PhD Programme in economics anD Policy stuDies of technical change
This PhD programme addresses economics and the role of technology in growth and development
in both developed and developing countries. A broad coverage of the foundations of technical
change, including theoretical, institutional and policy issues, trains students to be active
participants in academic and policy debates.
This programme is offered every year - the next intake will be for September, 2011. Teaching
and research supervision is done by scholars from UNU-MERIT, while the PhD degree is
granted by the University of Maastricht.
Structure of the Programme
The PhD programme has an overall length of four years and is divided into two distinct stages
of study. The first stage begins in September of 2011 and lasts six months. During this stage
students will take courses in the areas of economics, policy, and the institutional foundations of
technical change. The coverage is broad, addressing issues of concern both in developed
and developing countries.
Students who achieve distinction in their coursework are invited to prepare a PhD proposal,
which includes the identification of a topic, discussion of methodological issues relating to the
research, and where appropriate, a discussion of the data resources to be used or developed.
The proposal also identifies further areas of formal (class work and workshops) and informal
study to be pursued in the course of dissertation research and writing.
Upon acceptance of the proposal, students are admitted to the second stage of the
programme, which involves doing the research for and writing a dissertation. While working
on the thesis, a student will meet regularly with one or more supervisors for guidance and
to assess progress. Upon completion, the student defends the thesis before a committee
composed of University of Maastricht and external faculty.
Programme of Coursework
The objectives of the courses are:
To familiarize the student with the main theoretical perspectives on the role of
technological change in economic growth and development.
To introduce the student to a wide variety of hypotheses and puzzles in industrial
dynamics and innovation trajectories;
To provide the student with skills and experience in critical evaluation of the
assumptions, modeling, empirical evidence and the validity of the policy and other
recommendations derived from existing theories and models.
To lay the foundation for original research in the field of innovation studies by solving
existing puzzles and paradoxes, critiquing and modifying existing models, identifying
ways to obtain more relevant empirical evidence, developing new models and deriving
new policy implications.
The courses for the first stage of study are based on intensive 6-week modules over a
28-week programme beginning in September. Students are expected to devote eight
to ten hours per day (including class time) to their studies, and weekend work will
often be necessary. The course modules outlined below should be viewed as intensive
workshops in which students will be expected to cover an extensive reading list and
to interact intensively with classmates and faculty members. Throughout the course
work, UNU-MERIT will organize weekly research seminars. Invited speakers will
include distinguished academics in the area of innovation studies and policy analysts
from international organisations.
The first period of 15 weeks, which will be followed by all students participating in the
programme, consists of five basic modules of 6 weeks each, which are compulsory
for all students. After the basic modules, students will must take and pass at least
two of the extension modules, comprising a further 6 weeks. Since the extension
modules are scheduled sequentially, students do have the possibility to follow all of
them. In the spring several methods workshops, including one on writing a literature
review and one on proposal writing, are organized to help students prepare their PhD
proposals. Extension modules change from year to year, and upper year students are
encouraged to sit in on courses that are of interest to their research.
Outline of courses
I. Required modules
I.1 The economic analysis of innovation and technological change
I.2 Technical Change and Economic Growth
I.3 Technology and Industrial Development in Developing Countries
I.4 Economics and Econometrics of Industrial Organization and Innovation
1.5 Economics of Networks
II. Elective Modules
II.1 Technology and International Trade
II.2 Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
II.3 Evolutionary Perspectives on Technology and Economics
II.4 Capabilities and Institutions
II.5 Environmentally Sustainable Growth, Human Capital and Health
II.6 Innovation Systems and Industrial Dynamics
II.7 An introduction to game theory
II.8 Thesis topic discussions
II.9 Course in writing
III Dissertation proposal
The Host Institute
UNU-MERIT is a research and training centre of United Nations
University (UNU). UNU is an international community of scholars
engaged in research, postgraduate training and the dissemination of
knowledge aimed at resolving the pressing global problems of human
survival, development and welfare. UNU-MERIT is located at, and works
in close collaboration with the University of Maastricht the Netherlands.
UNU-MERIT’s research mission is to provide more insights into the
social, political and economic international and local context within
which innovation and technological change is created, adapted, selected,
diffused, and improved upon. The Institute’s research and training
programmes address a broad range of relevant policy questions dealing
with the national and international governance of innovation, intellectual
property protection, knowledge creation, and diffusion.
UNU-MERIT actively participates in research projects for international
organisations, governments, businesses, and foundations throughout the
world. UNU-MERIT has a particular research role in the United Nations
as a research unit concerned with the analysis of technological change.
The researchers at UNU-MERIT are internationally recognised for their
contributions to the understanding of the economic, political, social, and
philosophical foundations of the processes of technical change. The aim
of the institution is to further advance this understanding and to create
a new generation of scholars, policy analysts, and business leaders for a
world that will increasingly rely on the generation and use of knowledge to
improve human well-being
Application for Admission
1. Admission requirements
The programme is designed for an international student body and therefore we are
interested in candidates from both the Northern and Southern hemispheres. Candidates
must possess a degree from a recognised university or institution of higher education.
Strong quantitative abilities as shown by a background in mathematics or statistics are
required, and candidates will have, at least, (the equivalent of) a Masters’s degree in
economics, business and management, engineering, political science or other natural
or social sciences. Excellent written and verbal English language skills are also required.
Applicants whose first language is not English will be required to take the IELTS Test.
A score of 7 or above is required. During the 1st week there will be an English exam.
2. Fees and fellowships
The tuition fee for this programme is Euro 5,000 per year. All candidates are automatically
considered for financial assistance. There are a small number of fellowships available for
incoming students. These are one-year fellowships, renewable up to four years.
3. Application forms
Downloadable from http://www.merit.unu.edu/phd/phdI/
Keizer Karelplein 19
6211 TC Maastricht