Postgraduate research courses in Economics and Finance
The School's main research degree is the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), a three or four-year degree in which you focus on completing a PhD thesis.
The School offers a first-class research environment, providing students with what they need to concentrate on their research. Each student is assigned a desk and computing facilities in an office with other research students. Additional support for postgraduate students is available from St Leonard's Postgraduate College at St Andrews.
The School runs regular School seminars with external speakers as well as weekly staff seminars (known as the Brown bag series). The School also runs reading groups where staff and PhD students present preliminary work. This forum is ideal for exchanging research ideas and allows students to get feedback on their work from members of staff in a friendly and informal setting.
Each year, the School runs the PhD Conference, a doctoral seminar (compulsory for all students), where students present their research progress to the whole School.
For ideas about research interests in the School, you can view the latest published research output of the School’s staff on the St Andrews research portal.
Doctoral study within the School of Economics and Finance will prepare you for careers in different fields. Previous alumni have gone on to find successful careers in:
- public sector institutions
- central banks and international organisations such as the United Nations, International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
To ensure your postgraduate research application is successful, please see the how to apply section for detailed step-by-step information about the application process.
Choosing the best project and supervisor for you is an important step in successfully applying for a postgraduate research degree. Prospective PhD students should consult the lists of potential supervisors and their research interests.
Supervisors are responsible for overseeing your research. You can expect to form a close working relationship with your supervisors so make sure to contact them with any queries you might have.
St Andrews funding
St Andrews scholarships for research postgraduate programmes
St Andrews is committed to attracting the very best students, regardless of financial circumstances. Bursaries and scholarships reward academic excellence and are designed to help students support themselves during their time at university.
ESRC/SGSSS Student-led Open Competition 2020
Guidance for the Student-led Open Competition for PhD study starting in Autumn 2020 is now available.
ESRC/SGSSS Doctoral Studentships
The University of St Andrews School of Economics and Finance is a member institution of the ESRC's Scottish Graduate School of Social Science (SGSSS) doctoral training centre.
Carnegie PhD Scholarships
The Carnegie Trust offers a number of PhD scholarships to support graduates with first-class Honours undergraduate degrees from a Scottish university. These scholarships are for those who wish to pursue three years of postgraduate research leading to a PhD at a university in Scotland.
China Scholarship Council
The University of St Andrews has an agreement with the China Scholarship Council to develop research collaborations between the UK and Chinese universities and research institutions.
For other enquiries about the PhD programme at the School of Economics and Finance, please contact the Director of Postgraduate Research, Dr Ozge Senay by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Economics and Finance PhD programme is designed to appeal to both employers and academic institutions. When you finish, you will have the skills and knowledge necessary to have a successful career in the private or public sector, or to follow an academic career anywhere in the world.
You can find and browse previous theses of Economics and Finance graduates from the University's online research repository.
The typical PhD roadmap has the following checkpoints:
During this year you will usually take some modules to complete your training. The specific modules you take will depend on your individual background and will be decided by your potential supervisor and the Director of Postgraduate Research Students. Please see the training section (below) for more information on modules.
You will meet regularly with your supervisor and start work on your research. You will contribute to and present your work at the research students’ PhD workshop in May.
Before the end of your first nine months in the programme, you will have a progress review. This review should be based on research completed to date and should include a plan of your work for the remainder of your first year, and for your second and third years. After submitting your written work, you will have a meeting with two reviewers (from the School) which will complete your review process.
You may have the opportunity to take part in masterclasses or short training courses on topics or software in other universities, depending on funding. This will increase your knowledge of these topics and allow you to interact with other scholars working in your areas at other universities.
The Royal Economic Society provides financial support for macro and micro economics training. The Easter Training School is intended primarily for advanced postgraduate students doing doctoral research.
You might be asked to take part in tutorial teaching for sub-honours classes (first and second year students), which will give you experience and increase your skill set for future employability.
You will be in a more intensive stage of your course, carrying out the necessary research, modelling and empirical studies required for the second and third parts of your thesis. You will be expected to send drafts of your papers to be considered for presentation at PhD student workshops and other conferences.
You will contribute to and present your work at the research students’ PhD workshop in May.
End of second year review: this will be similar to your first year progress review.
You will spend this year trying to complete the research for your thesis and focus on submitting the final draft and having your viva defense.
You may continue to carry out undergraduate tutorial teaching and increase your experience as a tutor.
You will be in an intensive stage of your course, carrying out the necessary research, modelling and empirical studies required for the final parts of your thesis. You will be expected to send drafts of your papers to be considered for presentation at PhD student workshops and other conferences. It would also be good to try and complete a draft of a journal article to submit to a reputable refereed journal. All of these are opportunities for valuable feedback on your work before your final submission.
Year 4 (if needed)
You will complete and submit a final draft of your thesis and have your viva defense. During the year you will continue working on publications, conferences and even applications for funding, as you will now be ready to enter the job market.
In the first year of the programme, depending on your background, you may be asked to take some modules from taught MSc programmes. These modules will most likely be from the MSc in Economics, MSc in Finance and Economics degree, or from the modules taught as part of the Scottish Graduate Programme in Economics, either at an MSc or at a PhD level.
Other training options
Other training options include taking occasional masterclasses offered by visiting academics or provided by other Scottish economics departments.
Beyond the School of Economics and Finance, the University of St Andrews also offers further training opportunities to PhD students as part of the GRADskills and other programmes of the CAPOD training unit.
High student satisfaction levels, dedicated academic staff who are committed to research excellence, and exciting career opportunities make the School's PhD programme one of the most competitive in the field. Read what former graduate students have said about their life and study at the School of Economics and Finance.
Dr Zhibo Xu
Postdoctoral Research Fellow
The Chinese University of Hong Kong
My time in St Andrews has been the most extraordinary experience of my life, from the day of my arrival to the memories I still hold. Far away from the crowds and the busy metropolis, St Andrews is a quiet and warm fairy-tale place. The school provided internal and external high-level academic activities and encouraged PhD students to present their research in meetings, seminars and conferences within and outside of the School. During my studies, I received strong support and sincere help from all the support staff and academic staff. My supervisor Professor Miguel Costa-Gomes led by his own example of dedication to research and continual improvement; I was very lucky to experience his kindness and intelligence.
Dr Nayha Mansoor
Development Pathways Ltd
When I reflect on my time at the School of Economics and Finance, St Andrews as a PhD student, I conclude that the experience not only made me a better economist but also prepared me in unpredictable ways for my career. Through the research driven PhD program at the school, conferences and workshops with incredibly supportive and highly skilled faculty who were nothing short of mentors, I was challenged to work hard and achieve my goals. Having been shaped in part by the creative, yet rigorous PhD Economics program at St Andrews, I found myself able to communicate, innovate, and collaborate in ways that enabled me to be a better researcher. I am very happy that I chose St Andrews to pursue my PhD studies.
Dr Sinan Corus
After 6 years of policy experience and a year of M.Sc. in a city as big as London, I came to St. Andrews in 2014 worryingly, with a lot of questions in my mind. Very rapidly, St. Andrews proved that it is an excellent place to do a PhD. A safe space. A time capsule. A very vibrant, welcoming, and inclusive university town that strikes the fine balance between not being too distractive on one hand and not being boring on the other. I managed to both focus on my research and have fun here. Department of Economics contributed a great deal to the pleasance of this adventure. The program is research oriented. It does not involve heavy course work that many other programs do. It provides a good deal of flexibility to the student in the design of research portfolio. Department actively encourages teaching experience, and participation in academic conferences to present your research (even provides some funding). It is a fact that PhD opened the door to the next stage in my career. I am very happy that I came here to embark on this journey.
Dr Nikolay Chernyshev
University of Bristol
Don't let St Andrews' size deceive you, the place is very vibrant both academically and socially. The School of Economics and Finance both has a very strong standing on its own and is extremely well connected academically, so you will have plenty of opportunities to bounce off ideas with prominent scholars in all fields of Economics from all around the globe. The overall academic environment at the School helped me a lot in focusing and directing my research, as well as becoming a better researcher myself.
Dr Marc Daube
St Andrews is a lovely coastal town with a great postgraduate community that makes life in St Andrews very enjoyable. The School of Economics & Finance is very welcoming to its PhD students and enables exchanges with top academics from a wide area of economic research, which not only helps with the PhD research but enables you to become a well-rounded economist.
Dr Sean Slack
Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR)
I undertook my PhD in the School of Economics and Finance over the period 2012-2016; my research focused on the design of tax-benefit systems. The department provided an excellent and supportive environment to undertake this research, with regular departmental seminars and frequent opportunities for Ph.D students to present their research. Departmental staff were always willing to provide feedback. I am particularly grateful to Professor David Ulph, whose excellent supervision, wealth of knowledge in public finance, and enthusiasm for the discipline were invaluable.
Dr Ning Zhang
University of Glasgow
I truly miss St Andrews. The PhD experience there is unforgettable for me. The town is beautiful and quiet. The program is well-designed and the School provides not only rigorous economics training but also support for professional development. All professors and supportive staff are super-friendly and knowledgeable, which makes study here a joy.
Dr Erven Lauw
Dundee Business School
As a PhD student in the School of Economics & Finance at St Andrews University, I was fortunate to have two very good supervisors who are intellectual, kind-hearted and supportive. The school has a strong research community: research meetings like seminars, brown bags and reading groups were organised actively and consistently. During these meetings, the members of staff and PhD students who were present had the opportunity to engage in intellectually stimulating discussion and to exchange research ideas. The University as a whole is very supportive towards its students: it provides various channels to help students in need. Finally, St Andrews University is a strong international community. During my studies, I made many friends from all over the world and thus had a chance to learn about many different cultures. All of these have definitely made my PhD studies easier and more enjoyable.
Dr Samer Adra
Lecturer in Finance
Birmingham Business School
My PhD experience in St Andrews has shaped both my research agenda and the way I view the world. The daily interactions with the academic staff and the able research supervision, combined with the weekly seminars that included academic authorities from all over the world, allowed me to gain unique interdisciplinary insights that I still rely on as a lecturer and a researcher. The unconditional support of the administrative staff helped me become fully focused on maximizing my learning experience. As for the town, the people, the sea, the shops, the students, the buildings, the beauty, the kindness … these cannot be described in words!
Dr Jacob Seifert
University of Leicester
I completed my PhD in St Andrews between 2011 and 2014. Taking the first steps towards producing your own research in Economics can be very daunting and challenging but in St Andrews I found the ideal place to do so. The staff in the department are excellent and I benefited enormously from the guidance and support of my supervisor and other colleagues. My fellow PhD students were also an inspiration. We were a valued part of departmental life and were supported in our efforts to organise our own seminar series, for example. The town itself is magical and you will meet an exceptional variety of interesting people from across the world here. I am very proud of my lasting affiliation with the University of St Andrews.
Dr Jinyu Chen
Vice President of the Risk Management Department
China Construction Bank Trust
I completed my PhD in Economics from St. Andrews in 2014. I'm very proud of this achievement. The School has a very creative and well-respected research group, very friendly faculty and staff and is part of the prestigious University. The School of Economics and Finance is like a big family, which is helpful and supportive. I have very good memories from my time studying and teaching there and miss being a part of the School. I have benefitted hugely from the training and research I carried out at St. Andrews and have used this in my work since graduation. Moreover, I love the town: St. Andrews is a beautiful and peaceful place to live and work in, and is an excellent environment to study and research!
Dr Min-Ho Nam
Bank of Korea
Studying for a PhD in Economics can be tough, but three aspects of my academic life at St Andrews made all the difference. First, my studies were well-designed and fully supported by the academic and administrative staff. Second, lively seminars on various topics presented by the school faculty and prestigious visiting scholars enabled me to enlarge my academic interest and to deepen my understanding of economics. Third, casual conversations with the school faculty members were invigorating and helped me to solve any problems I had with my research. In addition, I found life in St Andrews to be safe, comfortable and more than satisfying.
Dr Morten Dyrmose
I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the academic environment at St Andrews. There was so much to get involved with, from academic pursuits to diverse student societies. I enjoyed the international dimension to St Andrews as well: meeting very talented and interesting people from across the world.
Dr Orachat Niyomsuk
The Revenue Department of Thailand
I have had very good experience in St Andrews, in general, and at the School of Economics, where my PhD was completed, in particular. Despite the size of the school, facilities as well as amenities that the School provided gave me a full opportunity to pursue my research. Basically, a good environment for studying had been created here! Professors, staff and other research fellows were very friendly and supportive. This was especially so with both of my supervisors whom I would like to express special gratitude and appreciation to. All these components, undoubtedly, made my four- year journey in St Andrews as one of my favourite times.
Dr Adnan Seric
I really enjoyed my time in St Andrews and appreciated the opportunity to learn about a wide range of cutting-edge research from some of the brightest minds in economics profession. I am confident in saying that it was the PhD programme at St Andrews that opened me the door to a rewarding career in international development. I am eternally grateful for my time there and recommend it to anyone without hesitation.
Dr Nicola Searle
University of London
The combination of academic rigour, idyllic town and vibrant social scene made for a memorable four years at the School of Economics & Finance. My MSc and Phd helped me pursue my career in policy and academia researching the economics of innovation. I now have a network of fellow St Andrews graduate across the globe. The School was supportive throughout my degrees, and I always pop by if I’m in Scotland.
Dr Tsunehiro Tsujimoto
St Andrews is an ideal place to focus on research work without too many distractions, enabling me to complete my PhD within 3 years. The School of Economics and Finance offers an excellent research environment for PhD students, including office space and access to their fantastic research seminar series.
Dr Elisa Newby
Head of Communications
Bank of Finland
The School of Economics and Finance was the perfect place to do a PhD. It provides a friendly academic community, expert supervision and strong research / career support. The School offered many invaluable opportunities for professional development such as lecturing, participation in international conferences, support for journal submissions, and guidance with funding applications. I strongly recommend the School of Economics and Finance for anyone who is aiming for an academic career, as well for those who might seek professional careers in either the private or public sector.
The repository of PhD theses for the School of Economics and Finance is available here. The list of recent submissions contains a partial collection of completed and examined PhD theses from doctoral candidates who have studied at the School of Economics and Finance at the University of St Andrews. Please note that not all print PhD theses may have been digitised.