Summary

In the late 1720s, the emergent Royal Bank of Scotland pioneered the use of the cash credit. This banking innovation provided an overdrawing facility, subject to personal guarantees. The recipient could overdraw their account and pay only interest on the amount overdrawn, and also receive interest on a positive balance. This new flexible system, which used personal backing instead of property, provided a novel extension of existing credit facilities and was a forerunner of the overdraft (Gaskin, 1965).

For the bank, the cash credit helped to foster trade and use of its notes (Fleming, 1876). However, compared to discounted bills, the cash credit was less profitable and less flexible in emergency situations for banking institutions (Homans, 1874/75). The use of the cash credit was much more common in Scotland than in England – where bankers looked on them unfavourably (Homans, 1874/75). Yet, even in Scotland, the cash credit was eventually eclipsed by the discounted bill by the early nineteenth century. Nevertheless, the cash credit had an enduring impact on bank finance. Overdrafts, which were similar to the cash credit – but no longer relied on personal guarantees, became the dominant source of bank lending in Scotland from the early twentieth century onwards (Gaskin, 1965). Indeed, the significance of the cash credit is underscored by the prominent Scottish philosopher David Hume (1826, p.359), who described their underlying principle as “one of the most ingenious ideas that has been executed in commerce”.

This critical historical period of credit innovation provides a fascinating window to examine how banks (and their associated actors) developed and refined credit products for their clienteles. It raises many interesting research questions such as:

*How did banks “learn” from the experience e.g. develop strategies to deal with risk, informational asymmetries and competition?

*What impact did credit provision have on business and society?

*What explains changes in the financing preferences over time and by location?

*How did the prevailing political/economic structure interact with banking service delivery?

The PhD project will make extensive use of archival research to selectively examine the records of individual British banks. Orbell and Turton (2017) provide an excellent index to historical bank records which details the extant records available for individual British banks and where they can be located. The available bank records include minutes of meetings, registers of clients, ledgers, correspondence and finance applications. These primary source records will be used in conjunction with contemporary secondary sources and the existing literature on British banking.

The PhD student will be expected to employ the latest rigorous methodological approaches in business (and financial) history (e.g. Scranton and Frindenson, 2013; Bucheli and Wadhwani 2014) to develop the PhD thesis. The resultant project will yield a rich business/financial history of lines of credit in the British context from the eighteenth century onwards. Furthermore, it will provide long-run learning on the efficacy of the market for lines of credit, which plays an integral part in society today, both in terms of personal finance (e.g. credit cards and overdrafts) and commercial finance.


Essential criteria

  • To hold, or expect to achieve by 15 August, an Upper Second Class Honours (2:1) Degree or equivalent from a UK institution (or overseas award deemed to be equivalent via UK NARIC) in a related or cognate field.
  • A comprehensive and articulate personal statement
  • Research proposal of 2000 words detailing aims, objectives, milestones and methodology of the project

Desirable Criteria

If the University receives a large number of applicants for the project, the following desirable criteria may be applied to shortlist applicants for interview.

  • First Class Honours (1st) Degree
  • Masters at 70%

    The University offers the following awards to support PhD study and applications are invited from UK, EU and overseas for the following levels of support:

    Vice Chancellors Research Studentship (VCRS)

    Full award (full-time PhD fees + DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £15,500 (tbc) maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Bursary (VCRB)

    Part award (full-time PhD fees + 50% DfE level of maintenance grant + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees and provide the recipient with £7,750 maintenance grant per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Vice-Chancellor’s Research Fees Bursary (VCRFB)

    Fees only award (PhD fees + RTSG for 3 years).

    This scholarship will cover full-time PhD tuition fees for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Department for the Economy (DFE)

    The scholarship will cover tuition fees at the Home rate and a maintenance allowance of £ 15,500 (tbc) per annum for three years (subject to satisfactory academic performance). EU applicants will only be eligible for the fee’s component of the studentship (no maintenance award is provided). For Non-EU nationals the candidate must be "settled" in the UK. This scholarship also comes with £900 per annum for three years as a research training support grant (RTSG) allocation to help support the PhD researcher.

    Due consideration should be given to financing your studies; for further information on cost of living etc. please refer to: www.ulster.ac.uk/doctoralcollege/postgraduate-research/fees-and-funding/financing-your-studies


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The Doctoral College at Ulster University