PhD Studentship at the Operations and Information Management Department

Birmingham, United Kingdom
08 Nov 2018
End of advertisement period
30 Nov 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Aston Business School - Studentships

Basis:  Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours GMT on Friday 30 November 2018

£14777.00 tax-free bursary per annum for up to 3.5 years, plus tuition fees for 3 years, plus supplementary funding for trainings and conference attendance. 

This studentship will commence in April 2019

To be eligible for the full award you must  normally be a UK national, resident in the UK. EU nationals also qualify for a partial award under certain residency requirements. However for full details on how UK and  EU citizens, refugees or migrants may qualify  for a full or partial award please consult directly the EPSRC site

The successful applicant may carry out research in any one of the following broad themes:


Increasingly, manufacturing companies are seeking to shift their priorities towards their service-business, a strategic transformation termed ‘servitization’. Servitization provides manufacturers with considerable opportunities to extend their customer-relationships and broaden their revenue streams. You will explore topics, such as servitization as a new business model; the role of the Internet of Things (IoT) and other digital technologies (e.g. AI) in the change towards servitization; digital platforms and ecosystems in industrial service innovation; customer experience journey and service transformation, and organisation routines and practices within servitization transformation. You will join The Advanced Services Group ( – a research centre internationally recognised for its research in this area. You will have access to the Centre’s industrial partners for data collection and quantitative and qualitative data already gathered.

Big Data and Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA)

Big Data is a major source of change in today’s world. Organizations are constantly collecting data from various sources (e.g. loyalty cards, smart energy usage metres etc.), with the aim to use such data to improve their performance and create competitive advantage. DEA is a cutting-edge method for efficiency and productivity analysis, estimating maximum potential outcomes for given resource levels or minimum resource levels needed for given outcomes. You will join an internationally recognised faculty team for research in the theory and application in DEA and Econometrics.  You will explore how Big Data can be exploited in the framework of DEA to improve organisational performance. Potential areas are the use of machine learning techniques such as clustering and segmentation in order to find sets of homogeneous units for DEA analysis or dealing with non standard data such as integer, interval, ordinal, ratio, imprecise, fuzzy or  stochastic data in DEA modelling.

Disaster Management

A disaster is a physical event (e.g. earthquake, floods, etc) that affects a society by disrupting suddenly its normal functioning. Providing relief support for disaster victims is a priority for governments and NGOs. However, most of the experiences in previous disasters show complex collaboration under chaotic conditions and much need to overcome duplication of efforts and relief shortages. You will be exploring how optimisation, simulation, analytics, artificial intelligence, and/or Blockchain could be deployed in disaster management. An example of a project in this theme is the creation of a platform to inform decision-making during and after disaster situations. You will join the Aston CRISIS centre (, which has expertise managing international projects in the field, including funded projects by the European Commission. You will have access to a group of people with a broad range of expertise in the use of tools, techniques and systems for disaster response. 


Game-based learning approaches include all activities that help users to learn through interactive games and simulations. Games can be relatively simple or use advanced computer simulation, virtual reality and Internet based technologies. The use of game-based learning is widespread in universities and professional vocational training courses and is generally thought of, by those who advocate and use them, to be positive and beneficial. However there are sceptics who doubt the benefits of game-based learning, and believe that game-based learning lacks the credibility of non-game-based learning methods (e.g. more traditional lectures, tests and exams). By undertaking this research you will attempt to answer the question: is game-based learning more or less effective than non-game based learning, and if so, how, why and when?

The methods you will use may include, but not be limited to, systematic literature review, systems thinking, experimentation, statistical analysis, empirical field work and inductive logic. During your research you will have the full support of operations, supply chain and game-user expertise within the OIM Department. The Department has recently produced games for reducing energy consumption, developing advanced services, training frontline staff in rail services, training entrepreneurs for financial management, and operations management improvement. These games have been co-funded by the EPSRC, RSSB and industry. In addition Aston University has also just launched ‘A-Game’, the Aston Centre for Teaching Excellence in Games, Experiments and Simulations of which you will be a part.  

Required skills:

We are seeking candidates with a minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) honours degree in an area consistent with the theme or themes they wish to be considered for. An MSc degree will be an advantage as additional preparation for their chosen theme. 

Informal enquiries:

For further details, except on EPSRC eligibility, please contact Professor Emmanuel Thanassoulis

How to Apply

We are using a two-phase selection process. In the first phase please:

  • Indicate your preferred theme from the above four, and name any additional ones of the themes that would also interest you;
  • Submit a CV focusing on your academic credentials, work experience and other information that speak to your suitability for your chosen theme(s).  When completing your CV you may consult the document in for some of the information that will ultimately be required when applying on line and which you may like to include in your CV;
  • Submit a research proposal explaining for each one of your chosen  themes an outline of  what research questions you would address, how you propose to address them and what contribution to knowledge you anticipate; 
  • Finally submit a short paragraph explaining how you meet the EPSRC eligibility criteria for this award. Mention documentary evidence (e.g passport or residence) that you would be able to provide on request, but do NOT send in such evidence at this stage.

In a second phase shortlisted candidates will be invited to submit a formal PhD application on line via the Aston Business School Research Degrees Programme admissions system.

Please email your stage 1 documents to Jennifer Knight at

Further particulars and application forms are available in alternative formats on request i.e. large print, Braille, tape or CD Rom.

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact HR via

Aston University is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all sections of the community.