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Master's in Economics and Finance

PhD in Finance

At a glance

  • No. 17 in the UK for the impact of our research in Business and Management (Research Excellence Framework exercise 2021)
  • 100% of the research environment is considered as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’ for research vitality and sustainability (Research Excellence Framework exercise 2021)
  • Dedicated study area for all ICMA Centre postgraduate researchers
  • Access to key databases and statistical software including WRDS, Thomson One, Bloomberg, TR Eikon, Datastream, SAS, Stata, Matlab, Python, Eventus
Whiteknights campus (Reading)
Subject area(s)
Finance (ICMA Centre)
Three - four years
Programme Director
Charles Sutcliffe
Professor Charles Sutcliffe


Deadline for Henley Business School Scholarship applications: 15th March 2024

Deadline for ICMA Centre Departmental Scholarship applications: 15th April 2024

We seek highly motivated individuals with an appropriate academic background (generally a Distinction at MSc level in a finance-related subject) from a good university. We encourage applied and relevant research and our strong connections with many financial firms allow students to gain industry experience during their doctoral research, if they wish.

Candidates interested in applying for a funded place should list the Henley Business School Scholarship in the funding section of their application. Successful candidates will receive research training, will be required to take relevant University courses on teaching and embed that learning by acting as teaching assistants.

List of topics

  • Algorithmic Trading and Trade Execution Strategies
  • Alternative Investments
  • Asset Backed Securities
  • Asset Pricing
  • Banking
  • Behavioural Finance
  • Climate Financial Risk
  • Commodity Markets
  • Corporate Finance and Governance
  • Cryptocurrencies
  • Emerging and Frontier Markets
  • Empirical Asset Pricing with Liquidity and Uncertainty Premia
  • Empirical Credit Risk
  • Empirical Market Microstructure
  • Financial / Economic History
  • Financial Econometrics
  • Financial Engineering
  • Financial Regulation
  • Financial Risk Management
  • FinTech
  • Gender in Finance
  • Government Bond Issuing and Trading
  • Green Finance / Climate Finance
  • Green, Social and Sustainability Bonds
  • High Frequency Econometrics
  • Institutional Investors
  • Investors Behaviour and Decision Making
  • Liquidity Risk
  • Loan Syndication
  • Machine Leaning in Finance
  • Macroeconomic and financial market uncertainty
  • Macroeconomic forecasting and survey expectations
  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Model Risk
  • Money Markets
  • Option Pricing
  • Pension Schemes
  • Portfolio Management and Performance Assessment
  • Quantitative Finance
  • Retail Investors
  • Small and Medium Enterprises
  • Socially Responsible Investing
  • Sports Finance
  • Stock Index Futures
  • Textual Analysis
  • The effect of information on financial markets
  • Volatility and Correlation Modelling

A PhD is usually taken on a full-time basis over three to four years. The programme starts in September at the beginning of the academic year. However, if necessary for your training, you may be required to come to the University earlier to attend some preparatory courses.

Year One: You will have to attend courses examined according to university rules. These courses include Research Methods and other courses required for your area of concentration;

Confirmation of Registration: During your second year, you will be required to defend your fully developed Research Proposal, consisting of a substantive document of around 10,000 words;

Year Two - Three: The remaining part of your PhD studies will be devoted to complete your thesis before your viva examination at the end of your three to four years (maximum amount of time allowed by university rules).

Year 1

During your first year of studies, you will be required to:

  • Attend at least 60 credits from PhD/Masters level courses in Research Methods and other relevant courses plus a no-credit bearing course (see below)
  • Attend some short courses (two -three hours each) required for the Reading Researcher Development Programme at the Graduate School (overseeing PhD studies within the University of Reading)
  • Attend the Preparing to Teach training programme (which is necessary to be able to complete any teaching-related activities within Henley Business School)
  • Participate in weekly research seminars organised by your Department and others relevant to your area of interest
  • Hold regular meetings with your supervisor(s)
  • Contribute to Business School and Departmental teaching/research activities and events.
Compulsory modules Credits

This module aim to equip new PhD students with clear understanding of the necessary requirements for obtaining a PhD at the ICMA centre.

Academic authors
Mr Neil Kellard

This module is designed for advanced Master’s students and doctoral students. It has a very high technical content. It aims to equip the students with the foundations of theoretical asset pricing and with the relevant skills for performing empirical tests. Additionally, a few important corporate finance topics will be covered in the format of student presentations. The objective of the module is to prepare students to become independent and quality researchers.

Academic authors
Marcel Prokopczuk
Professor Marcel Prokopczuk

Confirmation of Registration

During your second year you will submit a substantive Research Proposal of around 10,000 words that will be defended in front of Faculty members and/or assessed by independent examiners. This process will coincide with your confirmation of registration and, if successful, it will grant you the status of PhD candidate.

The Research Proposal will be a significant development of the initial proposal you submitted for your application. It will include material you may have produced during the first year courses in research methods (e.g. literature review, methodologies, data description, etc.). If you plan to do a PhD thesis combining three papers, you are expected to include a draft of the first paper in your Research Proposal. Alternatively, if you intend to use a book-like structure for your thesis, the document should include the draft of at least one of the three/four key chapters.

Year Two & Three

During your second and third year you will:

  • Continue to work on your PhD dissertation drafting the other two papers / key chapters
  • Hold regular meetings with your supervisor(s)
  • Attend some short courses (two - three hours each) required for the Reading Researcher Development Programme at the Graduate School
  • Participate in weekly research seminars organised by your Department and others relevant to your area of interest
  • Contribute to Business School and Departmental teaching/research activities and events
  • Present posters/papers at national/international conferences.

*The module or course content descriptions set out on this page are correct for those being taught in the current academic year. Modules or course content marked as optional are indicative and may be subject to change. Please note, constraints in timetable scheduling may mean you are unable to take some optional modules at the same time as others.

The key requirements for a successful application are:

  • Top grades in your Masters degree (minimum requirement is Merit or equivalent, but we prefer Distinction)
  • Top grade in your Masters Dissertation (or equivalent research-based piece of work) because this may demonstrate your research attitude and skills
  • Very well developed research proposal. This is a document of at least six-seven pages where you:
    • identify the motivation of your study
    • place it within relevant literature highlighting the current gap and potential research questions
    • state your intended methodology show understanding of the data (if any) necessary to accomplish your study and relevant sources. This aspect will also reveal the feasibility of your study.
  • A reasonable intended timeline reflecting issues you may encounter in the study as presented above (for example, if you have to collect primary data, the time spent on data collection will be much longer than the one you would spend if you intend to use secondary data sources).

English requirements

If English is not your first language, you may be required to take one of the following:

  • TOEFL (Test of English as a foreign language): Overall score of 100 with no less than 20 in Listening, Writing and Reading and 21 in Speaking
  • IELTS (British Council International English Language Test): Score of 6.5 overall with no component less than 6 when attending the six-week pre-sessional English course offered by the University of Reading. Entry to this pre-sessional course with a score of 6.5 fulfils your English language requirement.

Please note that students not attending a Pre-Sessional course will need to pass IELTS with an overall score of 7 and no component less than 6.0. For more options please see the International Study and Language Website or email a member of the Postgraduate Admissions team.

The application process normally consists of three main steps:

  1. Formal application
    • Before applying formally you may want to contact a potential supervisor who is working in your area and could be interested in your topic
    • Please avoid contacting multiple faculty members simultaneously. We do talk to each other and this is not seen as a professional practice.
  2. An evaluation of your suitability for the programme based on the documents you uploaded in your application.
  3. If you meet the entry requirements and we can match you with a supervisor you will be formally interviewed to assess your suitability to pursue a PhD at the ICMA Centre.

The deadline for applications to be considered is the 30th April 2023


You should upload the following items to your online application:

  • your curriculum vitae
  • research proposal
  • copies of relevant academic transcripts.

For fees, please visit the Graduate School website.

Overseas applicants should refer to the non-laboratory based fees listed in the tables (International Band 1 for non UK/Home students).


ICMA Centre funded places for 2024 entry are now available to apply for. Candidates interested in applying should list the Henley Business School Scholarship in the funding section of their application.

Further PhD funding

  • Nationals from India and developing countries: The Felix Scholarship competition is open to candidates applying for either taught Masters or Postgraduate Research Degrees who are either Indian nationals, or from developing countries, and who fulfil the required criteria. For more information and how to apply please follow the link
  • Regional PhD Bursaries: They are available for PhD applicants normally living within 25 miles of the University. The scheme is not open to students who have already started their study at the University of Reading. For further information, please go to Graduate School website
  • Former UoR Graduate: If you have already studied at the University of Reading you will get up to £1,500 off programme fees through the alumni fee discount
  • Other: For information on further opportunities, please see the find funding section on our University website.

Current scholarships

Recent PhD graduates have secured academic positions at UK Universities such as Oxford, Manchester, Kings College London, Cardiff, Bath, Sussex, Surrey and East Anglia. Academic roles have also extended to international universities such as ESCP Europe, Hamburg, University College Dublin and Goethe University of Frankfurt.

PhD graduates have taken industry positions at employers such as Allianz, Barclays, Credit Suisse, Deloitte, Deutsche Bank, London Business Bank, NAFMII, Oxford Risk and Sociovestix Labs.

How can Henley Careers work with you?

We have an award winning careers team to support you through your time here and four years after graduating from us.

Henley Careers run numerous events throughout the autumn and spring terms to help you gain industry experience, enhance your professional development and network with employers. We also offer one-to-one career coaching appointments where you can talk to a Careers Consultant about anything related to your professional development – whether it’s planning your ideal career journey, building confidence in a particular area, practicing for interviews or having your CV checked.

For more information please see our Careers page.

The ICMA Centre is among the pioneers in finance education and renowned for its strong links with the financial services industry. The Centre was ranked number 7 in the UK for its Masters in Finance programme in 2023 (Financial Times Masters in Finance Ranking). It is also part of Henley Business School – among an elite group of 75 business schools in the world to hold triple-accredited status from the leading UK, European and US accrediting bodies: AMBA, EQUIS and AACSB.

The Centre’s unique practice centred approach includes a number of finance education innovations. These will provide you with a solid grounding for a career in the industry. The approach aims to equip you with a skill set that sets you apart from graduates of other finance programmes. Your employability track record is also bolstered by an in-house comprehensive career development programme.

Reading has proximity to the world’s top financial centre (25 minutes from London Paddington). Several leading professional bodies including the CFA, CISI, GARP and ICS validate our programmes and offer exam exemptions to our students.

Joining one of the top schools of finance in Europe, you will benefit from state-of-the-art facilities. You will have access to the latest technology and will be taught by world-renowned faculty and industry experts. Our innovative teaching and learning environment includes trading and financial analysis simulations. We also have the latest financial data and programming software. Our three dealing rooms are one of the largest facilities of its kind in the world. They provide an ideal setting for understanding how businesses and markets function in practice.

Our students’ learning experience is a top priority for academic faculty and administrative staff at the ICMA Centre. This is reflected in the latest student satisfaction rates in the PTES and NSS student surveys.

Contact us


If you have any questions about admissions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Telephone: +44 (0)118 378 6497