PhD

Introduction

1. General

Within the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the School of Design offers positions for candidates who wish to obtain doctoral degrees centred in design. Operating within a leading design school in Asia, the PhD program aims at advancing knowledge by producing high-quality research. Situated in Hong Kong, the School brings together Asian and Western knowledge to inform scholarly, technical and critical enquiry. As a centre for both design research and design education, the School of Design welcomes diverse approaches within each of these themes, with various methodologies, practices and theoretical positions, through hypothetico-deductive’, ‘interpretive’, ‘constructive’, or ‘artistic’ types of research. The PhD program draws together global scholars to generate, exchange and discuss knowledge and ideas on contemporary questions within the pursuit of advanced academic work.

2. Research Themes

Research at the School of Design is grounded in an understanding of design as a social activity that: [a] involves collaboration and sharing among diverse people, [b] is embedded in societies and cultures, [c] gives expression to ideals and values of society, [d] critically explores and interrogates issues in society and [d] goes beyond the design professions.

Moreover, the School research has gravitated towards exploring these social dimensions of design within three distinct realms:

[a] Design Social (設計社會學): collaborative design with communities to improve their lives through participatory, theoretical and critical approaches

[b] Design Economy (設計經濟學): collaborative design that enhances the role of design in innovation and value creation in the private sector

[c] Design Making (設計製造學): user-centred design investigations with communities and practices of making, such as the “maker movement,” with technological, organizational as well as sociological facets.

This work happens in the School’s research labs:

Asian Lifestyle Design Lab

Asian Ergonomics Design Lab

Creativity and Design Education Lab

Digital Entertainment Lab

Information Design Lab

Interaction Design Lab

Public Design Lab

Urban Environments Lab

Each theme is based on the established experience and expertise of the School of Design and its researchers. Each embraces an essential facet of relevant contemporary design research approach.

3. Current PhD Work

Presently the School of Design has around 50 PhD students in the process of conducting research and completing various PhD dissertations. Project titles and focus vary in scope, range and methods used. Descriptions of individual projects can be found here.

4. Period of Study

The PhD track is a 3-year full time [6 years part-time] program. All PhD candidates are expected to fulfil minimum university and faculty requirements, through both required and elective coursework, the completion of original research and the presentation (defence) of an approved dissertation. The process itself involves a supervisory team guiding and assisting PhD students for their entire research process, assessment meetings and scheduled research gatherings facilitated by the School.

Taught coursework consists of two compulsory subjects and one elective subject, each carrying 3 credits. In addition, the PhD requires students to complete 3 Design Seminars (1 credit each), 2 Design Training (Practicum) subjects (1 credit each) and 1 Design Ethics subject (1 credit). Completion of the PhD track requires 15 credits in total (3-year track of PhD study).

For candidates with less experience in design research or who do not hold a postgraduate degree with a significant research component, a 4-year full-time [8 years part-time] period of study is required, with a minimum of 22 credits. For the 4-year track, taught coursework consists of two compulsory subjects and three elective subjects, each carrying 3 credits. In addition the PhD requires students to complete 4 Design Seminars (1 credit each), 2 Design Training (Practicum) subjects (1 credit each) and 1 Design Ethics subject (1 credit).

Indicatively, overall the full-time PhD track is structured in the following manner:

Month 2:  Formal enrolment, first proposal review, feedback, and formal 
appointment of supervisor
Months 12-18:  Completion of required coursework, Confirmation of registration 
Month 36: Thesis submission
Month 42: PhD defence meeting

5. Financing, Supervision and Support

Multiple PhD financing options are possible, as outlined below. Each type of funding has specific application criteria, funding support structures, and submission deadlines. Candidates are advised to study the possible funding schemes in detail and determine what suits their personal situation best. All questions regarding these schemes are to be directed to the funding organization, except where mentioned otherwise.

Funding Scheme 1: University Grants Committee [UGC] Funded Support is a fully funded scheme and includes:

  • Monthly stipend of HK$15,700,
  • Allowances for research-related activities. 
  • Students are required to dedicate 6 hours per week in service of the School, for teaching and other scholarly support activities. 
  • Application deadline: 30 November 
  • More information available at: http://www.polyu.edu.hk/ro/e-prospectus/#.Vq7hb9J97d5

Funding Scheme 2: Hong Kong PHD Fellowship Scheme:

  • Monthly stipend of HK$20,000, based on School Research Committee’s discretion and approval. 
  • Allowances for research-related activities. 
  • Application deadline: 1 December
  • [Pre-application requirements: 1 September – 30 November: Applicants should first submit initial applications via RGC’s system to obtain a HKPFS reference number] 
  • More information available at: http://www.polyu.edu.hk/ro/hkphd-fellowship/en/

Funding Scheme 3: Teaching Postgraduate Studentship (TPS):

  • Monthly stipend of HK$15,700, for a 9-month appointment period. 
  • Half-half financial scheme where half the tuition fees for the first year are covered by the student with the remaining half covered by the School / University.
  • Reviewed for the 2nd and 3rd year of study, based on the availability of funding in line with the research and teaching performance of the candidate. 
  • Inclusive of both limited funds and allowances for research activities. Students may be required to dedicate 17 hours per week for teaching and administrative duties. 
  • Application deadline: 15 April, annually. 
  • More information available at: http://www.polyu.edu.hk/ro/e-prospectus/#.VfAUMNKqpBc

Funding Option 4: Self-financed Applications: 

Funding Option 5: Other Funding Sources:

  • Depending on their circumstances, applicants may be eligible to apply for sponsorship from other governmental and private scholarships and other funding schemes. Students should inform themselves about what potential schemes might be applicable for them.
  • For application purposes, such students are considered as self-financed (please indicate in the application what governmental / private scholarships / other funding scheme will be used to support your studies)

6. Application Deadlines

  • Self-financed applications: 15 April/30 September. 
  • University Grants Committee [UGC]: 30 November **
  • Hong Kong PHD Fellowship Scheme [submitted to POLYU]: 1 December.
  • Teaching Postgraduate Studentship (TPS): 15 April.
  • (** All applicants who apply for the PhD UGC-funded study are highly recommended to apply for the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme which opens for application in September, annually).

7. Getting Started

Supervisors:

PhD candidates are advised to identify and contact appropriate PhD supervisors in the School of Design, and discuss intended research proposals before submission of their documents via the online registration process. Potential candidates can expect a first round of feedback as part of this process. Research in the School of Design focuses on specific areas based on existing expertise, per academic discipline, as summarized earlier. Although candidates can express preference of supervisors, the School Research Committee reserves the right to allocate other qualified academic staff members as supervisors based on background, experience, expertise and as a result of a personal interview with the candidate.

1. Eligible chief supervisors (January 2016)

Name

Expertise

Bruyns, Gerhard

Urban environments, architecture, theory

Choy, Clifford

Interactive technology, systems engineering, human-computer interaction

De Bont, Cees

Innovation management, marketing, consumer behaviour 

Jachna, Tim

Urban environments, architecture, urban practices

Koskinen, Ilpo

Social design, design methodology, product design

Ng, Sandy

Visual and cultural studies, art history and theories

Siu, Michael

Universal design, public facilities, design education

Yu, Gino

Digital technology, entertainment, creativity and consciousness

2. Eligible co-supervisors (January 2016)

Name

Expertise

Buhring, Jorn

Luxury, strategic management, design foresight

Chow, Kenny

Interaction design, cognitive linguistics, ludology (game studies)

Gutierrez, Laurent

Urban environments, architecture, art

Hasdell, Peter

Urban environments, architecture, social design

Lee, Vincie

Advertising design

Leong, Benny

Product design, Asian lifestyle design, sustainable design

Liu, Sylvia

Design management in China, design strategy

Luximon, Tina

Ergonomics, product design

Ma, Henry

Design education

Wei, Huaxin

Interaction design, interactive storytelling, human-computer interaction

Wirman, Hanna

Digital games, gender and identity, qualitative research


Writing a proposal:

A proposal should consist of no more than 5,000 words (excluding bibliography) structured under the following sections:

  • Project title;
  • Project objectives - no more than 250 words (aims);
  • Main topic and goals (what?);
  • Methodology (how?);
  • Relevance (why?) and co-relations - societal or political relevance; relevance to scholarship, relevance to other disciplines and fields of study;
  • Working plan - 36-month work plan after completion of electives, demonstrating the feasibility of the proposed research;
  • Bibliography;
  • Details of possible external collaboration.

Other supporting documents:

A number of application documents are to be submitted during the official application process as follows:

8. Further Information and Enquiries

Students are encouraged to peruse the Hong Kong Polytechnic University’s e-prospectus on Postgraduate Research at http://www.polyu.edu.hk/ro/e-prospectus/#.VjAwX4RCKb8.

Please direct all questions about PhD education to:
Chair, School Research Committee, c/o Ms. Florence Lam /Ms. Emily Leung, Tel: (852) 3400-8260/2766-5487, via email: sd.phd@polyu.edu.hk.

A document about the guidelines on research proposal writing (by Professor Ilpo Koskinen) is available on request. Please contact Miss Florence Lam, via email: sd.phd@polyu.edu.hk.

Coordinator PhD Intake:
Dr.ir. G Bruyns, email: gerhard.bruyns@polyu.edu.hk

Teaching staff

Miscellaneous

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