Self-funded PhD students only

Project code



Economics and Finance

Start dates

Closing date

Applications accepted all year round

Applications are invited for a self-funded, 3 year full-time or 6 year part-time PhD project, to commence in October or February.

The PhD will be based in the School of Economics and Finance and will be supervised by Professor Lester Hunt and Scott Mahadeo.

The Faculty of Business and Law offers funding to attend conferences (currently £550), training (currently £450), and a work-based placement (currently a maximum of £3,000 tied up to the period of 12 weeks).

The work on this project could involve proposing original research in one or more of the following areas:

  • The relationship between energy efficiency, economic performance and environmental performance;
  • The relationship between the energy sector and the rest of the economy;
  • The drivers of energy/commodity market shocks, and the implications for the economy and policy.

Energy economics is concerned with identifying and monitoring the conditions that affect energy markets, as well as understanding and analysing the effect of energy markets on the economy and the environment. The following outlines two examples of the type of research which could be undertaken within this project; however, students are strongly encouraged to suggest other types of research within the overall project.

  • Energy is the apex commodity of the global economy. At a granular level, energy is an input in the production process and important part of the supply chain of commercial firms; moreover, energy is needed to power households being an important driver of well-being and prosperity. Collectively, energy fuels economic performance. Yet, different sectors of the economy have different energy demands. As an economy develops and the structure of the economy changes, what are the implications for energy markets and the environment? Do changing conditions in energy supply (such as the switch from fossil fuels to renewables) and energy cost play a significant role in economic growth? What are the consequences of the link between energy and the economy for the environment? We are happy to consider research proposals that aim to provide significant original contributions to some of these challenging questions in energy economics.
  • In energy-intensive economies, especially oil-exporting countries, developments in the energy sector can have implications for the rest of the economy. Perhaps most troubling is the notion of the resource curse, i.e. the paradoxical inability of resource-rich economies to achieve the economic development outcomes experienced by their resource-poor counterparts. Recent surveying and meta-analysis studies have revealed that the literature is saturated with mis-specified or inconclusive cross-sectional and panel data evidence on the resource curse, and suggests that there is an ironic deficit in time series applications since this might be the only durable way to evaluate the resource curse hypothesis (see for example, Havranek et al (2016); Badeeb et al (2017); and van der Ploeg and Poelhekke (2017). Researchers are even considering new avenues where the resource curse might materialise, such as financial development (Bhattacharyya and Hodler 2014) and public healthcare (Cockx and Francken 2014). We welcome proposals from prospective students with innovative ways of addressing the potential economic diversification, economic policy, and/or economic development issues facing intensive energy-exporting economies.


Badeeb, R.A., Lean, H.H. and Clark, J., 2017. The evolution of the natural resource curse thesis: A critical literature survey. Resources Policy, 51, pp. 123–134.

Bhattacharyya, S. and Hodler, R., 2014. Do natural resource revenues hinder financial development? The role of political institutions. World Development, 57, pp. 101–113.

Cockx, L. and Francken, N., 2014. Extending the concept of the resource curse: Natural resources and public spending on health. Ecological Economics, 108, pp.136–149.

Havranek, T., Horvath, R. and Zeynalov, A., 2016. Natural resources and economic growth: A meta-analysis. World Development, 88, pp. 134–151.

van der Ploeg, F. and Poelhekke, S., 2017. The impact of natural resources: Survey of recent quantitative evidence. The Journal of Development Studies, 53(2), pp. 205–216.

Fees and funding

Funding availability: Self-funded PhD students only. 

PhD full-time and part-time courses are eligible for the UK Government Doctoral Loan (UK and EU students only – eligibility criteria apply).

2022/2023 fees (applicable for October 2022, February and April 2023 start) 

PhD and MPhil

UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man students 

  • Full-time: £4,596 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time and part-time distance learning: £2,298 (may be subject to annual increase)

EU students
(including Transition Scholarship)

  • Full-time: £4,596 (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time and part-time distance learning: £2,298 (may be subject to annual increase)

International students

  • Full-time: £17,000 per year (may be subject to annual increase)
  • Part-time and part-time distance learning: £8,500 per year (may be subject to annual increase)

All fees are subject to annual increase. If you are an EU student starting a programme in 2022/23 please visit this page.

Bench fees

Some PhD projects may include additional fees – known as bench fees – for equipment and other consumables, and these will be added to your standard tuition fee. Speak to the supervisory team during your interview about any additional fees you may have to pay. Please note, bench fees are not eligible for discounts and are non-refundable.

Entry requirements

You'll need a good first degree from an internationally recognised university (minimum upper second class or equivalent, depending on your chosen course) or a Master’s degree in Economics or a related area.

In exceptional cases, we may consider equivalent professional experience and/or Qualifications. English language proficiency at a minimum of IELTS band 6.5 with no component score below 6.0.

We welcome applications from highly motivated prospective students with a passion for energy economics, and who possess econometrics skills and competencies in at least one statistical software package such as EViews, Stata, R, etc.

How to apply

We’d encourage you to contact Professor Lester Hunt ( to discuss your interest before you apply, quoting the project code.

When you are ready to apply, you can use our online application form. Make sure you submit a personal statement, proof of your degrees and grades, details of two referees, proof of your English language proficiency and an up-to-date CV. Our ‘How to Apply’ page offers further guidance on the PhD application process.

Please also include a research proposal of 1,000 words outlining the main features of your proposed research design – including how it meets the stated objectives, the challenges this project may present, and how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above field.  

When applying please quote project code: ECFN4631020

October start

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February start

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