School of Economics

Postgraduate research

We welcome MPhil and PhD applications in any area of the discipline and have a long tradition of successful supervision in all areas.

The School of Economics at Surrey enjoys a strong and growing reputation for its research. It receives full recognition from the Economic and Social Research Council for research training and attracts outstanding research students. The School prides itself on the levels of supervision it provides and on the friendly but highly effective research atmosphere. New research students will join a community of research-oriented scholars producing work of the highest international standard.

In terms of research output, Surrey economists have been exceedingly productive writing a stream of books and refereed core and specialist journal articles. Recent research has, for example, been published in: American Economic Review, Econometrica, Econometric Theory, Economic Journal, Energy Economics, European Economic Review, Journal of Development Economics, Journal of the American Statistical Association, Journal of Econometrics, Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Journal of Health Economics, Journal of Monetary Economics, Journal of Public Economics, The Review of Economics Studies.

The School of Economics enjoyed an excellent result in the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014 exercise being ranked in the top 10 for Economics departments for the quality of our research outputs and the percentage of our research outputs that are world leading (4*), in a fiercely competitive discipline. The School of Economics’ Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.01 now ranks it twelfth in the UK for the overall quality of its research. This is a particularly pleasing outcome, especially when it is recognised that Surrey submitted one of the highest proportions of full-time staff (83%) in the Economics and Econometrics sub-panel, demonstrating the overall strength and breadth of our research. Indeed, the frequently used Research Intensity indicator puts Surrey in joint sixth place in the UK.

In addition to fundamental theoretical work, economics research at Surrey has a firm practical and policy-related relevance. Members of staff have advised governments, international organisations, and private companies, and this has ensured that the School's reputation has spread beyond the academic community. The high quality of research at Surrey and its policy-relevance has resulted in a record of success in attracting research income from the ESRC as well as from the Leverhulme Trust, the Nuffield Foundation, the Overseas Development Administration, the British Academy and other donors, in circumstances where there is very severe competition for such prestigious research awards. Over the last couple of years the School has won a number of major research awards.


The PhD Programme

The PhD in Economics is a premium programme for the School of Economics educating exceptional scholars who will be sought after by leading international business schools, universities and research institutions.

The programme is created in response to increasing demand in the UK and more widely for more structured training in PhD programmes. It will enable students achieving PhDs to also be equipped to the highest levels in producing high quality academic papers, to become trained in a wide range of research approaches and methods and to gain significant teaching experience. These aspects will combine to greatly enhance our PhD graduates’ employability.

The four year PhD programme in Economics consists of two years’ structured training and two years’ independent research. Preparation of the PhD research thesis (e.g. literature review, specifying research questions) will begin in year 1. The programme aims to create world-class academics able to secure posts in top research institutions. To that end it includes substantive broad and deep training in methods and subject specific knowledge, as well as opportunities to work as research and teaching assistants. The production of a dissertation assessed by viva voce is designed to lend itself to the production of at least three papers publishable in top tier journals.

From year one, students commence as doctoral students and are expected to play an active role in the research community of the schools. They commence with an idea of their research project at the start of the programme, develop the area of their thesis and plan towards this; this will include work with their provisional supervisor commensurate with the stage of the programme The students will work on cognate and relevant research projects as part of additional opportunities to work as research assistants during the first two years.

The first two years of the programme will comprise a series of units, which are taught. The content of these units will be at the highest educational, doctoral level and ensure they form part of the overall doctoral outcomes as outlined above.

In line with this aim, the training will be a mixture of PhD foundation and specialist areas. Core to the first year are PhD Foundation training units. These are the absolute basis of research training which is required for doctoral excellence in the area of Economics. To ensure this level, these units are assessed through a ‘PhD Foundation’ exam in June of year 1. This is a programme-common written and oral exam for all students assessing the content from the three PhD Foundation units. The ‘PhD Foundation’ exam ensures students have gained a systematic and integrative understanding of the PhD Foundation units.

Core to the second year, the training moves to focus on specialisms to enhance the highest research training in the specific areas of research interest. This research training is required for doctoral excellence in the specialist areas in Economics. To ensure this level, these units are assessed through ‘PhD Specialisation’ exams in June of year 2. These exams assess both written and orally the content from the specialisation units. The ‘PhD Specialisation’ exam ensures students have gained a systematic and integrative understanding of the PhD Specialisation units.

Years 3 and 4 are spent producing a thesis of approximately 60,000 words. This is normally, but not restricted to, 3 case studies around a cognate area, which is framed by an introduction and conclusion. This is designed to lend itself to the production of 3 top-tier journal articles based on the dissertation. The dissertation is defended in a viva voce examination.


The School of Economics is pleased to form part of the South East Doctoral Training Centre. The South East Doctoral Training Centre unites the Universities of Kent, Reading, Royal Holloway and Surrey in providing outstanding postgraduate training in the M25 region. A number of studentships are available.

The School of Economics also has a number of full-time scholarships. All students offered a studentship for the programme receive full funding, which includes a tuition fee waiver (UK/EU and International) and a competitive stipend. We will also consider applicants who are able to self-fund or bring external funding. The scholarships cover only 4 years but the School of Economics will fund an extra year, in exchange of teaching and/or research assistantships to the best PhD candidates.

Students who are funded by the Faculty/University contribute to the School activity as a Teaching Assistant and/or Research Assistant. This provides valuable experience which is highly considered in the job market.

Students will also get limited funds to present their work at conferences, such as the Royal Economics Society or the European Econometric society yearly conferences.


Applicants are expected to hold an undergraduate degree in a relevant discipline, normally with a first class honours (or equivalent). Although it is not a requirement, incoming students may also hold a Masters degree.

We do not require a GRE score but it is recommended that applicants take the GRE exam.  It will greatly strengthen an application.

A minimum of two letters of recommendation should be provided with your application.

Non-native speakers of English will normally require IELTS 7.0 or above with a minimum of 6.5 in each component (or equivalent).

To apply visit the PhD Economics pages

“The main challenge of doing a PhD is staying motivated, which is why it’s so important to be part of such a positive, friendly academic community.” Diana Lima, PhD Economics