PhD Bursary Opportunity – Royal Naval Pursery in the Development of Accounting

Uni PortsmouthStudentship title: ‘Nipcheese’ the Bean Counter: The Implications of Royal Naval Pursery in the Development of Accounting

Closing date: Tuesday 21st April 2015

Preliminary explorations of maritime and accounting archives and historical literature in the Royal Navy [RN] Dockyard Library, Portsmouth, have considered the role and significance of pursers on RN ships (1600 to 1850) and enhanced understanding of the historical roots of contemporary accounting practices. The proposed PhD studentship will extend these investigations into how RN pursers were pioneers of accounting practices.

The PhD student would establish a database of primary source documents relating to the role and practices of pursers. Source archival records would be accessed at the RN Dockyard library (Portsmouth), the Maritime Museum (Greenwich), the Public Record Office (Kew), and at the British Library (London). There are unexplored purser/accounting related entries in the diaries of Samuel Pepys, the prominent 17th century English naval administrator. Other relevant materials of interest include bond documents, finalised purser’s accounts, and Admiralty Records containing transcripts of trials of pursers.

The database would be used to explore several themes relating to pursers. Several theoretical lenses present themselves.  Agency theory has strong potential to develop fresh insights to the purser’s role and to the historical gestation of accounting matters associated with pursery: material wastage controls, standard costing procedures, and audit and accountability processes.  The proposed research could also be informed by institutional theory and historical institutionalism, to explain why the role of purser was introduced, how and why it changed over time, and which RN accounting practices were imported to, or exported from, commercial accounting.

This multi-disciplinary PhD project will allow the student to exploit the comparative advantage of Portsmouth Business School over competitor Business Schools through its access to a rich, but largely unexplored, Portsmouth-based archive. The city of Portsmouth and the University of Portsmouth (and its antecedent institutions) have had a very long relationship with the RN Dockyard. The proposed project offers opportunities for community engagement and impact through public seminars and media exposure.

The PhD research involves collaboration with an international partner and other learned institutions. The project offers opportunities to link with the Port Towns and Urban Cultures research group at the University and other research students in CEISR. There is significant local historical and naval history relevance to the proposed project. It offers opportunities for community engagement and impact and for the PhD student to become involved in these types of activities. Award of a bursary for this project would provide good opportunity for community-based engagement through seminars and media exposure.

This studentship will deliver original high quality research, resulting in publications and collaborations that have the potential to be sustainable beyond the term of the bursary. The successful student will receive excellent research training.

Contact for informal enquiries relating to this topic: Karen McBride; +44 (0)2392 844037;

Funding information:

The studentship will cover tuition fees and an annual grant equivalent to that offered by the ESRC – set at £13,996 per annum for 2014/15 for a maximum of three years. UK/EU residence eligibility conditions apply. This full-time studentship is open to UK/ EU students only and is located in Portsmouth Business School, Hampshire, UK.

Qualifications: Applicants will have a good first degree (minimum 2.1 or equivalent) and Masters in history, accounting, economics and/or finance, or another subject relevant to business and management.

Potential applicants can find further information on PBS Research and Research Degrees at:

How to apply:

Applications should be sent to: Lauren Payne, Postgraduate Centre, University of Portsmouth Business School, Richmond Building, Portland Street, Portsmouth PO1 3DE. Applications can be submitted electronically via: and cc

Applications should include:

***Please note to follow this guide to apply for this bursary award – do not send an online application for a PhD***

– A full CV including personal details, qualifications, educational history and, where applicable, any employment or other experience relevant to the application

-Contact details for TWO referees able to comment on your academic performance

– A statement of 1,000 (words) outlining the main features of a research design you would propose to meet the stated objectives, identifying the challenges this project might present and discussing how the work will build on or challenge existing research in the above fields.

Interviews: Interviews will be conducted on Thursday 14 May 2015

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