PhD Opportunities

PhD Opportunities

Applications for the Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour PhD programme for the 2018/19 academic year are now closed. To make an application for a place on the 2019/20 PhD programme, please click the 'Apply Now' button to the right-hand side of this page. The deadline for applications is 20th July 2019 and the deadline for studentship applications is 30th June 2019.

Becoming a PhD student in the area of Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour at Henley provides a unique opportunity to undertake original research that is timely as well as business relevant and to develop your critical thinking, intellectual capacity and creativity. Our postgraduate research students are drawn from all over the world and benefit from a dynamic research environment, supervision from internationally-renowned faculty, dedicated support and outstanding facilities. Our faculty continuously publishes in internationally well-known and highly rated journals such as the Journal of Organizational Behaviour, Accounting, Auditing and Accountability Journal, British Journal of Sociology, Cambridge Journal of Economics, Organisation Studies, The Leadership Quarterly, Academy of Management Learning and Education, Organization Science, British Journal of Management, Strategic Entrepreneurship Journal, International Journal of Management Reviews, Group and Organisation Management, including books with the following imprints: Routledge, Sage, JAI Press, Edward Elgar and Harvard Business Review Press.

In the 2016 annual evaluation of supervisory arrangements carried out by the University of Reading's Graduate School 100% of our PhDs rated their supervisory experience as either satisfied or very satisfied, with the majority (83%) being very satisfied.

To view our PhD Programme for 2017-18, which includes a comprehensive programme of the modules to support the learning of all our PhD students, please click here: PhD_Programme_Specification_2017-18.pdf

A PhD is usually taken on a full-time basis over three to four years, starting in September at the beginning of the academic year. Please note that as standard Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour does not offer a start date outside of September and only offers a full-time PhD. However, if necessary for your training, you may be required to come to the University earlier to attend some preparatory courses.

  • Year One: You will have to attend courses examined according to university rules. These courses include Research Methods and other courses required for your area of concentration;
  • Confirmation of Registration: In the middle of your second year, you will present and defend your fully developed Research Proposal consisting of a substantive document of around 10,000 words;
  • Years Two and Three: The remaining part of your PhD studies will be devoted to complete your thesis before your viva examination at the end of your 3 to 4 years (maximum amount of time allowed by university rules).

Year One

During your first year of studies, you will be required to:

  • Attend and obtain at least 60 credits from PhD/Masters level courses in Research Methods and other relevant courses plus a no-credit bearing course (see below);
  • Attend some short courses (2-3 hours each) required for the Reading Researcher Development Programme at the Graduate School (overseeing PhD studies within the University of Reading);
  • Attend the Preparing to Teach training programme (which is necessary to be able to complete any teaching-related activities within Henley Business School);
  • Participate in weekly research seminars organised by your Department and others relevant to your area of interest;
  • Hold regular meetings with your supervisor(s).

Required Taught Component

We have a slightly different path of taught components for students primarily using quantitative vs. qualitative research methods If you are interested in the module description form containing the overall learning outcomes and description of the courses, please visit this link (click on the most recent academic year and then on Henley Business School. Courses are listed by code in alphabetical order).

Quantitative Path

Understanding Management and Financial Research (ICM116), 20 credits, Autumn Semester

Advanced Finance Theory with Empirical Applications (ICM289), 20 credits, Autumn Semester (nb: an alternative Advanced Quantitative Methods course, eg Financial Econometrics, can also be chosen instead

Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods (MMD003), 0 credits, Autumn Semester

Any other relevant course or module

Qualitative Path

Introduction to Thesis Literature Review (MMD001), 20 credits, Autumn Semester

Advanced Qualitative Research Methods (MMD002), 20 credits, Spring Semester

Data Analysis: Finding Patterns with Regressions (MMD010), 0 credits, Autumn Semester

Any other relevant course or module

After 15 to 18 months from the start of your PhD (see differences between departments), you will submit a substantive Research Proposal of approximately 10,000 words that will be defended in front of Faculty members and/or assessed by independent examiners. This process will coincide with your confirmation of registration and, if successful, it will grant you the status of PhD candidate.

The Research Proposal will be a significant development of the initial proposal you submitted for your application. It will include material you may have produced during the first year courses in research methods (eg literature review, methodologies, data description, etc). If you plan to do a PhD thesis combining three papers, you are expected to include a draft of the first paper in your Research Proposal. Alternatively, if you intend to use a book-like structure for your thesis, the document should include the draft of at least one of the three/four key chapters.

Years Two and Three

During your second and third years, PhD students are expected to:

  • Continue to work on your PhD dissertation drafting the other two papers / key chapters;
  • Hold regular meetings with your supervisor(s);
  • Attend some short courses (2-3 hours each) required for the Reading Researcher Development Programme at the Graduate School;
  • Participate in weekly research seminars organised by your Department and others relevant to your area of interest;
  • Contribute to Business School and Departmental teaching/research activities and events;
  • Present posters/papers at national/international conferences;

Applying for a PhD

The process for applying does not follow a linear path that is identical for every student, but the basic steps are as follows:

1. Write a research proposal outlining the topic you wish to research. Please ensure that you read the information on our 'How to Write a Research Proposal' page before starting, as it will give you some useful advice.

2. Choose an academic member of staff, listed below on this page, that has a similar area of research to your research proposal's focus. You can then send your research proposal to them for comment.

3. If the academic in question is interested, they will get back in touch with you. It is likely that they will have some questions or suggestions for improving your research proposal. Please note that if you do not receive a response you must not send your research proposal to all the other academics listed on this page.

4. If the academic is satisfied with the proposal you will be invited to apply. Please note that you can apply before this, but until you have the support of an academic supervisor you will not be able to complete the process.

5. Apply by clicking the 'Apply Now' button on the right-hand side of this page. Please note that we only accept PhD students starting their studies in September at the start of the Autumn semester, so we cannot accept any new students looking to enrol in either the Spring or Summer semesters.

6. A shortlisting decision will be made, based on the documents you uploaded in your application.

7. If you are shortlisted, you will be invited to a formal interview to assess your suitability to pursue a PhD at Henley Business School.

The key requirements for a successful aplication are as follows:

  • Top grades in your Masters degree (minimum requirement is Merit or equivalent, but we prefer Distinction)
  • Top grade in your Masters Dissertation (or equivalent research-based piece of work) because this may show your research attitude and skills
  • Very well developed research proposal. This is a document of at least 6/7 pages where you identify the motivation of your study, place it within relevant literature highlighting the current gap and potential research questions, state your intended methodology and show understanding of the data (if any) necessary to accomplish your study and relevant sources (which will also reveal the feasibility of your study).
  • A reasonable intended timeline reflecting issues you may encounter in the study as presented above (for example, if you have to collect primary data, the time spent on data collection will be much longer than the one you would spend if you intend to use secondary data sources)
  • English requirements: applicants whose first language is not English are expected to have obtained IELTS 7.0 (with no element below 6.0), TOEFL Internet-based test with overall score of 100 and no less than 20 in Listening, Writing and Reading and 21 in Speaking or have passed a TEEP (University of Reading) test with the score of 7.0 (with no element less than 6.0). For all other equivalent score requirements in our accepted English Language tests, please visit

PhD Funding

Up to four postgraduate studentships, each worth up to £15,000 plus University fees, are available for outstanding applicants wanting to conduct full-time postgraduate research in the areas listed. These awards are offered on an annual basis and are renewable at the end of each year subject to satisfactory performance, for up to three years. The closing date for Studentship applications is 30th June 2019. In particular we are looking for PhD candidates with excellent potential in the areas of Entrepreneurship, Social and Organisation Studies, Leadership, Moral Agency and Business Ethics and Non-market related strategies. Students with an interest in these thematic areas within our research centres are invited to apply.

The tuition fees for PhD students, both international and home/EU, can be found here. Overseas applicants should refer to the non-laboratory based fees listed in the tables (International Band 1 for non UK/EU students).

Please note: We are currently only accepting full-time applicants for our PhD Programmes. If you are interested in pursuing a part-time PhD, please follow the link to our DBA programme here.

Important Information for Applicants for Studentships

We offer PhD scholarships covering fees and stipend for three years and awarded on the basis of outstanding academic merit. Applicants for studentships are expected to have obtained or be expecting to obtain a distinction in their Masters degree and in their Masters thesis. MBAs are not considered. Applications for studentships are very competitive and students are further assessed on their ability to speak and communicate in English as part of the duties of studentship holders are to engage in teaching assistant duties (up to six hours per week) from their second year in the programme. For further information on studentship requirements please contact the school administrator Alex Baker.

Further PhD funding options include:

  • UK/EU nationals: The University of Reading takes part in the South East DTC (Doctoral Training Centre). If you’re interested in applying, please follow the link for further details.
  • Nationals from India and developing countries: The Felix Scholarship competition is open to candidates applying for either taught Masters or Postgraduate Research Degrees who are either Indian nationals, or from developing countries, and who fulfil the required criteria. For more information and how to apply please follow the link.
  • Regional PhD Bursaries: They are available for PhD applicants normally living within 25 miles of the University. The scheme is not open to students who have already started their study at the University of Reading. For further information, please go to Graduate School website.
  • Former UoR Graduate: If you have already studied at the University of Reading you will get up to £1,000 off fees through the alumni fee discount.
  • Other: For information on further opportunities, please see the find funding section on our University website.

Research areas

Henley Business School's research in the School of Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour is driven through the following leading centres: the Henley Centre for Entrepreneurship, the Centre for Social and Organisational Studies, Centre for Euro Asian Studies and the Henley Centre for Leadership. Many of our research centres have active membership from a wide range of international leading companies providing plenty of opportunity to engage with executive leaders and the practitioner community.

We welcome applicants seeking to conduct full-time postgraduate research in the following fields:

Centre for Entrepreneurship

1. Female entrepreneurship trends, behaviours: barriers to growth, emerging markets

2. Family business succession - medium to large firms in different countries

3. Innovation, knowledge spillovers and creativity

4. Regional entrepreneurship, ecosystems and institutions

5. Regional economic development and entrepreneurship

6. Global mobility of entrepreneurs

7. Indigenous leadership and entrepreneurship in Chinese overseas subsidiaries

8. Historical approaches to entrepreneurship - with specific reference to the historic evolution of entrepreneurship in the pharmaceutical, retailing and food sectors

9. Entrepreneurship in the creative industries

10. Networks and clusters

11. Patents and innovation

12. Big data and data analytics for entrepreneurial decision making

13. Digital business models and digital entrepreneurship

14. Artificial intelligence in entrepreneurship and management

15. Industry 4.0 in manufacturing and services

16. CSR and sustainability in entrepreneurial and/or family firms

Centre for Social and Organisational Studies at Henley Business School

  1. Virtue and integrity theories applied to problems of governance and agency in business, business and society and critical approaches to management
  2. Cultural change (in particular industries, or in relation to the business and society relationship at large e.g. globalisation) and the nature of ethical issues arising for individuals and groups in organisations and in the organisation and society relationship
  3. Challenges of ethical pluralism and relativism in relation to context and stakeholder problems
  4. Morals and the limits of Markets; Challenges for the common good
  5. The role of ethics of dialogue in organisations and society, the nature of dialogic ethics and agency
  6. The role of businesses and international organisations in the development of universal humanistic and eco-centric ethics.
  7. Philosophical topics in organisation studies (especially questions about the ontology of organisations).
  8. Proposals that use convention theory (sometimes called pragmatic sociology) and apply it to organisations.
  9. Proposals on alternative ways of valuing and prioritisation in general, or with a specific focus on healthcare.
  10. Any topics related to the philosophical foundations of economic thought.
  11. Gender, race, class in the workplace
  12. Intersectional perspectives on employment and organisations
  13. Elites and Professions
  14. Professional status and inequality regimes
  15. Critical perspectives on stress and well-being at work
  16. Critical perspectives on power in organisations
  17. Lacanian studies of organisational issues
  18. Management in cultural and creative organisations, particularly legitimisation strategies and relations within creative clusters

Henley Centre for Leadership

  1. Distributed Leadership in complex professionalised settings and strategies to facilitate its emergence
  2. Project leadership change management
  3. Leadership development processes to enable women to access senior positions and break the glass ceiling
  4. Leadership dysfunction and its effect on organisational culture/wellbeing
  5. Team leadership, team dynamics and team effectiveness)
  6. Leadership and innovation-creativity on teams
  7. Exploring organisational leadership capability
  8. Energising senior management teams
  9. Developing leadership capacity on the job
  10. Digital strategic leadership

Centre for Euro Asian Studies

1. Energy economics with particular reference to oil and gas industries


Potential academic supervisors within the area of Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour:

Continuing your career

A PhD in the area of Leadership, Organisations and Behaviour from Henley Business School can open doors to a highly successful career in academia, large multinationals, leading consulting firms and governmental and non-governmental organisations worldwide. Our PhD graduates have gone on to Post-doctoral Fellow positions at Henley Business School, lectureship positions in Portsmouth University, Hotelschool The Hague and research posts.

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Contact Us

If you have any questions, please contact Alex Baker by email at or by phone on +44 (0)118 378 8691.

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