Within The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the School of Design offers positions for applicants who wish to obtain doctoral degrees in design. Operating within a leading design school in Asia, the PhD programme aims to advance 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 and artistic research. The PhD programme draws together global scholars to generate, exchange and discuss knowledge and ideas on contemporary questions within the pursuit of advanced academic work.

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] Social Design (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

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.

Current PhD Work

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

Period of Study

All PhD students, admitted from 2018/19 cohort onwards, are expected to fulfil minimum university and faculty requirements, through both required and elective coursework, and the completion of original research and the presentation (defence) of an approved thesis. The process involves a supervisory team guiding and assisting students through their entire research process, assessment meetings and scheduled research gatherings facilitated by the School.

For students admitted into a 3-year full-time (6-year part-time) programme, they are required to attain 15 credits:

• Taught coursework includes two compulsory subjects and one elective subject, each carrying 3 credits; 
• Design related training includes three Design Seminars subjects (1 credit each), two Design Training (Practicum) subjects (1 credit each) and one Design Ethics subject (1 credit). 

For students admitted into the programme with less experience in design research or without holding a postgraduate degree with a significant research component, they are required to complete a 4-year full-time (8-year part-time) programme and to attain 22 credits:

• Taught coursework includes two compulsory subjects and three elective subjects, each carrying 3 credits;
• Design related training includes four Design Seminars subjects (1 credit each), two Design Training (Practicum) subjects (1 credit each) and one Design Ethics subject (1 credit).

Financing and Support

Multiple PhD financing options are outlined below. Each option has specific application criteria, funding support structure and submission deadline. Applicants are advised to study these options and determine which one suits them best. Information about fees and financial assistance of different options can be found here.

1: Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS)

2: University Grants Committee (UGC) Funded Support 

Preference will be given to applicants who apply for the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS), for which the application period starts in early September each year.  Applicants should first submit HKPFS applications via RGC’s system to obtain a HKPFS reference number.

3. Self-finaniced Applications

Applicants with adequate funds can apply under the self-financed track.

4: Other Funding Sources

Applicants eligible to apply for sponsorship (from Government or private scholarships, or other funding schemes), are considered as self-financed applications. They should indicate which scholarships or funding schemes can support their studies.

5. Tution Wavier for Local Students

Starting from 2018/19 academic year, the Government would provide tuition waiver for all local students enrolled in UGC-funded RPg programmes. More information available at:

Teaching staff

Entrance requirement

English Language Requirements for PhD Admission

English language test result (for applicants who have not obtained a degree from a recognized university in which the language of instruction is English)

  • 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.

Please refer to the University’s Admission Requirements at


PhD applicants 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. They may be given advice on the proposal. Research in the School of Design focuses on specific areas based on existing expertise. Although applicants can express preference of supervisors, the School Research Committee reserves the right to allocate other qualified academic staff members as supervisors, who have relevant professional background, experience and expertise.  

Eligible Chief Supervisors



Bruyns, Gerhard

Urban Environments, Architecture, Theory

Bühring, Jörn

Luxury, Strategic Management, Design Foresight

Chow, Kenny

Interaction Design, Design emotion, Persuasive Design

Choy, Clifford

Interactive Technology, Systems Engineering, Human-computer Interaction

Gutierrez, Laurent

Urban Environments, Architecture, Art

Hasdell, Peter

Urban Environments, Architecture, Social Design

Ho, Jeffrey

Human-computer Interaction, Virtual Reality, Information Architecture, Interaction Design, Digital Games

Hoorn, Johan

Social Robotics, Artificial Creativity, Affective Computing

Kong, Anthony Pui Keung

Digital Experience, Educational Technology, Film and Animation, Interactive Entertainment, Service Design

Lau, Newman

Interaction, UX design for Wellbeing, Gealthcare, Sports

Lee, Brian

Product and Service Design, Interactive and Tangible Experience, Intergenerational Design, Public Furniture

Lee, Kun-Pyo

UX Design, User-centered Design, Service Design, Interaction Design, Design Methods

Lee, Vincie

Advertising Design

Liu, Sylvia

Entrepreneurial Design Management, Ecosystem for Disruptive Innovation, Design Policy

Luximon, Tina

Ergonomics, Product Design, Human-computer Interaction

Ma, Henry

Design Education

Maximo, Tulio

Inclusive Design, Assistive Technologies, Social Design, Mobility, Service Design, Ergonomics

Ng, Sandy

Art & Design History and Theories, Visual and Material Culture

Oh, Jae-Eun

Design Education, Creativity, Students’ Motivation, Animation, Animation Storytelling, Nostalgia, Theme Park Studies

Park, Shera Hyunyim 

Service Design, Service Ecosystem, Digital Platform, Healthcare Service, Service Innovation

Shih, Yiteng

Conceptual Design, Team Design, Design Thinking

Siu, Michael

Universal Design, Public Facilities, Design Education

Wang, Stephen

Innovative Design, Design Intelligence, Interaction Design, and Industrial Design

Wei, Huaxin

Interaction Design, Interactive Storytelling, Human-computer Interaction

Wan, Bruce

Enabling Technology, Positive Design, Experience and Service Design, Smart Tourism Innovation

Yu, Gino

Digital Technology, Entertainment, Creativity and Consciousness

See also: Meet our staff

Research proposal:

A proposal should consist of no more than 5,000 words (excluding bibliography). Please use the PolyU template, Form GSB/1A (former:RDC/1A) , which can be found at:

  • 1. Name of Proposed Chief Supervisor
  • 2. Project Title
  • 3. Project Objectives
  • 4. Scope and Background of Research
  • 5. Research Methodology
  • • Main topic, goals, and hypotheses.
  • 6. Project Significance and Value
  • • Societal or political relevance; relevance to scholarship; relevance to design.
  • • Link to at least one of the School’s research themes: Design Social, Design Economies, Design Making.
  • 7. Details of Any External Collaboration
  • 8. Declaration of the Applicant
  • 9. Endorsement by the Proposed Chief Supervisor
  • 10. Recommendation of Head of Affiliated Department in the University

Please DO NOT change the standard format and only attach the followings with Form GSB/1A :

  • 11. 36-Month Work Plan
  • • demonstrating the feasibility of the proposed research
  • 12. Bibliography (not included in word count)

A document about the guidelines on research proposal writing is available on request, please contact us at

Application and Enquiries

Applicants who wish to apply for the PhD programme in Design are strongly encouraged to make an application through the Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS) which is open between September and December every year.

Please visit the HKPFS webpage and e-Prospectus of our programme for detailed information about the application procedures and deadline

A complete application consists of a research proposal and support documents. Please submit the below support documents together with their completed proposal:

  • • Certificate of the award of your Bachelor's and Master’s degree(s);
  • • Transcript of your degree(s) with the explanatory notes of overall GPA and maximum GPA of your studies;
  • • English language test result (for applicants who have not obtained a degree from a recognized university in which the language of instruction is English);
  • i. An overall score of at least 6.5 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS); or
  • ii. 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.
  • • Updated Curriculum Vitae;
  • • Signed Research Degree Proposal (Form GSB/1A);
  • • Personal Statement;
  • • TWO academic referee’s reports at the university level;
  • • Additional documents, i.e. published papers, awards, letter of intent (your background, why do you want a PhD, your research interest area), etc.

Click here for the step-by-step guide of application procedures. 


1. All applicants are required to submit two referees reports through the e-Admission system. Your referees will receive the link only after you submit the application. Please be reminded that you should submit your application as soon as possible to ensure the referee's reports reach us before the application deadline. If the referee's reports are not received, your application may be disqualified.

2. For applicants who have not obtained a degree from a recognized university in which the language of instruction is English, you should also submit a language test result, such as TOEFL and IELTS.

3. For the proposal, please use the official form (Form GSB/1A). Please be reminded that DO NOT change the standard format of the form.

4. Incomplete and insufficient information/ documents may result in non-acceptance of your application.

It is advised to reserve at least 3-4 months to prepare a good proposal. Also, to find and get in touch with an appropriate supervisor.

General enquiries about admin procedures:
Please contact us at

Further enquiries on our research programme:
Please contact our PhD & TPS Coordinator, G Bruyns at


Page tags

Share this page