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Study for a PhD in Asia's World City

This scheme gives students from around the world the opportunity to study for a PhD in one of Hong Kong’s highly ranked universities. If you are interested in conducting cutting-edge research in one of the following areas, PolyU’s renowned Department of English is the place for you:

  • Language and Professional Communication
  • Linguistics, English Language, and Systemic Functional Linguistics
  • Language Teaching and Learning
  • Media and Communication
  • Area Studies and Intercultural Communications

Further information about the Scheme can be obtained from the following websites:

Research Grants Council:

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University:

Key features of the Fellowship Scheme

  • Monthly stipend of HK$20,000 (approximately US$2,600)
  • Annual conference and research-related travel allowance of HK$10,000 (approximately US$1,300) for 3 years
  • Tuition scholarship and guaranteed hall accommodation in first year for PolyU awardees

Important dates

Submission of initial application to RGC: From 1 September  to 1 December 2018
Submission of full application to PolyU: 1 December 2018


About Us

The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU)

Over the years, PolyU has established a fine reputation for providing high-quality professional education and for conducting high-impact research which has practical value. In the QS rankings released in 2018 PolyU is ranked 95th in the world, 27th in Asia and 6th in the ‘Top 50 Under 50’ list of the world’s young universities. In the area of linguistics, the Faculty of Humanities – of which the English Department is a part – is ranked 40th in the world in the QS subject rankings. The medium of instruction and administration at PolyU is English, making it an especially suitable setting for international students to undertake doctoral studies.

Department of English

With ‘Linguistic Excellence in Professional Contexts’ as our mission, our research in the department focuses on applied linguistics, sociolinguistics and professional communication. Thematically, our research covers major areas such as health communication, political communication, digital media communication, advertising and (city) branding, language teaching and learning, as well as core areas in linguistics, including the study of language in society and discourse analysis. Much of our research is conducted under the auspices of our two internationally-oriented research centres:

  • Research Centre for Professional Communication in English
  • International Research Centre for the Advancement of  Healthcare Communication 

We regularly host major international conferences and symposia as well as research seminars featuring leading scholars from around the world. The department is therefore a very vibrant and congenial setting in which to study for a doctorate.


How to Apply

Admission Requirements

You should make your initial application to the Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong through the Fellowship Scheme’s online system to obtain a reference number before submitting a full application. When you apply for admission to the PolyU, via the Fellowship Scheme, you will be considered concurrently for a regular place assigned to the University through the award of a Postgraduate Studentship. This means that even if your application for the Fellowship Scheme is unsuccessful, you still have the possibility of gaining a regular place in the Department of English.

 You should:

  • hold a postgraduate degree containing a significant research component, such as a dissertation, conferred by a recognised university OR
  • have a Bachelor’s degree with First Class Honours, or the equivalent; with a possible requirement to pass an examination;
  • fulfill one of the following English language requirements if your degree is NOT from a university using English as Medium of Instruction (EMI):
    • an overall score of at least 6.5 (with score for the writing component at 6.0 or above) in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS); or
    • at least 575 in the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for the paper-based test (with a score of at least 4 out of 6 in the Test of Written English), or at least 90 in the internet-based test (with a writing score of 23 or above).

Application Procedures

1. Submission of Initial Application
You can only make ONE initial application to the RGC through the HKPFS Electronic System to obtain a HKPFS reference number by 1 December 2017. You must indicate your preference on the institutions if you wish to apply for two institutions, instead of one. No change to the choice of institutions/preference is allowed after the submission of application.

2. Submission of Full Application to PolyU
You should then submit a full application to no more than two institutions by quoting the HKPFS reference number. If you choose two PolyU programmes in the initial application, you need to submit a separate full application for EACH chosen programme to PolyU. An application fee is required for each full application. Submission of full applications to PolyU should be made via the Web Application System 1 December 2017.

Warm reminder: Your application to the HKPFS is also regarded as a formal application for PhD admission to the chosen institution(s).

Selection criteria

The primary consideration is academic excellence, as indicated by the possession of a Master’s degree or, in exceptional cases, a Bachelor’s degree with First Class Honours. Selection panels also take account of the following factors:

  • Research ability and potential
  • Communication and interpersonal skills
  • Leadership ability


Recent Awardees  

Jamie McKeown, United Kingdom   

I have enjoyed life and work in Hong Kong immensely thus far; the city is one of the most vibrant and convenient places I have ever lived in. Studying at PolyU is equally rewarding: first rate resources coupled with supportive work practices bode well for a comfortable working environment.

Didem Aydin, Turkey   


Being a post-graduate student at PolyU has been a wonderful and intellectually stimulating experience. There are many local conferences attended by experts from all around the world, not to mention our esteemed faculty in the Department of English. On top of that, the city of Hong Kong is a beautiful place where I can learn about Cantonese language and culture, which I truly enjoy.

Esterina Nervino, Italy   

I first came to PolyU as a MA exchange student and I immediately fell in love with this amazing city. Now I am happy to be back and have this great opportunity to do research in a very international and stimulating environment where I have access to all the resources I need for my project and I have the chance to work with world-renowned scholars in my research area.

Isaac N. Mwinlaaru, Ghana   

PolyU is the hub of many prestigious international conferences and other scholarly activities. This has given me the opportunity to meet and interact face-to-face with many of the world’s finest scholars in linguistics and language studies, both boosting my confidence as a budding scholar and increasing my knowledge of linguistic science.



Ms Plosa Kwan
General Office, Department of English
Tel: (852) 2766 7643
Fax: (852) 2333 6569
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Last Updated in Jan 2019