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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Accounting

  • Overview
  • Structure
  • Entry requirements
  • How to apply
  • Student experience
  • FAQs

Why choose this research degree?

  • Make an original and significant contribution to knowledge in accounting
  • Produce a high quality thesis under the supervision of a qualified member of academic staff
  • Access the very latest business research and learn from high profile academics
  • Be part of the UNSW Business School’s vibrant, globally recognised research community
  • Opportunity to be published in a leading international journal

Who is this degree for? 

  • Graduates with excellent results in their undergraduate (honours) degree
  • Postgraduates with excellent results in their masters by research degree 

Job and career prospects 

  • Academic and research positions in Australia or overseas
  • Accounting  research and analysis roles

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Accounting consists of seven core courses, one elective course and a thesis. The research thesis must demonstrate a significant and original contribution to knowledge in the field of study.

Core courses

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

Study seven compulsory core courses

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
  • Future development in audit theory & research

ACCT5951 Current Developments in Accounting Research - Financial

Enrolment requires School Approval.

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

Enrolment requires School Approval.
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 to explain and design and 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.

ACCT5997 Seminar in Research Methodology

Enrolment requires School Approval.

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.

COMM8002 Quantitative Research Methods

This course will extend into the areas of advanced multivariate analysis and business models and thus assumes a sound knowledge of basic statistical analysis and techniques. Topics will cover a range of advanced quantitative techniques and modeling that are used for research in business today, including: multivariate analysis of variance, conjoint and choice analysis, factor and correspondence analysis, structural equation modeling, latent class analysis, analysis for panel data, models commonly used in quantitative business, including logit and probit models, and how they are used to test business theories.

Special attention is paid to the underlying theory and assumptions of the methods and models used. Hands-on practical sessions will enable participants to implement these tools, techniques and models in the context of specific business applications.

COMM8003 Qualitative Research Methods

This course will enable student to acquire in-depth knowledge, skills and experience necessary to conduct a qualitative research study. It is intended to inspire, excite and prepare students to undertake qualitative research.

The course focuses on 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 organization 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. The course content and structure will be responsive to students’ needs.

Then choose one course from*:

*Course selection in consultation with supervisor or postgraduate research coordinator.

ACCT5967 Special Topic in Accounting

To assist MCom Hons students in completion of research project requirement. 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.

COMM8000 Intellectual Foundations

This course is concerned with the nature of social science inquiry. It is intended for students in the business and management disciplines and those early in their masters and doctoral research program. The course is broken into four sections: (1) an introductory overview to the philosophy of science, (2) a review of epistemology – the nature and scope of knowledge − (3) a review of ontology – the what can be said to exist − and (4) specific applications to the major disciplinary areas.

COMM8001 Introduction to Research Methods

This course introduces students to business research problems and the ways business research is conducted. The course aims to develop foundational research skills required for designing research projects, and provides an overview of research approaches and methodologies useful for conducting business research.
Topics covered include: overview of the research process, theory and theorizing, critiquing a research paper, conducting a systematic literature review, writing a literature review, conceptual modelling and research design, archival research, case studies, surveys, experimental and simulation research, action and design research, writing and defending a research proposal.

  • A four year undergraduate degree with honours class IIA or higher in a related discipline; or
  • A strong masters by research degree in a related discipline; or
  • An equivalent academic qualification or level of experience

English language requirements also apply

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

To get the most from your Postgraduate research study, spend some time away from the library or laptop, making the most of UNSW Business School's dynamic learning spaces, facilities and student support services.

Get involved and expand your network

Make lifelong friends (and potential research or academic connections) at a range of social events. Why not join a student club – with more than 180 social, cultural, sports and professional clubs to choose from, it's the perfect way to broaden your experience. The Graduate Student Development office is a great place to enhance your career with leadership development.

All the support you need to achieve

As well as in-depth faculty supervision and support, you can also make the most of our study skills workshops and mentoring programs. Our Meet the Executive series offers unique behind the scenes business insights, and there are a number of orientation, leadership and mentor programs specifically designed for postgraduate students.

Stay active on campus

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

Everything you need in one place

The UNSW Kensington campus is like a village hub, with cafes, bars, banks, a post office, medical and dental centres as well as retail outlets. It's a short bus trip to Sydney's CBD, many beautiful beaches, the SCG and Centennial Park, and movie theatres at Fox Studios.

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Quick facts for students

Program code
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Assumed Knowledge
Accounting, Research experience
Study Mode
Face to face
Full-time 3-4 years; Part-time 5-8 years
Commencing semesters
Semester 1 - March
Semester 2 - July

​​​​​​​​Research Study Options

Browse the list of study options available for research students


​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Search Degrees​​

Find a degree, course or interest