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Postgraduate Research

Postgraduate Research

Study a PhD/MPhil in the School of Business and Management

Royal Holloway is well renowned as a research-led institution and attracts some of the best academics in the world. In the School we have over 80 research-active academic staff, from more than 30 countries, and around 85 postgraduate research students who make a valued contribution to our research culture, and to a variety of teaching and learning activities.

Our core areas of management are:

  • Accounting, Finance and Economics
  • Marketing
  • Organisation Studies and Human Resource Management
  • Strategy International Business and Entrepreneurship
  • Technology and Information Management

You will join an intellectually stimulating, friendly and supportive research environment and, through working closely with our academic staff will realise your full potential whatever your career goals. 

Studying for a PhD takes three years (full time) or six years (part-time) after which you will achieve a University of London PhD award. You will be required  to conduct supervised research into an area of management studies you find particularly thought provoking and stimulating.

As part of this process, you will be required to write an extended thesis, illustrating evidence of your ability to pursue academic research.  The outcome of your research should form a primary contribution to an academic field and be of a high standard, suitable for publication.

What do you need to study for a PhD

To study for your PhD you should have:

  • a thorough understanding of the research subject
  • competence in relevant techniques and methods
  • initiative and the capacity to critically evaluate

Studying for any PhD is very rewarding, and also a demanding and challenging undertaking. Before applying you must be certain that you are personally interested in the research topic as this will help you dedicate yourself to such a long term commitment. You should also have a strong interest in the methods and processes required to conduct academic research.

Benefits of studying for a PhD

Studying for a PhD will enable you to:

  • undertake a period of in-depth study of a specific subject
  • broaden your perspective on your research subject by studying its theoretical foundations and specific methods
  • progress and enhance originality and creativity in your research
  • gain transferable skills for your personal development
  • enhance your skills of critical evaluation
  • enhance and develop your methodological skills whether this is; conducting complex large scale surveys, in-depth analysis of historical documentation, observing organizational practice, interviewing key informants or analysing visual sources
  • develop communication skills particularly with respect to communicating your research ideas in a variety of venues
  • develop and enhance your writing skills to publishable standard. 

Throughout your PhD you will work closely with your Principal Supervisor and will also have a Second Supervisor, both of whom will provide you with guidance and support during your studies.
Your supervisor will provide you with expert advice as well as pastoral support throughout your research, writing-up and thesis submission. Given this, it is important to reflect on who might be a suitable supervisor for your research.

Before applying for a PhD in the School, you need to carefully consider the following:

  • Does your proposed PhD subject fit within the broader research themes and subject groups of the School?
  • Do we have with staff specialist expertise in your chosen area of research?
  • Do you fulfil our entry criteria?

If your answers to the above questions are ‘Yes’, you should identify a member of academic staff who may be able to supervise you.

We are committed to attracting high quality PhD students and as such you will need to meet our entry criteria. These are:

  • Usually an undergraduate degree at 2.1 level and a Masters with Merit 
  • A high quality research proposal
  • A credible personal statement
  • Strong performance at interview

English language requirements

IELTS of at least 6.5 overall, with 7.0 in writing

If you are applying to study at Royal Holloway and your first language is not English, you are required to provide evidence of your English language proficiency.

Visa requirements

If you are an international student, you may require a student visa to study in the UK. Please go on the Support for International Students webpage. The international Student Support Team will be able to advise you. 


When you begin your PhD you are making a serious commitment to a lengthy period of study. Consequently, you will need to plan your finances carefully when you apply, and for the duration of the programme. It is highly likely that your outgoings will increase and you should take this into account when planning your finances. 

Tuition fees are charged at either a Home/EU or international rate and are payable annually to the College. They cover your tuition and the use of our facilities. Fees do not cover your living expenses or any costs associated with your PhD, such as field work, equipment, books or stationery.  However, you can claim for a small annual allowance for fieldwork and other activities necessary for the completion of your PhD.  We also have a comprehensive library on site and on-line for reading materials.

Our tuition fees are reviewed annually and usually increase each year, so you should plan for this accordingly. If you take longer than three years to complete your thesis you will be required to pay a (smaller) writing-up fee.

If you are in doubt as to whether you will be classed as a Home/EU or International student please contact our Admissions Office: / +44 (0)1784 414944

For further information please visit our research degrees tuition fees page.


The School offers a limited number of merit-based studentships that contribute towards tuition fees and/or maintenance. These studentships are highly competitive. Applicants are expected to have an outstanding track record of academic achievements and research potential. ***The Scholarship competition for the academic year 2023/2024 has now been closed. Please check back later for announcement for academic year 2024/2025***.

Apart from the Studentships, other sources for funding include:

- ESRC postgraduate studentships through SEDarc (The South East Doctoral Training), a Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) of six universities. For more information please see here. ***The competition for 2024 entry is now closed***.

- Additional funding opportunities for international students may be available through various international partners, some of which are country-specific. For more information please consult the Doctoral School funding page here. Please note these external scholarships are not managed Royal Holloway and we will not be able to advise you on the application process.

Other support available

Research allowance

The School of Business and Management makes funds available to support research expenses and the costs of attending conferences. Applicants are also encouraged to apply externally for funding.

Hardship support

Information on support if you find yourself in financial difficulty, help searching for external funding, and working part-time may be found here.


If your fees are not paid directly to the university via a third party organisation you are classed as a self-funded student. We accept applications from candidates intending to self-fund their PhD studies.

If you intend to fund yourself during your PhD studies, you should consider creating an accurate three year funding plan considering carefully all your funding sources. These might include, parents, partner, savings, etc. This will allow you to judge the feasibility of your commitments. Full-time PhD students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week, with a maximum of six hours spent on teaching.  In the case of part-time students, there are no limits on working hours, however, students should be aware of the impact of paid work on their studies.

Applications to the PhD program should be made using Royal Holloway Direct. Before considering applying for a PhD at Royal Holloway you should:

  • have a strong and committed interest in a research area of interest to the School
  • create a strong proposal of around 2,000 words based on that interest
  • ensure you fulfil our entry criteria and English language requirements 
  • ensure you have a realistic plan to secure enough funding to complete your research and writing up process within the normal time period (3 -4 years).

There are three main components to our application process:

  • Identifying a suitable supervisor and obtaining their support for supervision
  • Submitting all necessary documentation through our on-line application system
  • Attending an admissions interview.

To see our research areas and find out how to find a suitable research match and supervisor please visit here.  When making contact with the staff member, please forward your research proposal and CV and only  contact one potential supervisor at a time .  If a supervisor feels they are not suitable, they may refer you on to another staff member.

An expression of interest from one of our staff does not automatically guarantee admission to our PhD programme. Applications are based on your previous academic performance, the quality of your research proposal and your performance at an admissions interview.

If you cannot find the research area you are looking for, please contact us 

How to write a strong research proposal

Your research proposal is a key part of your application. It will be read by academics with an interest in your research area and judged both on content and format. It is one of the key criteria that the School of Business and Management (and funding bodies) uses to differentiate between applicants.

It is important to present your potential supervisor with a clear proposal when you first make contact with them. Your research proposal should be around 2,000 words in length.

To write a strong research proposal you must:

    • Provide an introduction to your research proposal. You should identify the research subject in terms of theoretical issues and clearly define the topic you are interested in, demonstrating that you understand your research area.
    • Formulate a reasonably precise, interesting research question which may take the form of a hypothesis to be tested, or a more open-ended enquiry / or illustrate that you have started to identify and develop an original and interesting research question
    • establish the relevance and value of the proposed research question in the context of current academic thinking.
    • Provide a review of relevant literature and theories relating to your proposed research area that illustrates you understand the major lines of argument that have been developed and the ideas and findings of key researchers working on your topic.
    • Demonstrate that you understand how to conduct research by outlining a clear and practical methodology which enables you to answer the research question. You should also describe and evaluate any data or source material you will draw upon.
    • Provide an indication of the research methods you will use and the form and extent of any empirical work required.  For example:
      • Outline the sources of information you might require
      • Comment on the geographical area in which your study will take place – what are the advantages and disadvantages of this choice?
      • Justify your choice of research participants - individuals? Groups? Industry?
  • Give an indication as to how you envisage your research will contribute to debates and discussions in your particular subject area. Will it make an original contribution? How might it fill gaps in existing work or extend understanding of particular topics?
    • Any ethical issues you will need to consider in undertaking your research.
  • Demonstrate that your research will not take longer than three years
  • Be professional – your proposal should be typed, have a good standard of English, be well-structured with suitable headings and should be clear and legible
  • Include a bibliography, listing the books, articles and websites you have referred to.

While the actual empirical work you undertake may differ to your proposal, it is essential you have an understanding of the issues associated with conducting research and the potential to design a research study to address a specific set of issues.

You can still make changes to your proposal once you have been accepted for a research degree, however as it is the foundation of your working relationship with your supervisor, it cannot be radically altered without discussion and consultation.

Online application system

Generally each application should include the following:

  • Application form (you should check each section has been completed accurately)
  • Full academic transcripts for each degree obtained (detailing courses taken & grades)
  • A research proposal of 2,000 words 
  • Personal statement (one-side of A4 only). This should detail your previous academic or other experience relevant to the research area you wish to explore; details on why you wish to undertake this research at Royal Holloway; and your previous research or professional training and what further training you think you will need to complete a PhD
  • An up to date Curriculum Vitae (CV)
  • Contact details for one academic referee (including address and telephone number). Preferably this would be from your latest (Masters) degree as we require information about the standard of your academic work, and suitability for studying a PhD. Your referee can either submit a paper copy and post it to us, or complete it electronically and send via email. We can only accept references on official letterhead or endorsed by a university institution.  We will ask you to supply a second reference if the first is unsuitable for supporting an application to PhD level of study.

  • If relevant, evidence that you meet our English language requirements (IELTS or TOEFL) i.e. a copy of the test transcript. 

For further information on making an application using Royal Holloway Direct, see Studying here.

Personal statement

Applicants must also submit a Statement of Purpose within their application. Candidates should use the Statement of Purpose to set out information which is NOT set out in their Research Proposal. The Statement of propose should be a 1 side A4 document containing the following information:

  • Why you want to undertake your PhD, including future career goals
  • Previous academic and other experience relevant to your proposed research
  • Why you wish to undertake this research at Royal Holloway(thinking about where the project fits with the School and supervisors’ research interests)
  • What research training and professional preparation you have already received
  • Any further training you think you may need to complete your doctorate.
Admissions interview

If you fulfil our entry criteria and have gained support from a potential supervisor, you will be invited for interview with the potential supervisor and another member of staff. It is our preference that this is conducted face-to-face but it is possible to do this via Skype. The interview will last for approximately 45 minutes. The interview panel will ask questions designed to explore your knowledge of the field, previous experience and skills, and commitment to study for a PhD.

Final decision

The interview results will be given to the PhD Director and the final decision will be based on this and the on-line application. Royal Holloway Postgraduate (Research) Admissions will inform you of the outcome.

Doctoral graduates are highly employable both inside and outside academia. Many of our students go on to secure positions either with us or at other top-rated universities or companies. 

If you are interested in a career in academia, you will be encouraged and provided with support to publish your work, either as working papers, journal articles or conference papers.  Financial assistance is available to attend conferences where you can present your own work and network with academics and practitioners working in your field.

Royal Holloway's Careers & Employability Service, part of The Careers Group, University of London, provides tailored help and advice to enable PhD students’ to achieve their career development goals:

  • Whether or not you know where you want your career to go, you can get one-to-one guidance and advice from a friendly adviser at any stage throughout your studies.
  • They can provide feedback on your CV, covering letters and applications.
  • If you have an interview coming up they can help you practise and prepare with a mock interview session.
  • We hold hundreds of careers-related events every year.

A PhD can significantly enhance your career prospects as many employers view those having successfully achieved their PhD as having highly valuable transferable skills. These skills include the ability to complete large, complex and long-term projects, along with originality of thought and of course, serious commitment. You may choose to remain in an area relevant to your research, however, these broader qualities are of interest to a wide range of employers as well as in academia.

If you cannot find the information you require please contact us.

For PhD management programme enquiries email

For general admissions enquiries email

For School of Business and Management general enquiries email

If you wish to speak to someone in person, please visit the School's Reception between 9am and 3pm, Monday to Friday.

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