PROCEDURES FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF PHILOSOPHY (MPhil)
(Applicable to students enrolled in or after September 2004. Procedures applicable to other students are available at the website: http://www.hku.hk/gradsch/web/regulations/)
“Faculty” as stated in the procedures below refers to the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee (FHDC) and / or the Faculty Board. Always bearing in mind the constitutional powers and duties of the two bodies, each faculty can determine whether it wishes to have the Faculty Board delegating responsibility to the FHDC, subject to the approval of the Senate, or maintain the status quo, or undertake other approaches as appropriate.
MPH2. and MPH2A. Admission requirements
- Enquiries from intending applicants which precede a formal application for admission should be directed to the relevant department for a reply.
- Before submission of a formal application, Departments and potential applicants are encouraged to discuss the proposed research plan, the availability of appropriate supervision and funding, and the suitability of the applicant to pursue programmes offered by the department.
- A candidate for registration shall submit to the Graduate School an application on the appropriate form, together with the prescribed application fee and documentation. Academic Referees’ Reports should be forwarded to the Graduate School by the referees at the same time as the application is submitted. Individual departments should decide whether further documentation is required.
- Applicants who are seeking admission on the basis of qualifications from overseas universities or comparable institutions of which the language of teaching and / or examination is not English are required to submit evidence that they have obtained a score or grade as specified in General Regulation G2(b) in any one of the listed tests of English proficiency; unless in special circumstances they are exempted from this requirement by the Board of Graduate Studies (BoGS) upon the recommendation of the relevant Board of Faculty.
- The Graduate School shall establish whether an application is prima facie eligible for consideration under Regulation MPH2(b) of the Regulations for the Degree of Master of Philosophy and General Regulation G2(b). The Graduate School shall pass the application to the Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee (DRPC) for consideration. The application, together with the recommendation of the DRPC and the name(s) of the proposed supervisor(s), shall be considered by the Faculty for recommendation to the BoGS.
- The BoGS shall decide:
- where the applicant is eligible for admission, that he or she be admitted with or without being subject to the requirement of passing a qualifying examination (see Procedure MPH3 below); or
- where the applicant satisfies the requirements for admission in all respects except that relating to English proficiency as stipulated in General Regulation G2(b), that the applicant be admitted through a waiver of the requirement, where there are special circumstances which merit the granting of such a waiver; or
- where the applicant is not eligible for admission under Regulation MPH2(b),
- that the applicant be admitted exceptionally under Regulation MPH2A, in the light of the criteria approved by the BoGS; or
- that the applicant be conditionally admitted subject to his or her attaining academic qualifications which satisfy Regulation MPH2(b); or
- that the application is deemed unsuccessful.
- A recommendation on whether or not to admit shall normally be made by the Faculty within one month of the receipt of the application by the DRPC.
- The offer of admission shall contain a stipulation that the candidate must confirm in writing that he or she would comply with the rules and regulations of the University, and in particular, with the provision regarding the prohibition of concurrent registration.
- Once an application is deemed unsuccessful, all documentation pertaining to that applicant shall be destroyed. All documentation pertaining to successful applicants shall be retained.
MPH3. Qualifying Examination
Where a qualifying examination is required, the Faculty shall appoint at least two examiners on the recommendation of the DRPC. A recommendation on pass or fail shall be made by the examiners to the FHDC. The Faculty shall then make a recommendation to the BoGS for approval or otherwise of admission under the relevant programme.
MPH4. Registration and Fee Payment
- A candidate shall be permitted to register only on the first day of September or January of each year.
- The Chairman of the DRPC and the candidate shall confirm the candidate’s status as full-time or part-time as defined in Regulation MPH4(b).
- The fees for higher degree studies shall be charged as set out in the General Regulations. Fees shall be charged even if a candidate is pursuing his or her study overseas. Once a thesis is submitted for examination a candidate need not pay additional fees, unless he or she is required to revise and resubmit the thesis for a new examination, whereupon a second examination fee is charged.
MPH5. Probation and Confirmation of Candidature
- One month before the expiry of the probationary period under Regulation MPH5, the supervisor(s) and the candidate shall be required to submit respectively to the DRPC a “Supervision Report” (only one Report should be submitted for each student) and a “Candidate’s Progress Report” (to which a detailed scheme of research must be attached).
- A candidate shall also be required to have satisfactorily completed all the Graduate School courses and at least 50% of the remaining prescribed coursework by the end of the probationary period. Failure to do so may lead to the termination of candidature.
- The DRPC shall consider the reports together with the coursework result of the candidate, and shall submit the reports and a recommendation on the confirmation or termination of the candidature, or an extension / shortening of the probationary period to the Faculty for a decision.
- Only under very justified circumstances should the Faculty approve an application for shortening of the probationary period.
MPH6. Transfer of Candidature
- A candidate whose candidature has been confirmed and who has satisfactorily completed all coursework requirements may, if he or she so wishes, apply for transfer from the MPhil degree to the PhD degree. The candidate shall submit an application in writing, together with a revised research proposal, endorsed by the supervisor(s), and provide evidence of written work e.g. some sample writing of the thesis or published paper in which the candidate has played a major role, to the DRPC. The candidate shall be required to conduct an oral presentation in relation to the research plan before the Committee that considers the application for transfer. The application shall then, together with the recommendation from the DRPC, be submitted for a decision by the Faculty, which shall inform the Graduate School. Such transfer, if approved, shall be effected at least three months prior to the expiry of the MPhil candidature unless special approval has been given by the Faculty, and the candidate’s period of study for the degree shall be counted from the initial date of registration.
- A candidate who wishes to apply for transfer from full-time to part-time candidature (or vice versa) shall submit an application in writing, endorsed by the supervisor(s), to the DRPC. The application shall then, together with the recommendation from the DRPC, be submitted for a decision by the Faculty which shall then inform the Graduate School. If the application is approved, the candidate’s new remaining period of study shall be calculated by applying the ratio of 2:3 as the conversion value to the original remaining period of study, to the nearest whole day.
MPH7. Period of Study
- Candidates are expected to submit their thesis and complete coursework, where necessary, within the specified period of study.
- The thesis may be submitted only after confirmation of candidature and completion of the minimum study period as set out in Regulation MPH7(a), where applicable.
- A candidate may however, after confirmation of candidature, apply for an extension beyond the specified period of study. Detailed justifications for the extension, a study plan for the requested period of extension and recommendation of the supervisor(s) should be submitted.
- All such applications for extension must be made to the DRPC no later than three months before the period of study is due to expire. The Faculty shall then forward the recommendation of the DRPC, in the light of comments from the supervisor(s), to the BoGS.
- Any extension beyond the specified period of study will be granted only upon the demonstration of sound justification accepted by the BoGS.
MPH8. Coursework Requirements
- A candidate shall be required to take courses as specified in the coursework syllabuses. These courses will include two compulsory courses offered or approved by the Graduate School. The Faculty shall approve the coursework curricula and syllabuses of Faculty / departmental courses and any subsequent amendments thereto and the BoGS shall be kept informed of the details of any approval granted. Candidates pursuing the same programme in the same department shall be required to take the same number of courses.
- Each course shall normally comprise 24 contact hours.
- Courses previously undertaken may count towards coursework requirements. A candidate who has successfully completed the required course(s) or equivalent(s), either from this University or a comparable institution, may, on production of suitable documentation, be exempted from taking the course(s). Any such application shall be considered by the BoGS, on the recommendation of the supervisor(s), the DRPC and the Faculty. Where exemption is sought in respect of noncompulsory courses for which a range of options is available, candidates should be encouraged to take other courses which they have not previously attempted, if such are useful for their studies. Applications for the substitution of a prescribed Faculty / departmental course by a course outside the curriculum shall be approved by the Faculty.
- The coursework selection of each candidate shall be determined by the DRPC, taking into account the views of the candidate and the supervisor(s).
- Candidates shall take courses immediately upon registration and should aim at completing all the courses within the first twelve months of the period of study. As stipulated in Procedure MPH5(2), candidates shall be required to complete the specified proportion of coursework before the end of the probationary period. All coursework requirements must be completed before thesis submission.
- Candidates may be allowed to change course selection within the first two weeks after the commencement of the course, subject to the approval of the DRPC.
MPH9. Leave of absence
- Applications for leave of absence from Hong Kong and / or from the approved course of study and research, or for vacation purposes, shall be made in writing as early as possible and in advance of the proposed leave period. The application shall be addressed to the DRPC via the supervisor(s). Permission for leave of absence of up to one month may be granted by the DRPC on the recommendation of the candidate’s supervisor(s). An application for absence for a period exceeding one month shall be considered by the FHDC, on the recommendation of the DRPC. The appropriate committee(s) shall also determine whether or not the leave of absence is for study purposes. In granting permission for leave of absence for study purposes, the relevant committee(s) shall satisfy itself that appropriate arrangements have been made for the continued and adequate supervision of the candidate. If the candidate is to be attached to an academic institution elsewhere while on leave of absence, the committee granting leave may require evidence that guidance will be available from a suitable person at that institution. If the leave of absence for study purposes is approved, or if the period of vacation leave is that to which a fulltime candidate is entitled, the candidate shall not be required to extend the period of study by the period of absence. Since the maximum amount of study leave and non-study leave allowed in a programme is in each case twelve months cumulatively (Regulation MPH9(d) and (e) refers), a candidate who wishes to be away for longer than the permitted periods shall normally be required to withdraw his or her candidature but will be allowed to apply for admission subsequently. The period of study shall then begin afresh.
- A candidate given leave of absence for study purposes or vacation leave within the entitlement period shall be required to pay the normal fees. A candidate given leave of absence for purposes other than study shall not be required to pay any fees during the period of absence but shall not be allowed to follow the course of study and research and present himself or herself for examination.
- A candidate who has been absent for any period shall be responsible for making up for any coursework and / or research which has been missed as a result of his or her absence.
MPH10. Supervision and Progress
- A supervisor or supervisors shall be appointed for a candidate by the BoGS on the advice of the Faculty which shall in turn have regard to the recommendation of the DRPC, and with the agreement of the candidate. In the case of co-supervision, the DRPC shall designate who the primary supervisor is. New supervisor(s) may be appointed on the recommendation of the Faculty if the BoGS deems it necessary.
- Supervisors shall be Teachers of the University as defined in the University Ordinance and Statutes, or Honorary or Visiting Teachers. Visiting and Honorary Teachers cannot serve as primary supervisors, with the exception of Research Assistant Professors who are appointed as Honorary Teachers. However, when an Research Assistant Professor holding an honorary appointment is appointed as the primary supervisor, another full-time Teacher should be appointed as co-supervisor to ensure continuity of supervision.
- If the sole supervisor proceeds on leave for two or more months, the DRPC shall appoint an acting supervisor for the candidate, unless satisfactory supervision arrangement can be made.
- If a teacher, who in the view of the FHDC, has no previous supervisory experience, is proposed as supervisor for the first time, a co-supervisor with supervisory experience shall be appointed for the candidate, in consultation with the DRPC.
- Each supervisor and each candidate shall be issued with the “Notes for Supervisors of Candidates for the Degrees of MPhil and PhD” and with any further instructions issued by the Graduate School.
- The supervisor(s) and the candidate shall be required to submit to the FHDC a “Supervision
Report” (only one Report should be submitted for each student) and a “Candidate’s Progress
- one month before the end of the probationary period of the candidature; and
- at six-monthly intervals, other than at the end of the probationary period.
- The DRPC shall on each reporting occasion be required to provide comments on the supervision and / or progress on the reports and shall show their comments to the supervisor(s) and the candidate before transmitting the reports in Procedures MPH10(6)(a) and (b) above to the FHDC for recommendation to the Faculty Board.
- The BoGS may require from time to time statistical or other reports from FHDCs on candidates’ progress.
- If the Faculty approves that the candidature be not confirmed, the candidature shall be allowed to lapse. An appeal with full justification given may be submitted by a candidate to the BoGS against a decision by the Faculty to terminate his / her probationary candidature. In respect of a candidate whose candidature has been confirmed, but who subsequently is recommended by the supervisor(s) and the DRPC to discontinue studies because of unsatisfactory progress, the procedure to be followed is stipulated in Procedure MPH11(3) below.
- During the course of study, candidates may be required to give one or more seminars on the subject of their course of study and research, and may be required by the Faculty to perform satisfactorily in the conduct of such seminars before their candidature can be confirmed or transferred to that of PhD. Such a requirement may even constitute a condition for the award of the degree.
- A candidature may be discontinued under the provisions of Regulation MPH11. In this connection, students are advised to refer to the relevant sections of the General Regulations and the Graduate School Handbook.
- Recommendations for discontinuation under the provisions of Regulation MPH11 may be initiated by the DRPC and considered by the FHDC, the Faculty Review Committee and the Faculty Board for recommendation to the Senate Committee on Discontinuation.
- A candidate whose progress is unsatisfactory, or who has failed to meet the coursework
requirements as laid down in Procedure MPH15(3) and / or has failed in the thesis examination
as laid down in Procedure MPH14(2)(d)(iv) and MPH14(2)(f) may be discontinued. A
recommendation for discontinuation due to
- unsatisfactory progress may be made by the supervisor(s) and the DRPC, to the FHDC, the Faculty Review Committee, for recommendation to the Faculty Board and the Senate Committee on Discontinuation;
- failure to meet thesis requirements will be made by the Board of Graduate Stu die s (BoG S) to the Faculty Review Committee, the Faculty Board and the Senate Committee on Discontinuation;
- failure to meet coursework requirements will be made by the FHDC to the Faculty Review Committee, the Faculty Board and the Senate Committee on Discontinuation.
MPH12. Notice of Intention to Submit Thesis
- A candidate shall serve written notice to the Chairman of the DRPC of his / her intention to submit the thesis for examination, at least three months before the expected date of submission. The candidate shall send, at the same time, a copy of such notice to his / her supervisor(s). Applications for a waiver of the 3-month notification period shall be approved by the Faculty.
- Upon receipt of such notification, and in any case before the thesis is submitted, the DRPC shall recommend the appointment of examiners for the thesis and the oral examination. (Procedure MPH14(2) below governs the appointment of examiners).
MPH13. Submission of Thesis
- Before a candidate submits his / her thesis for examination, he or she should pass a copy of the thesis to the supervisor(s) who should complete and sign a standard proforma confirming that the thesis is ready for submission. A supervisor may, under special circumstances, dissociate himself or herself from the content of the thesis by using the same proforma.
- A candidate shall deliver to the Faculty Secretary four copies of the thesis, presented in accordance with the “Regulations Governing the Format, Binding and Presentation of Theses”; accompanied by the “thesis submission” form, duly completed; and the receipt of payment of the examination fee. The Faculty Secretary shall acknowledge the receipt of the thesis and the accompanying documents; and shall send a copy of the receipt to the Director of Finance. A reminder of the requirement for the oral and any other examination shall be issued with the receipt.
- Coursework Examination
A candidate is assessed by examiners appointed by the Faculty / Graduate School on each of the courses which he or she has registered to take. The assessment may take one or a combination of methods.
- Thesis Examination
Appointment of Examiners
- Two examiners, comprising one internal examiner and one external examiner, shall be appointed by the Faculty at the same time as the candidate has given written notice of the intention to submit the thesis (MPH12), on the recommendation of the DRPC. The examiners shall have been appointed before the thesis is submitted. The DRPC shall provide a brief c.v. of the proposed external examiner.
- Examiners shall normally be those who have completed a graduate degree at doctoral level in the discipline or in cognate area or have equivalent experience and should as far as possible have not been involved in supervision of the thesis. The internal examiners shall be Teachers of the University as defined in the Ordinance and the Statutes. If there is more than one supervisor, a primary supervisor of the thesis cannot be an examiner, but is an ex-officio non-voting member of the Thesis Examining Committee (TEC).
- In the case of a candidate who is a Teacher or a full-time appointee of the University who provides instruction, two examiners, external to the University, shall be appointed.
- The Faculty Secretary shall schedule a notional date for the oral examination, at the same
time when the thesis is sent out to the examiners, on the understanding that the notional date
would be confirmed or that an actual date for the examination would be determined nearer
the time should an oral examination be required. The examiners shall read the thesis and shall
submit separate written reports direct to the Faculty Secretary. The examiners are requested
to report within six weeks from the date of the receipt of the thesis. At the same time, the
examiners are asked to note the notional date for conducting the oral examination, if one is
to be conducted according to MPH14 2(j) below. If the report is not received by the due date,
a reminder shall be sent out by the Faculty Secretary. If any report is still outstanding by
the end of three months, the Faculty should take appropriate action e.g. the appointment of
a new examiner. All examiners’ reports should be kept “confidential” until the examination
process has been completed. Each report shall include an opinion as to whether or not the
- that the thesis is of sufficient standard1 for the degree of MPhil and that the requirement for an oral examination be waived;
- that the candidate is required to pass an oral examination before the thesis is deemed to be of sufficient standard1 for the degree of MPhil, or;
- that the thesis is not acceptable for the degree of MPhil in its present form2 but should be modified and re-submitted for a new examination. [Please refer to Procedure (h) below.];
- that the candidate should be failed with no opportunity to re-submit the thesis. In such a case, the candidate may make a representation through the Faculty Review Committee and the Committee on Discontinuation.
- Any suggested minor corrections or revisions (e.g. corrections of typographical errors and errors in
nomenclature, improvement in phrasing, or rewriting of small sections of the thesis) should be outlined in the examiner’s report. It is understood that it will be the responsibility of the supervisor to discuss the suggested changes with the candidate, to determine which should be incorporated in the thesis before its final submission. Minor corrections and amendments must be made within a period of one month.
- This recommendation reflects the examiner’s opinion that further research, re-analysis of data, or substantial rewriting of at least part of the material is required.
- Any suggested minor corrections or revisions (e.g. corrections of typographical errors and errors in
- A TEC shall be established. The Committee shall consist of a Chairman and three members. The Faculty will appoint the members of the Committee who shall consider the opinions of the examiners and determine which examination result of the four options in (d) is to be recommended. The internal examiner and the external examiner are voting members while the candidate’s primary supervisor is an ex-officio, non-voting member of the Committee. The Chairman, who is a non-voting member, shall be appointed by the Faculty from a pool of academics to be nominated by the Dean of the Faculty and approved by the BoGS to ensure that the examination is conducted in a fair manner. The Chairman shall as far as possible not be from the same department or subject area (in the case of a unitary faculty) as the candidate, but appointed from a cognate discipline so as to have a sufficient understanding of the subject of the thesis. The Chairman should make a recommendation to this Examining Committee on whether a third independent examiner should be appointed if the TEC cannot reach a consensus on the examination result after the oral examination. A person appointed as an examiner who is not a Teacher of the University shall receive an honorarium. Only one such honorarium shall be payable to each examiner for the examination, including reexamination, of each candidate.
- The TEC should inform the Faculty Secretary of their recommendation of option (i) to (iv) in (d) above. If the Committee recommends option (i) or (iv), the Faculty Secretary should inform the appropriate authority of the Faculty to make a recommendation to the BoGS. [Procedure (p) below refers.] In the case of (ii) or (iii), the Faculty Secretary will either set up an oral examination for the student (see Procedures (j) to (n) below) or inform the student to revise and re-submit his / her thesis for a new examination, as appropriate.
- Where corrections and amendments to the thesis are required, the Faculty Secretary shall inform the student of such as soon as possible in order that the corrections and amendments can be addressed without delay.
- Where the TEC decides that a candidate is required to revise and re-submit the thesis for a
new examination, the Faculty Secretary shall inform the candidate of such a decision. At the
same time the candidate shall be informed that attendance may be required at an oral or any
other examination. The candidate shall be required to produce a summary of the amendments
made to the revised thesis, on re-submission. The thesis will, after submission, be examined
by the original examiners who may recommend only:
- that the candidate is required to pass an oral examination of the thesis before the thesis is deemed to be of sufficient standard for the degree of MPhil; or
- that the candidate should be failed.
- In all cases where not all the examiners agree that the thesis is of sufficient standard for conferment of the degree, it is mandatory for the external examiner to participate in the oral examination. If the external examiner is not available in Hong Kong at a time convenient for the meeting of the TEC, a meeting by means of teleconferencing or video-conferencing shall be held. Only if such means prove not to be possible should Faculties consider appointing an additional examiner to represent the external examiner at the oral examination. Prior approval of the BoGS shall be required for the appointment of an additional examiner who shall meet the requirements stipulated in MPH14 (2)(b) above. In cases where there is consensus amongst the examiners on the result of the thesis, Faculties are still encouraged to arrange for the participation of the external examiner in the oral examination through any of the means stipulated above.
- When an oral examination of the thesis is required, the Faculty Secretary shall organize it normally within one month from the day the TEC makes that decision. The oral examination shall normally be held in Hong Kong by the TEC.
- The Faculty Secretary shall give the candidate at least one week's notice of the date of the oral examination.
- In special cases where an oral examination cannot be held in Hong Kong, special approval shall be sought from the BoEGS.
- An oral examination is normally considered a closed examination, and questions will only be raised by members of the TEC. However, the Chairman may extend invitations to those who have been closely associated with the preparation of the thesis.
- Following the examination, the TEC will meet in camera to render a final assessment of the thesis and of the candidate’s ability to defend his / her work. The Committee may recommend that the candidate has:
- No candidate shall be permitted more than two submissions of thesis or more than two oral examinations.
- The recommendation of the TEC shall be forwarded to the Faculty. The decision of the Faculty on the result of the MPhil programme should be passed to the BoGS for a decision on behalf of the Senate. All the relevant documents on the case should be attached.
- The final version of MPhil theses not requiring re-examination shall be submitted to the Faculty Secretary within 1 month, unless specified otherwise, of the date on which the student is informed of the examination result. If a corrected thesis is not submitted within 2 months of this deadline, the programme will be terminated.
- MPhil theses requiring re-examination shall be resubmitted to the Faculty Secretary within 12 months, unless specified otherwise, of the date on which the student is informed of the examination result. Students requiring re-submission and re-examination of theses must maintain their registration during this period. Failure to resubmit the revised thesis within 12 months will result in termination of the student’s programme.
- Any departure from the above, i.e. a special case, requires the approval of the BoEGS.
MPH15. Coursework Examination Results
- Coursework shall be assessed on a pass / fail basis.
- The DRPC shall make recommendations on the examination results of the candidates in the departmental / faculty courses taken in accordance with Regulation MPH15, to the FHDC for a decision. The Graduate School shall make recommendations on the candidates’ examination results in Graduate School courses to the BoGS f or a decision.
- In the event that a candidate has failed in any course (which, for this purpose, covers both the reexamination of the same course and the “alternative” course) in a second attempt, he or she may be recommended for discontinuation, or termination of candidature if still within the probationary period of study. The normal procedures for discontinuation and termination (as laid down in MPH11(3) above) shall be followed.
- Candidates who are unable because of illness to be present for any written examination may apply for permission to present themselves for a supplementary examination. Any such application shall be made on the form prescribed within two weeks of the first day of absence from any examination. The supplementary examination shall be held at a time to be determined by the FHDC (for departmental / faculty courses) or the BoGS (for Graduate School courses) as appropriate. Candidates who fail to satisfy the examiners in one or more papers in such a supplementary examination shall be considered as failure at the first attempt.