PhD opportunities

PhD opportunities in the Birmingham City Business School

There are currently funded PhD opportunities in the following areas. For further information, contact the named staff below.

Funded PhD Opportunities

The Business School is seeking to recruit a new cohort to undertake research in a number of key areas. The funding consists of a tax-free stipend paid monthly and has a current value of £16,062 per annum. The bursary is renewable annually for up to 36 months in total, subject to you making satisfactory progression within your PhD research.

Successful applicants for our funded PhD studentships will receive a tax-free research stipend that tracks UK Research Council rates (currently £16,062) and a fee waiver to the value of Home student PhD fees (currently £4,596).  All applicants will receive the same stipend irrespective of fee status, however only Home fees will be covered and non-Home fee status applicants will be required to meet the difference in fee costs from their own funds.

You must upload your Research Proposal to your application.  Please ensure you include the Project Number and Title on your Research Proposal and upload it in place of the Personal Statement. We are not able to consider incomplete Applications. Details of how to apply and what is required in a Research Proposal can be found here.

The closing date for applications is 23.59 on Saturday 1 October 2022

If you have any queries on the application process please contact the BLSS Doctoral Research College:

Business School PhD Studentships

Proposed Title: Charities, Trading Subsidiaries and Cultural Dissonance: A Case Study of Trident Group

Reference Number: 14

School: Business

Proposed Supervisory Team: Professor Deborah Lock, Dr Cindy Millman, Dr Bruce Philp


This project investigates Trident Group, which is charity which operates with a formal trading subsidiary, Trident Star. The purpose of such trading subsidiaries is to make money for the charity, whilst minimising exposure to taxation and not exposing the charity itself to undue risk. This project will assess the enablers and impediments to successful trading subsidiaries’ operations, using Trident Star as a case study. More specifically, the PhD student will examine the market structure and competitor groups in Trident Star’s main segmented markets, the trading history and firm performance of Trident Star, and alignment and potential incongruence between the objectives and strategy of Trident Group in general, and Trident Star in particular. The project will explore how Trident Star can leverage greater returns for Trident Group and will provide inform practice for charities which operate formal trading subsidiaries.

Research Environment:

UoA17. Within the Business School Centre for Enterprise, Innovation and Growth (CEIG) there are two clusters where are directly revenant to this project proposal. The entrepreneurship cluster focusses on entrepreneurial context including the provision for female housing association tenants and other aspects of social entrepreneurship. The SME Growth cluster is made up of a team of research active staff, PhD students and a research fellow, and it has gained a significant reputation for undertaking applied research on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to enhance understanding of practices linked to growth.

Among the research team, Cindy Millman and Bruce Philp had outputs returned in REF2021, and they expectation is they will again in REF2027. Deborah Lock, whilst Director of the Business School, is also an active researcher, and we anticipate will be returned in the next REF. It is expected this PGR project will contribute to at least one REF2027 Impact Case Study, attached to the entrepreneurship or firm growth research clusters of CEIG. We expect a successful completion and 1-3 collaborative research outputs (with the team) to be considered for the output pool in REF.

Applicant Requirements:

The applicant should have a good bachelor’s degree (2.1 or above). A master’s degree in Business, Management or Economics would be desirable and familiarity with the West Midlands region, demography and local economy. Understanding, or experience of, issues related to social housing or domiciliary care would be an advantage.


Professor Deborah Lock -, 0121 331 4353

Project: Understanding the neuropsychological leadership qualities of SMEs’ Leaders

Reference Number: 16

School: Business School & Social Science

Proposed Supervisory Team:

  • Prof. Alexandros Psychogios
  • Prof. Eirini Mavritsaki
  • Dr. Silvio Aldrovanti


This research project will be based on the BIG Ten™ capabilities targeting at expanding our knowledge towards cognitive capabilities of SME leaders (business owners and managers). Focusing on cognitive capabilities of leaders and owners of SMEs requires us to take a multidisciplinary approach drawing on other social sciences e.g. Neuro-psychology. Advances in cognitive neuroscience and other approaches to understanding human behaviour are only now beginning to filter into leadership research. However, there is still a lot to know about how specific social behaviours are related to neuro-cognitive capabilities and how they influence leadership in general and leading people in SMEs in particular. In this respect, this study will be based on applying neuroscientific tools and techniques to investigate SME leadership. Specific biometrical tools will be used to carry out research that will explore cognitive capabilities of SMEs’ leaders, namely:

  1. Motivation (“approach” or “avoid” tendencies measured by increased frontal asymmetry in the brain)
  2. Resilience, (the ability to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity and stress measured by the theta/beta brain waves ratio).

The study will be based on two groups of experiments carried out on a specific sample of 50-80 SME leaders of in the West Midland. Beyond the participation in experiments, SME leaders will also fill in a series of questionnaires related to leadership perceptions and leadership style. Finally, the BIG Ten diagnostic will be used in order to evaluate their leadership role.

Research Environment:

The project will build on the present situation to forecast a possible impact of leadership attitudes in SMEs and development programmes in the coming years. This research will contribute to extent knowledge through publication and dissemination. In addition, specific seminars and other events will be organised around the idea and findings of this study, targeting at attracting SME stakeholders, policy makers, scholars, consultants, etc. There is potential for collaborating with government agencies to develop more effective leadership development programmes for SMEs. Finally, this research aligns with the university strategy of ‘informing and transforming practice’. The findings will allow us to be at the forefront in terms of teaching and engagement of leadership and growth.

Applicant Requirements:

The student is expected to obtain a PGCert as part of their development. Other requirements are a good first degree in social sciences or compatible disciplines and strong analytical skills. Experience of working within organisations is desirable. Understanding of data collection methods is important. Previous experience of knowledge of biological/neurosciences or psychology basic principles and possibly an experience in conducting neuropsychological experiments will be highly desirable.


Prof. Eirini Mavritsaki -

Prof. Alexandros Psychogios -