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Why a CJBS PhD?

CJBS PhD students walking through the gates of the School

At Cambridge Judge Business School (CJBS) you will engage in research that really matters for business and society. Our faculty and PhD students see research as a means to create impact beyond a group of peer academics and scholars; we embed our research work in deep engagements with organisations that wrestle with complex and important practical issues. Our success is evidenced by our leading performance in the impact category in the latest UK research evaluation, and by the regular placement of papers in leading academic journals by PhDs and their faculty co-authors.

During your PhD, you will break down major questions into manageable research projects. You will rigorously tackle these projects by drawing on theory and methods in the tradition of your chosen business school discipline. You will work in close collaboration with faculty and, importantly, in contact with senior practitioners and organisations facing the challenges you wish to inform.

A PhD at CJBS leverages the School’s unique position in one of the world’s greatest universities – a university that is home to more Nobel laureate affiliates than any other – as well as its convenient proximity to the City of London and location at the centre of the European high-tech and entrepreneurship hub, with one of the largest academic health sciences centres in Europe. Together, these unique factors attract leaders from across industries and allow our faculty and students to forge the close-knit networks of corporate and academic partners that are the basis for high-impact work.

During your PhD years, you have the opportunity to pursue your educational and research interests unencumbered by other responsibilities. We want you to work hard and capitalise on the talents and expertise of your teachers and fellow students. But Cambridge is about so much more than study: we believe in the value of diversity and the opportunity to learn from other perspectives and cultures, and at Cambridge you will build a lifelong network of friends who come from a wide range of cultures and pursue diverse interests and ambitions.

Cambridge life

Learn what it’s like to study for a PhD degree in our beautiful and historic city, and why it’s a perfect location to earn your doctorate.

PhD student life in Cambridge
When I started my PhD at Cambridge Judge Business School I knew I was embarking on a challenging programme that would equip me with the resources to do original research. What I did not realise was the extent to which I was going to be a part of a vibrant and intellectually stimulating community.
Dr Nicos Savva, Associate Professor of Management Science & Operations, London Business School

Quality of supervision

Dr Kamal Munir meets with his PhD student Andrea.

Our PhD students are viewed as junior colleagues in their research group and future colleagues in their research community – they are apprentices in the best sense of the word.

Principal Supervisor and Advisory Committee

We allocate a Principal Supervisor to each student who continues from the MPhil to the PhD programme. (MRes students are allocated a Principal Supervisor at admission to the MRes). Your Principal Supervisor will be a senior academic, normally a Reader or Professor, who will guide you through the programme, help you to succeed in the job market and assist you in gaining a faculty position at a leading business school. They will take an active role in your research programme. During the course of the PhD they will assemble a group of faculty (an Advisory Committee) who will be actively involved in joint research with you, with the aim of producing leading academic journals publications. We also encourage joint work with faculty from other schools, including our renowned academic visitors.

Apprenticeship model

Our PhD students learn via an apprenticeship model. Within supervisory relationships you learn first-hand how research is done. Our faculty train you to become an independent researcher with an exciting research programme and portfolio of academic papers. Through working so closely with faculty you also develop your academic writing skills, your ability to tailor your writing for specific audiences/journals, your network of valuable research relationships with other leading faculty and your readiness for the academic job market.

Investment of time

To ensure close interaction between students and their Principal Supervisor, CJBS faculty do not supervise more than two PhD students at any point in time. Our PhD students are expected to receive a minimum of one supervision per week. Our PhD students frequently comment on the outstanding quality of supervision, in-depth feedback and time invested by faculty. A recent survey of PhD students revealed that supervision hours currently average two hours per week and can range up to four hours per week, depending on what phase a research project is in.

For me, faculty are the best aspect of CJBS. They all treat me like a junior colleague. My supervisors provide incredible support whilst allowing me freedom to express my own ideas. This will be invaluable throughout my upcoming 12-month ethnography in a high security prison.
Adrian Marrison, PhD candidate

Complementary training

Alongside the core components of the PhD programme, other valuable training opportunities are offered. You are free to utilise and design these into your own schedule:

Research lunches bring together PhD students, faculty and research MPhil students one day each week over lunch. They can take the form of:

  • a specific research presentation by a PhD student
  • an expert talk about methodological issues
  • career talks about the job market or publication.

The School’s Winter Doctoral Conference is a meeting point for students and faculty working in diverse areas. It is an opportunity to get acquainted with other people’s work and for first year students to get a taste of advanced doctoral research. The conference aims to provide a safe, academically useful environment that nurtures the development of PhD students in terms of creating research papers and making presentations at professional seminars and conferences.

Normally, two prizes worth £250 each are awarded to the papers considered to be the most outstanding. At the 2021 conference, the prize-winning papers were “Performance Management and Compensation for Audit Partners” by Yuxia Zou and “Explaining the Erosion of Relational Care Continuity: An Empirical Analysis of Primary Care in England” by Harshita Kajaria-Montag.

The School welcomes frequent academic visitors from around the world, who engage with PhD students individually and offer workshops or seminars in their areas of specialisation.

Teaching and assessment form an integral part of academic life, and you’ll need to learn and develop these skills as part of your PhD. PhD students provide vital assistance for our taught and executive education programmes (undergraduate, MBA, research MPhils, Executive MBA, Executive Education, professional practice masters). Within the University of Cambridge system PhDs may teach undergraduates, take undergraduate supervisions, run masters tutorials or review sessions, supervise masters student projects or co-teach part of a course with a member of faculty.

CJBS Certificate of Teaching Proficiency

The CJBS Certificate of Teaching Proficiency includes a teaching workshop, presence, voice & delivery training, observation and reflection, presentation at ‘teaching lunches’ as well as teaching assistance and co-teaching with faculty. Whilst the certificate is voluntary, we strongly recommend that you register for this. The majority of observation and teaching assignments will be in core courses relevant to your own discipline on the MBA, Executive MBA and Master of Finance (MFin) programmes.

Teaching awards

Students on all our programmes give feedback (both quantitative and qualitative) on their PhD Teaching Assistants.

PhD Teaching Assistants who obtain a teaching rating of over 4 (out of 5) receive an Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award.

Numerous high-quality research seminars and speaker events take place at the School each week. These are organised by the various special interest groups, research centres and subject groups, and include talks by both business leaders and academics.

Training offered by other departments can help develop:

  • knowledge of specialised methods (e.g. modules from the Faculty of Mathematics)
  • inter-disciplinary awareness, which inspires great research questions

With the permission of the lecturer, you’ll be entitled to attend lecture series from nearly all of the University’s degree programmes. These range from economics, finance and social science programmes to lectures on astronomy, medieval history and nanotechnology.

Our students often value the opportunity to undertake research visits at other leading business schools. Recent research stays have included the University of Michigan, Cornell University, Northwestern University, UCLA, the University of Alberta, the University of Chicago, McGill University and Yale School of Management.

The Experimental Laboratory is a dedicated space where you can run your own psychology and behavioural economics experiments. The lab contains 21 computers equipped with experimental software, including z-Tree (Zurich Toolbox for Readymade Economic Experiments), which allows both stand-alone and networked experiments.

At the lab, you’ll have access to a subject pool database and an online recruitment system, which allows you to filter participants based on different characteristics.

First and second year PhD students currently take part in a five-day workshop on “Crafting Your Research Identity”. The goal of this is to help you to surface your personal motivations, skills and values and figure out the implications for pursuing your career as a scholar and teacher.

We offer free, one-to-one mentoring in writing skills throughout the year. You can book 45-minute sessions directly with the mentor, and you can usually book as many sessions as you wish (subject to availability).

We provide a “Presence, Voice and Delivery” workshop for all PhDs. We also offer free, one-to-one training that focuses on aspects of voice projection, intonation and confidence, and you can book up to three one-hour sessions per year.

We offer a presentation skills workshop for PhD students to help them prepare for their first year report, as well as funding for students wishing to take language or software training (if approved by their supervisor). The University of Cambridge also offers a comprehensive range of free researcher development courses that you can sign up for, including on presentation, negotiation and supervision skills.

Visit the University of Cambridge Researcher Development Programme website to find out more.

Real-world impact

A group of young people, including one of our PhD students, strides down a path in Indonesia smiling at the camera.

At Cambridge Judge Business School, real-world impact is key. There might be different terms for it – meaningful research, deep engagement or policy research –  but what we are all after is to make a difference with our research. While some might argue that impact is for later, we believe that aiming for real-world impact starts right with the PhD and the research that inspires us! This philosophy drives our efforts to create active partnerships with organisations, be it for business, public sector or international development, addressing real-world challenges while at the same time ensuring rigorous and methodologically sound research.

As PhD students we are part of and seek to shape the debate around real-world impact, for instance with our recently initiated Impact Forum. See for yourself and explore what real-world impact can mean and how we aim to achieve it.

Case study: Sytske Wijnsma

As part of her research, Sytske has developed partnerships with a number of key organisations. In collaboration with Europol, the European law enforcement agency, Sytske studied the incentives behind illegal waste disposal, which often results in health and environmental violations in developed and developing countries. Sytske helped disentangle the issues faced by the agency, structure them in a game-theoretic model, and demonstrate potential consequences of policy interventions on different firms active in the waste chain.

Sytske has also been involved with the biodiversity branch and with the conservation unit of the UN Environment. She has researched how the impact of unsustainable practices and benefits of economic development are often distributed disproportionally within rural communities and how we can structure rural livelihood portfolios to support sustainable development in these regions. This system-perspective of livelihoods portfolios should become a key consideration as an increasing number of companies and social enterprises are starting to source directly from the poor in an effort to reduce poverty.

View Sytske’s profile

Learn more about the impact of Cambridge Judge PhD student research

Improving healthcare provision through collaboration

Never has it been so pivotal to strengthen primary care delivery, in order to prevent overload in hospitals. One of Cambridge Judge…

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When PhD research generates timely impact

Translating research into valuable insights on how to support the reintegration of people with convictions. The last few months have brought a…

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Helping Europol reduce illegal electronic waste trafficking – how to leverage a PhD to have impact

Cambridge Judge Business School PhD students are a vibrant community, excelling in research but also determined to make a difference in the…

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PhDs in the news

Network for Business Sustainability: Corporate sustainability reputation matters most during crises

Nareuporn Piyasinchai, a PhD candidate in the Strategy & International Business subject group at Cambridge Judge Business School, discusses reputation management during…

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Forbes: Workplace equality improves when women mentor men

A study on gender diversity in organisations co-authored by PhD student Shi Tang and the late Professor Sucheta Nadkarni of Cambridge Judge…

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Read more press coverage

College & research environment

A female student in a scarf walks down a columned path by a College quad.

One of the biggest benefits of studying at Cambridge is our Collegiate system, which is designed to throw you into a multidisciplinary, multicultural pool of friends and ideas. Our PhD students often talk about the huge impact that this has on their research.

From day one our PhD students become full members of the CJBS research community. Faculty and students work together closely to advance ideas, enhance each other’s work and start important academic conversations. This combination of a strong research focus, a constructive atmosphere and a highly collaborative approach creates an ideal learning environment for research students aspiring to a career in academia.

Take a virtual tour of a Cambridge College

Research & skills funding

CJBS PhD students in the School's Information Centre

Cambridge Judge Business School offers a generous range of grants to support MPhil, MRes and PhD students in their research. Grant applications need to be approved by your supervisor and, sometimes, by a representative from your chosen PhD pathway. We normally support requests if the course or conference applied for is appropriate and you are making good progress towards academic placement.

CJBS grants include:

For MRes and MPhil students confirmed to continue with their PhD

  • a fieldwork and conference allowance of up to £1,000 for the summer preceding the PhD
  • an automatic grant of up to £2,300 (depending on actual expenses incurred and destination) for travel to present at designated high-level conferences

For PhD students

  • a general allowance of £2,500 (over four years) that can be used for travel to present at conferences
  • a grant of up to £2,300 (depending on actual expenses incurred and destination) for travel to present at designated high-level conferences (normally one grant per year)
  • four visiting student grants each year worth up to £2,900 to support third or fourth year PhD students who want to develop affiliations as visiting scholars at top business schools or universities for a period of several months (by competitive application)
  • academic workshop grants to cover all expenses associated with attending training at other European institutions (a maximum of two grants per year)
  • skills grants to cover all expenses associated with attending research-relevant training courses (if such training is not offered for free within the University of Cambridge), e.g. language or software training
  • proofreading, for when a paper is ready for submission to a journal
  • free printer credit up to £240 per year
  • monetary prizes for outstanding grades, the best Winter Doctoral Conference papers and student input in organising the conference and regular research lunches, which can be put towards any research expenses

If you’ve been given leave to work away from Cambridge, you can apply to the University’s School of Technology for fieldwork expenses (excluding accommodation and living expenses) so long as these costs haven’t been met by a research council or other funding source.

Many Colleges provide funding for conference and fieldwork. The allowances can vary widely by College, so we recommend referring to individual College websites for details of what can you apply for at your particular College.

A number of our students each year are awarded ESRC scholarships, including both full scholarships (UK) and fee-only scholarships (EU excluding UK) where maintenance funding comes from another source. Visit the ESRC Doctoral Training Centre for Social Sciences website for full details of the ESRC grants available to these students, including grants for fieldwork and overseas institutional visits.

Note that some grants maybe only be available to fully funded students.

Resources for PhDs

A photo taken from the mezzanine level of the library showing a librarian at the front desk.

PhD room & office facilities

We allocate each PhD student a workspace in either the PhD rooms or an office adjacent to faculty members from the relevant subject group. This workspace includes a desk, a PC, storage space and access to nearby printing facilities.

PCs

As a PhD student you’re allocated your own School PC, giving you access to the full suite of research software available at Cambridge Judge Business School. VPN remote access allows you to connect to your PC from anywhere in the world, which is ideal for when you’re away from Cambridge doing fieldwork. Additional software programmes may be installed upon request. If you encounter any IT-related issues, our large IT team will be there to provide first-class support.

Libraries

The School’s Information & Library Services provides a wealth of information resources, including a world-class range of databases covering company and financial data, industry and market reports, global news and much more. You will also have access to numerous e-journals and e-books as well as a rich collection of printed books and journals.

While many Information & Library Services resources are available electronically, you’ll also find our main Information Centre on the ground floor of the CJBS building. Here, our excellent team of information professionals can help you with a wide range of matters, such as if you are undertaking multidisciplinary research and need help accessing resources elsewhere in the university or further afield. They also offer one-to-one training and research support at any time as well as scheduled group training on relevant tools such as NVivo, Zotero and Qualtrics software. If you’re looking for help with social media as a research tool or how to manage your research data efficiently, the Information & Library Services team are the people to talk to – just set up an appointment or drop in to the Information Centre for a chat.

Social activities

CJBS PhD students grabbing some coffee in the cafe

You’ll find that there are many opportunities to socialise with PhD and research masters students and faculty members throughout the year, including:

  • complementary coffee and cake on Tuesday mornings
  • research lunch every Thursday in term-time
  • start-of-year lunch for PhDs and new research masters students
  • formal college dinner after the Winter Doctoral Conference
  • three socials organised by the student reps

As a member of the University, you also have wealth of social and sporting activities available to you.

Find out more about life at Cambridge