Prospective Students

Joint PhD Programme

Joint PhD Programme between
the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Hong Kong and
the Schools of Arts & Humanities and Social Science
& Public Policy of King's College London


Under the full-time Joint PhD Programme between the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), and the Schools of Arts & Humanities and Social Science & Public Policy of King's College London (KCL), a student receives a single PhD awarded by two institutions. In principle, all Faculty of Arts programmes and any eligible supervisor of HKU can participate in this scheme.  Joint PhD options are available in the following programmes in KCL:

  1. Chinese Studies
  2. Comparative Literature
  3. English
  4. Film Studies
  5. Geography
  6. History
  7. Linguistics
  8. Music
  9. War Studies

King's College London

KCL is a multi-faculty research-led university college situated in central London with over 31,000 students, of whom more than 12,800 are postgraduates. It is ranked as one of the top 10 UK universities in the world (QS World University Rankings, 2020). The Schools of Arts & Humanities and Social Science & Public Policy at KCL have approximately 36 departments and programmes.

Joint PhD Programme

A joint PhD draws on the compatibilities and complementarities in the expertise of two research-led institutions. We envisage a relatively small high-quality joint programme, aiming to admit a modest number of students (i.e. probably no more than six overall) per academic year.


Each student would be admitted directly to the joint PhD programme through the home institution, with appropriate consultation with the partner institution and approval by the Joint Academic Committee (JAC). Unless otherwise specified in the MOU on Joint PhD signed by HKU and KCL on May 8, 2009, students will be governed by the regulations and procedures of their home institution for all aspects of the candidature, including:

  1. awarding of postgraduate studentships, scholarships and conference/travel grants;
  2. responsibilities of postgraduate students in relation to tutoring or other duties (though flexibility would be allowed subject to agreement among the candidate and the supervisors in both institutions);
  3. progress monitoring;
  4. confirmation process;
  5. leave applications;
  6. extension of candidature;
  7. submission and examination of thesis (including the conduct of any oral examination, regulations relating to the presence of the supervisor, duties of examiners);
  8. quality assurance;
  9. PhD training; and
  10. other regulations governing conduct of supervisors and students (e.g. equal opportunity guidelines).

The following exceptions and additions to the relevant regulations apply:

Registration and study period

  1. Students will be required to perform registration procedures in both institutions.
  2. There is no restriction on the number of travels between institutions and the period of time spent on each visit. Students are required to submit in the application a travel plan for the whole candidature for approval by both institutions. Subsequent changes to the travel plan need to be approved by both institutions at least one month before the new date of travel.
  3. Each student is required to spend the equivalent of 50% of the study period at each institution. Flexibility may be allowed, subject to JAC approval, that the percentage time be reduced to 40% at one of the institutions. The last six months before submission of thesis should be spent at the home institution.


The institutions would be committed jointly to providing supervision for students in this programme.

Coursework requirements

Students will normally meet their coursework requirements of the home institution. Some courses can be taken in the partner institution subject to approval of the partner institution. Advanced standing may be granted subject to approval of the home institution.


In addition to teaching and skills development training as required by the home institution, candidates may be required to undertake some training at the partner institution subject to agreement among the candidate and supervisors in both institutions.

Leave of absence

Leave of absence for the purpose of undertaking study-related activities (i.e. "study leave" according to HKU terminology) outside Hong Kong and the UK will be equally shared by the two institutions, i.e. half of the leave of absence will be counted in the study period spent in each institution.

Progress monitoring

  1. Responsibility for monitoring student progress lies with the home institution, which will submit an annual report to the JAC for oversight, as well as fulfilling its own internal monitoring procedures.
  2. The supervisor in the home institution will be primarily responsible for completing the progress monitoring procedures after consultation with the joint supervisor, for the student's entire study period.


  1. The thesis format should follow that of the home institution but with a maximum of 100,000 words (including references but excluding bibliography), which is the limit set by KCL.
  2. Due acknowledgement to both institutions should be given in the thesis wherever appropriate.
  3. The abstract should follow the word limit at HKU, with not fewer than 200 and not more than 500 words (Note: KCL allows up to 5,000 words) or a new, jointly agreed limit.
  4. The possibility of awarding a joint MPhil degree to a failed PhD, will not be an option for joint PhD students. In exceptional cases where this is considered the best option, the student will receive an ordinary MPhil degree from KCL alone.
  5. The final thesis in both printed and electronic copies shall be sent to both HKU and KCL's libraries.

Transferral to conventional single PhD programme

In the event that a supervisor resigns or some other problems arise with supervision, the student can apply to transfer to the conventional single PhD programme at one of the two institutions. In general, it would be open to the student to apply to transfer to the conventional single PhD programme in either of the institutions, subject to approval by both institutions.


  1. There will be a coordinator identified in each institution for the joint PhD programme. At HKU this will be the Associate Dean handling research postgraduate matters or his/her designate. At KCL this will be the Chair of the Graduate Studies Committee. In addition, coordinators will be appointed in each participating department.
  2. All correspondence related to the student's studies shall be copied to the other institution.

Tuition Fee

Tuition fees will be paid solely to the home institution for the whole period of candidature. The tuition fee for HKU is HK$42,100 per year, subject to review.

Research Culture and Facilities

During their time at each institution, students will be able to take advantage of the full range of academic and other facilities ordinarily offered to PhD students. Where possible office space will be provided to the students during the time they spend in each institution.

Students will take full part of the research culture of both institutions. Where possible, they will be invited to give at least one presentation to a research seminar at each institution in the latter stages of their research.

Student Admission

  1. Each student would be admitted directly to the joint PhD programme through the home institution, with appropriate consultation with the partner institution and approval by the Joint Academic Committee (JAC).
  2. Where a candidate has had contact with a potential supervisor at the home institution, the potential supervisor will nominate and seek the agreement of a faculty member at the partner institution to act as joint supervisor.
  3. Where a candidate has not had prior contact with potential supervisors at either institution, the Chair of Graduate Studies and the Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee of the department (where appropriate) will nominate a potential supervisor based at the home institution.
  4. Once both supervisors have been nominated, candidates are only to be admitted to the joint PhD programme where a pair of supervisors, one based at the home and one at the partner institution, has been approved by the JAC.
  5. Before approving a candidate's admission to the programme, the JAC must approve the following:
    1. a good match exists between the applicant's proposed topic and both their supervisors' research interests.
    2. a plan outlining the approximate time and dates they will spend at each institution.
    3. a plan of the programme for the period spent at each institution, including coursework and research training. The JAC needs to ensure this plan conforms to the requirements of the home institution and any relevant funding bodies.
    4. a plan of the candidate's progression through the PhD which matches the home institution's PhD regulations, including details of when reports required by the home institution's regulations will be written.
    5. confirmation that suitable facilities are available (e.g. laboratory, computers, archives, etc.) for the particular research to be conducted.
  6. On submitting the application to their designated home institution, candidates will be informed the time-scale within which they should expect to hear a decision.

List of Intending Supervisors and Research Interests/Topics

Click here for information on the Faculty of Arts. For information concerning the Faculty of Social Sciences, please send email to


The programme is now open for application. Please follow the application procedures for the regular HKU PhD programme and submit applications via Graduate School's online application system. Please indicate in the appropriate section of the online application form that you would like to be considered by the Joint PhD Programme and provide the following supporting documents for consideration:

  1. a research proposal;
  2. a statement on your aspiration/vision for studying the Joint PhD programme;
  3. a CV detailing your academic qualifications, working experience, publications, professional qualifications, prizes and awards, extracurricular activities, volunteer work and community services;
  4. a study plan detailing the period and dates to be spent at each institution and the activities to be carried out (e.g., coursework, research training, research activities, etc.);
  5. certificates and transcripts of your Bachelor's and Master's degree qualifications;
  6. evidence of meeting KCL's  English language entry requirements; and
  7. reference letters from two referees who are able to comment on your academic and research capabilities.


Should you require further information, please contact the Faculty of Arts at or the Faculty of Social Sciences at


Students admitted to the joint PhD programme having at least two years of normative study period spent in Hong Kong will be eligible for the award of HKPF. However, the Research Grants Council will only provide monthly fellowship as well as conference and research-related travel allowance to HKPF awardees enrolled in the joint PhD programme during their study period spent in Hong Kong. When they are studying at the partner institution, they will receive the standard PGS.  Although the Faculty of Arts provides the Faculty Grants for Joint PhD Programmes to support students in undertaking studies and research activities in KCL, applicants are reminded that students are responsible for paying all the costs incurred from their studies aboard at KCL including travel, accommodation, insurance and subsistence. They should make financial arrangement in advance to ensure sufficient financial support for their studies abroad.