Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

CityU School of Law offers two research degrees: Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Each degree consists of a substantial research project and a limited coursework component. A PhD thesis, in particular, must make a substantial original contribution to knowledge in the relevant subject area. Research postgraduate students are encouraged to be active members of the Law School's research community. Supervision is available under regional and international experts in a diverse array of subject areas, including public law, human rights, criminal law, private law, comparative law, international law and maritime law. The University also offers excellent financial assistance to eligible students.

Dr Christopher TO

CityU School of Law  is a boutique institution with an outstanding reputation as a leading law school. We foster a culture of integrated research and teaching, drawing on the expertise of our faculty and a diverse student body. Our research contributes to the betterment of society in Hong Kong, Greater China and beyond. We encourage both theoretical and applied research with local, regional or international significance. If you wish to join the Law School’s research community and benefit from our established research culture, our MPhil/ PhD programme is a good choice for you!


Dr Daniel PASCOE
Research Degree Coordinator

Programme Structure

To be recommended for the award of an MPhil or PhD degree, students must successfully fulfil the coursework requirements, and they must satisfy the examiners in respect of their submitted thesis, an oral examination on the thesis and area of study concerned, and any required written or practical examinations.

Qualifying Examination PhD students are required to take and pass a qualifying examination within 10 –24 months (full-time) or 20–48 months (part-time) after commencement of PhD studies. The qualifying examination tests students’ knowledge of the major subject areas of their research disciplines and assesses their readiness to conduct research in their specific research discipline.

An MPhil thesis should present the results of an independent research investigation, provide evidence of a sound understanding of the area of study and of its context and applicability, and contribute to knowledge in the subject area concerned. A PhD thesis, in addition to the above, should make a substantial original contribution to knowledge in the subject area concerned.

Study Period

For students admitted on or after 1 September 2019





2 years

4 years


4 years

8 years

Medium of Instruction/Assessment and Thesis Presentation


Residence Requirement

A student who is receiving regular supervision in Hong Kong or in a designated location approved by the University is classified as being in residence. The required residence period for research degree studies is equivalent to half of the relevant (normal) period of study. To fulfil the requirement, physical residence is required.

Application Deadlines for 2023 Entry


Application Deadline


1 December 2022, at 12 noon (Hong Kong Time or GMT +8 hours)

MPhil, PhD

1 December 2022


Applicants applying for the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS) have to submit BOTH an initial application to the Research Grants Council (RGC) and then a full application to CityU.

Admission Requirements

Applicants seeking admission to a research degree programme must satisfy the following minimum entrance requirements:



  • hold a relevant Bachelor’s degree with first or second class honours (or an equivalent qualification) from a recognised university.



  • be a current MPhil student in the University who seeks transfer to PhD candidature; or
  • hold a higher degree by research (or an equivalent qualification) from a recognised university; or
  • hold a Master’s degree (or an equivalent qualification) from a recognised university; or
  • hold a Bachelor’s degree with first class honours (or an equivalent qualification) from a recognised university.


Equivalent qualifications mentioned above include relevant professional qualifications or other scholarly achievements recognised by the University.


In addition to the above, applicants  from non-English speaking universities, unless they provide proof that English is the language of instruction for all courses,  they should satisfy the following minimum English proficiency requirements:


  • a total score of 595 (paper-based test); or 97 (internet-based test); or 70 (revised paper-delivered test; sum of Reading, Listening and Writing section scores) in TOEFL; or
  • an overall band score of 7 in IELTS; or
  • a score of 520 in the Chinese mainland’s College English Test Band 6 (CET-6).



(TOEFL and IELTS scores are considered valid for two years from the test date and must be valid at the time of submission of application. CET-6 scores should be obtained within three years immediately preceding an application to the Law School.)


Financial Aid

Research degree students may be eligible for, and can apply to, a number of financial support schemes, such as Postgraduate Studentships, Research Tuition Scholarships, Conference Grants and support from the Research Activities Fund.

Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme

The Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS), established by the Research Grants Council (RGC) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, aims to attract the best and brightest students in the world to pursue their research degree programs in a Hong Kong institution.

Funding and Scholarship

The Fellowship provides awardees with a monthly stipend of HK$27,100 (~US$3,474) and a conference and research related travel allowance of HK$13,600 (~US$1,744) per year for a maximum of three years. (The rates are for 2022/23. They are subject to revision from time to time without prior notification.)

For Fellowship awardees who are admitted to a 4-year PhD programme, CityU will provide a monthly studentship at the same level as the RGC Fellowship for their fourth year of study.

Post-doc Positions at CityU School of Law

HKPFS recipients of CityU School of Law will be favourably considered for a 12-month post-doc position after they have successfully completed their PhD. Selection will be based on the consideration of relevant factors, including academic achievements, availability of a suitable faculty member as supervisor and availability of funding for the post-doc position.

English Proficiency Requirements

For applicants from non-English speaking universities, unless they provide proof that English is the language of instruction for all courses, they are required to attach score results of TOEFL or IELTS in their PhD applications to the universities concerned. 

For further details of the HKPFS, please click here.

Potential Supervisors

Prospective students are strongly encouraged to contact potential supervisors in their subject area before submitting an application, to ensure that appropriate supervision will be available for a given research project.  The areas of research expertise of our faculty are available here:

Staff profiles are available here:

Preparing a Research Proposal

To apply for admission to either the MPhil or PhD programme offered by CityU School of Law, applicants are required to submit  research proposal. The “Guidelines for Preparing a Research Proposal for Graduate Studies in the School of Law” are available here.



If applicants have already published academic work,  they may submit full copies of up to three of their publications. Where any publication is submitted in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by an abstract in English. (in support of the applicant’s publication record, if applicable) the front page of the papers (for papers that have been published) or the letter of acceptance (for papers that have been accepted for publication).

Visiting Research Students

For students who wish to apply for visiting research study at CityU School of Law:

  • you must be enrolling in a postgraduate programme in the legal discipline in a recognised university; and
  • you should identify a faculty member who agrees to be your supervisor before submitting the application; and
  • you should satisfy the minimum English language proficiency requirements stated above if your qualification is obtained from an institution where the medium of instruction is not English.

The final decision on the assignment of supervisors for successful applicants rests with the School.

For the application period and procedures, please click here




“The PhD years at CityU were a journey to me. There were ups and downs but it formed me, both as a professional and as a person. I am grateful to have the moral support from my supervisors and friends in CityU, which enabled me to enjoy every single minute spent here. ”

Dr LI Kege

PhD graduate 2021



“Pursuing a PhD degree at CityU Law is an awesome experience. I benefited a lot from this programme. The valuable courses and professors’ patient guidelines equipped me to be a better researcher. My  knowledgeable supervisors and colleague friends are the most precious I got from here. I learned a lot from them, without which I would not have been able to conduct and finish my research so well. They gave me great support, encouragement, and care. The faculty staff here are also friendly and helpful. These people made this programme and CityU Law so lovely. We have a PhD study station, which is an amazing place that all PhD candidates can work and learn and discuss with each other. This is also the place where I completed my research thesis. The time in CityU Law was one of the most wonderful parts of my life.

Dr LI Xiaotong

PhD graduate 2021


“My name is Mekonnen Seid, and I’m an Ethiopian citizen. During my study period at CityU, I obtained advanced substantive and technical skills from the research and teaching environment of CityU, which is among the world-class universities. I would say I improved my research capacity from the bottom. Particularly, I learned how to produce research with new ideas.  I also got the opportunity to serve as a teaching and research assistant. I believe the overall teaching and research experiences enabled me to engage in science-based decision-making in my future career. I am highly indebted to my supervisor for his constructive and very scientific comments and efforts to boost my dissertation’s originality by sharing useful materials and indicating new approaches. I would also like to thank the School of Law staff and my PhD classmates for their multidimensional support and useful comments during informal discussions and seminar presentations. I would also like to thank the Hong Kong government for its financial assistance (scholarship), which has been adequate enough to cover my research, living and study costs.”

Dr Seid Demeke MEKONNEN

PhD graduate 2021


“I began a PhD in 2015, completing the project in 2018 and graduating in 2019. My research was in business and human rights, and particularly looked at how corporate economic activity harmed socio-economic rights. CityU fostered a good learning environment with a good balance between opportunities, such as conferences, and time for individual work. I was hired for two years as a Visiting Fellow upon completion of my PhD, and I am currently an Assistant Professor of Business Law and Corporate Governance at the University of Nottingham Business School, based in China.”

Dr David Martin BIRCHALL

PhD graduate 2019

"I spent five most fruitful years at the School of Law, City University of Hong Kong between 2014 and 2019, including four years of PhD study and one year as a postdoctoral fellow. Despite many anxieties and challenges, I achieved several important milestones, including completing the thesis, passing the thesis examination with distinction, publishing two articles in leading law journals, namely, the Columbia Journal of Asian Law and Law & Policy, and finally, obtaining an academic position at the Macao University of Science and Technology, where I am now an Assistant Professor. Most importantly, following significant improvement in my research capacity, I have attained the confidence and independence to pursue a research career, and I plan to continue publishing in the field of law and society.

Without effective guidance from my supervisor as well as strong support provided by the School of Law, however, all these achievements would be impossible. The School of Law continually integrates interdisciplinary perspectives within the curriculum, and works hard to link the Chinese and global research communities – these features of the programme have helped to change my thinking and writing style since I commenced my PhD. I appreciate all the valuable support and assistance that the School of Law provided me during my time in Hong Kong. I believe that City University School of Law is the best place to challenge yourself to think out of the box during your postgraduate study."

Dr XIAO Huina

PhD graduate 2018


“My PhD journey at CityU has been an amazing experience. The strong ties between supervisors and researchers and opportunities to attend seminars by internationally acclaimed scholars and academics not only developed my research capabilities but also broadened my academic outlook. The abundance of resources in the library and an intellectually enriched environment make CityU amongst the best places for academic engagement if anyone has passion for research. My time at CityU was the most rewarding experience in my life, and I am very glad that I chose CityU.”

Dr Sarfaraz Ahmed KHAN

PhD graduate 2017

Are there any funding sources to support research studies?
Research studies can be undertaken on a government-funded or a self-financing basis, subject to the availability of student quota and funding. Qualified full-time candidates admitted to a research degree programme will be considered for a postgraduate studentship award supported by government fund or external funds. The application procedures, entrance and English proficiency requirements, and programme requirements for these two types of students are the same. Applicants should indicate their intention to pursue government-funded or self-financing studies on their application form.

Tuition fee levels and entitlement to financial awards and services are different for these two types of students, reflecting the different sources of funding. Government-funded students are required to pay tuition fees at a rate set by the government. As self-financing places are not subsidised, these students are required to pay a higher level of tuition fees. In addition, self-financing students are not eligible to apply for financial awards (e.g. postgraduate studentships, research tuition scholarships and conference grants) financed by government funds.
Are applicants required to attend an interview?
Shortlisted applicants will be invited to attend an interview. They will be notified of the time and place of the interview directly.
Is student accommodation available?
The University offers on-campus accommodation for full-time research students in UGC-funded programmes. Due to the very limited residence places and increasing demand, the University is unable to offer residence places to UGC-funded research students for their entire study period. Furthermore, there is no guarantee that students will be granted residence places during their studies. Applications for residence places must be submitted on a yearly basis, and residence places for UGC-funded research students are primarily allocated by drawing lots.
How much is the tuition fee?
The tuition fees for regular research students in 2022/23 are as follows:

Type of Fee (in HK$)

          Mode of Study



UGC-allocated Students and UGC-related Students

Tuition fee

3,508 per month

1,754 per month

Continuation fee

877 per month

439 per month


Tuition fee

7,016 per month

3,508 per month

Continuation fee

1,754 per month

877 per month

The tuition fees for Visiting Research Students in 2022/23 are as follows:

Type of Fee (in HK$)

Mode of Study

Research component fee

1,170 per calendar month

Fee for taking taught courses

Per credit unit tuition fee at the fee level for the relevant programme

What is the cost of living in Hong Kong?
The cost of living in Hong Kong is generally high. The estimated basic cost of living for a single student is around HK$13,000 to HK$23,000 per month to cover food, lodging and general living expenses, depending on the type of accommodation selected and level of living and personal expenses. The above estimate does not include the tuition fee.
Whom may I contact for enquiries?
Prospective students may contact:

Chow Yei Ching School of Graduate Studies

4/F Fong Yun Wah Building

City University of Hong Kong
83 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Tel: (852) 3442 9076
Fax: (852) 3442 0332

Routine admissions enquiries may be addressed to:
General Office, School of Law
City University of Hong Kong
83 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 3442 8008
Fax: (852) 3442 0190

Other enquiries may be addressed to the Research Degree Coordinator:
Dr Daniel PASCOE
Associate Professor
Research Degree Coordinator
School of Law, City University of Hong Kong
83 Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong
Tel: (852) 3442 7029
Fax: (852) 3442 0190