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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Marketing

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

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

Rigorous coursework dealing with theory, empirical evidence, and research methods in managerial and strategic marketing and market modelling 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 Marketing 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 Marketing 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, Marketing stream.

Program typeTerm 1Term 2Term 3
Program CoreCOMM8100 COMM8101 or
Stream Core MARK8996 Research assistance work MARK8995
Stream Electives Elective 1 Elective 2 Elective 3

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.

COMM8101 Statistical Methods 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.


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 courses:

MARK8995 Business Research Methods in Marketing

The research process - project management and research planning. The role of academic research and published material in the process of advancing marketing thought and knowledge. How to read, critique and prepare research proposals. Asking meaningful research questions: inductive and deductive approaches. Conjectures, propositions and hypotheses. Questions of proof, validity, reliability, robustness, representativeness, generalisability, scope, meta-analysis and marketing knowledge. The role of mediating and moderator variables. Preparing research designs to minimise error and bias. Formal research processes in specific analytical areas (such as Marketing Science, Economics Theory, and Consumer Psychology). The art of the solvable. Using this knowledge to write viable research plans.

MARK8996 Research Seminar in Marketing

The study, analysis, and critique of a diverse range of marketing scholarship with a particular emphasis on theory and research in managerial and strategic marketing as well as marketing organisation, systems, and institutions. Emphasis will be on examining the state of knowledge, theory construction, and theory development as well as understanding the contribution of theoretical and empirical work including research positioning, conceptual development, methodology, and analytical approach.

In addition the course considers scholarly writing and communication style in marketing: including the uses and abuses of arguments and counter-arguments, narratives, diagrammatic models, graphs, and the presentation of data. Preparation of a conceptual paper of a refereed journal standard based on a focused and critical literature review will enable these ideas and concepts to be implemented.

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:

COMP9311 Database Systems

This course examines database management systems and covers topics such as: data modelling; principles of database design; data manipulation languages; database application techniques; introduction to DBMS internals; introduction to advanced databases. Students will also be expected to design and implement a database application using SQL and stored procedures.

ECON5324 Behavioural Economics

Economic research using laboratory and field experiments has discovered seemingly robust behavioural deviations from the model of homo oeconomicus, the rational, egoistic decision maker assumed in “standard” economic theory. In this course, we will explore critically the challenges these behavioural regularities pose for economic theory, and we will attempt to think precisely (and often formally) about what might be driving a particular behaviour or economic outcome, and about how to carefully test our hypotheses. Topics we will cover include reference-dependent preferences, prospect theory, choice involving risk, choice over time, bounded rationality, social preferences, behavioural game theory, and public policy.

ECON6003 Econometric Analysis

This course is designed to provide a rigorous foundation of modern econometrics for applied research in economics. The first part of the course covers classic econometric concepts and techniques, such as moment estimation, maximum likelihood, least squares regression, and hypothesis testing and inference. Where necessary some statistical theory as well as basic matrix algebra will be taught. The second part of the course builds on these sound fundamentals of econometric theory. Topics covered could include instrumental variables, generalized method of moments (GMM), the bootstrap, quantile regression, or panel methods. Students will be required to use statistical packages to conduct econometric data analysis.

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.

ECON6301 Industrial Organisation

Topics covered will be from amongst the following. Theory of the firm, production costs, monopoly, dominant and fringe firms, cartels, oligopoly and monopolistic competition, differentiated products, regulation, advertising, horizontal and vertical integration, strategic behaviour by firms, and R &D. Both theoretical and empirical results will be covered in the course.

ECON6310 Experimental and Behavioural 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.

MATH5806 Applied Regression Analysis

This course examines conceptual issues and computing methods for application of modern regression models to real data. Topics covered include selection from: least squares regression, diagnostic tools, model selection, generalized linear models, smooth function regression, penalty and shrinkage methods, generalised additive models, and mixed models.

Pre-requisites: 24 units of level III mathematics or a degree in a numerate discipline or permission of the Head of Department.

MATH5835 Stochastic Processes

The theory of stochastic processes deals with phenomena evolving randomly in time and/or space, such as prices on financial markets, air temperature or wind velocity, spread of diseases, number of hospital admissions in certain area, and many others.

This course introduces some of the basic ideas and tools to study such phenomena. In particular, we will introduce a concept of martingale to study phenomena evolving in discrete time and the concept of Poisson process (and its generalizations) and Brownian Motion to study processes evolving continuously in time. Some applications to statistical inference will also be discussed.

Pre-requisites: 24 units of level III mathematics or a degree in a numerate discipline or permission of the Head of Department.

MATH5845 Time Series

The course is concerned with the theory and application of appropriate statistical techniques for analysis of time series data -- data collected over time. The course will develop a sound understanding of the time domain properties and common models for stationary and non-stationary time series in discrete time.

The topics inlcude the theory of stationary time series; methods for trend and seasonal analysis and adjustment; modelling and forecasting with autoregressive moving avarage processes; modelling the impact of exogenous or intervention variables on responses; models for stochastic volatility and long term dependence; regression models for time series counts.

Applications are primarily drawn from finance and public health. SAS is used to perform appropriate analyses.

MATH5855 Multivariate Analysis

The course gives a methodological background in Multivariate Analysis as a backbone of Applied Statistics. It introduces multivariate techniques including principal component analysis; canonical correlation analysis; cluster analysis; factor analysis and discriminant analysis. Computing and data analysis features prominently in this course.

Pre-requisites: 24 units of level III mathematics or a degree in a numerate discipline or permission of the Head of Department.

MATH5905 Statistical Inference

This course presents General interference theory based on maximum likelihood and on Bayes methods is reviewed. Estimation, confidence set construction and hypothesis testing are discussed within decision-theoretic framework. Computationally intensive methods such as bootstrap are discussed and are compared to asymptotic approximations such as saddlepoint and empirical likelihood.

Pre-requisites: 24 units of level III mathematics or a degree in a numerate discipline or permission of the Head of Department.

MATH5945 Categorical Data Analysis

In this course a methodological background for categorical data analysis is given. Theoretical foundations of the commonly used techniques in analysing data where the response outcomes are categories, are discussed.

The accompanying exploratory variables may also be categorical or be continuous. Within the generalised linear model framework, topics such as logistic regression, Poisson regression, logit and log-linear models and analysis of categorised time-to event data are discussed. Computing features prominently in this course.

Pre-requisites: 24 units of level III mathematics or a degree in a numerate discipline or permission of the Head of Department.

MATH5960 Bayesian Inference and Computation

After describing the fundamentals of Bayesian inference, this course will examine the specification of prior and posterior distributions, Bayesian decision theoretic concepts, the ideas behind Bayesian hypothesis tests, model choice and model averaging, and evaluate the capabilities of several common model types, such as hierarchical and mixture models.

An important part of Bayesian inference is the requirement to numerically evaluate complex integrals on a routine basis. Accordingly this course will also introduce the ideas behind Monte Carlo integration, importance sampling, rejection sampling, Markov chain Monte Carlo samplers such as the Gibbs sampler and the Metropolis-Hastings algorithm, and use of the WinBuGS posterior simulation software.

Pre-requisites: 24 units of level III mathematics or a degree in a numerate discipline or permission of the Head of Department.

Year 2

During the second year, you continue in the Marketing 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 four additional units of coursework will be undertaken covering topics such as consumer behaviour, advanced statistics and econometrics, experimental design, and industrial organisation economics.


You must complete the following course:

MARK8992 Seminar in Consumer Behaviour

This seminar focuses on psychological processes in consumer judgment, decision making, and behaviour. The perspective is that of the marketing researcher who seeks to describe, predict, control, and especially to explain diverse consumer behavioural phenomena. The seminar provides an overview of commonly employed research methods as well as an overview of some of the most important empirical investigations of judgment and decision making. Each student is expected to (a) provide critical evaluations of the assigned articles in class discussions, (b) discuss possible follow-up studies for the assigned articles, (c) design an empirical consumer judgment research project (including manipulations and measures; actual data collection is encouraged after completing this seminar), (d) describe this project in an ACR-style paper (20-page limit), and (e) to write creative, insightful, analytic, and synthetic essays during the final exam.

You must also choose up to four elective courses from the following list or from other advanced courses as recommended by the School's Research Committee and approved by the Stream Convenor. You are not allowed to repeat what you have done during your masters year.

  • ECON5324 - Behavioural Economics;
  • ECON6003 - Econometric Analysis;
  • ECON6205 - Microeconometric Modelling (Choice Models);
  • ECON6301 - Strategic Market Behaviour and Government Regulation;
  • ECON6310 - Advanced Experimental and Behavioural Economics;
  • MATH5806 - Applied Regression Analysis;
  • MATH5835 - Stochastic Processes;
  • MATH5845 - Time Series;
  • MATH5855 - Multivariate Analysis;
  • MATH5905 - Statistical Inference;
  • MATH5945 - Categorical Data Analysis;
  • MATH5960 - Bayesian Inference and Computation;
  • COMP9311 - Database Systems.


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 Marketing 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.

Applicants must provide results for the GMAT unless explicitly waived by the Stream Convenor.

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
Marketing, 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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