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PhD Opportunities

How AI innovation affect a highly valued financial service provision experience

Queen's Management School | PHD
Reference Number
Application Deadline
1 November 2021
Start Date
1 November 2021


The goal of this project is to achieve output with significant impact for the industry partner. The successful candidate will liaise closely with key industry stakeholders and have direct industry experience via a work placement.

The unstoppable algorithmic transformation of financial services has seen the financial technology (FinTech) industry surge from the sidelines to the mainstream. FinTech is broadly defined as a permanent technology revolution that is changing the way we do finance. While narrow artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), which uses rule-based algorithms, has dominated the fast-paced automation of tasks and finance, the next wave of automation will be digitising judgment calls. Given that finance professionals have an essential fiduciary duty towards their clients, the rapid growth of artificial intelligence (AI) in finance has highlighted some critical risks around trust, overfitting, lack of interpretability, biased inputs and unethical use of data.

This funded PhD offers a unique opportunity to understand how digital innovations affect a highly valued financial service provision experience. Using access to member-level big data this project seeks to understand the risk and opportunities AI and ML innovation technologies present to the financial service delivery and operational effectiveness. Specifically, the research project addresses three broad areas:

Regulatory technology and the effective management of financial institution stability and growth.
ML innovations to default risk prediction and the development of new products.
Customer experience innovations using AI and ML techniques and digital platforms.
The successful candidate with be jointly supervised by Professor Donal McKillop and myself. Donal has published extensively on credit unions including work on their ownership structure, governance, regulatory change, capital adjustment and merger and acquisition behavior. Donal is currently Director of Centre for Not-for-profit and Public-sector Research (CNPR) at Queen’s University and Chair of the Chairperson of the Credit Union CEO Forum (CU CEO

Apply online at: and enter the text QMS2021FIN/AIML into the funding field. The application deadline is November 1st 2021, with shortlisted candidates being asked to interview shortly after this date. The successful candidate would ideally be able to start immediately, but no later than 1st November 2021.

Candidate criteria
- 2.1 Honours degree or equivalent qualification (or equivalent) in Finance, Computer Science, Mathematics, or a related subject. A Master’s degree (or equivalent professional qualification acceptable to the University) will normally be required. Extensive professional experience may be considered in lieu of a Master’s degree on a case-by-case basis.
- Relevant work experience might include work in one of the following areas: a. advanced statistical analysis b. machine learning and AI c. predictive analytics d. natural language processing e. advanced data visualisation
- Proficiency in one or more program languages, such as R or Python or equivalent.
- The ability to work independently and collaboratively at the frontier of research knowledge with a growth mindset.

Funding Information

The position is fully funded by a CAST studentship fro the Northern Ireland Department of the Economy (DfE).

The value of a DfE studentship for UK domiciled students the value of an award includes the cost of approved fees as well as maintenance support. In academic year 2020-2021 the basic rate of maintenance support for a Research Studentship is £15,285 while the basic rate of maintenance support for a Taught Studentship is £7,643. For non-domiciled UK candidate please read the eligibility criteria for DfE studentships here.

Project Summary
Professor Donal McKillop
Mode of Study

Full-time: 3 Years

Funding Body
Northern Ireland Department of the Economy (DfE)
Apply now Register your interest

Finance overview

The finance group is an energetic and enterprising research cluster that continuously strives for excellence in both its teaching and its scholarship. The group's research strengths cover finance and financial history, financial markets and institutions and not-for-profit financial institutions. The group has a particular interest in not-for-profit organisations and in financial history. Research students benefit from attending courses and tailor-made reading groups to complete their background preparation in finance. Queen's Management School prides itself on research-led teaching and offers its research students experience as teaching assistants in a variety of undergraduate courses. Students regularly attend the School's various seminar series, which attract leading academics from around the world. Students also present their work at these events, gaining invaluable advice and preparation for the academic job market.

Mode of study/duration

Registration is on a full-time or part-time basis, under the direction of a supervisory team appointed by the University. You will be expected to submit your thesis at the end of three years of full-time registration for PhD, or two years for MPhil (or part-time equivalent).

Course content

Research Information

Associated Research
Corporate finance
Corporate governance and corporate law
Historical asset pricing
Financial crises, manias and bubbles
UK equity markets in the 19th and 20th centuries
UK financial institutions in the 19th and 20th centuries
Capital structure behaviour in UK-quoted firms
Demographic change and international capital flows
Equity, bond, foreign exchange and derivative markets
Long memory, heterogeneity and trend-chasing in financial prices
Price discovery in bond markets
Credit unions
Diversification options for not-for-profit financial institutions
Efficiency and performance of not-for-profit financial institutions
Networks and co-operation benefits for not-for-profit financial institutions

Career Prospects

The School has a proven track-record of placing its PhD graduates in tenure-track research and teaching posts at top universities in the UK and elsewhere.

People teaching you

Postgraduate Administrator

Management School

Learning Outcomes

Course structure


Entrance requirements

Normally a UK 2.1 Honours degree (or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University) and a UK Master's degree in a relevant discipline with a final result of 60% (or equivalent qualification acceptable to the University).

International Students

For information on international qualification equivalents, please check the specific information for your country.

English Language Requirements

Evidence of an IELTS* score of 7.0, with not less than 6.0 in any component, or an equivalent qualification acceptable to the University is required (*taken within the last 2 years).

International students wishing to apply to Queen's University Belfast (and for whom English is not their first language), must be able to demonstrate their proficiency in English in order to benefit fully from their course of study or research. Non-EEA nationals must also satisfy UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) immigration requirements for English language for visa purposes.

For more information on English Language requirements for EEA and non-EEA nationals see:

If you need to improve your English language skills before you enter this degree programme, INTO Queen's University Belfast offers a range of English language courses. These intensive and flexible courses are designed to improve your English ability for admission to this degree.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be offering Academic English and Pre-sessional courses online only from June to September 2020.

  • Academic English: an intensive English language and study skills course for successful university study at degree level
  • Pre-sessional English: a short intensive academic English course for students starting a degree programme at Queen's University Belfast and who need to improve their English.

Tuition Fees

Northern Ireland (NI) 1 £4,500
Republic of Ireland (ROI) 2 £4,500
England, Scotland or Wales (GB) 1 £4,500
EU Other 3 £17,460
International £17,460

1 EU citizens in the EU Settlement Scheme, with settled or pre-settled status, are expected to be charged the NI or GB tuition fee based on where they are ordinarily resident, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly Student Fees Regulations. Students who are ROI nationals resident in GB are expected to be charged the GB fee, however this is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

2 It is expected that EU students who are ROI nationals resident in ROI will be eligible for NI tuition fees, in line with the Common Travel Agreement arrangements. The tuition fee set out above is provisional and subject to the publication of the Northern Ireland Assembly student fees Regulations.

3 EU Other students (excludes Republic of Ireland nationals living in GB, NI or ROI) are charged tuition fees in line with international fees.

All tuition fees quoted are for the academic year 2021-22, and relate to a single year of study unless stated otherwise. Tuition fees will be subject to an annual inflationary increase, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

More information on postgraduate tuition fees.

Finance costs

There are no specific additional course costs associated with this programme.

Additional course costs

All Students

Depending on the programme of study, there may also be other extra costs which are not covered by tuition fees, which students will need to consider when planning their studies . Students can borrow books and access online learning resources from any Queen's library. If students wish to purchase recommended texts, rather than borrow them from the University Library, prices per text can range from £30 to £100. Students should also budget between £30 to £100 per year for photocopying, memory sticks and printing charges. Students may wish to consider purchasing an electronic device; costs will vary depending on the specification of the model chosen. There are also additional charges for graduation ceremonies, and library fines. In undertaking a research project students may incur costs associated with transport and/or materials, and there will also be additional costs for printing and binding the thesis. There may also be individually tailored research project expenses and students should consult directly with the School for further information.

How do I fund my study?
1.PhD Opportunities

Find PhD opportunities and funded studentships by subject area.

2.Funded Doctoral Training Programmes

We offer numerous opportunities for funded doctoral study in a world-class research environment. Our centres and partnerships, aim to seek out and nurture outstanding postgraduate research students, and provide targeted training and skills development.

3.PhD loans

The Government offers doctoral loans of up to £26,445 for PhDs and equivalent postgraduate research programmes for English- or Welsh-resident UK and EU students.

4.International Scholarships

Information on Postgraduate Research scholarships for international students.

Funding and Scholarships

The Funding & Scholarship Finder helps prospective and current students find funding to help cover costs towards a whole range of study related expenses.

How to Apply

Apply using our online Postgraduate Applications Portal and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to apply.

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