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Henley Business School

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Henley Business School

International Business and Strategy (PhD)

For over 50 years we have stood at the forefront of teaching and research in International Business and we continue to help define the research agenda in the field as well as in International Business History and International Human Resource Management.  High quality teaching spans a broad range of programmes and focuses on critical developments in international business and strategy and organisations' strategic response to these.  

Henley provides a unique opportunity to undertake original business relevant research in International Business and Strategy and to develop your critical thinking, intellectual capacity and creativity.  Our postgraduate research students, drawn from all over the world, benefit from a dynamic research environment, supervision from internationally-renouned faculty, dedicated support and outstanding facilities.

As a part of the PhD in International Business and Strategy, we offer the Henley International Business Masterclasses.  We provide these intensive courses on current debates and conceptual issues in International Business to give broader learning opportunities to younger scholars. Each masterclass offers the opportunity to engage in key International Business topics taught by notable intellectual figures in the field.

Henley Business School's research in International Business and Strategy is driven through leading centres that are at the forefront of research, including the John H. Dunning Centre for International Business and the Centre for International Business History. 

We welcome applicants seeking to conduct postgraduate research in the following fields:

  • Business History
  • International Business
  • International Human Resource Management
  • Strategy

Entry requirements

A Masters degree, preferably achieved with distinction.

We welcome applications from students holding international qualifications.  The University uses independently published guidelines, recognised within the UK higher education sector, when considering the equivalence of overseas qualifications.

Applicants whose first language is not English will normally be required to achieve one of a number of English Language qualifications approved by the University.  The normal entry standard is a score of 7 on the IELTS (International Language Testing System) test.

Originals of English Language certificates will be required except where there are online verification facilities eg IELTS and TOEFL.  English Language certificates will not be accepted if they are more than two years old.

Research Proposal

A key element of the application is the research proposal, which must clearly outline a topic to research and identify where it links to the expertise available in the International Business and Strategy unit.  It is important that the applicant spends some time exploring the research that we are involved in and whether their own research is likely to fit alongside this.

Once you have identified the topic which links to the expertise available in the International Business and Strategy Unit, the applicant must prepare a Research Proposal.  This is a document that outlines the research topic and programme of research.  Quality rather than quantity is the key to a good research proposal.  As a guide, we are looking for 1500-3000 words.  Below is an outline of the elements a research proposal might typically contain. 

  • Cover Page - including a title, providing a clear and succinct description of the proposed research, and name of the applicant
  • Introduction - a brief explanation of the proposed research, why it is of value and how it is proposed to go about it
  • Literature Review - An examination of key contributions relating to the area of research in question.  The literature review should identify gaps in, or problems with, existing research to justify why further or new research is required
  • Methodology - a description of the proposed methodology, including details of data collection and analysis.  A time schedule showing key activities would be useful
  • Refereneces - any literature cited in the proposal should be listed at the end of the document.  Use of the Harvard style of referencing is preferred.

Course modules

A PhD is usually taken on a full-time basis over 3 years.  On a full-time basis the PhD programme starts at the beginning of the academic year (late September -early October).  A team of two faculty members is assigned to supervise each student.  Supervisors are selected based on their expertise in the research topic chosen by the candidate.  To offer the best experience to students, occasionally supervisors may be identified outside the International Business and Strategy unit or Henley Business School.

The PhD degree is awarded after successful completion of a programme of research training and a piece of original research.

Detailed Schedule of Typical Activities of a PhD Candidate in International Business and Strategy
Year 1 

During your first year of studies, you will be required to pass at least 60 credits from PhD/masters level courses in Research Methods and other modules required for your area of concentration. The basic structure (subject to modifications agreed with PhD supervisors and director, based on a Learning Needs Analysis) of taught modules is the following:-

Term 1 (September-December)

  • Introduction to Thesis Literature Review module (delivered by Professor Peter Scott)

Workshops on

  • Introduction to qualitative methods
  • Introduction to quantitative methods
  • International Business Masterclasses on
  • Economics of International Business (delivered by Professor Mark Casson)
  • Strategy and International Business (delivered by Professor Alain Verbeke)

Terms 2 and 3 (January-July)

  • Advanced Qualitative Methods (delivered by Dr Evelyn Fenton)
  • Advanced Quantitative Methods (delivered by Dr Maks Belitski)
  • International Business Masterclasses on
  • International Business, Development and Policy (delivered by Professor Rajneesh Narula)
  • International Business, Innovation and Economic Geography (delivered by Professor Davide Castellani)
  • International Human Resource Management (delivered by Professor Chris Brewster and Dr Chul Chung)
  • Long-run developments in International Business (delivered by Professor Robert Pearce and Professor Marina Papanastassiou)

You will also:

  • attend some short courses (2-3 hours each) required for the Reading Researcher Development Programme at the Graduate School
  • present the progress of your research at the Annual PhD Review in front of faculty members
  • participate in the weekly IBS research seminars and other research seminars offered by other Schools/Departments and relevant to your research area
  • organise periodic meetings with your supervisor(s).

Year 2, 3 (and above) 
During your further years of studies you will:

  • continue to work on your PhD dissertation
  • hold periodic meetings with your supervisor(s)
  • attend some short courses (2-3 hours each) required for the the Reading Researcher Development Programme at the Graduate School
  • participate in the weekly IBS research seminars and other research seminars offered by other Schools/Departments and relevant to your research area
  • contribute to teaching and research activities (if recipient of a Studentship)
  • present the progress of your research at the Annual PhD Review in front of faculty members

Assessment methods

At the end of the first year, students will submit a research proposal that will be defended in front of the faculty members and will be assessed by an independent internal examiner.  The process will coincide with the confirmation of registration and, if successful, it will grant the student the status of PhD candidate.

PhD students will then continue working on their research project and then submit their thesis at the end of the programme to be judged by a panel of internal and external examiners at an oral examination or 'viva'.

Sponsorship information

Up to 4 postgraduate studentships, each worth up to £15,000 plus University fees, are available for outstanding applicants wanting to conduct full-time postgraduate research in the area of International Business and Strategy. These awards are offered on an annual basis and are renewable at the end of each year subject to satisfactory performance, for up to 3 years.   If you wish to be considered for a studentship please indicate this when you complete your online application form.  Please note that we decide on who to award the studentships to after we have decided to shortlist your proposal.  This means that only the best proposals are considered for the studentships.

The Graduate School website lists a number of other sources of funding which may be worth investigating.


Qualification Study mode Start month Fee Fee locale Course duration
PhD Full-time £ 4,195 (Year 1) Home/EU 3 Years
PhD Part-time £ 2,098 (Year 1) Home/EU 6 Years
PhD Distance learning (full-time) £ 2,098 (Year 1) Home/EU 3 Years
PhD Distance learning (part-time) £ 1,049 (Year 1) Home/EU 6 Years
PhD Full-time £ 15,680 (Year 1) International 3 Years
PhD Distance learning (full-time) £ 7,840 (Year 1) International 3 Years

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