This PhD programme gives you the opportunity to develop new insight into accounting and accountability processes with a view to influencing policy and practice. It 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 reflecting on contemporary problems facing the world of accounting, or you may decide to produce a 'three paper' thesis. This consists of a number of research articles, framed by an introduction and conclusion. Your supervisors 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.
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 the largest department at the University of Essex and is ranked in the top 200 for Accounting and Finance in the QS World University Rankings by Subject (2022). We are home to cutting-edge researchers, such as Emeritus Professor Prem Sikka, who is regularly cited in the national and international media for his work calling businesses who avoid tax to account. We help you to 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.
Our accounting research centres, Essex Accounting Centre and BAFA Accounting and Finance in Emerging Economies, organise seminars throughout the year. These give you access to the latest academic thinking and the opportunity to network with colleagues and visiting scholars from across the world. You also have the opportunity to present your work at our PhD conference each year.
You may decide to study on a full or part-time basis and we also offer an Mphil and a Masters by dissertation in this subject. If you would like to undertake a doctoral degree in accounting, but do not have a Masters degree, you might want to consider our integrated option.
You may also be eligible for a PhD scholarship.
At Essex Business School, you benefit from world-class supervision and research training conducted by our senior academic staff such as Dr Pawan Adhikari. Pawan is a Senior Lecturer in Accounting. His expertise lies within public sector accounting, and his contemporary research follows two distinct directions: a contribution to accounting theory and promoting impact research in emerging economies. His impact research has highlighted the issues that emerging economies are facing while improving their accounting/accountability practices and is widely used in policymaking. He serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Public Budgeting, Accounting and Financial Management and in 2019, he was awarded the best postgraduate supervisor at the faculty level.
Our department boasts eight research centres across our two campuses.
Dr Louise Nash and Director of Postgraduate Research at Essex Business School oversees and leads the provision of our graduate research programmes and ensures that we create an environment where our doctoral students can flourish as researchers in a thriving and mutually supportive PhD community.
Louise is a lecturer in Management and Marketing and completed her PhD Management at Essex. She has extensive management and marketing experience which has influenced her research interests – these focus on interpretative, qualitative studies of the lived experience of work, including: the spatial and temporal rhythms of everyday life; the culture, aesthetics and symbolism of organisational life; gender in the workplace and exploring and developing sensory and embodied methods for researching organisations.
You work with two supervisors during your studies. They provide guidance and support to help you achieve your individual research goals, develop your research topic and create a personalised training plan. You meet with your supervisors at least once a month and are usually required to submit work in advance for feedback. Twice a year, you have a supervisory board meeting to 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.
Take a look at our staff pages to find out more about our areas of supervision.
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:
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.
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.
“At Essex you are encouraged to think outside the box and do things unconventionally. This gave me a great opportunity to bring together two aspects of critical study that wouldn’t have been possible anywhere else.”
Anne Steinhoff - PhD Accounting
You will need a good Masters degree, or equivalent, in a related subject. A well developed research proposal is also essential.
You will normally be required to attend an interview/Skype interview for acceptance, and acceptance is subject to research expertise in the department.
We accept a wide range of qualifications from applicants studying in the EU and other countries. Get in touch with any questions you may have about the qualifications we accept. Remember to tell us about the qualifications you have already completed or are currently taking.
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A research degree doesn't have a taught structure, giving you the chance to investigate your chosen topic in real depth and reach a profound understanding. In communicating that understanding, through a thesis or other means, you have a rare opportunity to generate knowledge. A research degree allows you to develop new high-level skills, enhance your professional development and build new networks. It can open doors to many careers.
We understand that deciding where and what to study is a very important decision for you. We’ll make all reasonable efforts to provide you with the courses, services and facilities as described on our website. However, if we need to make material changes, for example due to significant disruption, such as in response to COVID-19, we’ll let our applicants and students know as soon as possible.
Components are the blocks of study that make up your course. A component may have a set module which you must study, or a number of modules from which you can choose.
Each component has a status and carries a certain number of credits towards your qualification.
|Status||What this means|
||You must take the set module for this component and you must pass. No failure can be permitted.
|Core with Options
||You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component but you must pass. No failure can be permitted.|
||You must take the set module for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.|
|Compulsory with Options
||You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.
||You can choose which module to study from the available options for this component. There may be limited opportunities to continue on the course/be eligible for the qualification if you fail.|
The modules that are available for you to choose for each component will depend on several factors, including which modules you have chosen for other components, which modules you have completed in previous years of your course, and which term the module is taught in.
Modules are the individual units of study for your course. Each module has its own set of learning outcomes and assessment criteria and also carries a certain number of credits.
In most cases you will study one module per component, but in some cases you may need to study more than one module. For example, a 30-credit component may comprise of either one 30-credit module, or two 15-credit modules, depending on the options available.
Modules may be taught at different times of the year and by a different department or school to the one your course is primarily based in. You can find this information from the module code. For example, the module code HR100-4-FY means:
The department or school the module will be taught by.
In this example, the module would be taught by the Department of History.
|The module number.||
The UK academic level of the module.
A standard undergraduate course will comprise of level 4, 5 and 6 modules - increasing as you progress through the course.
A standard postgraduate taught course will comprise of level 7 modules.
A postgraduate research degree is a level 8 qualification.
The term the module will be taught in.
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.
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.
£4,712 per year
£17,900 per year
We hold Open Days for all our applicants throughout the year. Our Colchester Campus events are a great way to find out more about studying at Essex, and give you the chance to:
If the dates of our organised events aren’t suitable for you, feel free to get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll arrange an individual campus tour for you.
We encourage you to make a preliminary enquiry directly to a potential supervisor or the Graduate Administrator within your chosen Department or School. We encourage the consideration of a brief research proposal prior to the submission of a full application.
We aim to respond to applications within four weeks. If we are able to offer you a place, you will be contacted via email.
For information on our deadline to apply for this course, please see our ‘how to apply’ information.
If you live too far away to come to Essex (or have a busy lifestyle), no problem. Our 360 degree virtual tour allows you to explore the Colchester Campus from the comfort of your home. Check out our accommodation options, facilities and social spaces.
Our staff travel the world to speak to people about the courses on offer at Essex. Take a look at our list of exhibition dates to see if we’ll be near you in the future.
At Essex we pride ourselves on being a welcoming and inclusive student community. We offer a wide range of support to individuals and groups of student members who may have specific requirements, interests or responsibilities.
The University makes every effort to ensure that this information on its programme specification is accurate and up-to-date. Exceptionally it can be necessary to make changes, for example to courses, facilities or fees. Examples of such reasons might include, but are not limited to: strikes, other industrial action, staff illness, severe weather, fire, civil commotion, riot, invasion, terrorist attack or threat of terrorist attack (whether declared or not), natural disaster, restrictions imposed by government or public authorities, epidemic or pandemic disease, failure of public utilities or transport systems or the withdrawal/reduction of funding. Changes to courses may for example consist of variations to the content and method of delivery of programmes, courses and other services, to discontinue programmes, courses and other services and to merge or combine programmes or courses. The University will endeavour to keep such changes to a minimum, and will also keep students informed appropriately by updating our programme specifications. The University would inform and engage with you if your course was to be discontinued, and would provide you with options, where appropriate, in line with our Compensation and Refund Policy.
The full Procedures, Rules and Regulations of the University governing how it operates are set out in the Charter, Statutes and Ordinances and in the University Regulations, Policy and Procedures.
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