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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Accounting

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Make an original and significant contribution to knowledge in the field of Accounting under the tutelage of high profile academics.

The aim of the UNSW Business School's Doctoral Program in Accounting is to train you with the skills to identify, analyse and solve problems using original academic research in this field.

Rigorous coursework dealing with topics including capital markets and disclosures in financial accounting, qualitative field studies in management accounting, and behavioural judgement and decision-making across auditing, financial accounting, and management accounting will be undertaken. This is followed by full-time research culminating in a doctoral thesis.

You will enjoy interdisciplinary engagement with a high-quality cohort of research students across the whole Business School. There will also be exciting opportunities to work as a research assistant and to develop your teaching portfolio.

Ultimately, your PhD thesis will showcase your research skills and contributions your research makes to knowledge by offering original insights into the field.

Year 1


The first year of study is designed to provide a rigorous foundation to conduct research in Accounting using a range of methodologies, as well as helping to build your communication and presentation skills. 

Common core coursework will cover fundamental qualitative and quantitative research methods, and key research skills such as identifying, framing, presenting, and writing academic contributions.

You will also work as an assistant on faculty research projects and start working on your own research as your skills develop. Through your interactions with faculty staff you will use this first year to identify your potential thesis supervisor for the PhD component of the program.

Throughout the first year, there will be invaluable ongoing engagement with a cohort of high-achieving research students, as well as integration into the community of scholars in the Business School.

Under the new UNSW3+ academic calendar being introduced in 2019, you will study one of the three common core courses in each trimester as well as additional Accounting stream electives.

Upon successful completion of the first year, you will be awarded a Master of Pre-Doctoral Business Studies and continue into the PhD, Accounting stream.

Program typeTerm 1Term 2Term 3
Program CoreCOMM8100 COMM8101 or
COMM8102
COMM8103
Stream Core ACCT5999 Research assistance work ACCT5999
Stream Electives Elective 1 Elective 2 Elective 3

Program core courses


The following courses are completed in the first year of study.

COMM8100 Foundations of Bus Research

This course covers the foundations of research for business research. In the first part of the course topics will include intellectual foundations of research, research methods and academic reading and writing. In the second part students will move into qualitative research design. The third and final part contains statistical methods and cover probability models, estimation, hypothesis testing and regression analysis.

COMM8101 Stats for Business Research

This course aims to provide a strong background in statistical methods.

It covers the foundations of statistical methods for business research and includes topics such as quantitative research methods, experimental design and analysis, survey design and analysis, linear and multiple regressions and discrete choice models, as well as case study research.

or

COMM8102 Econometric Analysis

This course aims to provide a strong background in advanced statistical methods.

Students will focus on advanced econometrics such as time-series econometrics and application to financial data, as well as field interventions and policy evaluations.

COMM8103 Research Project Seminar

This course aims to help students develop their skills in writing and presenting their own research.

The course includes topics on research integrity and ethics, how to develop research questions and conduct literature surveys, and how to present and provide feedback on research. Students will undertake an individual major written research project, a research presentation, and provide feedback on other students' research.

Stream Core Courses


You must complete the following course in your first year of study:

ACCT5999 Project Report

Students will complete a suitable accounting project under the direction of a supervisor.

Stream Electives


You must also choose three elective courses in the first year from the following list or from other advanced courses as recommended by the School's Research Committee and approved by the Stream Convenor:

COMM8001 Introduction to Research Methods

This course will enable student to acquire fundamental knowledge, skills and experience necessary to conduct a qualitative research study.

The course focuses on fundamental issues critical for qualitative inquiry, such as philosophical foundations, theory building, the design and conduct of qualitative study (of different types), methods of data collection and analysis, researcher role and relationships with subjects researched, the quality of qualitative research, presentation of findings and writing a research proposal and a thesis.

It will also include the review of exemplary papers adopting a variety of qualitative research methods from organisation studies, management, marketing, accounting, information systems, and other business disciplines.

COMM8003 Qualitative Research Methods

This course will enable student to acquire in-depth knowledge, skills and experience necessary to conduct a qualitative research study.

The course focuses on advanced issues critical for qualitative inquiry. It will also include the review of exemplary papers adopting a variety of qualitative research methods from organisation studies, management, marketing, accounting, information systems, and other business disciplines.

The course will adopt a workshop style where students will actively engage in debates and work with empirical material.

ECON5408 Applied Econometric Methods

This course extends econometric modelling using linear regression to cover nonlinear models such as logit and probit, regression methods for forecasting, and an introduction to the treatment of endogeneity (e.g. instrumental variable estimation). Special emphasis will be placed on the process and potential pitfalls of conducting and evaluating applied econometric research.

ECON6001 Microeconomic Theory I

The first part of the course deals with individual decision-making. Fundamental topics covered include utility maximisation, expenditure minimisation, duality, welfare changes, and decision making under uncertainty. Producer theory and competitive equilibrium shall also be discussed.

The second part of the course deals with game theory and strategic behaviour. Fundamental topics covered include static games of complete information, static games with incomplete information, and an introduction to dynamic games.

ECON6101 Microeconomic Theory II

This course introduces some advanced tools and topics in microeconomic theory, in particular, market design. The course is intended both for graduate students who wish to develop a solid background in microeconomics to pursue research in applied fields and for students that seek to specialise in economic theory.

The course covers a broad array of topics analysed through the lens of auction theory and mechanisms design. Most time will be spent on economic applications, but there will be some sections where we need also to develop some new tools.

ECON6205 Microeconometrics

This course covers the specification, estimation, and use of econometric methods that are necessary to model discrete choices made by individuals, households, firms, etc. Situations where data are available either as a cross section or as a panel will be covered. Special emphasis will be placed on illustrating the appropriate use of such data and application of associated models using case studies drawn from health, labour, and environmental economics as well as business disciplines such as finance and marketing. The course will equip students with the necessary knowledge to be able to conduct research in the specialized area of micro-econometrics and to be informed consumers of such research.

ECON6310 Experimental Economics

This course is designed to deepen students' understanding of the experimental method of investigation in economics research. Some prior study of experimental and behavioural economics in undergraduate studies is desirable. In the first half of the course we will review questions of experimental design and implementation such as appropriate procedures of subject recruitment, programming tools, statistical and econometric analysis of experimental data, and other methodological issues in experimental economics. Further, we will survey the topics covered by current research into experimental and behavioural economics, as well as the main results and conclusions. In the second half of the course, students will form groups and develop their own experimental project, from design over programming and the actual implementation to the analysis and write-up of a research paper. Grading will rely on class participation, exam and the research paper.

PSYC3001 Research Methods 3

Students will undertake analysis of variance for single factor and multifactor designs, MANOVA model analyses of repeated measures data, simultaneous inference procedures for contrasts defined on parameters of ANOVA and MANOVA models, general principles of experimental design, as well as analysing experimental data with the PSY program.

PSYC3141 Behaviour in Organisations

This course covers the application of general psychological theories and principles to contemporary management problems. It will acquaint students with research in employee motivation, satisfaction, selection, training, evaluation, and teamwork as well as other topics in industrial and organisational psychology, including the role of the professional in organisations and in dealing with other professionals.


Year 2

During the second year, you continue in the Accounting stream with a further year of advanced coursework while also identifying your thesis topic with your supervisor and engaging in literature review and research design.

Up to eight additional units of coursework will be undertaken covering current research topics in the fields of auditing, financial accounting, and management accounting, with an opportunity to take at least one subject outside of your specialised discipline.

ACCT5909 Current Developments in Auditing Research

An examination of current areas of research in auditing and substantive studies in each area. The following topics will be considered: theory about auditing; overview of audit research; nature of audit work; agency theory and the existence of the audit function; human information processing in auditing; audit teams and the review process; experience and expertise; independence; audit fees and other service fees; effect of the audit report; and future development in audit theory & research.

ACCT5951 Current Developments in Accounting Research - Financial

Review of alternative approaches to the development of theories in external reporting. Explication and evaluation of substantive theories and associated research studies. Examination of research findings related to the accounting and reporting environment, agency cost and financial contracting, the properties of reported accounting numbers, predictive value of accounting information, the use of information in capital markets, and the use of accounting reports by individual decision makers.

ACCT5952 Current Developments in Accounting Research - Managerial

The aim of this course is to equip students with a comprehensive understanding of contemporary management accounting research, which emanates from different philosophical perspectives and employs different theories and research methods. Research is divided into two broad streams: work that seeks (a) to explain and design, and (b) to understand and interpret the practice of management accounting in organisational societies. Topics covered include design approaches using behavioural decision theory, contingency theory, institutional theory, and others and interpretive approaches using symbolic interactionism and theories of culture. There is also brief coverage of national differences in management accounting practice and of critical analyses of the development and operation of management accounting systems.

ACCT5967 Special Topic in Accounting

May consist of an examinable readings program defined to meet the needs of a particular student or a formal program undertaken by a group of students whose research projects are in a common area.

ACCT5997 Seminar in Research Methodology

This course considers the relationship between science and scientific method; provides an introduction to the interpretation of the key statistical techniques used in accounting research; and considers and reviews some of the principle research methods that have been used to address issues in accounting.

ACCT5998 Project Seminar

Please contact the school for further information.

ARTS2874 Culture and Emotion

This subject will explore the cultural dimensions of emotion in everyday life. It will focus on how emotions are experienced, represented and understood in individual and social contexts. Drawing on different media and cultural sites, this course will examine a range of emotional states such as (but not limited to) love, happiness, fear, hate, terror and ideas of hope, trust, belief and faith in the (re)making of individual and social life. The course will also consider how emotions are deployed in current social and political debates.

ECON6102 Macroeconomic Theory II

This course covers consumption and investment theories including models of optimisation, overlapping generation models with money, real business cycle models, equilibrium asset pricing, multiplicity of equilibrium and bubbles. Recent topics in contracting and market imperfections and the role of policy will be examined.

ECON6205 Microeconometrics

This course covers the specification, estimation, and use of econometric methods that are necessary to model discrete choices made by individuals, households, firms, etc. Situations where data are available either as a cross section or as a panel will be covered. Special emphasis will be placed on illustrating the appropriate use of such data and application of associated models using case studies drawn from health, labour, and environmental economics as well as business disciplines such as finance and marketing. The course will equip students with the necessary knowledge to be able to conduct research in the specialized area of micro-econometrics and to be informed consumers of such research.

ECON6310 Experimental Economics

This course is designed to deepen students' understanding of the experimental method of investigation in economics research. Some prior study of experimental and behavioural economics in undergraduate studies is desirable. In the first half of the course we will review questions of experimental design and implementation such as appropriate procedures of subject recruitment, programming tools, statistical and econometric analysis of experimental data, and other methodological issues in experimental economics. Further, we will survey the topics covered by current research into experimental and behavioural economics, as well as the main results and conclusions. In the second half of the course, students will form groups and develop their own experimental project, from design over programming and the actual implementation to the analysis and write-up of a research paper. Grading will rely on class participation, exam and the research paper.

You can also take the other course alternatives listed in Year 1 as an elective.


Years 3 - 4

In the last two years in the program, you will primarily conduct full-time research and work towards completing your doctoral thesis.

Your thesis gives you the chance to address some of the biggest challenges in Accounting and make a significant contribution to research and practice in these areas.  You will conduct original research to explore ideas and generate new knowledge that contributes to ongoing academic debate in your field.

It will offer new critical thinking and withstand critical analysis from expert researchers in the area, setting you firmly on the path to a potential career in a high quality academic institution anywhere in the world.

  • The equivalent of a three-year undergraduate degree plus an equivalent postgraduate degree in a relevant discipline with an overall average grade of at least 75 (Distinction).
  • OR
  • The equivalent of multiple undergraduate degrees (e.g. a dual degree) with at least one in a relevant discipline and an overall average grade of at least 75 (Distinction).
  • OR
  • The equivalent of a four-year degree of Bachelor with first or upper second-class Honours in a relevant discipline.

English language requirements also apply.

NOTE: These are the minimum requirements for admission. Admission will ultimately be at the discretion of the UNSW Business School and will rely on the Business School having appropriate research supervision capacity and resources available for the applicant’s research interests.


Information on how to apply for this degree is available at How to apply for a research degree.

While the UNSW Business School is at the heart of the Kensington campus 'village' that is bustling with cafes, bars and retail, the whole of Sydney is right on our doorstep - including world-famous beaches, a wide variety of food, entertainment and culture, plus stunning scenery to enjoy and explore for free.

There are more than 300 clubs and societies at UNSW covering social activities such as music, movies and sport, but also academic interests including an Actuarial Society, a Business Society, an Economics Society and a Society of Financial Technology amongst many others. Joining a student club is a great way to meet new friends and broaden your experience. But as well as that, you may also make potentially important research or academic connections with people from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Find out more about UNSW’s Clubs and Societies

Stay active

Exercise boosts your mental wellbeing and can help you deal with exam or assignment pressures. It's easy to stay fit with UNSW’s state of the art sporting facilities on campus in Kensington, including a 50m indoor pool, fitness centre, squash courts and a range of competitive sports teams.

Find out more about the UNSW Fitness and Aquatic Centre

Explore

While the UNSW Business School at the heart of the Kensington campus ‘village’ that is bustling with cafes, bars and retail, the whole of Sydney is right on our doorstep including world-famous beaches, a wide variety of food, entertainment and culture, plus stunning scenery to enjoy and explore for free.

Find out more about UNSW Campus Life

Strong support

When you join the UNSW research community, you join a passionate collective of people who are using research to transform minds, transform lives, and transform the world.

We want all our research students to reach their maximum potential and to achieve this we offer in-depth faculty supervision and support, as well as study skills workshops and mentoring programs.

Our ‘Meet the CEO’ series offers unique behind the scenes business insights, and there are a number of orientation, leadership and mentor programs specifically designed for postgraduate students.

Find out more about student support

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Quick facts for students

Program code
1521
Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Assumed Knowledge
Accounting, Research experience
Study Mode
Face to face
Duration
4 years full-time; 5-8 years part-time
Commencing terms
Term 1 – February

​​​​​​​​Research Study Options

Browse the list of study options available for research students

 ​

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Search Degrees​​

Find a degree, course or interest