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The Sustainable Business Research Institute at Leeds Beckett University is seeking applications for up to four fully funded PhD studies from exceptional UK and potentially overseas students with an excellent academic record and an interest in responsible business engagement and sustainable regional development.  The positions will start in May 2021.

The closing date for applications is midnight Tuesday 31 March 2021.

The PhD studentship is for a period of 3 years funded full time study plus 1 year un funded write-up period. Annual renewal will be subject to satisfactory progress.

Plus Icon How to Apply

Candidates should complete the online application form including:

  1. A brief CV (no more than 2 pages)
  2. Up to 3 sides of A4 with an outline of how you would approach the research project described above, including background literature, aims, objectives and a research plan using type Arial 12 font
  3. Applicants should outline explicitly their suitability and how the PhD topic  will meet the bursary theme and also how the research will contribute to the SuBRI research institute and the Leeds Business School
  4. Applicants are asked to include at the start of the proposal the research project title
  5. Applicants should use the research project reference (LBS Project1), (LBS- Project 2), (LBS- Project 3), (LBS-Project 4 ) as the subject in the email subject line when submitting their applications

The criteria listed below will be used in both selecting those applicants who will be called for interview in January date to be confirmed

Key Requirements:

  • A good undergraduate degree
  • A Masters degree; qualification is desirable
  • Satisfaction of English Language and other admission requirements of Leeds Becketts University for doctoral students
  • Coherent proposal displaying subject and methods knowledge

Application forms:


One of the bursaries we invite applications to is on the theme of growth, responsibility and productivity.  One aspect of this is the value that smaller enterprises realise through the utilisation of resources in the production of goods and services.  This includes interactions with, and roles played by, the market, technology, institutional and cultural settings.  While the specific research questions will be developed by the successful candidates in conjunction with the supervisory team, potential questions might include but are not limited to:

  • How does responsible leadership and management impact on the growth, productivity and sustainability of smaller enterprises?
  • What institutional factors (including national and regional policy) influence the sustainability of smaller enterprises between different places and sectors, and why?
  • What role does big data and analytics play in the formation of new firms?
  • What is the role of business support networks (including publicly funded and commercial) in fostering the growth, productivity and sustainability of smaller enterprises?

The supervisory team may include the following academics: Dr Ollie Jones, Dr Brian Jones, Professor George Lodorfos, Dr Hajar Fatorachian or other colleagues depending on the specific focus of the research. 


This PhD studentship is focussed on the role of technology in the health arena.  Studies could explore digital health communication during issues and crises as well as the use of digital marketing and communication to support health programmes, initiatives and campaigns. 

Supervised by leading international scholars from a relevant strand of digital marketing, strategic communication and health communications , this post is looking for a student with interest in the key role technological communication can play in our contemporary society.  Applications are invited on themes that relate to:

  • Health communication and technology
    Past studies within the team have looked at wicked societal problems such as obesity, wellbeing in organisations, public affairs and policy formation on health issues as well as issues and crisis management on health issues and health pandemics (latterly COVID-19).  We are open to ideas on research themes that explore and expand on our understanding of communication and the impact on regional, national and international health agendas and understanding. Proposals tackling health communication are welcome, including studies that tackle public health communication and messages, government health communication and communication management, communicating health messages to diverse groups, crisis and health communication, health and social media engagement, etc.
  • Digital marketing, communication and technology and digital connectivity
    This theme explores the technologies/channels of communication and the impact of digital change communication theory and practice, as well as the behaviour of communicators, both professional and as ‘citizens’. The impact of technical change can be explored at all levels of the communication process, from individual to societal and global impacts. Critically evaluating the impact of technological developments on traditional/historical approaches to communication in the field is one avenue for this theme to explore.  This could involve consideration of the behaviour changes required by all parties in the creation and dissemination of digital communication content, at individual, local, national and global levels, exploring the impact of impending technological/digital changes (positive and negative) on society. We are also interested in how technology is applied in the communication sphere in response to societal issues and crises (e.g. pandemics and/or health prevention and intervention programmes).  This raises research themes on technology and risk, transparency, ethics and responsibility.

Depending on the topic the supervisory team may include one of the following academics: Professor Ralph Tench, Dr Audra Diers-Lawson, Dr Martina Topic, Dr Adalberto Arrigoni, Dr Brian Jones, Dr Allen Shaw or other colleagues depending on the specific focus of the research.


This PhD studentship aims to explore the complex field of SMEs and specifically how to build their sustainable futures. Small businesses have well known problems building long term futures with persistent challenges relating to them often being personality-driven businesses which lack formalised, informed succession planning.

This particular position will benefit from running alongside a new £1.7m project starting in 2021 within Leeds Business School. The three-year Women Empowered through Coaching and Networking (#WECAN) project aims to boost the leadership and management skills of women who are self-employed, or working for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), in any sector across the Leeds City Region. #WECAN has been funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). The project aims to improve the outcomes of all small businesses in the region through raising women’s aspirations, equipping them with networking skills and formal management training, and building their resilience. To support the WECAN project, the School is looking for a PhD student who can work alongside the researchers and compliment the team. Possible avenues for exploration include but are not limited to:

  • The efficacy of a social constructionist/action learning approach to SME capacity building
  • The barriers/enablers faced by women (and older women) in SMEs moving into / progressing in managerial roles
  • How effective coaching is as a pathway to leadership and supporting/identifying talent

Wrapped around these potential themes is a requirement to understand how to monitor progress in the students own work alongside that of the project, to identify and explore areas of success that are effective and track these elements to develop tangible and workable outputs that have impact on SMEs, their managers and future leaders.

Depending on the eventual focus, the supervisory team may include one of the following academics: Professor Jeff Gold, Dr Martina Topic, Dr Adalberto Arrigoni, Dr Julia Claxton, Dr Brian Jones, Dr Nick Beech, Dr Fiona Robertson or other colleagues depending on the specific focus of the research.


This PhD studentship is focussed on the impact that different factors have on the Success of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) within regional ecosystems. Supervised by leading international scholars from strategy, leadership and/or management, this post is looking for a student with interest in the sustainable development of small and medium enterprises. Applications are invited on themes that relate to:

  • Sustainable Business Development - we are open to ideas that explore the sustainability of SMEs, and the economic growth of regional economies. Even though the focus should remain on the SMEs we welcome proposals that look at how different ecosystems could enable or foster their sustainable development
  • Resilience and SMEs - focussing on the relationship between entrepreneurial resilience, organisational resilience, and the success of SMEs, and developing a new warning system for SMEs to explore resilience and measure economic recovery. Projects will investigate the dynamic relationship between resilience (entrepreneurial, employee, organisational or even societal) and the success of SMEs. The focus should be on how SMEs could become more resilient within their context and investigate the link between resilience and success
  • Technovation and SMEs - this theme focuses on the impact that technology and innovation have on SMEs’ sustainable development. This theme could either be linked to themes 1 and/or 2 or focus exclusively on how the emerging wave of innovation could lead to the competitive advantage of SMEs

Depending on the eventual focus, the supervisory team may include one of the following academics: Professor George Lodorfos, Professor David Douglas, Professor Jamie Morgan, Dr Nii Amoo, Dr Moade Shubita, Dr Neil Richardson, Dr William Sun, Dr Junjie Wu, Dr Dong Hoang or other colleagues depending on the specific focus of the research.


Successful candidate will have a stipend of £15,285 payable monthly (amount conditional as offered) and exempt from UK Income Tax and National Insurance.

  • The start date of the studentship is 1 May 2021.

A laptop will be provided and office space (subject to LBU COVID19 arrangements for return to campus) and the opportunity to apply for funding to support the research project.


Prospective students from outside of the UK and EU who wish to apply to study at Leeds Beckett University will be required to make up the difference annually between the UK/EU fees to be paid by the University of £14,000 and overseas’ fees of £4,407

The fee difference must be paid prior to starting. Overseas applicants must refer to the UKVI regulations on studying in the UK and contact - telephone: +44 (0)113 812 5385 before submitting.


We expect bursary students to be an integral part of the research culture of the university, contributing to seminars and conferences, perhaps to projects, and generally engaging in the exchange of ideas. Associated with this, all research students undertake a research training programme.