Why choose this programme
We have an outstanding reputation in the sector and run the largest hospitality, tourism and events PhD programme in the world. We are ranked 1st in the UK and 3rd in the world for hospitality and tourism management in the Shanghai Global Ranking of Academic Subjects 2021. We are 1st in the UK and 14th in the world for hospitality and leisure management in the QS World University Rankings by Subject 2022. We are also in the top ten for tourism, transport, travel and heritage in the Complete University Guide 2022.
The School of Hospitality and Tourism Management is now ranked 10th for research outputs with 93% of our research being rated as world-leading (4*) or of internationally excellent (3*) quality by the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021. The University of Surrey is 33rd in the REF UK rankings for overall research quality. The University is now also ranked in the top 20 in the UK for the overall quality of research outputs – research papers and other published works.
Our academics shape the agenda for scholarship and practice in hospitality, tourism, events and transport, and carry out cutting-edge research in topics ranging from lifestyle, travel, entrepreneurship, food and culture, to the digital economy and artificial intelligence. We will challenge you with new ideas to develop you as a critical researcher, as well as helping you build a solid grounding in research methodologies.
We see doctoral students as important collaborators and we aim to connect you with senior executives and policymakers from around the world, offering opportunities for future learning and valuable connections.
What you will study
Our PhD programme takes around three years of full-time study. You’ll take on a structured, supervised programme of scholarly research, leading to a thesis that makes an original contribution to the field and is suitable to be published in a series of high-quality, refereed journal articles.
You’ll be assigned two supervisors with expertise in your area; normally one will be an expert in your subject, and one who is an expert in methodology. Your supervisors will guide you through your PhD, from developing your project through to your analysis and writing your thesis. You’ll normally meet with your supervisor every four to six weeks.
There’s no formal teaching as part of your PhD programme, but you’ll benefit from a range of support and learning opportunities in addition to your supervision meetings. These include a tailored weekly programme of formal research training in research methodology and career development. You’ll have the chance to present and discuss your research at our weekly research seminars. You’ll also be able to take any of our MSc modules and join our range of interactive workshops that run throughout the year, exploring topics such as personal effectiveness, information skills, presenting research and job skills. You’ll also be able to qualify as a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy by completing the Graduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching.
We encourage our students to attend international conferences and training courses. We can support your travel costs to these events.
Your final assessment will be based on the presentation of your research in a written thesis, which will be discussed in a viva examination with at least two examiners. You have the option of preparing your thesis as a monograph (one large volume in chapter form) or in publication format (including chapters written for publication), subject to the approval of your supervisors.
The professional development of postgraduate researchers is supported by the Doctoral College, which provides training in essential skills through its Researcher Development Programme of workshops, mentoring and coaching. A dedicated postgraduate Careers and Employability team will help you prepare for a successful career after the completion of your PhD.
Techne studentship 2023
This competition funded studentship is available to UK and International students. Studentships are awarded on the basis of the academic excellence of both the candidate and the research proposal. Full UK or International fee waiver and stipend at UKRI rates (currently £16,062).
Competitiveness of the visitor economy
- Economic modelling and forecasting
- Employment, labour mobility, flexibility, productivity and gender
- Innovation and entrepreneurship
- Visitor experience and destination marketing.
Find out more about the Centre for Competitiveness of the Visitor Economy (COVE).
Sustainability and wellbeing in the visitor economy
- Sustainability evidence-based policy making
- Industry’s acceptance of responsibility for sustainable development
- Sustainable development and entrepreneurship
- Sustainable and efficient transportation
- Sustainability marketing, product design and communication.
Find out more about the Centre for Sustainability and Wellbeing in the Visitor Economy (SWELL).
Digital transformation in the visitor economy
- Digital transformation in tourism, hospitality and events, including new media and consumer behaviour, new business models and disruptive innovation, transformation in business operations and performance
- Smart systems in tourism, hospitality and events, including artificial intelligence and robotics, sensors and internet-of-things
- Technology for social good in tourism, hospitality and events, including technology facilitating health and wellbeing, social isolation and loneliness, inclusion and accessibility
- Data science and innovative methodologies in tourism, hospitality and events, including biometric research, data analytics and pattern recognition in big data.
Find out more about the Centre for Digital Transformation in the Visitor Economy (DIGMY).
Our academic staff
See a full list of all our academic staff within the School of Hospitality and Management.
You’ll be allocated your own office space and computer, and be given access to academic and business databases and a range of online research tools and resources.
Applicants are expected to hold a Masters degree at a minimum of a distinction level in a relevant discipline from an approved university. If you do not hold such a degree, you may be admitted, providing you hold a first class (1st) Bachelors degree from an approved university or a professional or other qualification deemed by the University to be appropriate.
International entry requirements by country
English language requirements
IELTS Academic: 7.0 or above with a minimum of 6.5 in each component (or equivalent).
View the other English language qualifications that we accept.
If you do not currently meet the level required for your programme, we offer intensive pre-sessional English language courses, designed to take you to the level of English ability and skill required for your studies here.
Selection is based on applicants meeting the expected entry requirements, assessment of application, successful interview and suitable references where required.
Start date: January 2023
Start date: April 2023
Start date: July 2023
For fees payable in 2022/23, these will increase by 4 per cent, rounded up to the nearest £100 for subsequent years of study. Any start date other than October will attract a pro-rata fee for that year of entry (75 per cent for January, 50 per cent for April and 25 per cent for July).
Overseas students applying for 2022 entry should note that annual fees will rise by 4% rounded up to the nearest £100.
There are additional costs that you can expect to incur when studying at Surrey. Find out more.
A Postgraduate Doctoral Loan can help with course fees and living costs while you study a postgraduate doctoral course.
How to apply
If you are applying for a studentship to work on a particular project, you should enter the details of the specific project that you wish to apply for rather than your own research proposal.
Code of practice for research degrees
Surrey’s postgraduate research code of practice sets out the University's policy and procedural framework relating to research degrees. The code defines a set of standard procedures and specific responsibilities covering the academic supervision, administration and assessment of research degrees for all faculties within the University.
Download the code of practice for research degrees (PDF).
Terms and conditions
When you accept an offer of a place at the University of Surrey, you are agreeing to comply with our policies and regulations, and our terms and conditions. These terms and conditions are provided in two stages: first when we make an offer and second when students who have accepted their offers register to study at the University. View our offer terms and conditions and our generic registration terms and conditions (PDF) for the 2022/2023 academic year as a guide as to what to expect.
Please note: our offer terms and conditions will be available in the September of the calendar year prior to the year in which you begin your studies. Our registration terms and conditions will vary to take into account specifics of your course.
This online prospectus has been prepared and published in advance of the academic year to which it applies. The University of Surrey has used its reasonable efforts to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content or additional costs) may occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for a course with us. Read our full disclaimer.