1. General

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.

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] 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.

3. 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.

4. 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).

5. 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: University Grants Committee (UGC) Funded Support 

• 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:
• 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.

2: Hong Kong PhD Fellowship Scheme (HKPFS)

• More information available at: 
• Please submit the application to PolyU.

3: Teaching Postgraduate Studentship (TPS) Scheme

• The offer of assistantship in the subsequent years is subject to the availability of funding and the research and teaching performance of the student, inclusive of both limited funds and allowances for research activities.
• More information available at:

4: Self-financed Applications

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

5: 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.

6. English Language Requirements for PhD Admission

Please refer to the University’s Admission Requirements at

7. Getting Started


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 (Aug 2020)



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

Lau, Newman

Interaction, UX design for wellbeing, healthcare, 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 cultural studies

Oh, Jae-Eun

Design education, creativity, students’ motivation, animation, animation storytelling, nostalgia, theme park studies

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

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) 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.

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

8. Application and Enquiries

Interested applicants are advised to study the e-Prospectus of our programme here.

Application can be made via before 31 Dec 2020.

General enquiries about admin procedures:
Please contact us at

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

Teaching staff


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