The PhD programme in Tourism provides an opportunity to conduct cutting-edge academic research into the tourism sector, which is in constant expansion and is now of major importance.


Tourism is a strategically significant economic, social and territorial sector: in Catalonia and in Spain, for example, it accounts for around 10% of the gross domestic product. This growth in the tourism market and its economic, social, environmental and territorial repercussions are generating unique opportunities for research, which, in turn, produces new knowledge that can help to promote sustainability, innovation and efficient management.

This PhD programme sets out to improve knowledge transfer from the academic world to society, through the public and private agents operating within this sector. Public institutions (at local, regional, and autonomous-community levels) depend on such knowledge for social, sustainable strategic planning. Private institutions, for their part, seek new knowledge in the areas of product innovation and efficient management tools, optimal use of available resources, and close ties to the territory from a social and environmental perspective.


Candidate profile

The ideal student profile should consist of the following: good academic record, research vocation, communication skills, language competence, and an ability to conduct quantitative and qualitative research (or a clear willingness to acquire this). It is also an advantage to have qualifications in Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences or Law.

In any case, a requirement for all students is direct or indirect prior knowledge of the tourism sector – especially from having taking a master's degree. Students must also have the necessary knowledge and skills concerning the basic concepts and tools for conducting competitive research in the field of tourism. For this reason, priority of access to the PhD programme in Tourism is given to applicants with a research-oriented master's degree linked to one of the programme's disciplines or lines of research.


Professional opportunities

This PhD programme provides the following principal career options.

  • University lecturer specialising in tourism
  • Consultant and/or entrepreneur with expertise in the creation and development of tourism products
  • Manager and director of tourism businesses and institutions
  • Tourism planning officer and manager of public-sector policy on tourism
  • Expert on sustainable and social tourism development
  • Manager of the cultural heritage with links to tourism
  • Analyst of tourism markets and commercialisation strategies


Objectives and justification

The PhD programme in Tourism has the following objectives.

  1. Train new researchers who can fill the gaps detected in academic and industrial research, and address the issues, future challenges and questions posed daily by the tourism sector.
  2. Promote innovative research that can help in adopting new tourism models based on social, environmental and economic sustainability
  3. Apply the scientific method to obtain tools, innovative products and planning strategies that can lead to a tourism sector that is outstandingly well organised, diverse, forward-looking and sensitive to social, environmental and economic issues – in contrast to the improvisation and lack of models that characterised the previous stage of tourism development in this country.


The PhD programme in Tourism of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona aims to foster and showcase research in the field of tourism within the geographical area of Catalonia, especially Barcelona: a leading tourism destination and a worldwide point of reference, which has a direct influence on this university's surrounding area.

The Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona is ranked among the best academic institutions in Spain and among the top 200 worldwide. The expertise of the teaching staff from the various departments involved in the project will allow synergies to be generated with sound, innovative, ground-breaking research within the broad, multidisciplinary field of tourism.

The programme is promoted and led by the Department of Geography and the School of Tourism and Hotel Management at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, whose lecturers are widely recognised experts in different areas of tourism research. The programme is multidisciplinary, just like the tourism sector itself, and involves eight further departments attached to the UAB.

The tourism sector is expanding and is of great strategic importance to the Catalan economy, to its society and to its territory, as shown by the fact that it accounts for around 10% of Catalonia's gross domestic product, and has a marked influence on employment, social issues and the environment. Catalonia is the autonomous community with the second highest number of overnight stays by tourisms in Spain. Barcelona accounts for over 18 million of these stays and also tops the list of the most visited cities in Spain, with a growth of 78% between 2005 and 2015. This growth in demand has led to a similar increase in the number of hotel places available, of which there are currently over 300,000 in Catalonia. Barcelona itself has over 73,000 places, with a growth of 72% between 2004 and 2014.

There is still a deficit, however, in research and academic recognition, despite the remarkable growth of the tourism market and its economic, social and environmental impact. This hinders the transfer of knowledge to the industrial context, where it could be of use to public- and private-sector agents.


Research infrastructure

Besides the physical resources for teaching and research that the UAB provides for all its PhD programmes, students on this programme can also make use of the facilities and services of the main promoting institutions: the University School of Tourism and Hotel Management (EUTDH) and the Department of Geography. The EUTDH has a dedicated room for researchers, with all the services needed to conduct research properly. Similarly, the Department of Geography has a room set up specifically for PhD students, with 20 computers and a connection to internet, and in special circumstances offices can be made available to visiting researchers from abroad.



Francesc Romagosa Casals

Composition of the academic tribunal for the PhD programme

  • The coordinator of the PhD programme
  • A representative from each of the institutions promoting the PhD programme: Department of Geography and EUTDH
  • Up to two persons representing the lines of research of the PhD programme



Meritxell Vime
Head of Academic Management
School of Tourism & Hotel Management
+34 93 592 97 10


Qualification: Doctor by the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona in Tourism
Number of places available: 10
Fees: aprox. €540 per year View detail of the PhD's fees

Languages in which the thesis may be written:
Catalan, Spanish and English
Organising universities and institutions:
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Associated departments or institutes:
School of Tourism & Hotel Management
Department of Geography

Collaborating institutions:
Department of Business
Department of Art and Musicology
Department of Applied Economics
Department of Philosophy
Department of Advertising, Public Relations and Audiovisual Communication
Department of Modern and Early Modern History
Department of Spanish
Department of Translation and Interpretation & East Asian Studies
Social Sciences and Law

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