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The Postgraduate Research Programme in Economics provides students with rigorous training and experience in economic analysis, and a high level of interaction between students and academic staff.
You will begin on the MPhil degree for the first two years, and will need to meet certain requirements to progress – to upgrade - to the PhD student status. In your first year, students undertake advanced economics training that provides skills and knowledge necessary to proceed to the independent research work (see PhD Training Programme below for details).
The PhD courses are taught by our own faculty, as well as by external experts. Additional training opportunities (such as external summer schools or workshops) might be funded by the Department according to individual students’ specific research needs. Finally, generic research skills training is provided at the College level. The remaining years of the programme are fully devoted to research.
Part of the training throughout the programme is attending internal and external seminar series. In addition, we run a weekly PhD seminar series where students present their on-going research and receive feedback from their peers and the faculty.
Our students benefit from advanced economics training in their first year and have an opportunity to present their ongoing research and receive feedback in our PhD seminar series. The community is relatively small with about 30 students enrolled, thereby ensuring a consistently high level of interaction between the students and academics.
The Department of Economics at Royal Holloway has strength across all main fields of the discipline, and so supervision can be offered in most areas of research. Our staff members are renowned for their work in theoretical and applied microeconomics, labour economics, development economics, and experimental economics. The faculty also pursues multidisciplinary topics and benefits from interaction with the Computer Science and Psychology departments, among others.
During the four years of the programme, students engage in independent research work that produces an original contribution to the field of economics. Being a PhD student at the Department of Economics, you become an integral part of our research community.
Every Spring, the Department organises an Annual PhD Conference with invited speakers and PhD students from other universities. This offers our students an opportunity to present their work in a familiar environment and to obtain feedback from colleagues outside their supervisory team.
Research students are encouraged to sign up for meetings with external seminar speakers to talk about their research and to start building their academic networks. The Department also provides limited funds for PhD students to present their work at conferences, such as the Royal Economics Society or the European Econometric society yearly conferences. Finally, you can also engage with the research activities organised by the Doctoral School at Royal Holloway (such as Research Community Hub, Interdisciplinary RHUL PhD conference, etc.).
Facilities and Services
Students on the programme are provided with facilities for carrying out their research. In years 1 and 4, students have use of a hot desk in the Department. In years 2 and 3, students are offered individual work spaces. Outside the Department, there are several spaces on campus dedicated specifically to research students: Doctoral Hub in the international building and the PGR room in the Davison building (new library).
See the Doctoral School’s website for more information on library services, career workshops, student services, etc.
How to Apply
The doctoral programme at the RHUL Department of Economics aims to train economists to conduct high quality research. The department has a lively and active research environment, which offers its graduate students the opportunity to work with with some of the best researchers in their field. Candidates for a place on the MPhil/PhD programme should have completed a taught Master’s in Economics, with a distinction or a high pass, in a good department. Students register for the MPhil or the MPhil leading to PhD in the first instance, and transfer to PhD registration as their work progresses. Candidates who do not hold a Masters in Economics degree can apply for a 1+3 (MSc+PhD) path through SeNSS. For more information on SeNSS, please see the section on ''Fees and Funding'' below.
Admission to the programme depends on the candidate's qualifications as reflected by transcripts, reference letters, research proposal as well as the availability of faculty members to provide dissertation supervision. While the faculty’s research is wide-ranging, there are some areas our department has particular strengths in. In order to get a better idea, please see research interests of the academic members of staff for some of the faculty’s recent publications as well as dissertation titles from previous years’ doctoral students. You can also find more detailed information on the faculty here.
In order to apply to undertake postgraduate research degree in the department, you should take the following steps:
- Write a Research Proposal:
The purpose of the research proposal is mainly to determine whether your research interests correspond with the interests and expertise of our faculty. It also allows the department to assess your aptitude for doctoral-level research, to allocate a potential supervisor appropriately, and to ensure we are able to support the study you propose. Note that the proposal you submit is not final. It is expected that your research topic will evolve and possibly change after discussions with your supervisor. The proposal should be approximately 2,000 words in length (excluding the bibliography) and include the following sections:
a. Title: At this stage, a working title that summarises the proposed focus is more than adequate.
b. Introduction, Research Question and Rationale: The introduction should, in a succinct way, provide an overview of, and rationale for, the proposed project. You should explain the project’s focus, its main research question and broad aims, and how it will make an original contribution to economic knowledge. The introductory section needs to outline the basic argument the thesis intends to advance, as well as what it will aim to demonstrate. In simple terms, explain what the project is about, why it is innovative and why the project matters.
c. Literature Review: Any proposed project should make clear how it relates to existing research on the topic (or related topics). In this section, you should summarise the current state of scholarship on your topic and explain the ways in which your project will draw from, and build on, that work. In this part of the proposal, you are demonstrating your knowledge of the field and the ways in which your project will make a significant contribution to it.
d. Data and Methodology: If you intend to do empirical research, in this section you should detail the sources of data that you will require in order to answer your project’s research questions and the specific econometric methods you intend to employ in order to analyze the data.
e. Proposed thesis structure and timeline: In this section you should outline the structure of your thesis, and demonstrate that you have thought about how you are going to structure and organise the argument put forward in your thesis. Additionally, you should propose a timeline for your project, and demonstrate how you think you will organise your time in the three years you will work on your thesis.
f. Bibliography: List here, using any common citation system, the sources referred to in the proposal.
2. Submit an application
Once you have completed writing your proposal, you should submit an application form using the online application system. If you have any questions about filling out this form, you can contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Ahu Gemici
3. After applying
All applications are subject to review by a panel of academic members of staff in the Department of Economics. Applicants will be informed of the outcome as soon as the decisions are made.
For further information concerning applications for postgraduate research in the department, please contact Dr. Ahu Gemici.
Fees and Funding
Research students can be nominated by the Department of Economics for two types of Royal Holloway Awards:
School of Law and Social Sciences Scholarships: The Department nominates candidates, based on academic merit, for the School of Law and Social Sciences Scholarships.
Departmental Studentships: The Economics Department allocates a number of Departmental Assistantships. All are based on academic merit. The Departmental Assistantships involve students working for a number of hours a week supporting teaching, research, or administrative duties as required in the Department.
A limited number of ESRC studentships are available to Economics students at Royal Holloway through the South East Network for Social Sciences (SeNSS) - a consortium of 10 leading UK universities. Students can apply through the SeNSS for either ''+3'' studentships – three-year studentships to support PhD studies – or ''1+3'' studentships – four-year studentships to support MSc studies plus PhD studies. Students interested in applying for SeNSS scholarships should notify the Department of Economics of their interest by mid-January.
The department actively supports the placement of PhD graduates in positions at universities, research institutes, government agencies, and private corporations. Examples of recent placements include: London School of Economics, University of Stirling, Cardiff Metropolitan University, Max Planck Institute (Bonn, Germany), EBRD, and Institute for Employment Studies.
See more information about placements on the PhD Job Market.
What our students say
PhD Economics, 2016
“The Economics department at Royal Holloway provides an outstanding environment to gain rigorous economics training and develop world-class research skills. I found the quality of faculty members to be excellent and the department was very welcoming, lively and friendly.
The weekly research seminars delivered by prominent scholars from around the world, and the various teaching opportunities, were particularly helpful in preparing me for my current position as an Assistant Professor (Lecturer) at the London School of Economics.“
Sefi Roth is an Assistant Professor (Lecturer) at the Department of Geography and Environment, London School of Economics (LSE).
PhD Economics, 2016
"During my time as a PhD student in Economics at Royal Holloway, I received continuous feedback both from my supervisors and other faculty members. The annual PhD conference and the PhD seminars provided useful opportunities to present early stages work in a familiar and supportive environment."
Claudia Cerrone is now a Senior Research Fellow (Post-Doc) at Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.