View our video on   

Our Postgraduate Programmes

The Institute offers Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programmes to students wishing to conduct cross-disciplinary research on (1) science, technology and medicine in Asian societies; (2) hubs, mobilities and the Asian urban; or (3) spirituality and religion in Asia.

Distinctive Features


Coursework Requirement (As at 24 August 2017; subject to amendments made thereafter)

Programme Coursework*
required by Graduate School
required by HKIHSS
MPhil 4 compulsory modules 1 compulsory & 2 elective courses
3-year PhD 1 compulsory module 2 compulsory & 2 elective courses
4-year PhD 4 compulsory modules 2 compulsory & 2 elective courses

*Details are available online at the Graduate School’s and the Institute’s webpages.

Other Requirements

Students’ participation in the Institute’s academic activities such as lunchtime seminar series, workshops and public lectures is mandatory. Involvement in tutorials and event organization may be required.


Our Faculty Mentors

Our teaching experts include members from the Institute as well as staff from the Faculties of Arts and Social Sciences. Through the Institutional Enhancement Scheme funded by the Lee Hysan Foundation and the newly launched Hung Leung Hau Ling Distinguished Visiting Professorship in the Humanities and Social Sciences, the Institute will invite renowned scholars and Honorary Professors from overseas universities to participate in postgraduate teaching.

Prof. Angela Ki Che Leung PhD (Paris)
Director and Chair Professor of History, HKIHSS; Joseph Needham-Philip Mao Professor in Chinese History, Science and Civilization, HKU
Area of expertise: history of science, medicine and technology in pre-modern and modern East Asia; modern nutritional science and concepts in the early 20th century; charitable organizations in the Ming-Qing China

Dr. Cheris Shun Ching Chan PhD (Northwestern)
Fellow, HKIHSS; Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, HKU
Area of expertise: cultural sociology; economic sociology; healthcare; globalization; new social movements; sociocultural changes in china; qualitative research methods

Dr. Kam Wing Fung DLitt (Kyoto)
Honorary Associate Professor and Fellow, HKIHSS; Associate Professor, School of Chinese, HKU
Area of expertise: history of science and technology in East Asia; history of Chinese philosophy and scholarship; history of Islamic science; intellectual history in modern China

Dr. Florian Knothe DPhil (Mainz)
Honorary Associate Professor, HKIHSS; Director of the University Museum and Art Gallery, HKU
Area of expertise: history of early modern European and Chinese decorative arts; object conservation; history of collecting, museum studies

Dr. Ji Li PhD (Michigan)
Joint Assistant Professor, HKIHSS and School of Modern Languages and Cultures (China Studies), HKU
Area of expertise: social, cultural and religious history of late imperial and modern China; history of Christianity in China; women's history and gender studies; cross-cultural and comparative studies on China and Europe

Dr. Izumi Nakayama PhD (Harvard)
Honorary Assistant Professor and Research Officer, HKIHSS, HKU
Area of expertise: modern Japanese history, with emphasis on the studies of gender, medicine, and labour

Dr. David A. Palmer PhD (EPHE-Sorbonne)
Joint Associate Professor, HKIHSS; Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, HKU
Area of expertise: religion and spirituality in Asia; socio-cultural anthropology; state, society and traditional culture in contemporary China

Dr. Gonçalo Santos PhD (ISCTE-Lisbon)
Joint Assistant Professor, HKIHSS and Department of Sociology, HKU
Area of expertise: Socio-cultural Anthropology; Family, Gender, and Reproductive Labor; Globalization and Intimate Life; Philanthropy, Humanitarianism, and Everyday Ethics; Science and Technology Studies

Dr. Naubahar Sharif PhD (Cornell)
Honorary Associate Professor, HKIHSS, HKU; Associate Professor, Division of Social Science, HKUST
Area of expertise: development of Hong Kong’s innovation system; innovation and technology policy in Hong Kong; emergence of the Innovation Systems approach

Students will be supervised by a member of the Institute or a qualified fellow engaged in research at the Institute. Please click here to know more about our experts. Cross-disciplinary supervision could be arranged with the co-operation of teaching staff from other teaching units at the University.


Student Feedback

HUA Shuo, PhD Student

“The courses offered by the Institute provide lively and inspirational platform that encourage the students to think deeply and creatively while shaping the research design. The class size is small enough to allow for every single student to present and discuss his/her ideas. I appreciate all the comments and critiques received by the instructors, supervisors and fellow peers.”



Anna ISKRA, PhD Student

“Interdisciplinary approach is highly encouraged at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences. During the course of my study, I have had a chance to engage in critical discussions with representatives of various disciplines within humanities. I am also highly impressed by the Institute’s international network that creates unique opportunities to attend courses led by distinguished visiting professors. Moreover, the Institute has provided me with abundant opportunities for learning about other researchers’ work by organizing various public lectures and weekly lunchtime seminars. I believe that the guiding principle of HKIHSS is truly humanistic - in both research and teaching it goes beyond artificial divisions between disciplines, connecting researchers of various interests and backgrounds.”



LIU Xiaomeng, PhD Student

“The Institute fosters interdisciplinary studies and provides an excellent platform for academic exchange. Scholars and students from diverse backgrounds gather here and form an intellectually inspiring and productive community. The institute holds a weekly lunchtime seminar series which brings together humanists and social scientists located in Hong Kong and elsewhere. Courses offered by the distinguished visiting professors also give students more exposure to the research agendas and methods from around the globe. Moreover, the international institutional connections and generous funding allow students at the Institute to pursue more academic training abroad. It is really a rewarding experience to study at the Institute and I really benefit from the incredible chance provided here for my own academic development.”



SUN Qi, PhD Student

“Studying at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences is an enjoyable and challenging experience. Various public lectures and weekly lunchtime seminars serve to broaden my academic horizons. The small seminars allow students to actively engage with professors and classmates. My research has been greatly aided by detailed comments and critiques from my instructors and supervisors. Finally, the administrative staffs provide timely, helpful, and friendly support and advice.”



Fabian WINIGER, PhD Student

“The Institute's three research foci - religion, medicine and technology - bring together scholars with very different interests and academic training. This offers graduate student a unique insight into the contrasts and commonalities between various academic traditions, teaches them to think "outside the box" and to reformulate their research question so as to connect their interests with broader intellectual concerns which cut across the narrow confines of their own research topic. The Institute provides generous resources to free up students' time from department duties usually expected from graduate students so that they can fully concentrate on their research. As the Institute teaches no undergraduates, they enjoy the undivided attention of the faculty and administrative staff. The combination of interdisciplinarity, the intimate and fully-immersive learning environment, and the generous financial support provided are unique in Hong Kong, and make the Institute one of the most promising initiatives of its kind in East Asia.”



James WRIGHT, PhD Student

“The Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences has provided me with excellent training, support and guidance both in terms of research supervision and academic development. The relatively small size of the Institute enables a close collegial relationship with fellow students and academic staff, and also offers more opportunities to get involved with and gain experience and skills in teaching, and running graduate seminars. The Institute has also been extremely generous in providing funds to enable me to pursue advanced language training in Japan to facilitate my fieldwork. Overall my experience at the Institute has been incredibly positive and intellectually rewarding.”



NING Rundong, MPhil Graduate

“My experience at the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong completely intellectualy transformed me. Having majored in biological sciences as an undergraduate, I came here with hardly any training in social sciences or humanities but a vague curiosity and interest in anthropology. When I graduated from the MPhil program two years later, I found my interests not only stronger, but more importantly, much more organized and geared to further research. This change was accomplished by the superb research environment offered by the Institute. My supervisors, Prof. Angela Leung at first and then Dr. David Palmer, provided me with guidance ranging from inspiring new directions to line-by-line proofreading of papers. Other scholars here are also approachable and willing to chat with students. The compact arrangement of the May Hall and the teacher-student ratio further facilitate intellectual exchange among its students and researchers. In addition to its regular cohort of scholars, the Institute always hosts several internationally distinguished visiting scholars for months or even years, and holds academic talks at least once a week. I have benefited significantly from attending these talks and discussions with the visiting scholars and presenters. Moreover, the administrative members of the Institute are all very nice and efficient. They helped me go through the necessary paperwork for postgraduates smoothly so that I was not distracted by administrative issues throughout my study. It is these aspects, among others, that made my two-year study at the Institute, not without its stresses and occasional frustration, most fruitful and transforming.”



Peter TAM, MPhil Graduate

“The academic environment at the Institute offers a revealing learning experience. It encourages both students and teachers to be critical to their ideas and thoughts, as to identify what has been overlooked. The learning process is intensive at times, but it helps to take our research to a new level. The teachers and staff at the Institute are also very kind and supportive, which makes our academic undertaking much more enjoyable.”



Ryan XIE, MPhil Graduate

“The Institute makes great effort to support the academic pursuits of its students through its global network and generous scholarships. While studying at the Institute, students are simultaneously provided a much larger academic platform via the Institute’s partnership network worldwide, which including Yale, Harvard, University of Göttingen, National University of Singapore, and Academia Sinica. I received the generous Lee Hysan-HKIHSS Fellowship from the Institute last year which supported my four-month visit to Yale as a visiting research assistant to Professor Helen Siu in Anthropology Department. This opportunity enabled me to work closely with young scholars at Yale on research projects and was provided full access to all research facilities. Moreover, Professor Siu introduced me to a wide variety of stimulating talks and events where I met senior scholars from my research domain and enjoyed both the intellectualism and their sense of humor. I sincerely appreciate the rich and exciting academic culture that the Institute exposes us to. My former colleague from the Institute has been accepted into a PhD program at Yale this year, and I expect to see more and more of our fellow students continue their academic adventures in the most competitive institutions worldwide.”



Financial Awards and Supports

Hong Kong PhD Fellowship (HKPF) Scheme

The HKPF provides financial subsidies for brightest students across the world to pursue doctoral studies in Hong Kong. Each awardee will receive a monthly scholarship of HK$20,000 (US$2,560) and a conference and research related travel allowance of HK$10,000 (US$1,280) per year for up to three years. For HKPF awardees who are admitted to a 4-year PhD programme in 2018-19, HKU will provide a monthly scholarship and travel allowance at the same level as the HKPF for their fourth year of study. (More details)

University Postgraduate Fellowships (UPF)

UPF are available for selected full-time PhD applicants with excellent academic record. The Fellowship is worth HK$70,000 (US$8,970), which is awarded in addition to the Postgraduate Scholarship. There is no separate application for UPF. Applicants who have applied for HKPF will be automatically considered for the award of UPF.

Postgraduate Scholarships (PGS)

Full-time MPhil and PhD students who hold a first degree with second-class honours first division (or equivalent) or above are considered eligible to receive a Postgraduate Scholarship during the normative study period. Candidates’ results in Master’s degrees may also be considered. The basic level of PGS is HK$16,330 (US$2,090) per month for 2017-18.

Scholarships & Financial Support for Conference Attendance/Travel

The University administers a number of scholarships that are awarded to postgraduate students for outstanding achievements. MPhil and PhD students are also eligible for financial support for conference attendance and/or travel.

Lee Hysan-HKIHSS Fellowship (2014-2018)

The Institute launched the Fellowship scheme in 2013 with the aim to support our postgraduate students to undertake overseas research training at the Institute’s partner institutions.

HKIHSS Financial Support for Conference Attendance/Travel

The Institute offers financial support to students for their conference attendance and research trips.


General Qualifications for Admission

The basic qualification necessary for admission to research postgraduate studies is a good honours degree from this University or an equivalent qualification from a comparable institution. Qualifying examinations to test the applicants’ abilities to follow the prescribed courses and/or interviews may be conducted.

Applicants who wish to be admitted to higher degrees on the basis of a qualification from a university or a comparable institution outside Hong Kong where the language of teaching and/or examination is not English are required to provide documents to prove their English language proficiency.

For details of the admission qualifications stipulated by the University, please refer to the Guide to Application for Admission 2018-2019 on the Graduate School’s website.

Application for Admission, 2018-2019

Application Period

The main round of applications for research degrees are invited until December 1, 2017. Clearing round applications may be invited after the main round is completed. Applicants are advised to apply early in case all places of study are filled in the main round.

Procedures Period
Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme Initial application to the Research Grants Council: September 1 to December 1, 2017 noon
Full application to HKU: September 1 to December 1, 2017
Main Round September 1, 2017 to December 1, 2017
1st Clearing Round December 2, 2017 to April 30, 2018
2nd Clearing Round May 1, 2018 to August 31, 2018

MPhil candidates may commence their studies on either September 1, 2018 or January 1, 2019 while PhD candidates may commence their studies on the first day of any calendar month during the academic year.

Submission of Application Form and Supporting Documents

All applications have to be submitted to the Online Application System by the respective closing dates.

Supporting documents:

*IMPORTANT NOTES: Please refer to the Documents to support an application at the Graduate School for the submission arrangement.



Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Office Address: Room 101, May Hall, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 3917-5772
Fax: (852) 2559-6143

Graduate School

Office Address: Room P403, Graduate House, The University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam Road, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 2857-3470
Fax: (852) 2857-3543