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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Banking & Finance

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

The aim of the UNSW Business School's Doctoral Program in Banking and Finance 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 such as corporate finance, corporate governance, asset pricing and microeconomic analysis will be undertaken, followed by full-time research culminating in a doctoral thesis.

You will be involved in research projects from an early stage and enjoy the interdisciplinary engagement with a high-quality cohort of research students across the whole Business School. There will also be exciting opportunities 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 Banking and Finance 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 UNSW's 3+ academic calendar, you will study one of the three common core courses in each trimester as well as additional Banking and Finance 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, Banking and Finance stream.

Program typeTerm 1Term 2Term 3
Program Core COMM8100 COMM8102 COMM8103
Stream Core ECON7001
Research assistance work

Program Core courses

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

COMM8100 Foundations of Business Research

This course covers the foundations of business research. The course has three parts. The first part of the course covers the intellectual foundations of research - i.e., thesis strategy, topic choice, humanities of science, theory building, academic writing, and research design options. The second part covers qualitative research design. The third and final part covers statistical methods - i.e. an introduction to probability, estimation and inference, hypothesis testing and regression models.

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 Business 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 stream core courses in your first year:

ECON7001 Microeconomic Theory I

This course deals with individual optimal decision making and equilibrium. Fundamental topics covered include rational choice, utility maximisation, expenditure minimisation, production theory, and decision making under uncertainty. Partial equilibrium, game theory and non-competitive environments will also be covered. The course also explores economic environments with asymmetric information - adverse selection, signalling and screening.

ECON7004 Mathematical Economics

This course is an introduction to mathematical techniques that are widely used in Economics. We study the properties of sets, vector spaces, functions and equations and use them to describe economic environments. We employ mathematical techniques such as solving equations and finding fixed points, calculus and static and dynamic optimisation to analyse economic problems.

FINS5576 Asset Pricing Theory

This course provides an in-depth treatment of asset pricing theories, including surveying the evidence from tests of these models. Both general asset pricing techniques and the micro-foundations of these models are covered. Emphasis is on applications of mathematical and statistical tools to provide a rigorous development of each topic.

FINS5580 Corporate Finance Theory

The course focuses on important studies in the literature on corporate finance theory. The course aims to cover contract theory, agency models, real option models, firm decision making under uncertainty, and asymmetric information models with applications to financing decisions and investment decisions.

FINS5581 Empirical Corporate Governance

This course includes a complete, yet concise synthesis of the recent available literature on corporate governance within a logical, analytical structure. Topics covered include overview of internal and external mechanisms, methodological approaches and databases, boards of directors, executive financial incentives, debtholder rights and powers, institutional investor activism, market for corporate control, and manifestations of poor governance.

The course assumes a sound knowledge of the economic theory relating to the foundations of finance. The course will emphasise effective empirical analysis of major corporate governance mechanisms.

FINS5595 Research Workshop in Finance 1

This course provides an up-to-date survey of contemporary research issues and topics in all areas of finance. It will be delivered by experts in their field of interests. The topics planned include but may not be confined to: financial intermediation, corporate finance, asset pricing, and mathematical finance.

Year 2

During the second year, you continue in the Banking and Finance 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 topics such as corporate finance theory, continuous time finance and microstructure of markets, with an opportunity to take at least one subject outside of your specialised discipline.

Those courses include the following:

Term 1Term 2Term 3
FINS5577 FINS5574 FINS5590
FINS5579 FINS5591 FINS5596
FINS5574 Empirical Asset Pricing

This course provides critical understandings of the concepts and empirical approaches in asset pricing. Main topics include model testing, financial market anomalies, market efficiency, and asset management. This course exposes students to both conventional views and recent evidence on selected topics.

FINS5577 Empirical Corporate Finance

This aim of this course is to prepare students to do research in Empirical Corporate Finance. The course is organised around published and working papers in the field with an emphasis on econometric methods and the publication process. Rather than providing an exhaustive overview of the field, the course focuses in depth on selected topics to illustrate different empirical approaches to the same or related questions.

Using papers on ownership concentration and corporate governance, the course will highlight the following empirical themes: endogeneity, difference in difference estimators and event studies.

FINS5579 Research Methods in Finance 2

A more advanced course in empirical methodology in finance covering general methodological aspects, testing of hypotheses, falsifiability principle. Review of relevant econometric material, applications to topics such as generalised beta models of market equilibrium (including CAPM, APT), foreign exchange risk premium, stock price variability, volatility estimation.

FINS5590 Finance Research in Practice

The goal of this course is to help Finance PhD students develop their research ideas and to better prepare them for successful academic careers. This will include advice on selecting research topics, working on their presentations skills, developing strategies for effective student-faculty interactions, and preparing them for the job market. During our meetings students will have an opportunity to discuss research ideas in an collaborative, non-judgmental environment. The discussion will be centered on topics considered relevant to the Finance research community (e.g., issues being discussed in top Finance journals). There is an emphasis on developing the students’ presentation and communication skills as well as some insights on how to sidestep common pitfalls during their transition from students to academic researchers.

FINS5591 Continuous-Time Finance

The course consists of two major parts. The first one is a more technical prerequisite of the second, but it delivers its own insights into the modelling of financial problems. It deals with Stochastic Calculus as a basis to model the stochastic development of asset prices, interest rates or latent variables. At the end of this part students should be familiar with Ito's Lemma and stochastic differential equations. This part asks for a positive attitude of students towards a more formal reasoning. It will take up about 20% of the lectures.

The second part deals with a number of classical continuous-time applications in Finance. First, three problems which areas based local on a no-arbitrage condition will be discussed: option pricing, structural models of credit risk, and the trade - off theory of the optimal capital structure. Second, portfolio theory and the characterization of expected asset returns in equilibrium will be analysed. These two problems were the first applications of the continuous-time finance approach. The last topics are devoted to no­ arbitrage term structure theories and to the general equilibrium theory as developed by Cox/1 ngersoii/Ross.

FINS5593 Microstructure of Markets

This course studies models of financial markets (market microstructure), and in particular, how asset prices are established in actual markets such as the stock exchange. It differs from asset pricing theory in which prices are assumed to be set such that supply and demand are equated via some costless auction-type frictionless mechanism that remains an undisclosed ‘black box’. Actual markets require actual rules and these rules affect the way in which prices are established, the way in which information possessed by traders is incorporated into asset prices, why some markets and stocks are liquid and why some markets are more fragile and costly than others. A few years ago, brokers were collectively able to set high minimum fees, exceedingly high minimum spreads (transaction costs reflecting the minimum tick size), monopoly provision of limit-order placement by the ‘specialist’, prohibition on the entry of alternative exchange mechanisms and numerous other anti-competitive practices designed to protect stockbroker incomes.

FINS5596 Research Workshop in Finance 2

This course provides an up-to-date survey of contemporary research issues and topics in all areas of finance. It will be delivered by experts in their field of interests. The topics planned include but may not be confined to: financial intermediation, corporate finance, asset pricing, and mathematical finance.

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 Banking and Finance and make a significant contribution to research and practice in these areas.

In your doctoral thesis, 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


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
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Assumed Knowledge
Finance, Research experience
Study Mode
Face to face
4 years full-time; 5-8 years part-time
Commencing terms
Term 1 – February
Program fee (total)*
* Fees are indicative only

​​​​​​​​Research Study Options

Browse the list of study options available for research students


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