• KY16 9AL

    United Kingdom

Accepting Postgraduate Research Students

PhD projects

1. How is the effectiveness of Competition Authorities affected by the penalty regime in place?
2. What is optimal tax/benefit system when individuals adhere to consumption norm? Can this explain Scandinavian tax/benefit systems?
3. Interaction between innovation, market dominance and competition policy. Was EU right to penalise Google?
4. Cheating vs innovating – why cheat (evade/avoid tax, abuse dominant position) when you can succeed in other ways?
5. What are distributional implications of different types of peer group comparisons – broad/narrow? How might this relate to social media?
6. What determines labour supply of individuals when they care about the work they do – e.g. nurses? Could this lead to unstable markets?

Personal profile

Research interests

I have a number of major research interests.

  1. Design and Enforcement of Competition Policy:  optimal penalties; measuring the effectiveness of competition authority interventions; legal uncertainty; substantive standards.
  2. Tax Avoidance:  design and administration of tax systems to counter avoidance;  measuring complexity of tax systems; drivers of tax avoidance; competition and tax avoidance;  the socio-economic consequences of avoidance;   the design and effectiveness of policies to counter avoidance.
  3. Individual Behaviour in a  Social Context:  Keeping up with Joneses; consumption norms; ethical behaviour and altruism.
  4. Climate Change:  the design of policies to tackle climate change; role of uncertainty and commitment;  Green Paradox and optimal depletion of oil; implications for policy of alternative models of individual behaviour.
  5. Design and Administration of Tax Benefit Systems:  Design of tax-benefit systems when there are enforcement errors - selection errors and ex-post conditionality;  design of tax systems when individual behaviour is affected by social considerations.


After completing his postgraduate studies in Economics at Oxford in 1971, Professor Ulph was appointed to a Lectureship in Economics at the University of Stirling.  In 1977 he was appointed to a Lectureship in Economics at University College London (UCL) from which he was promoted to a Readership in 1982.  In 1984 he was appointed to a Chair in Economics at the University of Bristol and was Head of Department of Economics from 1984-1988.  In 1992 he returned to UCL as Professor of Economics and Head of Department of Economics.  In 1997 he became Executive Director of the ESRC Centre for Economic Learning and Social Evolution at UCL.  In 2001 he was appointed Chief Economist and Director of Analysis and Research at Inland Revenue and in 2004 became Director of Analysis in the newly created HM Revenue and Customs.  In 2006  he was appointed Professor of Economics at the University of St Andrews, and was Head of the School of Economics & Finance from 2006 to 2009.  From 2010 -2017 was was appointed Director of the Scottish Institute for Research in Economics.  Professor Ulph has published over 100 articles in refereed journals and books; has raised over £1.25m in research funding; has been on the Editorial Board of many leading journals and served on Research Panels/Committees for many research councils and learned societies in the UK and abroad.   In 2010 he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and in 2016 he was awarded a CBE in the New Year's Honours List for services to Economics and Social Science.  Professor Ulph currently holds a Part-Time (0.2) position at the University of St Andrews; is Commissioner for the Scottish Fiscal Commission; is a member of the Competition Appeal Tribunal and a member of the NHS Pay Review Body.

Future research

With colleagues in Amsterdam, Athens, Toulouse and Vancouver I will be taking forward a major programme of research on the enforcement of competition policy. This will be done in conjunction with the Competition Authorities in UK, Netherlands and Canada.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 12 - Responsible Consumption and Production
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land

External positions

Commissioner, Scottish Fiscal Commission

8 Oct 2018 → …

Member, Competition Appeal Tribunal

27 Mar 2017 → …

Member, NHS Pay Review Body

1 Aug 2015 → …


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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