Information about applying for a PhD in the School of EFM
How do I apply for the PhD programme?
Full details on how to apply for the PhD programme and information about what you need to include with your application are available.
How long does it take to study for a PhD at Bristol?
For a full-time student, the minimum period of study is three years, and the maximum is four years. If you intend to self-finance your PhD studies, or only have partial funding, you should budget for four years.
What are the entry requirements for study on the PhD?
Applicants should typically have an upper second or first class honours degree and be studying for (or have already completed) a relevant Masters degree from a university in the UK, or an equivalent qualification from a non-UK university. More information regarding equivalent qualifications for specific countries can be found by visiting our International Office webpage.
I have a research topic in mind. Can I do a PhD within the School of Economics, Finance and Management?
We can only accept applications if we are able to supervise the research topic you are proposing. Before applying to the School, prospective students should first check to see if their proposal matches the research interests of one or more members of staff. We receive many applications, and are concerned to ensure that we accept only those students to whom we can offer high quality supervision.
I am applying for a PhD in management. Can you give any guidance on how to write the research proposal?
The purpose of developing a research proposal is a necessary part of the application process as it provides a basis for decision-making, and helps to make sure that you get the most appropriate supervisor for your research. Later, and following a successful application, a more fully worked up proposal helps to crystallise your thoughts into a coherent research project that will be a useful reference as it develops.
A typical research proposal might look something like this:
- Rationale for the research project, including: a description of the phenomenon of interest, and the context(s) and situation in which you think the research will take place; an explanation of why the topic is of interest to the author; and an outline of the reasons why the topic should be of interest to research and/ or practice (the 'so what?' question); a statement of how the research fits in with that of potential supervisor(s) in the Department of Management.
- Issues and initial research question. Within the phenomenon of interest: what issue(s) do you intend to investigate? (This may be quite imprecise at the application stage); what might be some of the key literatures that might inform the issues (again, indicative at the application stage); and, as precisely as you can, what is the question you are trying to answer?
- Intended methodology: How do you think you might go about answering the question? Do you have a preference for using quantitative methods such as survey based research, or for qualitative methods such as interviews and observation?
- Expected outcomes: how do you think the research might add to existing knowledge; what might it enable organisations or interested parties to do differently?
- Timetable: What is your initial estimation of the timetable of the dissertation? When will each of the key stages start and finish (refining proposal; literature review; developing research methods; fieldwork; analysis; writing the draft; final submission). There are likely to overlaps between the stages.
An initial research proposal that forms part of a PhD application should be between 600 and 1000 words in length.
I am applying for a PhD in Economics. Can you give any guidance on how to write the research proposal?
Your proposal does not need to be more than two pages or so in length, but should seek to convey the main themes you would like to investigate, in a way that is clear and concise. Ideally, you will give an indication of relevant models or data that your work could draw upon, and briefly discuss the related literature. It is essential that your proposal lies within the research and supervision interests of one or more staff members. Note that, where a research proposal does not lie within the supervision interests of one or more staff members, it will typically be rejected.
Information about the PhD Programmes
What research questions have recent PhD graduates addressed?
In economics, for an indication of recent topics, please see the list of recent student publications.
How many students are there on the PhD programme?
There are currently about 40 research students enrolled in the School of Economics, Finance and Management. More details can be found on the PhD profiles.
What is the research environment like in the School of Economics, Finance and Management?
Studying at the School of Economics, Finance and Management has many advantages, including an enthusiastic research community, a welcoming atmosphere and excellent research facilities. The three departments are large enough to have expertise in many fields, but small enough to be friendly and to allow regular contact between students and staff members.
The high quality of the school’s research was illustrated in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) where 88 per cent of the Department of Economic's research was classified as either world leading or internationally excellent, whilst 78 per cent of the research in Business and Management was rated as world leading, or internationally excellent. This places the School of Economics, Finance and Management amongst the leading schools in the UK. Among Departments of Economics, Bristol ranked sixth in the UK in REF 2014. In the previous research assessment, RAE 2008, Economics at Bristol was ranked joint sixth.
Research facilities are very good, with extensive provision of networked software and databases, and online access to all leading journals. Full-time PhD students will typically be allocated desk space and a computer from the first year of their research.
To what extent are research students integrated into the department?
Research students are strongly encouraged to interact with other members of the school, and to attend the term-time seminar series, including external and internal speakers. Students also have opportunities to present their own work in less formal workshops, and to take advantage of many opportunities for further advanced training.
What funding is available for PhD study?
Studying for a PhD represents a major financial commitment and you should ensure that you have made appropriate long term plans for this. We strongly advise you do not arrive at Bristol without funding in place.
The most common sources of funding for our PhD programmes are the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) or alternatively the University of Bristol Postgraduate Research Scholarship.
Detailed information regarding these funding opportunities can be found on the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law scholarship page.
Further information is available from the School of Economics, Finance and Management's studentship pages.
For further information regarding postgraduate funding please refer to the Student Funding Office website.
Is there a taught aspect to the PhD programme?
Advanced training in economics is provided through workshops, under the auspices of the South West Doctoral Training Centre. Students in all subjects can attend some of the department's MSc lectures, covering a wide range of courses in economics, econometrics, accounting and finance, and management related subjects. The Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, and the University, also offer a wide variety of training courses for the development of transferable skills (for example, computing skills) and research skills. Finally, some funding is available for the costs of attendance at external workshops and training events.
What is the structure of the PhD programme?
The PhD programme requires the preparation of a thesis, supervised by two staff members. As is standard in the UK, PhD candidates are examined on the basis of the thesis submitted and an oral examination (the viva). The thesis for a PhD must represent a new contribution to knowledge, showing evidence of originality and independent thought. In the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, the minimum period of research for a full-time PhD is three years, and the maximum four years. For part-time students the minimum study length is six years.
What are the fees?
You can find information on fees and funding on the University's online postgraduate prospectus. In addition to fees, you are also advised to allow about £9000 - £10,000 per year for living expenses (this estimate excludes tuition fees and international travel).
I have successfully been offered a place, is there any support available to improve my English language skills?
The University of Bristol's Centre for English Language and Foundation Studies can provide language support.
Life at Bristol
What accommodation is available?
The University’s Accommodation Office can often help graduate students to find somewhere to live.
Please note that it often takes several weeks to find accommodation for families, so students with families are very strongly advised to delay bringing their families until they have found accommodation.
I am an international student. Can you give me any more advice?
The University of Bristol offers advice and support to international students and international staff to get the most out of their life in Bristol.
How much does it cost to live in Bristol?
Living costs in Bristol tend to be higher than in some other parts of the country, although less than in London. It is difficult to give precise guidance about the overall cost of living since the lifestyles of students vary so much. As a rough guide, students are advised that in addition to fees, approximately £800 - £900 per month is necessary to cover living expenses. In successive years allowance should be made for inflation.
There are sometimes opportunities for PhD students to earn extra income through teaching and other work within the school. The scope for this varies from year to year, however, and therefore such income cannot be guaranteed, nor should it be relied upon.