Essex Business School

Research degrees

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Global research community

By studying for your research degree at Essex Business School, you join the next generation of researchers shaping business theory, policy and practice. You not only further your understanding of contemporary business issues, you can challenge conventional thinking and make lasting contributions to your field.

You’re supervised by world-leading academics, producing cutting-edge research that helps organisations innovate and economies flourish. Working in one of the UK’s youngest, most dynamic business schools, our researchers are entrepreneurial and have the courage to tackle some of businesses toughest challenges, from gender inequality to tax avoidance. Join us and help champion a more responsible approach to management for the benefit of organisations and society.

With doctoral students from all over the world, we’re the business school to launch your international research career.

Explore our postgraduate research degrees

Business as usual?
Not at Essex.

Be part of a lively, global research community of more than 100 doctoral students from five continents
We have programmes suited to those both with and without Masters degrees
72% of our research is world leading or internationally excellent (REF 2014)
Essex is ranked 4th in the UK for research excellence (REF 2014, mainstream universities)
We’re a UK top 5 university for social science research (REF 2014)
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Your PhD options

The PhD route you take depends on your previous research experience.


Our traditional three-year PhDs will suit you if you already have a Masters degree which included a substantial element of research training. Our integrated PhDs (or 1+3s) are designed for those without a Masters degree, or for students who have little to no research training. You spend your first year doing a Masters to develop the required knowledge and skills to begin your PhD in year two.

You can opt to study full-time or part-time over a longer period. Our research programmes start in October and our full-time doctorates last 36 months, with integrated courses lasting 48 months. 


Peter Ozili
“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.”
Peterson Ozili  PhD Accounting and finance

So, what do we have to offer?

Expert supervision

We’re a research intensive school where you’re supervised by internationally recognised academics, in a collaborative, welcoming and supportive environment. Our academic team includes leading journal editors and our research has been cited by the Bank of England, the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve.

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 ResearchFinder 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. You can read our latest working papers in the Essex Research Repository.

A 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.

You may have the opportunity to become a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) and gain valuable experience for your CV.

Databases and software packages

We give you access to a wide range of databases and software packages to support your research, such as:

  • Bloomberg
  • Compustat
  • Passport GMID
  • Bankscope
  • Datastream
  • Ebrary
  • NetLibrary
  • Oxford Scholarship Online
  • Palgrave Connect
  • SpringerLink

A tailored programme of research

Throughout your PhD, you undertake a progress board every six months. At this meeting, 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.

Year one

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

By the end of your first year, 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.

Year two

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.

Final year

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 an 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.

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.

"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 judgement, 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

Current PhD research

Saranzaya Manalsuren - PhD Management

Untangling Mongolian Management: Thriving in Turbulent Times

Saranzaya Manalsuren

“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, 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."

Nima Zarrabi - PhD in Finance

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.”

Peterson Ozili - PhD Accounting and Finance

Bank Loan Loss Provisioning and Income Smoothing Practices in Africa


Peterson Ozili“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.”

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