Institution / Ulster University Coleraine
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Business & Management - Research


The Business School is in the top quartile of UK universities for research.


The Ulster University Business School provides opportunities for PhD study on a full-time and part-time basis in a range of topic areas linked to the Faculty’s research strategy. Studying for a PhD offers students the opportunity to research in depth a range of business and management topics at an advanced level. Completion of a PhD typically takes three years on a full time basis and six years on a part time basis. The Business School offers a number of Department of Employment and Learning and VCRS grants to students wishing to carry out research on a full-time basis. Over 50 full time and part time research students are currently registered for PhD programmes in the Business School.

Before submitting an application, prospective applicants are asked to note the research areas available for PhD study highlighted here and to make contact with the named staff who may be able to provide supervision in their area of expertise. All applications must include a detailed research proposal.

The University welcomes applicants interested in researching accounting and finance, SME marketing, digital marketing, food marketing, entrepreneurship, SME internationalisation, tourism, retailing, supply chain management, innovation, human resource management, and operations.


In the 2014 UK Research Excellence Framework (REF), Ulster University Business School had 98% of its research recognised as international in terms of originality, significance and rigour. This placed the Business School in the top quartile of UK universities for research. The Business School gained +3 recognition from the Economic and Social Research Council in 2007. The ESRC is the UK's leading research funding and training agency in the area of the social sciences. It is concerned with ensuring high quality research output on issues of importance to business, the public sector and government. ESRC recognition means that the agency recognises not only the high quality of the Graduate Research Centre's PhD programmes but also that the support and training offered to research students by the Centre and the University is highly effective. This recognition shows that our facilities, procedures and practices for research students are up to the high standards that they expect.

Entry requirements

Entry conditions

We recognise a range of qualifications for admission to our courses. In addition to the specific entry conditions for this course you must also meet the University’s General Entrance Requirements. For general entrance requirements go to:

Entry Requirements

You will need to hold a First of Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in an area relevant to your chosen project to be able to apply.

If you have obtained an undergraduate degree from a non-UK institution, we can advise you on how it compares to the UK system.

English Language Requirements

English language requirements for international applicants

The minimum requirement for research degree programmes is Academic IELTS 6.0 with no band score less than 5.5. This is the only acceptable certificate for those requiring to obtain a Tier 4 visa.

Ulster recognises a number of other English language tests and comparable IELTS equivalent scores.



As a full time student, the expectation is that you will work on your project on a daily basis, either on or off campus as agreed with your supervisor. You will be entitled to 40 days holiday per annum.

Part time students are expected to meet with their supervisors on a regular basis, most usually this would be monthly but this is dependent on the project area.

Careers or further progression

Career options

Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, with around two thirds of our graduates remaining in the Higher Education or Research sectors, the degree also paves way for a career in industries centred on research and innovation.

PhD graduates are recognised by employers to hold valuable transferrable skills, as the nature of the degree trains candidates in creativity, critical inquiry, problem solving, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.

The most recent Ulster survey of PhD graduates found that 92% had secured employment within the first year since graduation (HESA Destination of Leavers Survey 2015).

Further enquiries

Professor Paul Humphreys
Research Institute Director Business and Management
Tel: +44 (0)2890368410 Email:

Professor Barry Quinn
Head of Research Graduate School
Tel: +44 (0)2890368412 Email:

Research areas

Research facilities and groups

Full-time funded students (Department of Employment and Learning and VCRS grants) have access to training funds to support the development of the PhD. All full-time PhD students are provided with a desk in a shared space and computing and printing equipment.

PhD supervision is available within the research groups listed below.

Accounting and Finance

Within accounting and finance the group focuses on efficiency and performance measurement and the analysis of structural change in the financial sector. Current areas of research include: public sector accounting; charity accounting; performance measurement in NFPOs; banks and credit unions.


Research interests fall into two main areas:
(i) SMEs with particular emphasis on the marketing/entrepreneurship interface; and
(ii) the ‘front’ end of the marketing channel, the point of contact between retailer and consumer. Current areas of research include small firms’ marketing theory and practice; SME internationalization; marketing communications; services marketing; SME marketing; qualitative research methodology; factors influencing the performance of SMEs; innovation; knowledge management; strategic marketing; decision- making in entrepreneurial firms; networking as a marketing competency; the role of the Internet in entrepreneurial firms’ marketing; strategy and international business; financial services marketing; internet marketing; direct marketing; public sector marketing; bank marketing; customer marketing; internet banking; motivation for foreign direct investment; customer value and competitive value.


This group has consolidated its work in the development and application of quantitative and systems based ideas and models. A major interest for members of the group has developed around the implications for a range of organisations of the total quality management philosophy. This is reflected in research work that is focused on supply management and business process improvement. Current areas of research include: electronic commerce and the role of intermediaries, the outsourcing decision-making process, supplier development strategies, early supplier involvement in the design process, supply chain dynamics, public sector procurement and knowledge/innovation management assessment tools.

The research of this group also covers a wide spectrum of issues impinging on the management of human resources within the private and public sectors. The areas researched include NI trade unionism and labour history, labour economics, gender and equality issues, employee relations and employee involvement and participation.

Enrolment and start dates

Start Date: September 2017

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