Training Opportunities

MRes Modules

Our recently developed Masters in Business and Management provides a suite of modules from which PhD students are invited to freely attend, and in most cases, assessment is not compulsory.  These are top quality new training modules covering the core techniques you will need during your PhD. All first year students are recommended to take Fundamentals and Philosophy of Management Research.

The modules available are:

Semester 1  

  • Fundamentals and Philosophy of Management Research. Covers the essential aspects of the research process to ensure a firm foundation for the more specialist methodological modules. 
  • Qualitative Methods for Management Research 1. Introduces students to qualitative data collection methods used within management and related research and develops practical skills to conduct qualitative management research and analyze qualitative data. 
  • Understanding and Using Statistics. Equips students to conduct, interpret, and appropriately report statistical analysis related to their research projects to a publishable standard.          

Semester 2 

  • Qualitative Methods for Management Research 2. Explores advanced data-gathering, analytical techniques, and research presentation methods for different audiences.
  • Experiments for Decision Making in Business and Policy. Focuses both on how to design experiments and how to interpret those in the literature – are they really as convincing as they appear?
  • Survey Measurement and Analysis. Develops expertise in survey design and implementation, drawing on a range of measurement tools used in disciplines as diverse as psychology and economics.

It is strongly recommend that: 

  1. All who are doing qualitative work take both qualitative modules  
  2. Anyone analysing small scale quantitative data takes Understanding and Using Statistics
  3. All whose research (or literature review) needs to cover experiments consider that module
  4. Anyone using survey methods completes that module, this is particularly important for those who still have data to collect or analyse, but taking these could also help more advanced students by allowing them to answer questions about why they used the methods they did.  

A link to further information on the MRes in Business and Management can be found here

Staff and PhD Student Christmas Conference

This one day annual event, to be held in the Courtrooms at University of Stirling, is designed to let everyone know about your research and learn about that of others, potentially leading to new collaborations as well as bridging boundaries between staff and students (with attendance expected from both).

New Academic staff will present briefly on their research, existing staff and PhD students will present a poster. There will be two PhD students prizes : 

  1. The "Applied Impact" Prize, based on the 300 word submissions on "why my research matters for business, policy, or society";
  2. For the best student poster

This year the Conference will take place on Wednesday 7th December 2016.

Spring Divisional PhD Research Day

Within each division, PhD students will be expected to present short talks on their research. This will be great practice in:

  1.  Summarising your research for your viva, and
  2.  Future interview presentation, as well as help bring research together within divisions.

  More details will be posted here closer to the time.

Summer Schools

Information on Summer Schools will be shown here as soon as it is made available.

Stages of the PhD


You need a plan of your research from the start, including exactly how the questions contribute to knowledge and how the empirical work ties together to make a coherent thesis. You also need to spell out the research in considerable detail (think; method sections for each of your studies). The timeline for the studies should be realistic and in line with producing enough for a PhD. Ideally, this will have been done at PhD application stage (and this is now a requirement) to allow you to hit the ground running. There is a very useful application guide which can be found at the bottom of the main Postgraduate Research webpage, under Useful Documents.

As you go through, you should always update your plan, on a monthly basis. This is a good use of your monthly "formal" meeting (supplemented of course, by the weekly). You’ll really thank yourself for this, as things can go off track really easily, and your plan can flag this up before there becomes an issue.  It also makes sure you and your supervisor are on the same page.

First 12 Months

If you’ve an optimally detailed proposal before starting, the first 12 months should be spent doing the actual research. Of course, invariably there will be changes as you look deeper in to the research questions. This is why it is important to be updating your plans and timelines on a monthly basis.

By the end of the 12 months you should already have produced something substantial that is well on the way to being a publishable contribution to knowledge. It may not be quite polished yet, but people should be able to see it being complete by the end of the first year or very soon thereafter. Depending on the project, this may be a late draft of a paper. In economics this would be expected to be an empirical paper. For other fields, it may well be something else such as a theoretical contribution or literature review. However, few things cause more misunderstanding than the acceptability of the literature review as a contribution to knowledge. It is not an extended essay summarizing other people’s work. It is a fundamentally new contribution to the literature, for which you have to demonstrate a gap, which you clearly fulfill.

12 Month Upgrade

Until your upgrade, you are not officially a PhD student! In keeping with other universities you are simply a "research student". Thus the upgrade is a big deal! If you’ve done all of the advice so far, you don’t need to do much for the upgrade.

You need to submit a report containing:

  • Introduction, explaining how you are addressing a gap in the literature and how the work fits together as a whole.
  • Written work to date, which should show a contribution to knowledge.
  • Very detailed plans for all work to be conducted in the PhD (e.g. full methodology sections, as would be in a published paper, or even more extended versions of these), including a timeline.
  • Proof, where needed, of ethical approval for all planned work and any necessary access.

By this point you’ll already have produced the written work, and having updated your plans on a monthly basis based on discussions with your supervisor they should be at this level of detail by now. The introduction can be a draft of that needed for your final thesis.

Your upgrade will be assessed by a panel normally comprising the PGR Tutor and an expert in your area (e.g. someone from your division not connected to the work). They will assess your progress based on the written report and an oral viva. The oral viva will provide invaluable practice for your final viva. All of this should be approached positively; you’re getting an opportunity to have your work commented upon by independent experts, to let you know how you are doing and give helpful advice.

Possible outcomes include;

  1. Confirmation of registration for PhD or MPhil (quite unusual)
  2. Defer decision for up to six months, possibly resulting in another upgrade viva (common, and positive as you’ll be given precise advice as to what you need to do to get up to scratch).
  3. Registration terminated (rare, and unheard of without option to resubmit report first)

The written reports and the examiners' recommendations are sent to the Director of the Centre to make a formal recommendation on behalf of the School, and finally to the University who makes the final call.

Mid to Late PhD

After upgrade, it is particularly important that you keep your plans reviewed on a monthly basis and updated.  Annual Reviews will check that you are on course.  During this period, if possible, you are strongly recommended to try and publish; given there is a year (or more) lag on submitting for publication and it getting accepted, think backwards from when you will need it on your CV.

Always keep writing! You need to write up as you go along; trying to do it all in the last year rarely works and is likely to make you go over your expected three years.  This is particularly due to your writing and research improving based on feedback from supervisors (and, perhaps, journal reviewers).

The Final Viva

Prior to submitting, you and your supervisors will nominate an external and an internal examiner. Your PhD outcome will depend on their review of your thesis and your performance at the viva.  This is an important decision, do be a part of it!  You should make sure you know their work.  They have to be experienced and clearly independent.  You’ll want to find someone who is sympathetic to your model of a PhD (your supervisor could have a delicate discussion with them about this – without lobbying of course!).  Someone with a reputation for being a tough but reasonable examiner would be ideal, giving credibility whilst still being fair.

Examiners have normally pretty much made up their mind about the decision prior to the viva.  However, you can sway them in a positive direction by a robust defense of your work.  You need to strike a balance between justifying why you did what you did and seeming irresponsive to their advice.

Commonly, you will be asked to start your viva by an overview of what you found. Prepare a quick impressive sounding synopsis really selling it (For example: “What have I discovered?”).  Questions will then focus on;

  1. your knowledge of the area.
  2. your theoretical conception.
  3. the methods you’ve used, including analysis.
  4. how the research may be continued.

Often, examiners are not trying to catch you out or have a problem, rather just want to check your understanding, so don’t stress too much!

You can pre-empt (d) by having a strong section in the discussion part of your thesis. This also reassures them that you’ve made the transition from doctoral to “independent” researcher.  Remember, other than the (rare) unconditional pass, examiners can recommend minor corrections, major corrections, or other worse outcomes.  If something can’t be justified, convincing them that you are ready and able to make the corrections easily may make it minor rather than major corrections (or worse!).  Non-professional/disagreeable responses can also go against you (For example: I don’t care about statistics).

Try and have a practice viva with someone.  Most vivas are a lot less scary than they seem in advance.

Example Theses

Below are links to good examples of theses, produced by staff/students within the School;

View the thesis entitled The Moral Economy of work and employment in banks, a PhD in Management by Knut Laaser Early Career Fellow MWO Division, Stirling Management School, here.‌

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