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PhD courses

The MPhil/PhD programmes aim to train you to conduct research of a high academic standard and to make original contributions to the subject. The courses involve coursework (where suitable) and research training, but its major component is the preparation of a substantial research thesis. The thesis should demonstrate a sound understanding of the main issues in the area and add to existing knowledge.


The effectiveness of PhD research depends significantly on the personal relationship between the student and the supervisor. We will therefore only admit MPhil/PhD students if there is a qualified supervisor in the area of interest of the student. The decision to admit is taken by a Faculty group consisting of, as a minimum, the Admissions Tutor, the Programme Director, and the prospective principal supervisor. For currents areas of research supported within the Department and a guide to prospective and current students follow the links below:

The minimum length of the MPhil/PhD programme is two years for full-time students and three years for part-time students. There is no application deadline and study can begin in any of the three terms each year.

According to University of London regulations, students are initially registered for the MPhil degree. Upgrade to the PhD programme is subject to satisfactory progress (completion of at least one thesis chapter which is not a survey of the literature) and presentation of their research in the doctoral seminar of the Department. The student then completes the MPhil/PhD upgrade form. This document must be filled in by principal supervisor(s) and signed by two Faculty other than the supervisor(s) within a week of the upgrade Seminar and submitted to the appropriate PhD/MPhil Programme Director for feedback and approval. The rest of the PhD involves writing a dissertation under the supervision of a faculty adviser.

The Department practice is that the progress of each MPhil/PhD student is assessed at the end of each academic year. In preparation for this assessment, the student and supervisor provide the Programme Director with reports on progress to date. These reports are scrutinised by the Department Research Committee, and registration will be continued only if reasonable progress is being made.

Research pedigree

The Department of Economics at Birkbeck was founded in 1972 and was wholly graduate until 1989.

The research reputation of the Department attracts many applications from students wishing to undertake a research degree and the PhD programmes have always been an important focus of the Department. We admit both part-time and full-time research students. The Department has regular seminars in Economics & Finance and Mathematics.

Financial Support

Financial support is not normally available for research students, except through the normal funding bodies and the School of Business, Economics and Informatics. Some employment is available in the department for class teaching and computing assistance; however, the pay is not sufficient to either cover tuition or maintenance, such as housing. Students can apply for fellowships from the Royal Economic Society. Funding is also available from the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) through the UCL, Bloomsbury & East London Doctoral Training Partnership.

As there are limited possibilities for funding within the College, most foreign students rely on funding from their home countries. Students from outside the UK are recommended to contact their local British Council office or British Embassy or Consulate for information concerning any UK government support or partial remission of fees.

The Association of Commonwealth Universities publishes two very useful guides to scholarships every other year, Scholarship Guide for Commonwealth Postgraduate Students and Awards for Commonwealth University Staff; both may be obtained from the Association of Commonwealth Universities, John Foster House, 36 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PF. UNESCO publishes Study Abroad, which may be obtained from UNESCO, 7 Place de Fontenoy, 75700 Paris, France.

For details about the ESRC Research Studentships at the UCL 2019, please see this link:

Student Testimonials

See what our PhD graduates have to say about studying for their PhD at Birkbeck!