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Applying for Research Study

The research focus in the Department is on applied linguistics, sociolinguistics and professional communication. Thematically, the 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.


Download Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme 2024/25 Flyer

Important Notice: the Department of English and Communication, and its Research Postgraduate Programme, is not affiliated with any outside agencies or consultancies that claim to provide assistance in preparing applications, references, interviews, or vetting for recruitment procedures. The decision for selection and recruitment lies entirely with the department and University; any applications containing inauthentic documents will risk immediate disqualification.

How to apply


It is very important to identify a staff member who is willing to work with you to develop a research proposal. If you don’t have someone specific in mind, we suggest you look at the information provided on our faculty’s research areas pages below to locate a suitable supervisor by reading their academic publications to get a clear idea of their area of interest and preferred methodologies:

Please note only staff with an asterisk next to their name are able to accept Ph.D. students in the coming academic year.

When preparing your application, please provide evidence of strong written and spoken ability in academic English. Such evidence will be evaluated holistically once the candidate has met the basic university requirements for admission related to English. The evidence could include: an overall score of at least 6.5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS); or a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score of 80 or above for the Internet-based test or 550 or above for the paper-based test; or first/sole author publication in a reputable academic journal, or some equivalent evidence for their written and spoken ability (IELTS OR TOFEL is required only if applicants do not have a degree for which English was the language of instruction at a recognized university).

It is also helpful to provide letters of recommendation from people who can speak to your ability to conduct and complete a PhD thesis in 36 months. This could include recommendation letters from former study Supervisors or teachers, or Principle Investigators of projects that you were a part of.

To increase your chances of success, prepare a preliminary research proposal for your potential supervisor to consider. Please click here for research proposal guidelines for your reference.


Prepare a 1-2 page cover letter to submit with your proposal to the potential supervisor. The letter should clearly indicate:

  1. proposed field of study
  2. motivation for applying to study with supervisor (i.e. what previous research has the supervisor done that is particularly interesting to you and relevant to your own line of study);
  3. information about your academic background, including graduating institutions and GPA (for both BA and MA degrees), academic transcripts, research experience which could include a research paper or dissertation; and
  4. reasons for studying in Hong Kong and at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University

Upon finalisation of your research proposal and nomination of a potential supervisor, please submit your application to the Research Grants Council (RGC) of Hong Kong through the Fellowship Scheme’s online system. Once you have obtained a reference number, you will be able to submit the full application for admission to PolyU via the Fellowship Scheme.

Please note your application will also receive full consideration for regular places assigned to the University through a Postgraduate Studentship if it is unsuccessful in the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship

Applicants are encouraged to apply to the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme:

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