Research Postgraduate Programme (PhD)


Doctor of Philosophy
(Three-year full-time / Four-year full-time, starting in 2019/20) 


The Doctor of Philosophy is based on identifying, understanding and developing creative practice as a specialized field of knowledge production. It is particularly focused on practice-led research strategies and methodologies in the visual arts with the intention of supporting the development of the individual artist’s creative works and research. The programme is studio-based, enabling the production of new bodies of work within a programme of tutorials, seminars, and lectures that requires research candidates to evaluate and reflect on a range of conceptual, philosophical, material and theoretical frameworks, and demonstrate their understanding of contemporary critical thinking and visual art practice.


The degree of PhD is obtained by research. A PhD thesis must contain a substantial original contribution to knowledge or understanding, and itis a piece of work which a capable, well-qualified and diligent student. The degree is awarded to students who have demonstrated:

a) the creation and interpretation of new knowledge, through original research or other advanced scholarship, of a quality to satisfy peer review, extend the forefront of the discipline, and merit publication;

b) a systematic acquisition and understanding of a substantial body of knowledge which is at the forefront of an academic discipline or area of professional practice;

c) the general ability to conceptualise, design and implement a project for the generation of new knowledge, applications or understanding at the forefront of the discipline, and to adjust the project design in the light of unforeseen problems;

d) a detailed understanding of applicable techniques for research and advanced academic enquiry.

Typically, holders of the qualification will be able to:

a) make informed judgements on complex issues in specialist fields, often in the absence of complete data, and be able to communicate their ideas and conclusions effectively to specialist and non-specialist audiences;

b) continue to undertake pure and/or applied research and development at an advanced level, contributing substantially to the development of new techniques, ideas or approaches; and will have:

c) the qualities and transferable skills necessary for employment requiring the exercise of personal responsibility and largely autonomous initiative in complex and unpredictable situations, in professional or equivalent environments.

The thesis should be no more than 60,000 words in length, including the text of the thesis, footnotes and appendices. Illustration captions and bibliography are excluded.

It is recommended that you have completed not less than 20,000, complete draft structure and literature survey prior to entering your final year of study.

Practice-based and Practice-led

Practice-based Research is an original investigation undertaken to gain new knowledge partly by means of practice and the outcomes of that practice. Claims of originality and contribution to knowledge may be demonstrated through creative outcomes which may include artefacts such as images, music, designs, models, digital media or other outcomes such as performances and exhibitions Whilst the significance and context of the claims are described in words, a full understanding can only be obtained with direct reference to those outcomes. A practice-based PhD is distinguishable from a conventional PhD because creative outcomes from the research process may be included in the submission for examination and the claim for an original contribution to the field are held to be demonstrated through the original creative work.

Practice-based doctoral submissions must include a substantial contextualisation of the creative work. This critical appraisal or analysis not only clarifies the basis of the claim for the originality and location of the original work, it also provides the basis for a judgement as to whether general scholarly requirements are met. This could be defined as judgement of the submission as a contribution to knowledge in the field, showing doctoral level powers of analysis and mastery of existing contextual knowledge, in a form that is accessible to and auditable by knowledgeable peers.

Practice-led Research is concerned with the nature of practice and leads to new knowledge that has operational significance for that practice. The main focus of the research is to advance knowledge about practice, or to advance knowledge within practice. In a doctoral thesis, the results of practice-led research may be fully described in text form without the inclusion of a creative outcome. The primary focus of the research is to advance knowledge about practice, or to advance knowledge within practice. Such research includes practice as an integral part of its method and often falls within the general area of action research. The doctoral theses that emerge from this type of practice related research are not the same as those that include artefacts and works as part of the submission.


Full-time residency requirement: 36 months

Degree requirements: a combination of coursework and independent practice-led creative research. Students should successfully complete a minimum of 15 units of coursework (including three units of mandatory common core courses) as laid down by the programme and achieve a minimum GPA score of 2.67.

(The University will fully implement the new 4-year full-time PhD Programme in 2019/20. Click here for more details.) 

Programme Tuition Fee

Tuition: HK$42,100 per year


1. HKBU Postgraduate Studentship

Students will be provided with studentship of HK$16,330 per month.

2. Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS)

Students will be provided with studentship of HK$25,100 (approx. US$3,200) per month, and tuition waiver HK$42,100 (around US$5,400) per year for each of the 3 years of studies.

Click here for more details about HKPFS

Other Finance Support

Students receiving the scholarship will be provided HK$15,000 (approx. US$1,900) to cover research related general expenses for the entire study period. 

Research Expertise

Image: Body Aesthetics and Performance Art, Chinese Art, Modern and Contemporary Art, Design, Folk Art and Culture, Hong Kong Art, Interactive Media, Time-based Media, Theories of Material Culture, Museum and Curatorial Studies, Public Art and Community, and Visual Culture Studies.