Studying for a PhD

PhD student presenting

As a research student you will be assigned two members of the academic staff as supervisors to guide and support your research. All supervisors are selected for their expertise and involvement in the appropriate field of study. The relationship with your supervisors will form the most important aspect of your work. There will be regular meetings to discuss ideas and progress, and a close working relationship will develop. The School also has a PhD tutor who will act as your advisor on general non-research matters.

Year 1

During the first year of your PhD you will receive advanced training in econometrics, research methods and other relevant topics as part of the ECN610 Doctoral Training in Economics. You will also be required to participate in the Faculty's Doctoral Development Programme. For those whose first language is not English, courses in English geared towards research needs are also available.

At the end of your first year you'll be required to undergo a confirmation review in order to determine whether your project has the potential for successful completion at doctoral level. This involves submitting a draft of your first chapter and undergoing an oral examination; you will be assessed by a panel comprising of a minimum of two academic members of staff who have not had any previous close association with your research project. Upon successful completion of the confirmation review, and passing the assessment for ECN610, you will have your status as a doctoral researcher confirmed.

Years 2 and 3

During the second and third years, you will be working to complete your research. This usually comprises two more research papers.

At the School of Economics we will ensure that you are provided with time throughout your PhD to develop your research skills and broaden your knowledge and experience of the subject beyond your particular research field.

Final semester

You will use the final semester for writing and finalising your thesis. You will also spend time disseminating your findings at workshops and conferences.

Attendance at research seminars, trainings, and conferences both within and outside the department is encouraged. Funding is available to help you attend conferences and trainings at other places in the UK and overseas.

The Doctoral Training in Economics (ECN610)

This Doctoral Training in Economics (ECN610) enables students' high-level engagement with the research culture of their discipline, and integrates them within a cohort of PhD students for active peer-to-peer learning. The training consists of a combination of lectures, cohort-based student workshops, individual review meetings, and attendance at and reflection on discipline-specific research activities both within the University (such as School Research Seminars) and beyond (such as national and international conferences and workshops in their discipline). 

The taught component in the first year of the PhD is structured in two main parts: a module on advanced econometrics divided into micro- and macro-econometrics; and a second part on advanced research methods for economists. These two modules will be assessed by the end of the first year with a final exam for the advanced econometrics module, and with a submission of the advanced research proposal for advanced research methods. Students will also be invited to audit additional modules relevant to their research topic at the master level. 

All PhD students are also expected to engage with a minimum of 40 hours of discipline-focused professional research events, which may include attendance at school research seminars, research group meetings, PhD-led reading groups, attendance at appropriate academic conferences, presentation of their own work at these events.

The Doctoral Development Programme

The Doctoral Development Programme is a flexible programme of training for research students. The aim is to give students the skills they need both to complete their thesis and also for their longer-term career and personal development goals.

The programme is adapted to each student's needs, assessed by completing an annual Training Needs Analysis. Once we've identified your training needs, your supervisors will help you choose the right modules to study, from the wide range on offer across the University.

The type of training undertaken can be divided into three categories:

  • subject-specific training; for example, advanced econometric techniques
  • more generic research training; this might mean developing literature searching or thesis writing skills
  • personal development training, such as developing communication skills or teamworking skills.
  • students record their achievements in an e-portfolio, which can be shown to future employers.

Students will be involved in seminars and workshops organised by the School. This allows them to be exposed to new ideas in your area of research and across the various fields of the discipline and you will be able to interact with researchers outside the School.

PhD Conference

Each year you will also participate in the annual PhD Conference. You will present your ongoing work to an audience of staff members and other PhD students. This gives you the opportunity to clarify your thoughts and receive feedback by presenting your work to others in a supportive environment. It also gives you the opportunity to develop your professional skills in the presentation of work to an audience.


The School of Economics teaches a wide range of undergraduate courses, each accompanied by problems classes or tutorials. Many PhD students act as tutors in the School during their studies, in return for payment at an hourly rate. Though the work gives valuable experience, the amount of time that can be spent on it is limited, in order not to interfere with your main research activities.

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