PhD Scholarships in Accounting "Reconfiguring Institutional Investment and Corporate Governance: Standards, Commercialisation, Indexation and the Shifting Jurisdictional Authority of Accounting and Finance Professionals and Professional Practice"

The University of Manchester

Two full-time PhD research scholarships, including stipend and tuition fee costs, are available for September 2018. The two PhD students will conduct research as part of the Alliance Research Grant funded projectReconfiguring institutional investment and corporate governance: standards, commercialisation, indexation and the shifting jurisdictional authority of accounting and finance professionals and professional practice.

Theme of the PhD projects:

Professions and professionals play a crucial role in shaping institutions given their ability to simultaneously create, legitimise and control the knowledge and practices that govern various elements of everyday life. They are widely perceived as primary societal institutional agents who have assumed central roles in creating, disrupting and maintaining prevailing institutions. In the past decade, the accounting profession has undertaken extensive efforts to expand its jurisdictional authority into a variety of new domains linked to improved corporate governance. This attempted positioning has engendered significant competition from competing bodies of professional experts simultaneously seeking to claim exclusive rights to work in similar areas. Moreover, these attempted expansions in jurisdiction have had considerable implications for the public interest role the accounting profession purports to prioritise given the often commercially driven motivations underlying these expansionary efforts. The two PhD projects will build on ongoing work at the Alliance Manchester Business School in the Accounting and Finance Division by Professor Chris Humphrey and Professor Brendan O’Dwyer, which seeks to significantly enhance our understanding of how the professionalisation of new fields by accounting professionals is emerging in three key areas: the development of standards in sustainability reporting and assurance; the processes through which Big 4 professional services firms are professionalising the area of human rights; and the jurisdictional power and consequences of indexation in different domains.

The PhD projects will be qualitative in nature combining detailed case studies of organisations, extensive investigative work analysing official websites, publications, social media and other pertinent material, together with in-depth interviews with key actors associated with the establishment and development of standard setting in the fields of sustainability and human rights accounting.


The successful candidates will be jointly supervised by Professor Chris Humphrey and Professor Brendan O’Dwyer of the Division of Accounting and Finance in the Alliance Manchester Business School. The Division is one of the leading accounting and finance units in Europe with an outstanding reputation for excellence in research and teaching programmes at all levels. With an intellectual tradition rooted in the social sciences, the Division has a superb research track record, with staff regularly publishing in leading international academic journals. The Division maintains a deep commitment to knowledge development and policy engagement, and has long-standing connections with the business, financial and public sectors. Home to over 50 academic and research staff, the Division engages in research of an innovative and interdisciplinary nature covering important, conceptual and practice/policy-relevant issues. 

Nature of the scholarships:

The scholarships will commence in September 2018 and will be available for up to three years, with a stipend equivalent to RCUK rates (£14,777 tax free for 2018/19, rates for 2019/20 and 2020/21 to be confirmed), full university tuition fees (at Home and/or International level), and travel support for fieldwork and conferences.  


We are seeking applications from exceptional UK, EU and international students with outstanding academic backgrounds. You will have to demonstrate that you are highly motivated, intellectually astute, with high-level analytical competencies, and experience of qualitative research design and application.

You must have a First or Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent) and hold, or expect to obtain, a Masters level qualification with Distinction. English Language requirements (where required) are IELTS 7.0, TOEFL 623 (100 internet based test), or PTE 66.

The scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis to applicants with an offer to start the PhD Programme in September 2018.


To apply for one of the PhD scholarships, please submit an online application for the full-time PhD Accounting and Finance programme via The application deadline is 1 June 2018

The application must contain the following:

  • A written statement clearly indicating how your research competencies and interests to date are aligned with the specific nature of the PhD projects;
  • Evidence of excellent writing skills; and
  • A research proposal indicating how you would propose to address one of three areas of investigation outlined above.

You are strongly advised to submit your application as early as possible. If you do not submit the required supporting documents outlined above by the deadline, your application will not be considered.


For questions related to your application, contact Lynne Barlow-Cheetham (

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