Philosophy of Science Workshop for @brunelbusiness Marketing Faculty and PhD students

The second of the Marketing and Corporate Brand Research Group’s activities this term was an expert workshop on the importance of philosophy for a PhD. Delivered by Dr Thomas Robinson of Cass Business School, London University along with our own Dr Jessica Chelekis (Lecturer in Sustainability Global Value Chains, Brunel Business School), the workshop comprised a formal overview of the philosophical underpinnings of a PhD along with a bespoke, hands-on session focussing on individual PhD students.

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Professor Balmer (Director of the Marketing and Corporate Brand Group) and Dr Chelekis provided introductions to the session and discussed the importance of philosophy to marketing and to PhDs generally.


Held at Brunel University’s Lancaster Hotel, the event was well supported, with 14 faculty and PhD students from marketing and from other research groups attending the event.

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Commenting on the workshop, Dr Chelekis reflected:

“It was fun to have a morning to just discuss philosophy and research. All of the students had really interesting topics, and they came away with resources to further develop their ideas and dissertations.”

Doctoral student, Abdelwahab Alatiqi, delivered TEDx Talk in Kuwait

Abdelwahab Alatiqi was invited to speak at a TEDx event that took place in Kuwait City.

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In his talk, entitled “Profiting from Data at the cost of privacy”, Abdelwahab explored the range of personal data that organisations have access to, and how much insight is provided by those data. For instance, analysis of phone calls can reveal the size and strength of the caller’s social network.


Abelwahab is a PhD student, who is investigating the acceptance and use of Business Intelligence systems, under the supervision of Dr Ana Canhoto and Dr Kevin Lu. His research is multi-disciplinary incorporating research in Information Systems, Business and Psychology. Prior to joining the doctoral programme in the Business School, Abelwahab worked in the telecommunications industry, and throughout his career he has been dealing with consumer data from different perspectives.


Brunel Business School has an established and engaged PhD Community. We consider PhD students as junior members of staff, and give them the same opportunities to attend seminars, technical courses and conferences. You can learn more about our doctoral programme, here.

Developmental programme for doctoral students at Brunel Business School

Message from Dr. Dorothy Yen, Director of the Doctoral programme at Brunel Business School


This year’s Brunel Business School PGR Student Development Programme has just finished.


Six PhD students participated in this programme as mentees. They each volunteered 1 hour per week (10 hours in total), during term 1, to shadow and assist their mentors in the delivery of final year project seminars. This experience allowed them to witness how seminars are constructed, and to engage with final year undergraduate students during the seminars.


From the feedback that we have received from both staff and PhD students, this programme was a great success, and we will endeavour to run it again as a regular training opportunity for our PGR students.


This is a sample of what our PhD students felt that gained from this experience, and how it will help them prepare them for their future higher education career:

The opportunity from participating in this BBS PGR Developmental programme has provide a valuable experience…This experience has enhanced my confidence in the classroom environment, and my ability to utilise the knowledge and research skills that I have gained throughout my PhD study. I have acknowledged the need to develop my communication skills further in order to explain or elaborate the idea clearly, in the sense that it should not only includes theoretical concepts but to combine with practicality…” Theenida Buntornwon.

What I learnt from this experience will help me in my future academic career on few levels. First, after I built a better understanding on assessing the student capabilities, it will help me to design and prepare the most appropriate teaching material based on the student needs and link it to examples from our daily life. Second, it will help me to build a good and professional relation with the students which increase their productivity and the overall outcome from the course. Third, this experience has improved my time management skills for the class and helped me to have better ideas on how to allocate time for each part of the lecture. Finally, this experience will make it much easier for in term of solving unexpected issues in the class.” Ruaa Hasan.


Thank you to the colleagues that have kindly offered to act as mentors for PhD students and allowed PhD students to shadow them when delivering final year projects, this year. Namely, Drs. Bidit Dey, Raffaella Valsecchi, Marios Samdanis, Nikolaos Antypas, Monomita Nandy, Sharifah Alwi, and Sankar Sivarajah.


More information about our PhD programme is available here.

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The role of women in research: breaking down gender barriers

Professor Zahir Irani’s article on ‘The role of Women in research’ published in the Education (14th August 2014) reports on how female entrepreneurs and future leaders are making an impact in advanced study, breaking down gender barriers in the process.

profileZahirIraniIn his article, Professor Irani, explains that for women in the Middle East, studying overseas has traditionally been made difficult or even impossible by cultural differences with the West, preventing many women from benefiting from the academic rigour and traditions of the best British and American universities.  Middle East women have been prevented from benefiting from exposure to the latest thinking and culture of intellectual exploration and challenge.  The lack of representation has led to businesses in the region being cut off from the new perspectives and thinking of women involved in HR and business research.

“More must be done to help Middle Eastern women engage in high-level HR research”

explains Professor Irani.  With this in mind, the need to address the diversity issue was a key factor in driving the work at Brunel Business School in London and in forming a partnership with Ahlia University in Bahrain.  The partnership involves a PhD without residence which allows people to undertake a British research degree locally.  Professor Irani goes on to explain that the evidence of the actual need for alternative provision for women is demonstrated by applications to the new programme with half of the participants recruited from across the region being women, which is a higher percentage than expected for this type of higher research degree.

Professor Zahir Irani is Dean of the College of Business Arts and Social Sciences at Brunel University London.  Previously under his leadership, Brunel Business School received the Times Higher Education Award – Business School of the Year 2013. Professor Irani’s research interests are multidisciplinary in nature, and developed from early work on the area of evaluating investments in Manufacturing Information Systems through to more recent works in Transformational Government.

To find out more about the joint PhD between Brunel Business School and Ahlia University please visit the website.

Ground breaking PhD research on middle-ranked business school student attractiveness

Top, rather than middle-ranking, business schools tend to be the focus of academic research. However, a seminal study by Rudaina Mahmoud (Brunel PhD marketing scholar) revealed the attractiveness dimensions valued by international postgraduate students within a prominent middle-ranking metropolitan, business school. Key factors valued by the students included not only a business school’s research profile and teaching, but also the country/city and physical campus.

Raisa X photo 3Rudaina Mahmoud successfully defended her PhD thesis on 14th July and the quality of her work resulted in an exemplary pass (without the need for corrections). Her first supervisor was Professor John M.T. Balmer and her second supervisor Dr Weifeng Chen.

Rudaina Mahmoud (left) with her two examiners: Dr Suraksha Gupta of Brunel Business School (centre) and Dr Trueman of Bradford University School of Management (right).

Marketing research group writing retreat in Brighton

A new initiative, a two day writing retreat for marketing faculty and marketing PhD scholars, has been organised by Professor John M.T. Balmer (Director of the Centre for Research in Marketing).

brightonHeld at the Seattle Hotel in Brighton Marina, East Sussex, five marketing faculty and five PhD students spent the two day retreat writing (and receiving writing support) on manuscripts aimed at top journal articles. An especial focus of the retreat was its focus on co-authored articles by marketing doctoral students and their supervisors.

This initiative is part of series of events organised by Professor Balmer which has the objective of supporting the research and publishing activities of Brunel Business School‘s marketing scholars.

The two day event was very productive and was a successful event. Professor Balmer noted:

“In addition to providing meaningful support for the research community of marketing scholars, this-and other analogous events-do much to burnish the already strong esprit de corps within the Centre for Research in Marketing. It was wonderful that so many faculty and their doctoral students supported this event: this was truly wonderful!”

Brunel Business School showcases Best of British Education in Bahrain

Duke of York in BahrainThe UK Trade & Investment along with the British Embassy in Bahrain and British Council hosted the Best of British Week, which commenced on 15th of January with a Knowledge Event that was opened by HRH The Duke of York.

During his keynote address, HRH talked about the longstanding relationship Britain has with the Kingdom of Bahrain and how education is a major enabler for change.  Professor Zahir Irani, Head of the Brunel Business School took a leading role in organising the Knowledge Event and worked closely with the UKTI and the Embassy to showcase the Best of British education.

Brunel Business School works very closely with its strategic partner, Ahlia University where they jointly deliver a PhD without Residence programme, where students from across the region register for a Brunel PhD. Heather Hopper (UKTI) said that “Brunel played a leading role in making the Best of British Knowledge Event a success … where their PhD students showcased their research”.

Z Irani in BahrainDuring the event, Professor Irani and Professor Abdulla Al-Hawaj (President of Ahlia University) described the collaboration between the two Universities to Prince Andrew, who was especially keen to hear about the research undertaken by the PhD students.

Examples of research presented in a poster session included:

  • Energy management in the health care sector.
  • A study of women on the corporate board in the gulf region.
  • Middle manager strategic agency enabling conditions: a socio cognitive approach.
  • Investigation implication of national culture on knowledge management programs.
  • An empirical study of challenges faced by women entrepreneurs and successful factors for entrepreneurship in developing countries.

Russ Dixon (Deputy Ambassador) congratulated Brunel and Ahlia on their collaboration and said that: “The research done by Brunel University is relevant and making a real and positive difference in the region”.

The programme currently has approaching 40 registered students with an almost 50:50 gender split, and has already successfully graduated over a dozen students who defend their work back in the UK, on campus at Brunel University.

Professor Irani explains “When I developed this innovative programme, I wanted to open access to Higher Education to women in the region, who might not normally be able to travel overseas …. I also wanted to ensure that the research undertaken was relevant and would help to build a regional knowledge economy.”

The collaboration continues to grow in strength, with a two-way exchange programme being launched, allowing undergraduates from both institutions to undertake a term of study at each other’s campuses and then to obtain credit towards their respective degree programmes. Future plans also include expanding the PhD programme to include more specialised areas that support the regional economy. Currently both universities are studying proposals for postgraduate studies aimed at meeting future demands on healthcare and energy.

The collaboration continues to grow in strength, with a two-way exchange programme being launched, allowing undergraduates from both institutions to undertake a term of study at each other’s campuses and then to obtain credit towards their respective degree programmes. Future plans also include expanding the PhD programme to include more specialised areas that support the regional economy. Currently both universities are studying proposals for postgraduate studies aimed at meeting future demands on healthcare and energy.  Read more about the programme here.

The event was also attended by Professor Amir Sharif (Assistant Head of School) and Dr Tillal Eldabi (Director, PhD Without Residence), below:

BBS in Bahrain