Postgraduate research opportunities Impact of Individual Auditors and Their Beliefs on Auditor-Client Relationships and Audit Quality


Key facts

  • Opens: Wednesday 7 February 2024
  • Deadline: Wednesday 3 April 2024
  • Number of places: 1
  • Funding: Home fee, Stipend


The project will examine the impact of individual auditors and their networks on audit outcomes.
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Applicants should be highly motivated individuals with an excellent academic background. A minimum of a 2.1 at the Bachelor's level (or equivalent) is required. Candidates need not be Business majors, though they should have a strong interest in, and some experience with, accounting, finance, or economics. Having either a strong quantitative background or work experience in accounting will be helpful. The project requires the student to possess advanced quantitative training, which is essential for conducting rigorous academic research, as well as a profound understanding of auditing principles and practices.

Strathclyde Business School is committed to supporting a diverse and inclusive postgraduate research population. We make decisions on entry by assessing the whole person and not relying solely on academic achievements. On that basis, please ensure that your application (via your CV and covering letter) can evidence your resourcefulness, commitment and resilience as demonstrated by broader professional and life experiences. This evidence should be centred on your ability to undertake and complete a PhD and contribute to a positive PhD community.  

If English isn't your first language, you'll need an IELTS score of 6.5 or equivalent with no individual element below 5.5.  

Your application must include:  

  • An updated curriculum vitae  
  • Details of two academic referees, including email addresses  
  • Academic transcripts, which must be certified copies 
THE Awards 2019: UK University of the Year Winner
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Project Details

Following the collapse of Arthur Andersen, a 'Big 5' accounting firm implicated in Enron's significant audit failure and the largest bankruptcy reorganization in U.S. history until the early 2000s, there has been a structural change in the audit market. Over the past two decades, there has been an increasing focus on the auditor’s independence in the financial reporting process and monitoring. “The Big Four accounting firms have admitted hundreds of violations of regulations designed to protect the independence of their audit work, following the introduction of new disclosure rules in the US.” However, the audit process remains obscure beyond the audit opinion, necessitating further academic research for a more comprehensive understanding of the process (e.g., Maksymov et al., 2023).

Mounting empirical evidence suggests that individual auditors can significantly impact audit outcomes (e.g., Gul, Wu, and Yang, 2013). However, the systematic, incremental effects of individual auditors need further investigation. For example, while beliefs have been demonstrated to play a crucial role for other participants in the capital market, it remains unclear whether auditors' beliefs, when interacting with other stakeholders, facilitate or impede the audit process. This project aims to address these gaps in the existing literature.

Further information

Both supervisors will provide guidance on methodological and empirical aspects. The Department of Accounting and Finance, as well as the faculty, organizes various workshops and seminars. Furthermore, the department's strong connections with accounting firms and its extensive alumni network ensure that the student will have access to practical experience and industry insights. Additionally, the student will benefit from the opportunity to attend advanced methodological training sessions. Support will be provided for the student to attend conferences, particularly in the second and third years of their PhD studies.

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Funding details

Fully-funded scholarship for 3 years covers all university tuition fees (at UK level) and an annual tax-free stipend. International students are also eligible to apply, but they will need to find other funding sources to cover the difference between the home and international tuition fees. Exceptional international candidates may be provided funding for this difference. 

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Dr Sheng Li

Accounting and Finance

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Dr Patrick McColgan

Accounting and Finance

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Number of places: 1

There will be a shortlisting and interview process.

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Accounting and Finance

Programme: Accounting and Finance

Start date: Oct 2024 - Sep 2025

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Contact us

Potential applicants should contact Dr Sheng Li in the first instance to discuss their interest.  Email: