PhD Programmes

PhD programmes


Supervision for PhD or MPhil research is available in many areas of informatics and accounting, ranging from theoretical to applied research in domains such as governance, accountability & responsible investment; applied informatics and semiotics; strategic analysis; business informatics; social informatics; health informatics; and perceptual, usability and information acquisition. The University has a formal code of practice for research students, which ensures that adequate supervision and appropriate research skills training are provided.

Modes of study

A PhD can be pursued full time at Henley Business School (Whiteknights/Greenlands), or part-time working away which may be carried out away from campus. This usually applies to PhD students who are working in institutions where research facilities are available, such as universities abroad, with the supervision of both Henley Business School and the local institution.

Programme duration

Full time: 3 years (minimum) – 4 years (maximum)

Part-time: 4 years (minimum) -6 years (maximum)

Start dates: Beginning of each term (October/January/May)

Research training and activities

PhD students at BISA are engaged in a variety of activities which create a collaborative and vibrant research culture.

  • Weekly PhD Workshops – informal sessions in which PhD students take turns to facilitate the discussion on a specific research topic or a wide range of issues in pursuing a PhD, e.g., writing papers, managing stress, preparing for conference presentations. It is also a place where students can seek advice on their research topics from their peers.
  • Seminars – arranged regularly during term time, given by internal staff members and external speakers.
  • Study groups – ad hoc groups centred on topics of interest, e.g., intelligent buildings, semiotics, etc. In addition, research training is offered through a range of courses including research methods courses offered by BISA/HBS as well as by the Graduate School through Reading Researcher Development Programme (RRDP)

PhD Research interests

BISA offers expertise from many subject fields and conducts interdisciplinary research in theoretical and application domains. BISA maintains a close-knit community of researchers working together as a team to carry out research in one or more of the research themes.

Informatics Research Centre (IRC)

Research at IRC includes the following key themes:

Applied informatics and semiotics

Semiotics is the study of signs (index, icons and symbols) and their functions, and offers us a systematic way to study information and its effective use in organisations.

Social Informatics

Social informatics relates to the interdisciplinary consideration of design, use and consequences of information and communication tools in cultural, or institutional contexts.

Business Informatics

Business Informatics supports decision making by intersecting IT, informatics methods and management concepts, to allow identification of business problems, development of relevant solutions, and appreciation of their impact.

Pervasive Informatics

Pervasive Informatics is an emerging discipline for the effective use of information through embedded sensors and distributed processing to form contiguous intelligent environments for working and living.

Health Informatics

Health Informatics is the conjunction of information systems, computer science and health care. Information flow is critical to maximise use of recourses, devices and methods to provide outstanding care and safety at low cost.

Perceptual, Usability and Information Acquisition

A user will not continue to pay for a system or device that they perceive to be of low quality, irrespective of its intrinsic appeal. This research investigates user-centric issues in a range of domains to maximise end-user acceptance.

Strategic Analysis

Using Systems dynamics and systems thinking strategic analysis helps managers to consider the impact of long term policies on their organisation.


Accounting Group

For Accounting, these are just some of the themes we have been involved in:

Sustainability Accounting and Reporting

Particular interests lie in the manner in which accounting and accountability practices can help to encourage decision makers an awareness and appreciation of the importance of social and environmental sustainability in strategic and operational decision-making. The study focuses on the role of text and visual management in the reporting process by employing semiotic analysis.

Auditing and Accountability

The recent global financial crisis has provided both academics and practitioners an interesting opportunity to study the role and value of auditing and auditing profession. Questions are frequently being asked about auditor independence and judgement, audit quality, auditing model and auditing expectations. Limited qualitative auditing research has been conducted across disciplinary to provide insight into the practice of audit in relation to the international regulatory structures, financialization and organisational change in an international context.

International financial reporting, social and institutional context of accounting regulation, rhetorical and argumentative functions of financial disclosure

Research in this area considers convergence and compliance issues relevant to implementation of International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) worldwide with the specific focus on the political and institutional aspects of accounting change and accounting regulation. It also attempts to explore the linguistic, rhetorical and argumentative functions of the narrative and numerical aspects of financial disclosures.

If you want to study for a PhD within BISA

It is also advisable to contact the member of staff with whom you are interested in carrying out your research, to discuss your proposal before you apply.

Follow this link to find out more about the current BISA PhD community or here for how to apply.

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Contact Us

If you have any queries please contact the Senior Support Administrator, Cindy Zhang by email at or by phone on 0118 378 4418.

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