including Ebrary, NetLibrary, Oxford Scholarship Online, Palgrave Connect and SpringerLink)
  • final year students are provided with office space to encourage successful thesis completion innovation booths for group-working, situated in our stunning winter garden
  • Bonds café with adjacent sun terrace

The University library is a short walk from our building and our Colchester Campus has ample IT labs.

Across the road from our building, buses take you to Colchester town centre and the railway station, where you can take trains directly to London. London Stansted airport is just over an hour away, providing connections to mainland Europe.

Location: Colchester
Duration: 3 Years
Tuition fee: Find out using our fee pages
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days


By undertaking a research degree at Essex Business School, you not only have the opportunity to investigate your chosen topic in depth, but also make lasting contributions to your field. You can develop new transferable skills, enhance your professional development and build a network of invaluable contacts from across academia and the private, public and third sectors.

Your supervisor

You benefit from world-class supervision and research training. Essex Business School is home to eight research centres across our two campuses, several leading journal editors and our research has been cited in the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve.

You are allocated two supervisors during your studies. They provide you with guidance and support to help you achieve your individual research goals and produce a high quality piece of doctoral work. Your supervisors help you to develop your research topic and create your personalised training plan designed to encourage successful completion of your thesis. You meet with your supervisors at least once a month and are usually required to submit work before so you can seek feedback in these meetings. Twice a year, you will have a supervisory board meeting when you discuss your progress and agree your plans for the next six months.

As well as supporting you to complete your thesis, your supervisors can help you to plan your career development. Our academics often co-author publications with doctoral students and can help you to develop the transferable skills needed for the jobs market.

Browse our staff pages and the University of Essex Postgraduate Research Finder to find out more about our areas of supervision.

How you will study

You begin your studies by meeting with your supervisors and undertaking an intensive induction programme. You attend advanced research methods training and undertake compulsory modules tailored to your individual research needs.

Throughout your PhD, you have regular meetings with your supervisors. You are often asked to write up your ideas or reading notes to help establish good writing practices. By the end of your first year of research, you should have a solid understanding of the key debates in your field and have defined your research questions, outlining your original contribution to knowledge. Our finance students are also expected to have made substantial progress on their first research paper. Those studying via the integrated PhD route (or 1+3) will have completed an additional year to obtain a Masters before beginning their research.

In your second year, you are likely to finalise the design of your own research project and either collect primary data, or access and analyse large scale datasets. You may also make progress on your second research paper. You receive regular feedback on your ideas and findings from your supervisors and are encouraged to develop your own research ideas independently during this year. If you are undertaking fieldwork in another location, your supervisors will still be in touch via email or Skype.

In your final year, you continue to analyse your own research data and further refine your original contribution to knowledge. You will collate your work into a approximately 50-80k words thesis. Our finance students are also expected to make substantial progress on their third research paper.

You may attend a number of conferences in your final year to test out your research findings and thesis on an international stage. Your attendance may be funded by Essex Business School. As well as advising on how to prepare your thesis for examination, your supervisors can advise on future career plans in academia or industry.

Finalising your PhD

Creating a 50-80k word thesis is a significant task. To help you finalise your PhD and produce high quality doctoral research, we have a number of support mechanisms.

You undertake a progress board every six months, where you, your supervisors and an independent chair mark your progress and set objectives for the next period. You are also encouraged to take part in peer group debates and discussions.

Our full-time doctorates are 36 month programmes. At the end of this time, you may be allowed up to 12 months to finish writing up your PhD.

Once you have submitted your thesis, you will be asked to attend a Viva Voce examination with examiners from within and outside of the University. A viva voce examination usually takes place within three months of submission of thesis.

Seminars and conferences

Our research centres run regular seminars and networking events across our two campuses, where our academics and external speakers share their latest work. You are encouraged to attend these events, including those run by centres outside your immediate area of study, to support your research and expand your professional network.

You are also encouraged to attend international conferences. Every year, doctoral students have the opportunity to present their work at our PhD conference.

Location: Colchester
Duration: 3 Years
Tuition fee: Find out using our fee pages
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days

Career destination

Our doctoral graduates hold academic positions in top Universities around the world, and organisations in the public and private sectors. Our PhD programmes are designed to foster the business leaders and researchers of the future who use creativity, innovation and ethical awareness to meet the many challenges facing the international business world.

The University’s Employability and Careers Centre can provide careers advice, with Essex Business School also providing employability support, such as CV workshops, one-to-one advice and career resources.

Support for postgraduates

Essex Business School is a young, entrepreneurial and mid-size school with a welcoming and supportive atmosphere. Our academics guide you throughout your studies and can answer any questions or alleviate concerns.

The University of Essex provides a range of services designed to maximise your academic potential and employability. Essex Business School offers study skills services for postgraduate students, such as help with the University library, research databases, literature reviews and presentation skills.

Location: Colchester
Duration: 3 Years
Tuition fee: Find out using our fee pages
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days

We normally require a good Masters degree, or equivalent, in a relevant discipline. You must also submit a well-developed research proposal as part of your application.

If you don’t have a Masters, our four-year integrated PhD (or 1+3), allows you to spend your first year studying at Masters level in order to develop the necessary knowledge and skills to start your independent research in year two. This option is not available to all programmes, so please contact us for more information.

You may be required to attend an interview/Skype interview and acceptance onto our programmes is subject to research expertise in our department.

If English is not your first language, you must meet IELTS 6.5 or equivalent. Our Essex Pathways Department provides a range of pre-sessional pathways if you do not meet our English language requirements.

Please note there is one exception: PhD Business Analytics – we usually require previous experience of quantitative analysis using statistical and/or mathematical methods and a Masters or equivalent in business analytics, economics, statistics, computer science or a related area. Your proposal’s methodology section should outline how and why a quantitative and analytical approach will be suitable and indicate potential data sources.

Information about applying

Applications for our PhD programmes should be made by the University of Essex’s application portal. The University of Essex provides advice on applying for PhDs, including how to submit a research proposal.

Although there is no official application deadline for our doctoral degrees, we advise that you apply no later than 1 July for programmes starting in October.


You may be eligible for doctoral scholarships and discounts to help fund your study. 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.

Location: Colchester
Duration: 3 Years
Tuition fee: Find out using our fee pages
Funding available: Find out using our scholarship finder
Further information: For more information, please e-mail us or see for yourself by booking a place at one of our open days

Click here to apply for this PhD