Aston PhD Programme

Dean's Scholarship

The Aston Business School PhD programme is designed to train researchers inspired to become future academics or professional industry researchers. Association with one or two academic groups facilitates specialization in the key management areas or Law:                                              

If you are considering applying with your own research proposal, see the broad research themes on the Academic Group pages offered by our academics to help you to position your proposal.


Candidates for entry to the Research Degrees Programme normally hold a First or Upper Second Class Honours Degree from an approved University or Institution of Higher Education. This degree need not necessarily be in Management or directly related to the proposed research subject, but successful candidates must be able to demonstrate their ability to undertake research in the Business School at an advanced level.

In addition, candidates typically hold an approved Master’s Degree in Management or related subjects, including the Social Sciences. This should be with an average of 65% in both taught and dissertation elements. Existing academic publications would be regarded as a valuable aspect of applicant’s profile.

In all cases successful completion of the Research Methods Course and the taught Postgraduate module is a necessary prerequisite for proceeding to your research project.

Language Proficiency

For applicants from non-English speaking countries, it is necessary to have taken either the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL score of 101) or the British Council IELTS test- score of 6.5. However, if the Candidate holds a Master's degree from a UK university, this requirement may be waived. 


  • UG Degree - 2:1 or above

  • MSc - 65% in both taught and dissertation elements

  • Two academic references

  • TOEFL - 101 (Reading 23, Writing 28, Listening 23, Speaking 23)

  • IELTS - 6.5 (Reading and Writing 6.5, Listening and Speaking 6.0)

Value of the Scholarship:

  • Stipend of £15,480 per annum and
  • Full fee waiver (both for Home/EU and International students)


  • Three years (full time)


  • Scholarships are open to Home/EU and Overseas applicants   


Applicants must meet all of the entrance requirements as required for the PhD Programme and hold an unconditional offer, in addition:

  •  Applicants with a UK Master’s Degree, with 70% in both the taught and dissertation elements are eligible for the Deans Scholarship

  •  Applicants with a non-UK Master’s Degree are required to submit a GRE/GMAT* test and achieve 70% in all areas

  •  Applicants who hold a UK Masters Degree, but have not met the 70% threshold (taught and dissertation) can still qualify for the Deans Scholarship by taking a GRE/GMAT* test and achieving the required 70%

*GRE/GMAT is an independently administered test that assesses quantitative, analytical and verbal skills.  This test allows for a rigorous degree of bench marking between applicants. The minimum requirement of 70% applies to each section.  A score of 70% means that the applicant has obtained a better score than 70% of all tested participants. Details on GMAT/GRE can be found here: GMAT and GRE

The essential application criteria listed above applies to all Academic Groups with the exception of Aston Law.  Law applicants should visit the Law pages for details of the Dean’s Law Scholarship


  • Academic publications

Application Process:

  • Complete the on-line application form for entry to the programme here. Provide all relevant documentation


  • All candidates will be informed of the outcome within 6 weeks of their application

Scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis until all positions are filled.

Please contact rdp@aston.ac.uk if you have any questions or need further information.

ESRC PhD Studentships - Midlands Graduate School.     

Aston Business School will be offering ESRC PhD Studentships from September 2017 as part of the Midlands Graduate School.

The Midlands Graduate School (MGS) is part of an ESRC network of Doctoral Training Partnerships in collaboration with:

  • Aston University
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Leicester
  • Loughborough University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Warwick

Full details on the studentships and how to apply can be found on the Midlands Graduate School website.

These studentships are for Home/EU applicants only. Applicants must hold an unconditional offer from the programme before they apply for funding, which closes on Thursday 18 January 2018.  

ESRC DTP Joint Studentship – Industrial Organisation and Supply Chain Management.

This is a full-time joint studentship offered by Aston University and Loughborough University.  The studentship consists of a full fee waiver (Home/EU fees only) and a stipend.  The studentship is for three years.  The deadline for applications is Wednesday 28 February 2018.

Full details of the project and the entry requirements.

As ABS PhD student you can have access to the following datasets if they are relevant to your research topic. 

Orbis is a rich firm-level dataset, provided by Bureau van Dijk, which contains detailed information on millions of public and private firms worldwide. In particular, company profiles, including profit and loss accounts, balance sheets, ownership and subsidiary information and other financials for a 10-year period. 

Zephyr, from the same provider as Orbis, contains information on thousands of Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A), Initial Public Offering (IPO), private equity and venture capital deals for at least a 10-year period. Firms can be linked from Zephyr with Orbis via the unique firm identifier. 

If you have questions regarding these datasets and how they could be linked to your research proposal, please contact Dr Yama Temouri (y.temouri1@aston.ac.uk) or Dr Chris Jones (c.jones2@aston.ac.uk). Also check topics advertised, as some of these topics rely on data accessible via these datasets.

Other datasets available are Datastream and CRSP/Compustat.

Various statistics/econometrics/mathematics packages are available including MATLAB, STATA and EViews.

In the first year of the PhD programme all PhD students undertake the taught Research Methods Courses (RMCs) as the foundation of their development as a professional researcher. This is intended to provide them with necessary skills they require both to successfully complete  their PhD degree and to develop themselves as a well-rounded researcher. We offer additional training in specific topics through our Summer School in Advanced Research Methods which helps to develop advanced skills in areas related to the student’s specific topic. 

The RMCs are taught by expert staff in management research and are designed to lead to the development of a Qualifying Report. The Qualifying Report is a presentation of the research topic in which the PhD student is expected to provide academic motivation for the choice of their specific research question, explain what previous research has informed their approach, what research methodology and techniques which they will adopt, and what theoretical and practical contributions their research is expected to make. This Qualifying Report forms the basis for the PhD dissertation. PhD students are expected to defend their Qualifying Report through oral viva examination by two internal examiners who are selected from among ABS academics based on the relevance of their expertise to research topic of the PhD student. Upon successful examination which takes place towards the end of the first year of PhD study the student is allowed to proceed with their dissertation. 

During the second year PhD students typically focus on data collection and analysis, which for some students is associated with travel to research sites where they collect their data. 

Third year is typically a writing up year when PhD students  spend most of their time in the office putting together their dissertation and writing academic papers. We encourage our PhD students to target top academic conferences to get feedback on their research and use this feedback to target academic journals.

We have exciting and vibrant research environment at ABS that enables PhD students to be engaged in various research events and seminars (ABS-wide and PhD-specific). Our PhDs have a dedicated research society which organises various social and academic related events throughout the year. Both research and social activities are important to keep PhD students engaged and motivated throughout the duration of their PhD journey.

Our academic groups run research seminar series where PhD students are encouraged to present their research and get feedback from experts in the area. 

Our Summer School in Advanced Research Methods offers additional training opportunities necessary for a successful academic career.

For PhD students who are interested in gaining some teaching experience in preparation for an academic career, there are opportunities to undertake paid teaching jobs in the second and third year of their PhD. Students can only undertake teaching on successful completion of their Qualifying Report and must take the Aston Teaching Certificate. 

To ensure that research time is not affected, the total amount of teaching and/or research assistance hours a PhD student can undertake will be limited to 110 hours per year and will be agreed and monitored by the RDP office and their research supervisor. 

Entry dates

The PhD Programme intake is in October and April. Applications for the October intake should be submitted by 15th August at the latest and for the April intake by 15th February at the latest.  Any application after this date may not be processed in time for the October or April start.

Please note that there may be earlier closing dates for your application should you wish to be considered for funding.

Please note: we cannot review individual eligibility before you apply.

Application Procedure

You can apply online by clicking here.

  • The following supporting documents are required as part of the application and if not supplied may lead to delays in processing your application:
  • Research topic: If you are interested in working on one of the topics our academic advertised, please make sure that you include a reference number of the topic you are interested in. Alternatively, if you are applying with your own proposal, please select three broad themes (from those advertised) that are close to the topic of your interest. 
    See tips for writing a good research proposal.
  • Copies of your qualifications - Masters and BSc transcripts and certificates;
  • Two letters of recommendation;
  • Confirmation of your TOEFL/IELTS results for those applicants from non-English speaking countries

Before you submit an application we recommend that you refer to our entry requirements (see tab above) to make sure you are eligible to apply.

Our course selectors only consider applications when submitted complete with all supporting documents.

 Fees for 2018/19  

  •  Home/European Union Students Full-time fees per year: £4,260

  • Overseas (Non-EU) Students Full-time fees per year:£13,900

If you consider applying for Dean’s Scholarship and your application is successful, your fees would be covered in full.

The RDP Team
11th Floor, South Wing 
Aston Business School
Aston University, Aston Triangle
Birmingham, B4 7ET

Student Profile

Student Profile

Bernadette Frech

'ABS is a highly service-oriented institution with a great atmosphere and culture. The study conditions in terms of supervisory teams, academic and administrative staff, and study facilities are outstanding.'