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More in this section Postgraduate research

Postgraduate research

We are delighted that you are considering joining our PhD programme. 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 leaning 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.  

Professor Paul Robson
Director of PhD/MPhil programmes


Studying for your PhD and the benefits 

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.

» Read the report from our latest PhD student conference  

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 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. 

Identifying topic and supervisor 

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 staff with 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. You can do this by viewing our research interests.

Entry requirements 

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 & Advisory Services for International Students webpage. The international Student Support Team will be able to advise you. 

Fees and funding


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:  study@royalholloway.ac.uk / +44 (0)1784 414944

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


To apply for any of the below scholarships you need to have received a conditional offer onto our PhD programme and to complete our  PhD Scholarship Application Form

Note that for all the scholarships there are many more applicants than there are available awards and so they are highly competitive. Students should ensure they prepare high quality applications.

If you have applied for the ESRC South East Network for Social Sciences  (SeNSS) Studentship (see below) you will be automatically considered for School of Management Scholarships and do not need to complete this form if your ESRC application is not successful

Teaching Innovation PhD Studentship 

Closing date for applications: 10 November 2017

This is for a fully-funded full-time three-year studentship - (full Home/EU fees, plus stipend of £14,296 annually, and costs of research travel).

Available in the School of Management for January 2018 start.

Interviews will be held on 23rd November 2017

For further particulars and how to apply please click here.

Leverhulme Magna Carta Doctoral Training Scholarship: 2017 entry 

Full-time only

The School of Management and the Department of Computer Science invite applications for a fully funded PhD scholarship available from end of September 2017 on an interdisciplinary project. 

Project:  Effective use of drones in emergency response – A sociotechnical perspective

This is an exciting interdisciplinary project where the successful candidate will be involved in the disciplines of Information Systems and Computer Science.  The candidate will be supported by expert supervision from both disciplines.


The scholarship is open to Home and EU students.  International students are eligible to apply but please note that if successful the difference between the UK/EU and overseas fee will need to be found from another source.

Candidate profile

The scholarship will be awarded on the basis of outstanding academic achievement and the potential to produce cutting-edge research.

The applicant should have studied information systems and computer science in either the undergraduate or postgraduate levels.  Experience of both information systems and computer science is preferable.

Typically, successful applicants will meet the following criteria:

  • Distinction at Master's level in a relevant discipline (either information systems, management or computer science and engineering).
  • First class honours degree or equivalent at undergraduate level in a relevant discipline, for applicants who are still completing their Master’s (either information systems, management or computer science and engineering).
  • Overall score of at least 7.0 in IELTS test or equivalent (if appropriate).

Funding: The scholarship offers a UK/EU fee waiver and a maintenance award (RCUK rate of £16,553 in 17/18) for three years. International students are eligible to apply but please note that if successful the difference between the HEU and overseas fee will need to be found from another source.

Study start date: Successful candidates should start between end of September 2017 and mid-January 2018.

An important part of the duties of successful candidates will be to support the collective ethos of the Magna Carta Doctoral Centre including being prepared to contribute to seminars, write for public audiences and participate in the academic life of the Institute for Freedoms.

How to apply:  Please send your CV, supporting letter and two references to Mrs Joanne Barrs at: Joanne.Barrs@rhul.ac.uk

Closing date: Monday 14th August

Further information

For more information about the project and scholarship, please contact Dr. Amany Elbanna (School of Management) and Dr. Sara Bernardini (Department of Computer Science).

EU/UK International Scholarships 

Full-time, Part time

The School of Management (SOM) invites applications for a number of PhD scholarships to start in September 2018. This is an opportunity to study in a vibrant, intellectually engaging and friendly academic environment to realise your full potential whatever your career goals. Royal Holloway is a research-led institution that attracts some of the best academics in the world. In the SOM 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

The award

These prestigious scholarships cover tuition fees and yearly stipend.


The scholarships are open to all UK, EU and International students.

Candidate profile

All applications will be assessed against the following criteria: 1)  the quality of the proposal, and 2) the quality of the applicants’ qualifications.  

Typically successful applicants will meet the following criteria:

  • Distinction at Master's level in a relevant discipline.
  • First class honours degree or equivalent at undergraduate level in a relevant discipline, for applicants who are still completing their Master’s.
  • Overall score of at least 7.0 in IELTS test or equivalent (if appropriate).

Successful students should also have the support of an expert supervisory team within RHUL.

How to Apply

In order to apply, it is advisable to discuss your proposal with a member of our academic staff with expertise in the research topic. Details of academic staff and their research interests can be found here.

You need to complete both a PhD Admission Form (and provide associated documents) available at RHUL On-Line Application Form and the School’s PhD Scholarship Application Form.  

Closing date: 21st January 2018

Further information

For more information about the scholarships contact both Mrs. Joanne Barrs (PGR & Research Administrator) and Dr Amany Elbanna (Deputy Director of Graduate Studies).

South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) scholarships

Royal Holloway is a member of South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS). SeNSS is a Doctoral Training Network funded by the  Economic and Social Science Research Council (ESRC).  This means, over the next six years, we will be offering SeNSS fully-funded scholarships.  

SeNSS PhD scholarships are available to home/EU students to fund fees, a maintenance stipend of £16,296 per annum, and fund fieldwork, training and visits (both in UK and overseas).

EU students who have not been resident in the UK for the 3 years preceding the award will be entitled to a Fees Only award.  

 SeNSS scholarships take the form of:

  1.  +3 awards (funding for students who already have or will have a Masters by October 2018) and
  2.  1+3 awards (funding for students to do a Masters degree followed by a PhD degree)

The deadline for the application for October 2018 entry is 16:00, 10th January 2018.

Further details for the application process for SeNss funding may be found  here.

Note that your first application should be to the School not to SeNSS. If your application to the School is selected for submission as a SeNSS award, then you will be given a password to access the SeNSS online application form.

Amy Buller PhD scholarship

Cumberland Lodge has launched a new call for applications for our Amy Buller Scholarship, a three-year PhD studentship run in partnership with Royal Holloway, University of London.

The scheme is named after Amy Buller, one of the founders of Cumberland Lodge, and applications are open to any candidates wishing to conduct doctoral research at Royal Holloway on a subject that connects with the mission and charitable objectives of Cumberland Lodge.

Applicants are welcome from any academic discipline, including those taking an interdisciplinary approach in addressing the root causes and symptoms of social divisions.

In addition to covering home/EU tuition fees, the scholarship provides an annual tax-free stipend of £12,600 to the successful candidate, and a contribution of up to £500 annually towards research expenses.

Scholars are based in their academic department at Royal Holloway, but benefit from ongoing mentoring and support from our academic staff and associates, and access to our facilities, including office space. 

They play an active role in the residential life of the charity, by helping to facilitate our residential student retreats and other events, including running ‘St Catharine’s Sessions’ for visiting student groups – seminars that focus on areas of social and ethical interest.

They are also invited to contribute essays, research briefings, blogs and informal talks to visiting groups, and to act as ambassadors for the Lodge throughout their studentship.


The closing date for applications is 30 January 2017. Further information can be found here.

School of Management Dean's Scholarships

The School offers one or two Dean's Scholarships that consist of a maintenance award of £5,000 per annum for up to three years (full time) or £2,500 per annum for up to six years (part time) and a fee waiver (Home/EU or international), with a requirement to undertake up to six hours work for the School per week. The Dean's Scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence to new students who will commence a doctoral course full- or part-time during the academic year 2018/19. 

Please note: students who have already started their PhD programme are not eligible for consideration.

Further details on all College PhD scholarships  may be found  here.

Other support available

Research Allowance

The School of 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. 

How to apply 

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 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 Study 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.

Career development 

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. 

Employability and career opportunities 

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.

 ** PhD scholarship

applications deadline -

16:00, 15th June 2018 **





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