Postgraduate students in the School of Economics are encouraged to choose their area of study.

The School of Economics is strongly committed to providing each PGR student with dedicated supervision and support throughout the four years of the PhD programme. In the recent Postgraduate Research Experience Survey (PRES 2019), our PGR students awarded the School excellent scores including 100% for Supervision.

The allocation of individual supervisors to students begins with the research proposal submitted by prospective students in their application process. In principle, applicants can submit research proposals based on any relevant topic in economics, and the School will check, as part of the selection process, the availability of at least two faculty members willing to offer supervision. In some specific areas of economics, the School exhibits highly specialized knowledge and, hence, higher capacity to supervise PhD projects:

  • Big data methods
  • Collective decision making and group formation
  • Competition in digital markets
  • Development and environmental economics
  • Dynamic macroeconomics and growth
  • Economics of networks
  • Empirical evaluation of competition/competition policy
  • Experimetrics
  • Financial economics and econometrics
  • Heuristics and biases in decision making
  • Industrial organisation
  • Origins and consequences of conflict
  • Strategic reasoning and identity in groups and teams

Moreover, every Academic Year, different Research Groups of the School of Economics can propose project outlines that prospective students can elaborate on while designing their own project proposal – these projects will be given particular attention during the selection process.


2022 Entry

For prospective students applying during the 2021-22 year (starting the PhD program in October 2022), project outlines will be offered by the research groups Behavioural Economics and Applied Econometrics and Finance.

The details of such project outlines are listed below:

Project outline of Biased Beliefs, Social Norms and Disadvantaged Groups Social norms, the shared beliefs about acceptable behavior, constitute the informal rules that regulate behaviour in groups and societies. Beliefs about social norms, as well as beliefs about the repercussions should these norms be transgressed, can be an important determinant of behavior in social settings.

The proposed research focuses on the identification of (biased) beliefs about social norms pertaining to individuals from disadvantaged groups (such as women and ethnic minorities). The objective would be to use various empirical methods, such as surveys and experiments, to identify opportunities for change. Our primary hypothesis is that individuals have inaccurate or biased beliefs about social norms, and that interventions that effectively correct these beliefs can support the behavior change required to reduce discrimination and economic inequalities.

The proposed research therefore links the growing literature examining the importance of beliefs about social norms in shaping behavior, and the extensive literature in economics tackling issues on the discrimination of disadvantaged groups.

Research Team: You would be working with Professor Ben D'Exelle and Dr Boon Han Koh (and possibly other behavioural economists in the School).

Using Behavioural Economics to Understand Clinical Trial Result Generalisability”. Medical research often involves randomised controlled trials to, for example, estimate the effectiveness of a new drug. The basic idea is that patients are recruited onto a trial, randomised into treatment and control groups, where the former receives the drug and the latter receives a placebo.

By comparing patient outcomes across the two groups, inferences are drawn about the effectiveness of the drug for the patient population at large. However, if the patients recruited onto a clinical trial are not a representative sample of the overall patient population, trial results will not necessarily hold out of sample. It is therefore important to understand how patients who participate in clinical trials differ from those in the general patient population (and the implications thereof).

Collaborating with colleagues in the Norwich Medical School and stakeholders in healthcare, the student will design and carry out experiments and interventions to estimate how patients who participate in clinical trials differ in their behavioural characteristics (e.g. risk-aversion and social preferences) from those who do not participate in clinical trials. In addition to contributing to the academic literature, this research has the scope to inform the development of interventions to increase inclusivity and representivity of clinical trials – which would ultimately lead to better healthcare for all.

Research Team: Dr Amrish Patel, Dr Stefan Penczynski, Professor Ted Turocy.

Project outline: The availability of large data sets from betting exchanges has recently opened up new and exciting research areas. Many research questions in these areas are of particular interest to economists. How close are betting exchanges to “market efficiency”? How useful is the betting data in predicting the outcome of the sporting event to which it relates? Is it possible to detect whether “insider information” is being used by some market participants?

In this project, our overall objective is to apply advanced econometric techniques in order to enhance the reliability of research findings in these areas. We are particularly interested in situations in which the data set contains a large number of candidate explanatory variables. For example, the data set may include fundamental variables such as (in the context of football) team selections or recent form, and in addition a range of indices constructed from social media output. In such situations, a major challenge is to reduce the dimensionality of the data set without sacrificing its variability. The approach that we have in mind is a generalised principal component analysis (GPCA) framework, allowing for a data-driven and time-adaptive dimension reduction. In view of the technical nature of the research plan, we aim to recruit a student with a good background in econometrics and statistics, and with experience of programming.

Research Team: Alasdair Brown, Fuyu Yang.

Project outline: In recent years, the ways in which consumers have responded to environmental or climate-related news stories have, at times, been both drastic and powerful. The responses to single-use plastics, the ever-expanding vegan movement and the emerging concerns over producer “green-washing” are just some examples of where consumer behaviour is demonstrating a desire for market adaptation. The economic community surely needs to learn from these actions. Subsequently, this is a call for doctoral research to enhance our understanding of how and why consumers will respond to environmental crises, and to forecast the next “green movements” to emerge.

This project area aims to identify the attributes that characterise consumer behaviour in green markets. For this, an interdisciplinary suite of research methods would be required in order to predict how such markets evolve and understand why and at what point consumers feel a desire to change their habits. This studentship remains relatively broad at this stage, and we welcome and strong ideas which fit into the realm of consumer action with regards to sustainability. However, it could consider factors such as the direct economic impact for industry, the attitudes and beliefs surrounding sustainable consumerism and/or the implications for environmental policy.

Research Team: Mike Brock, Corrado Di Maria.

Project Outline. The Covid-19 global pandemic has changed the financial landscape in a number of significant ways – not least by motivating an (almost) unprecedented surge in public spending, in many cases vastly exceeding the QE witnessed in the wake of the Global Financial Crisis. The aim of this project is to examine the effect of this massive release of fiscal restraints both on international and domestic finance (in a selection of important national cases). The work will focus on three main themes:
(i) The effect on the main macro variables and their effectiveness as indicators;
(ii) the change in the relative responsiveness of policy levers with regard to macroprudential (risk) regulation;
(iii) the appropriateness and suitability of the traditional Central Bank models (BVARs/DSGE) of monetary management to forecast tipping point events under the current conditions.

It is expected that there will be heavy reliance on empirical data analysis, as well as deep critical discussion of relevant modern money topics such as digital finance, and post-Covid 19 recovery programmes.

Research Team: Joel Clovis, Gustavo Fruet-Dias.

Candidates interested in these themes should present their own proposal mentioning the project title and submitting their application by the same deadline that is relevant for studentships offered by the School of Economics.

Besides these field-specific opportunities, all prospective students interested in any field of economics should check the individual pages of the School’s Academic Staff and their publications in order to identify potential supervisors for their projects. Members of faculty are pleased to be approached by prospective PhD candidates about the kinds of research they can supervise.