MPhil/PhD Accounting

Duration MPhil: Full time 2-3 years; Part time 4-5 years
PhD: Full time 3-4 years; Part time 6-7 years
Discipline
  • Accounting
LocationExeter (Streatham)
Start date September, January or April

Overview

The University of Exeter Business School offers the opportunity to study for research degrees in accounting, finance, economics, leadership studies and management (including tourism).

The facilities that we have available for doctoral studies are second to none, and that also applies to the academics who comprise our formidable teaching staff. Embarking on an MPhil or PhD at Exeter, you’ll work alongside some of the finest minds in your discipline, contributing to research projects that are consistently recognised as internationally significant. We often find that the reputation and high standing of our academic staff inspire graduates to choose Exeter for their postgraduate work.

You’ll be part of a vibrant research community, with more than 150 current doctoral students. We will foster what makes each of you unique, with an individual training-needs assessment informing the training and support we provide throughout your studies. This will include access to research methods expertise, graduate skills training programmes, and wider support provided through professional associations and Research Councils.

What is an MPhil or PhD?

We offer Master and Doctor of Philosophy degrees at Exeter (MPhil and PhD respectively), both requiring independent research. All students are initially registered as MPhil, and may opt to pursue a two year programme to that level, but we acknowledge that most will aspire to obtaining a PhD.

We have adopted the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) model: if you have appropriate prior experience and qualifications (usually at Masters level) you will work under the +3 mode and spend three years obtaining your PhD; otherwise you’ll need to undertake an appropriate year-long program of research training at Masters level before moving on to the next phase, mode 1+3.

Submitting your thesis

You should expect to submit your thesis within three years of commencing the programme, and to have completed it, including defence and amendments, within four years. The fourth ‘writing-up’ year is subject to recommendation by your supervisor/s and would normally be charged at a reduced fee.

Further information

Research areas

Our research focuses around the following themes:

  • The implications of social networks on the capital markets
  • Financial accounting information
  • Corporate governance
  • Sustainability accounting and reporting
  • Taxation Policy and Practice

You’ll be part of a vibrant research community, with more than 150 current doctoral students. We will foster what makes each of you unique, with an individual training-needs assessment informing the training and support we provide throughout your studies. This will include access to research methods expertise, graduate skills training programmes, and wider support provided through professional associations and Research Councils.

You will work with the Xfi Centre for Finance and Investment. The Xfi centre provides a high quality teaching facility and offers students, financial professionals and global financial institutions a direct gateway to practical business solutions through the work of leading academics and practitioners.

The Tax Administration Research Centre (TARC) undertakes research on tax administration in order to strengthen the theoretical and empirical understanding of tax operations and policies.

Further information

  • Business School research web pages
  • Staff in the Accounting Department (potential supervisors)

Supervision

Your supervisor

Your relationship with your supervisor(s) is vital to the success of your doctoral studies. They will guide you through your work from the early stages of reading and clarification to the submission of your thesis and your oral defence at the viva voce. In some circumstances, for example if your research crosses disciplines, a second supervisor may be appointed.

Getting the right supervisor for you and your topic is important. After all, you will be working closely together for at least three years. It’s a good idea to get involved in choosing the right person - before you start to write your proposal, do some investigation. Who would you like to supervise your research? What research have their students done in the past? How does your research compare? Try to match your topic as closely as possible to the research interests of staff and our core research strengths in accounting, finance, economics, leadership and management. If you can, name up to two preferred supervisors. If not the School will attempt to identify the most suitable supervisor/s for your topic.

You may wish to contact us directly to confirm whether your topic or area is relevant to the School and our research. Applicants for research degrees in Leadership are very likely to be interviewed or asked to give a presentation on their proposed research.

Supervision meetings

You’ll usually meet your supervisor monthly, but more frequently when engaged in activities like designing your research methods, conducting your detailed analysis, or completing your thesis for submission. Your meetings may involve discussion of your progress, briefing papers or draft chapters you have written as well as training needs assessment, preparation for seminars or conference presentations, and debating current trends and future prospects in your field.

You’ll both keep personal records of supervision and three times a year you and your supervisor will write an agreed report on your interim progress, your work plans, and your on-going training needs. Your supervisor will make sure your work remains on track. That’s good for you, your sponsors, and for the University.

Your mentor

Your time spent undertaking doctoral studies at the University of Exeter Business School should be enjoyable and in addition to your supervisor you will also have a mentor, who will provide general guidance and pastoral support. Your mentor will contact you three times a year to ensure that any issues which may be interfering with your ability to study are being addressed.

Code of Good Practice

Preparing your research proposal

When you apply for a place you’ll need to submit a research proposal which is a key element in assessing your suitability for study. Your proposal will be judged on two principal criteria:

  • Whether we can offer supervision in the area you wish to study
  • Evidence that your research is likely to be original (essential for PhD applications) and feasible to undertake.

Your proposal must specify the area of your proposed research and should cover relevance, theoretical perspectives, research methodology, and sources of data. This outline is not binding, however, and a more precisely defined topic and approach might not be finalised until some time in your first year of study.

Writing your proposal

Your proposal is your calling card. It is your chance to sell yourself and your research to prospective supervisors. Competition for places is fierce, and many students apply to us with excellent Bachelors and Masters degrees from around the world. Your proposal is your way of setting yourself apart from the crowd. So, you should work hard to submit the best possible application.

Putting together your document

There is no set formula for your research proposal in terms of length or what you include in it. However we prefer proposals of 2,000-2,500 words and it is quality not quantity that counts to demonstrate that you have a clear and concise way of thinking. Your proposal should explain your project, establish its importance, and set out how you are going to complete it in the time allowed. The strongest proposals are likely to contain the following:

  • Background – You should establish the context to, and rationale for, your research based on a reading of the relevant academic and/or practitioner literature. Where possible, cite relevant authors and studies, and explain how this research builds on your previous academic work or professional experience. You should discuss the intellectual importance of your work, its contribution to your subject area, and its originality, which, in time, form three of the four main criteria for assessing your PhD.
  • Aims and objectives – Set out your terms of reference clearly and precisely. These may cover what you intend to achieve by the research in general and, more specifically, how the research fits the background and the outcomes from the project.
  • Methods and techniques – Explain how your approach to collecting and analysing information will help you satisfy your aims and objectives. Potential data collection methods and possible analytical techniques give a sense of the direction of the research. Explain the choices behind case study organisations or locations, as well as sampling strategies or particular computer-based techniques.
  • Project management – You don’t need to produce a detailed time plan because research projects evolve. However, it is extremely useful to explain in general terms what you are proposing to do, and when, in order to get a sense of the scale of the task. This is especially important if you are proposing to undertake case study work or fieldwork.
  • Ethics – Almost inevitably your research will raise some ethical issues and you should aspire to conduct your research with the highest ethical standards.
  • Health and safety – All types of research have implications for health and safety, albeit some types of work are more risky than others. Where appropriate your proposal should seek to identify any issues and explain how you may address them.
  • References – Please enter a reference list using Harvard Notation. It is useful for potential supervisors to better understand the breadth and depth of your reading to date.
  • Appendices – These are a useful way of including additional supporting material while keeping the main body of the proposal succinct.

Entry requirements 2016

You’ll need a good first degree (ie, at least the equivalent of an Upper Second Class Honours Degree from a UK university) in the relevant subject, and a taught Masters degree in the discipline is normally required. Applicants with ESRC-accredited Masters degrees are especially welcome to apply, as are those with merit or distinction level qualifications. Masters degrees should be in a subject relevant to the proposed research, and it is particularly advantageous if research methods and techniques as well as independent research (eg, dissertation or project) featured prominently in the curriculum.

If you don’t yet have a Masters degree but are wishing to undertake research you may be offered a place on one of the School's taught Mres*, MSc or MA programmes instead of direct +3 entry. We don’t offer a formal four-year New Route PhD programme, so you would join the MRes/MSc/MA programme and then apply for the MPhil/PhD programme in that first year. Acceptance would be conditional on your performance in the taught programme.

We’ll consider applications according to your academic qualifications and experience, the quality of your research proposal and the availability of staff to supervise your proposed research.

*Our MRes programmes are officially accredited as research degree training by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), the UK’s leading research and training agency addressing economic and social concerns.

Requirements for international students

If you are an international student, please visit our international equivalency pages to enable you to see if your existing academic qualifications meet our entry requirements.

English language requirements

IELTS (Academic)

Overall score 6.5. No less than 6.0 in any section.

TOEFL IBT*

Overall score 90 with minimum scores of 21 for writing, 21 for listening, 22 for reading and 23 for speaking.

Pearson Test of English (Academic)

58 with no less than 55 in all communicative skills.

Other accepted tests

Information about other acceptable tests of linguistic ability can be found on our English language requirements page.

Pre-sessional English

Applicants with lower English language test scores may be able to take pre-sessional English at INTO University of Exeter prior to commencing their programme. See our English language requirements page for more information.

Finance: fees and funding

Tuition fees per year 2016/17

  • UK/EU: £4,250 full-time; £2,100 part-time
  • International: £15,450 full-time

Fee information

Fees can normally be paid by two termly instalments and may be paid online. For further information about paying fees see our Student Fees pages.

Funding

The Business School offers a generous range of scholarships and bursaries for postgraduate students. In previous years funding has been available through a number of scholarships including Distinction Scholarships, Thomson Reuters Scholarships and Excellence Scholarships.

Funding opportunities are subject to change, so for the latest information we recommend searching our funding database.

Current available funding

Contact us

For questions about the application process

Postgraduate programmes based in Exeter

Postgraduate Admissions
8th Floor Laver Building
North Park Road
Exeter
EX4 4QE

Phone: 0300 555 60 60 (UK callers)
+44 (0) 1392 723044 (EU/International callers)
Email: pg-ad@exeter.ac.uk

Postgraduate programmes based at the Penryn Campus, near Falmouth

Student Recruitment and Admissions
Treliever Road
Penryn
TR10 9FE
Phone: +44 (0) 1326 371801
Email: cornwall@exeter.ac.uk (general enquiries); pgadmissions-cornwall@exeter.ac.uk (admission/application enquiries)

Visit the Postgraduate Admissions pages for information and advice.

Application form

If you are encountering any problems difficulties with our online application form, please email: pg-ad@exeter.ac.uk

For questions about the programmes and supervision

Business School Postgraduate Research Administration Team
Phone: +44 (0) 1392 726255
Email: uebs-doctoral-admissions@exeter.ac.uk

Supervision

Your supervisor

Your relationship with your supervisor(s) is vital to the success of your doctoral studies. They will guide you through your work from the early stages of reading and clarification to the submission of your thesis and your oral defence at the viva voce. In some circumstances, for example if your research crosses disciplines, a second supervisor may be appointed.

Getting the right supervisor for you and your topic is important. After all, you will be working closely together for at least three years. It’s a good idea to get involved in choosing the right person - before you start to write your proposal, do some investigation. Who would you like to supervise your research? What research have their students done in the past? How does your research compare? Try to match your topic as closely as possible to the research interests of staff and our core research strengths in accounting, finance, economics, leadership and management. If you can, name up to two preferred supervisors. If not the School will attempt to identify the most suitable supervisor/s for your topic.

You may wish to contact us directly to confirm whether your topic or area is relevant to the School and our research. Applicants for research degrees in Leadership are very likely to be interviewed or asked to give a presentation on their proposed research.

Supervision meetings

You’ll usually meet your supervisor monthly, but more frequently when engaged in activities like designing your research methods, conducting your detailed analysis, or completing your thesis for submission. Your meetings may involve discussion of your progress, briefing papers or draft chapters you have written as well as training needs assessment, preparation for seminars or conference presentations, and debating current trends and future prospects in your field.

You’ll both keep personal records of supervision and three times a year you and your supervisor will write an agreed report on your interim progress, your work plans, and your on-going training needs. Your supervisor will make sure your work remains on track. That’s good for you, your sponsors, and for the University.

Your mentor

Your time spent undertaking doctoral studies at the University of Exeter Business School should be enjoyable and in addition to your supervisor you will also have a mentor, who will provide general guidance and pastoral support. Your mentor will contact you three times a year to ensure that any issues which may be interfering with your ability to study are being addressed.

Code of Good Practice

Preparing your research proposal

When you apply for a place you’ll need to submit a research proposal which is a key element in assessing your suitability for study. Your proposal will be judged on two principal criteria:

  • Whether we can offer supervision in the area you wish to study
  • Evidence that your research is likely to be original (essential for PhD applications) and feasible to undertake.

Your proposal must specify the area of your proposed research and should cover relevance, theoretical perspectives, research methodology, and sources of data. This outline is not binding, however, and a more precisely defined topic and approach might not be finalised until some time in your first year of study.

Writing your proposal

Your proposal is your calling card. It is your chance to sell yourself and your research to prospective supervisors. Competition for places is fierce, and many students apply to us with excellent Bachelors and Masters degrees from around the world. Your proposal is your way of setting yourself apart from the crowd. So, you should work hard to submit the best possible application.

Putting together your document

There is no set formula for your research proposal in terms of length or what you include in it. However we prefer proposals of 2,000-2,500 words and it is quality not quantity that counts to demonstrate that you have a clear and concise way of thinking. Your proposal should explain your project, establish its importance, and set out how you are going to complete it in the time allowed. The strongest proposals are likely to contain the following:

  • Background – You should establish the context to, and rationale for, your research based on a reading of the relevant academic and/or practitioner literature. Where possible, cite relevant authors and studies, and explain how this research builds on your previous academic work or professional experience. You should discuss the intellectual importance of your work, its contribution to your subject area, and its originality, which, in time, form three of the four main criteria for assessing your PhD.
  • Aims and objectives – Set out your terms of reference clearly and precisely. These may cover what you intend to achieve by the research in general and, more specifically, how the research fits the background and the outcomes from the project.
  • Methods and techniques – Explain how your approach to collecting and analysing information will help you satisfy your aims and objectives. Potential data collection methods and possible analytical techniques give a sense of the direction of the research. Explain the choices behind case study organisations or locations, as well as sampling strategies or particular computer-based techniques.
  • Project management – You don’t need to produce a detailed time plan because research projects evolve. However, it is extremely useful to explain in general terms what you are proposing to do, and when, in order to get a sense of the scale of the task. This is especially important if you are proposing to undertake case study work or fieldwork.
  • Ethics – Almost inevitably your research will raise some ethical issues and you should aspire to conduct your research with the highest ethical standards.
  • Health and safety – All types of research have implications for health and safety, albeit some types of work are more risky than others. Where appropriate your proposal should seek to identify any issues and explain how you may address them.
  • References – Please enter a reference list using Harvard Notation. It is useful for potential supervisors to better understand the breadth and depth of your reading to date.
  • Appendices – These are a useful way of including additional supporting material while keeping the main body of the proposal succinct.

Application information

Registering for a PhD – how the upgrade system works

To apply for a PhD you will first need to register for the MPhil/PhD programme. In common with other schools and the majority of other UK universities this is standard practice for research students wanting to undertake a PhD. Our standard offer to you will be given as “MPhil transferring to PhD on satisfactory progress”.

So far student sponsors have been happy with this form of registration and we are always willing to report on your progress if they ask us to do so. When you apply we follow formal University procedures and use assessment criteria to consider your application to transfer from MPhil to PhD registration. If your progress has been satisfactory you’ll normally be upgraded from MPhil to PhD within 12-18 months of initial registration.

To recap:

  • To apply for a PhD you will be initially registered for 'MPhil transferring to PhD on satisfactory progress'
  • If you are enrolled on an MPhil programme and subsequently wish to apply for transfer to PhD during the course of your studies, you can do so.

Getting started 

At the University of Exeter Business School we strongly prefer our research students to commence their studies at the start of the academic year, in October. This will allow you to make the most of the available training programmes in your first year.

Part-time and remote study

We offer the option for UK* students to study part-time or remotely. If you opt to study part-time then you must be able to study for at least 20 hours a week. You should also be aware that the part-time study period is longer than for full-time and so it is possible some of your work may become outdated during the course of your registration.

If you want to undertake your studies remotely you must still be able to:

  • Visit the University regularly and sometimes for set periods so that you can take part in skills training
  • Access material, statistical data and academic journals necessary for your research
  • Maintain sufficient contact with your supervisor

We assume you agree to these commitments if you accept an offer to study on a part-time and/or remote basis. Please read further information on split site arrangements if you intend to apply to study away from the campus.

*Non-UK/EU applicants should note that it is not possible to be resident in the UK as a part-time student.

References

If you have studied at a higher education institution within the last five years at least one of your referees should be an academic at the higher education institution from which you obtained your most recent academic qualification.

Processing your application

You should be aware that competition for places at the University of Exeter Business School is strong and it may take up to two months to process and make a decision on your application.

We can only make decisions on complete applications, so please make sure that you provide all the required information and documents, and ask your referees to write their references as soon as possible. Once a decision has been made our Postgraduate Admissions Office will send you the result of our decision by letter and by email. They’ll also send you additional information by email so please ensure you provide an accurate and legible email address on your application form.

Visas and immigration

Applications from outside the European Economic Area (EEA) especially should note that you can only apply for visas to study in the UK after you have received an offer of a place to study and it can take some time for visa applications to be processed.

Your application will need to include

  • A completed application form
  • Your research proposal
  • Two references
  • English language certificate, if applicable

Click here to apply online for an MPhil/PhD

Business School facilities

The Business School has its own dedicated computing facilities as well as access to the extensive computing facilities of the University. Research students have their own workrooms, available 24 hours a day, with individual workstations and access to the School’s databases. The impressive Xfi Building features the Thomson Reuters Financial Information Laboratory, a dealing room, a networked lecture theatre and syndicate rooms, as well as an atrium café with wireless internet access.

The Business School's £18 million New Building has also recently been completed, increasing our capacity yet further for leading research and learning and providing more space for students and staff.

We have access to important databases such as Bloomberg, WRDS, Morningstar Direct, Business Insights, Datamonitor, LSPD, CRSP, SDC Platinum and Thomson Reuters products 3000Xtra, Datastream Advance, Wealth Manager and Trader. Other resources for research students include a series of working papers from universities, NBER and CEPR.

Further information

Research training and employment opportunities

Your future: your training needs

The skills and expertise that you build now are fundamental to your continuing professional development (CPD), and will be part of your toolset throughout your working life, whether academic or elsewhere. We’re also very keen that you should consider taking part in the University's Postgraduate Researchers' Programme which offers training in a wide range of generic and transferable skills in key areas such as research management, personal effectiveness, communication skills, networking, team-working, and career management.

It’s great if you can enter the programme with research training and experience of research at Masters level, but we don’t expect you to be the finished article. You’ll get together straight away with your supervisor to identify your training needs, and you’ll both monitor and adapt them as your research develops and new challenges emerge.

In the first year of your PhD study the appropriate department(s) in the Business School will specify discipline and subject-specific training which may be methods training, research philosophy, or thematic modules to upgrade your knowledge of the subject. You may be asked simply to attend some modules; you may be required to pass others that are vital to your doctoral studies.

You’ll also need to attend staff-postgraduate seminars addressed by visiting speakers and School staff and you’ll present your research to fellow students and academic staff at our annual research conference or a similar event. This is a key opportunity to get feedback from staff and fellow students on your research, as well as giving you the chance to enhance your presentation skills. Successful presentation is a criterion of upgrade from MPhil to PhD status

External training experiences

We can source most training requirements within the University of Exeter, but where this is not feasible, for instance on specialist software, or cutting-edge methods or techniques vital to your studies, we work with partner organisations like research councils, professional associations and training companies to provide external training. 

You need to be able to communicate your research clearly and effectively to a variety of audiences, and we encourage doctoral students to present their work to external audiences at seminars, symposia and conferences. Each student is allocated a yearly allowance for professional development.

When do I get started?

You should enter your doctoral programme in October at the start of the academic year if at all possible. This is when taught modules commence within the School, as does the University’s research training programme and the widest array of training courses. After the training-needs assessment with your supervisor you may be asked to attend one or more first semester modules commencing in October and, if the training is deemed essential to your programme, this may be a requirement for any offer of a place.

October is also the start of the academic year for all students, with a formal induction programme as well as a vibrant calendar of events, and you’ll definitely benefit socially if you start your studies with other new students.

Employment opportunities

The Business School provides research students with many opportunities to develop skills in teaching, and other academic and non-academic employment, and actively supports students who wish to take on ad-hoc or part time work during their studies.

The School has a Code of Practice for Employment which complements the University's central Code of Good Practice for the Employment of Postgraduate Students. Students who wish to undertake work during their studies must ensure they read both the School Code and the University Code before commencing any duties.

Careers information

You come here to achieve the best you can, and take that spirit with you when you go on with your career. We are very proud that our graduates have forged successful careers throughout the world across a variety of occupations. Here are just a few:

  • Lecturer in Hospitality Management, European University Cyprus, Nicosia
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Information Communication, Yuan Ze University, Taiwan
  • Lecturer, Faculty of Economics, Universiti Utara, Malaysia
  • Research Fellow, Exeter Centre for Strategic Processes and Operations (EXPO), University of Exeter
  • Lecturer, Accounting Department, Faculty of Management Science, Khon Kaen University, Thailand
  • Lecturer in Organisational Behaviour, School of Business and Economics, University of Wales,
  • Lecturer in Marketing, University of Exeter
  • Teaching Fellow in Economics, University of Exeter
  • Lecturer in Economics, University of Bern, Switzerland
  • Lecturer in Finance, City College, Thessalonki, Greece
  • Lecturer in Accounting, Universiti Teknolgi Mara, Malaysia
  • Assistant Relationship Manager, Corporate Banking, KBC Bank NV, Leeds
  • Research Project Manager, The British Private Equity and Venture Capital Market Association
  • Lecturer in Accounting, School of Accounting, Economics and Statistics, Napier University, Scotland
  • Assistant Professor, School of Tourism, International College, Ming Chuan University, Taiwan
  • Teaching Fellow, University of Nottingham Ningbo, China
  • Lecturer in Finance, Business School, Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand.

Further information

Visiting research students

The University of Exeter Business School is committed to its active and vibrant research community and to supporting outstanding researchers. We welcome visiting doctoral students from many countries and institutions including in recent months from China, Japan and Sweden.

If you are a currently registered doctoral researcher interested in spending a period of time the University of Exeter Business School as a visiting doctoral researcher, some guidance and information is available to you below:

What would be available to you:

  • Use of a desk in our postgraduate research student centre
  • Use of a desktop computer in our postgraduate research student centre
  • Use of the University library and IT access
  • Participation in doctoral training seminars and events within the School
  • Invitations to departmental and School wide research events and social activities

What would the cost be

A bench fee of £1000 is chargeable for a 12 month period. The fee is calculated on a monthly basis based on the actual length of the stay.

How to take your interest forward

  1. Look at our the profiles of our academic staff to identify potential supervisors with research interests related to your own research
  2. Send a copy of the following documents to uebs-pgradmin@exeter.ac.uk
  3. Complete the PGR Visiting Student application form. You must indicate the exact dates of your proposed visit to Exeter.
  4. Your CV, which must include details of your current institution, the names of your supervisors, your thesis title, when you started and when you expect to complete your programme.
  5. A one page summary of your current thesis research areas
  6. A statement of why you would like to visit the University of Exeter Business School, and why this would be beneficial to your research. This should include the names of academic staff who you think may be suitable supervisors for your research at Exeter.
  7. Confirmation of your student status (copy of student card or letter of confirmation from your home institution)
  8. Look at the International Student Support pages for advice regarding visas