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Oxford DPhil Programme in Management Studies

Oxford DPhil Programme in Management Studies

Management Research pathway

Management Research is built on coursework in theories of organisations, institutions, strategy, and markets, focuses on using both quantitative and qualitative methods. Doctoral students engage with research in key management issues, in dialogue with the wider intellectual community and with practioner's on topics in professional services, technology and operations management, strategy and innovation, organisation studies, megaproject management, marketing, international business and integrating and improving healthcare. 

Students may also conduct research and projects with academics in research centres, such as: CABDyN Complexity Centre, Entrepreneurship Centre, Oxford Institute of Retail Management, and Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship

Year one

Michaelmas term

Students are required to take three core courses in quantitative and qualitative aspects of research methodology during their first term:  

Core course 1: Introduction to Management Research Methods

This provides a thorough grounding in research methodology, practice and ethics. This course introduces students to research design and methods and compares and contrasts the main research and intellectual traditions in management research. 

It provides the opportunity to practice generic and transferable research skills. During the course, students learn about project planning, organisation and execution; conducting effective literature reviews; writing, presenting, and disseminating their work. The topics covered include: Interviewing and focus groups; experimental designs; laboratory, field and simulated experiments; epistemological questions in social sciences; survey methods, and ethnography.

Core course 2: Statistical Research Methods

This provides an introduction to the statistical foundations required for management research, specifically the skills to accurately and informatively analyse a data sample. The topics covered are: Descriptive statistics; statistical sampling; regression analysis; logistic regression; goodness-of-fit tests; and dimension reduction.

Core course 3: Management and Organisation Theory

The management and organisation theory (MOT) course introduces classic and contemporary research traditions from organisation studies that support current research in management, organisation theory, international business, innovation studies, operations, and strategy. There are three orientated questions in this course: Why are there organisations? How to study organisation with focus on internal dynamics and external linkages? What insights does an 'organisation' anlysis offer, relative to other explnatory frames (e.g. individuals, 'systems')?

The MOT course introduces theory traditions with a range of empirical papers that illustrate exemplary applications of the tools and methods presented in the other Michaelmas courses. The MOT course also serves as a bridge to many of the advanced elective offerings. The assessment in MOT includes both practical work assignments that make possible information feedback to doctoral students and also a formal coursework paper that encourages development of a literature review for the dissertation. 

Hilary term 

During second term, the doctoral students will undertake advanced research methods training and, in consultation with their supervisor, select specialist courses, available from a choice of topics relevant to Management Research. Students and supervisors will need to decide on a combination of courses from one of the below options. 

Students take a minimum of three courses or a maximum of five elective courses in one of the following combinations:

One advanced methods course + two electives minimum requirement
Two advanced methods courses + two electives  
One advanced methods course + three electives  
One advanced methods courses + three electives  maximum allowed

Specialist elective courses:

  • Innovation, Organisation and Markets
  • Market Behaviour Research
  • Organisational Theory
  • Strategic Management
  • Intermediate Statistics (Politics)

Advanced methodology courses:

  • Advanced Qualitative Research Methods
  • Advanced Quantitative Research Methods

In addition, you will need to take courses in your specialist subject of interest. Examples include: decision science, information management, finance, marketing, organisational behaviour or strategic management. After preparing a survey of the relevant literature in your specific area, you will write a thesis proposal explaining the research you'll be working on over the next few years. 

During the first year, each student must sit examinations in research methodology and their specialist subject of interest. Progressing to the research stage is based on three factors:

  • performance in the examinations
  • literature survey
  • thesis proposal

Years two and three

In years two and three, students undertake their own research in their area of specialisation. Students will also apply for confirmation of status. By the end of year three, students can submit your thesis, but many students will go into a fourth year to complete their write up.


The doctoral thesis should not exceed 100,000 words. It must be a significant and substantial contribution to the field of learning in management studies. As a rule of thumb, it should be good enough to be published in book form or as a series of academic articles. Indeed, you may even adopt a range of different methodologies and approaches. Your contribution can be in the field of theory, methodology or empirical results.

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