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Aston Business School Research Proposal

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Course overview

  • Course level
    Postgraduate, Research / PhD
  • Course type
  • Duration
    3 Years
  • Course options
    No placement
  • School

Entry requirements

  • Qualifications:
    First or Upper Second Class Honours Undergraduate Degree.
  • Further requirements:
    PG Degree - 65% in both taught and dissertation elements. Two academic references. TOEFL - 101 (Reading 23, Writing 28, Listening 23, Speaking 23) IELTS - 6.5 (Reading and Writing 6.5, Listening and Speaking 6.0).
More information

100% of our business research achieved 3*and 4* impact in the latest Research Excellence Framework

We are one of just 1% of business schools in the world to hold AACSB, EQUIS AND AMBA accreditation

We are one of only three business schools in the UK to receive the Small Business Charter Award

Course summary

At Aston Business School our PhD programme is designed to train Doctoral students who aspire to become future academics or professional industry researchers.

Our research expertise is embedded in our academic departments, and you are strongly recommended to explore these departmental web pages (via Our Current Research Themes link below), before applying, so that you can better position your research proposal to fit with academics' current research interests.

Our Current Research Themes

Our research expertise is embedded in our academic departments below, and you are strongly recommended to explore these departmental web pages (via the links), before applying, so that you can better position your research proposal to fit with academics' current research interests.

PhD Student Testimonials

Arwa PhD

Why did you decide to do a PhD?
"I chose to do a PhD because I enjoy the opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research. I feel honoured to contribute, advance and share knowledge with the world."

What is the subject of your research?
"Business simulation games and its relation to employability of business graduates."

Why did you choose Aston Business School?
"Because it is a well-established, research-led university. It has students from all over the world which makes it a multicultural and an international community. Also, Aston has a strong reputation for developing employable graduates and prepares them for the world of work."

Arwa Asiri, current PhD Student researcher,  Aston Business School

Read more of our PhD testimonials here.

Entry Requirements


All candidates will hold a First or Upper Second Class Honours undergraduate degree from an approved university or higher education institution. They will also hold an approved masters degree in business, management, and/or the social sciences (or related disciplines), having achieved an average of 65% in both the taught and dissertation/project components of this masters degree. 

While neither degree needs to be directly related to your proposed subject/topic of research, you must be able to demonstrate your ability to undertake research - at an advanced level - in this field. 

Where candidates have successfully completed a masters degree that does not contain a significant research/dissertation component, they will have to provide alternative evidence of their ability to undertake research at an advanced level. 

Language Proficiency

For applicants from non-English speaking countries, it is necessary to have taken either the British Council IELTS test with a minimum score of 6.5, or the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL score of 93). However, if the candidate holds a Master's degree from a UK university, this requirement may be waived. 


  • UG Degree - 2:1 or above
  • PG Degree - 65% in both taught and dissertation elements
  • Two academic references
  • TOEFL - 101 (Reading 23, Writing 28, Listening 23, Speaking 23)
  • IELTS - 6.5 (Reading and Writing 6.5, Listening and Speaking 6.0)
Dean's Scholarship

Dean's Scholarship

Value of the Scholarship

  • Stipend of £15,480 per annum and
  • Full fee waiver (for all UK, EU, and International students)

Duration - Three years (full time)

Eligibility and Assessment Criteria

Scholarships are open to UK/EU and overseas applicants who hold an unconditional offer on the ABS PhD Programme. In addition, applicants require either:    

  1. A UK masters degree, with 70% in both the taught and dissertation components
  2. A non-UK masters degree, with 65% in both the taught and dissertation components AND a GRE/GMAT* test score of 70% across all areas.

NB: Applicants who hold a UK Masters degree who have not met the 70% threshold but have an overall average of 65% or more can qualify for the Deans Scholarship by taking the GRE/GMAT test and achieving 70% across all sections.

*GRE/GMAT are independently administered tests that assess quantitative, analytical, and verbal skills.  These tests allow for a rigorous degree of bench marking between applicants. The minimum requirement of 70% applies to each section.  A score of 70% means that the applicant has obtained a better score than 70% of all tested participants. Details on GMAT/GRE can be found here: GMAT and GRE

The criteria listed above applies to the Aston Business and Aston Law School.

Application Process

  • Complete the online application form for entry to the Aston Business School PhD programme here, and provide all relevant additional documentation
  • Indicate in this application that you are applying for the Dean’s Scholarship
  • All candidates will be informed of the outcome within six weeks of their application.

Please note that scholarships are awarded on a rolling basis until all positions are filled.

Please contact if you have any questions or need further information.


CREME and ACH fully-funded PhD (3 years)
Facilitating Refugee Entrepreneurshiip:  An Action Research Intervention

Contract Type: Fixed Term, full-time, commencing either Oct 2019 or April 2020.
Closing Date:  Mon 5 August 2019
Supervisor:  Professor Monder Ram

Applications are invited for a three year PhD to conduct an action research study with Ashley Community Housing (ACH) and the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME) at Aston University, on interventions to support the entrepreneurial aspirations of refugees.  The position is available to start in either October 2019 or April 2020.

Financial Support

This studentship includes full fees and a stipend of £15,480 per annum for 3 years. The studentship is open to Home/EU and International applicants.

Background to the Project 

The project will examine emerging models to support the entrepreneurial aspirations of refugees - defined as people 'fleeing life-threatening conditions' (Shacknove, 1985) - in the UK. This knowledge will be used to develop ACH's services to refugees, and the impact of this intervention will be critically evaluated. The main research questions are: 

  1. What forms of interventions are emerging to support the entrepreneurial aspirations of refugees in the UK?
  2. How can ACH learn from the experiences of other interventions in order to develop its own services to refugees?
  3. What are refugees' experiences of such interventions and how does this influence their entrepreneurial practices?
  4. How can refugee entrepreneurial capital be enhanced by business support policy?
  5. How does refugee entrepreneurial capital in the UK contribute theoretically towards cross-national academic debate? 

The successful student will work towards the development of a refugee entrepreneur  knowledge exchange model, for example a portal, designed to meet their needs. This will be achieved by working collaboratively with ACH staff. This intervention is expected to change ACH's practices and programmes so that they are more effective and tailored to the needs of refugee entrepreneurs. In addition to receiving the training and support required to complete his/her PhD studies, the student will gain valuable experience on the skills required to work with non-academic stakeholders. 

The wider intellectual endeavour includes cross-disciplinary published papers, contributions at policy and practitioner conferences and the potential to inform national and international policy debate. This PhD is expected to contribute towards the theoretical debates by developing a deeper understanding of cross-national refugee entrepreneurial capital.

Person Specification

The successful applicant will need to meet the entry requirements for the Aston Business School PhD programme, which can be found here.  Preferred skill requirements include knowledge/experience of refugees and entrepreneurship. 

Contact information 

For formal enquiries about this project contact Professor Monder Ram or Dr Judy Scully by email at or

Submitting an application 

Details of how to submit your application, and the necessary supporting documents can be found here Please state ‘CREME studentship’ in the Source of Funding section. 

The application must be accompanied by a 'research proposal' statement. An original proposal is not required as the initial scope of the project has been defined. Instead, candidates should detail how their knowledge and experience will benefit the project and  provide a brief review of relevant research literature. 

If you require further information about the application process please contact our Research Degrees Programme team at



ESRC Midlands Graduater School Doctoral Training Partnershp (DTP) Studentships

Aston Business School offer ESRC PhD studentships as part of the Midlands Graduate School DTP. The Midlands Graduate School (MGS) is part of an ESRC network of Doctoral Training Partnerships in collaboration with:

  • Aston University
  • University of Birmingham
  • University of Leicester
  • Loughborough University
  • University of Nottingham
  • University of Warwick

These studentships are for UK and EU applicants only and applicants must hold an unconditional offer from the Aston Business School PhD programme before they apply for funding. Full details about studentships, including how to apply and deadlines for applications, can be found on the Midlands Graduate School website


Programme Structure

Year 1

In the first year you will undertake four ESRC approved taught Research Methods modules.  These modules are designed to provide you with the necessary skills to both successfully complete your PhD, and to develop as a well-rounded researcher. We also offer additional training in specific topics through our Summer School in Advanced Research Methods – which helps to develop advanced skills in areas related to your specific topic. 

In line with ESRC initiatives, the Research Methods course is co-taught by experts within ABS and the School of Languages and Social Sciences (LSS) and involves modules on (1) Philosophy of Social Science Research, (2) Research Design, Practice and Ethics, (3) Fundamentals in Quantitative Research Methods, and (4) Foundations in Qualitative Research Methods.   

These modules are designed to support the development of your research project and, ultimately, support the submission of a final Qualifying Report towards the end of Year 1. The Qualifying Report is an extended research proposal that details your proposed research aims and objectives, contributions to current academic and – where appropriate – practitioner knowledge, and the research strategy, design, and methods you intend to employ to meet these aims and objectives. You are required to defend your Qualifying Report through a viva voce oral examination involving two ABS academic examiners, one of whom will be familiar with the subject area. Upon successful completion of this examination, you will then be allowed to proceed onto the PhD Programme.

Year 2

During the second year you will typically concentrate on obtaining ethical approval for your research, before focusing on data collection and analysis. For some students this will involve travel to external research sites where data is collected. Towards the end of Year 2, you are required to communicate and defend your research progress. This is either through:

  1. An oral presentation of all, or part, of your research

  2. The write up of all, or part, of your research as a journal paper/article (without the requirement to submit for publication)

  3. The write up of all, or part, of your research in the form of an empirical chapter that would constitute part of your thesis

Year 3

Year three is typically a writing up year, where you will spend most of your time developing your thesis. We also encourage all students to submit to important academic conferences in order to communicate their research to an external audience and obtain essential feedback before submitting their final thesis for viva voce examination towards the end of Year 3. Attending conferences, and receiving feedback, is also an essential first step in getting your research published in top tier academic journals in your discipline.

Research Environment

PhD PhD Research

We have an exciting and vibrant research environment at Aston Business School that enables our PhD students to be engaged in various research events and seminars (Aston Business School-wide and PhD-specific). Our PhDs have a dedicated research society which organises various social and academic related events throughout the year, including the ABS Annual Doctoral Conference. We strongly believe that these activities are an essential part of ensuring our PhD students are engaged and motivated throughout the duration of their PhD journey.

Our academic departments also run research seminar series (and other activities) where PhD students are encouraged to present their research and get feedback from colleagues. In addition, our Summer School in Advanced Research Methods offers additional training opportunities necessary for a successful academic career.

All students can access up to £1500 for presenting at academic conferences and an additional £500 Research Support Training Grant is also provided to help further develop their research knowledge, skills, abilities and professional development. 

Teaching Opportunities

Many students are interested in gaining some teaching experience in preparation for their academic career. For these individuals, there may be opportunities to undertake paid teaching work in the second and third year of their PhD, once they have successfully completed their Qualifying Report. PhD students who wish to teach must be registered with Aston University’s Postgraduate Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. 

How to Apply

Entry dates

The PhD programme recruits students to start in either October or April and, depending on the desired start point, applicants are encouraged to apply as early as possible to avoid delays.

Please note, we cannot review individual eligibility before you apply, and there may be earlier closing dates for your application should you wish to be considered for funding.

Application procedure

You can apply online by clicking 

The following supporting documents are required as part of the application and, if not supplied, may lead to delays in processing your application: 

  1.  A research proposal. This should:
  2. - Outline your proposed research aims and objectives
    - Highlight your proposed contributions to knowledge
    - Provide a brief review of the relevant literature
    - Outline your proposed research methodology

    Click here for tips on writing a good research proposal 

  3. Copies of your qualifications - postgraduate and undergraduate transcripts and certificates
  4. Two letters of recommendation
  5. Confirmation of your TOEFL/IELTS results for those applicants from non-English speaking countries.

We can only consider applications that are complete and have all supporting documents.

Before you submit an application we also recommend that you refer to our entry requirements (see tab above) to make sure you are eligible to apply.


Fees for 2019/20  

  • Home/European Union Students Full-time fees per year: £4,327 
  • Overseas Students Full-time fees per year: £14,200

If you consider applying for the Dean’s Scholarship, and your application is successful, your fees will be covered in full.

Fees for 2020 to be confirmed.

Contact us

The Research Degrees Programme Office
South Wing, 11th Floor 
Aston Business School
Aston University, Aston Triangle
Birmingham, B4 7ET

Jonathan Crawshaw2
Dr. Jonathan Crawshaw

Position: PhD Programme Director
Phone: +44(0)121 204 3130
Room: SW8011

Stuart Weinstein
Professor Stuart Weinstein

Position: Reader in Law
Phone: +44(0)121 204 4234

What's it like to study at Aston?

I choose Aston University because of the strength of its Business School and the expertise of the staff affiliated with its Economics department. Since arriving, I have enjoyed the serenity, beauty and sense of community I get on campus. So far, I have attended several seminars, workshops and trainings that have equipped me with more skills to complete my PhD and also make me more attractive to the job market.

Uzoamaka Chigoziri Nduka
What's it like to study at Aston?

I enjoy studying with students from a diverse range of nationalities as well as the high level of support from both academic and non-academic staff. Aston’s research facilities supports high-level data collection and analysis in my study. I also enjoy the teamwork and support of the student community. The wonderful team of supervisors are keeping me on track and I am confident that I will be able to achieve my dream of becoming a lecturer by publishing my work in a top quality journal.

Richard Mochoge Ondimu

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