The Faculty offers three types of research degrees, MPhil, PhD and the SJD. A successful MPhil thesis should represent the result of the candidate’s research which displays some originality and which demonstrates a sound understanding of the field of study and the appropriate research methods. Candidates will conduct research work under the supervision of at least one member of the Faculty’s staff. The following are the focus areas of research:
1. Public Law
This is one of the strongest areas of the Faculty. Staff members are actively engaged in contemporary debates on comparative constitutional law, human rights, rule of law and gender issues, and significant research on these areas has been produced. Since 1999, we have offered a pioneering regional Master of Laws (LLM) in Human Rights, which is the only human rights law programme in Asia with a uniquely Asian focus. Graduates of this programme include judges, lawyers and advocates, government lawyers and prosecutors, academics and human rights activists in over 17 countries in Asia and other parts of the world. Our public law research is backed up by our Centre of Comparative and Public Law (CCPL). A number of our staff have won various research prizes and awards. Excellent scholarship on human rights is published in the Asia Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law, a Scopus-indexed journal edited and housed in CCPL.
2. Comparative Chinese Law
The Faculty has the widest range of expertise in Chinese Law outside Mainland China. Our expertise ranges from criminal law, public law, securities regulation and finance, and intellectual property, to cross-border issues and legal theory and jurisprudence. Coupled with our strength in common law, we are in a very strong position in offering comparative law research and teaching on civil law and common law. Because of the unique position of Hong Kong and our Faculty, our research on comparative Chinese law has been frequently cited in most of the quality international journals, and our LLM in Chinese Law programme has been able to attract students from all over the world who are interested in China’s legal development and its interface with the Western world. A number of our colleagues are involved one way or another in legal reform in Mainland China.
3. Commercial, Corporate and Financial Law
The Faculty has a wealth of expertise in the commercial law area, including core common law subjects such as contract, tort, property, equity, tax, credit and security, mergers and acquisitions, listing, banking, finance, commercial drafting, as well as private international law and international trade and economic law. This is a very diversified area but a most important one for legal education. Our Asian Institute of International Financial Law has been a focal point of our research on corporate and financial law, and has brought to Hong Kong many distinguished scholars for many highly successful public lectures and academic conferences.
4. Intellectual Property and Information Technology
This is a budding area of significance in the Faculty. In terms of information technology law, the Law and Technology Centre has generated considerable research output and, with major funding from the Hong Kong Government, has developed the very successful Community Legal Information Centre project, which promulgates legal knowledge to the general public. The Centre also houses the Hong Kong Legal Information Institute, which provides the public with free access to one of the best electronic databases on Hong Kong legal materials and thereby contributes to better access to the law. Our intellectual property scholars conduct cutting-edge research in the area of bio-medical development and pharmaceutical products, as well as domain name disputes and policy research.
5. WTO and International Economic Law
Trade and international economic law is an established area in the Faculty. The East Asian International Economic Law (EAIEL) programme is the focal point of training and research in this area. We were designated by the WTO for three consecutive years as the Asia-Pacific centre for running the first Regional Trade Policy Course (RTPC) for government officials from over 30 developing countries in the Asia Pacific Region. EAIEL has also been engaged in capacity building and staff training in WTO matters in China and southeast Asia. It has also collaborated with various UN organs in organising high level international conferences, including the Trade Symposium alongside the 6th WTO Ministerial Conference held in Hong Kong in December 2005. The Visiting Fellow scheme of the EAIEL programme also brings in regional and international experts in the area.
6. Arbitration & Dispute Resolution
The Faculty is also actively developing the interdisciplinary area of arbitration and dispute resolution, which incorporates law, business, government, psychology, economics, anthropology, and education. We have expertise from both the Anglo-American and Mainland China backgrounds in dispute resolution, and the aim is to create a productive dialogue between rigorous research and scholarship and the competitive edge of practice in this area of great potential. As negotiation and dispute resolution is also tied to culture and values, we are developing a major dispute resolution and negotiation programme in this part of the world where there is a distinct cultural approach to such issues.
7. Law and Humanities
The Faculty has a particular interest in research at the intersection of law and the humanities with a number of scholars working in the fields of legal theory, law and film, law and language, legal history, law and literature, and related areas. Research is carried out using a range of interdisciplinary methods and through collaboration with scholars internationally and in the wider community. More information about the law and humanities research and teaching at HKU is available here: https://www.law.hku.hk/lawandhumanities/
All our RPg students are required to satisfactorily complete the Graduate School courses as well as the Faculty courses prescribed for their respective fields of study/degrees, i.e. 1 compulsory and 2 elective law courses for the PhD programme.
For 3-year full time programme, applicants should hold any one of the following qualifications;
(i) an LLB degree or equivalent from this or any other approved University with honours and a research Master degree in law from this or any other approved University; or
(ii) any other qualification accepted by the Senate on the recommendation of the Faculty of Law in an individual case;
For 4-year full time programme, applicants should hold any one of the following qualifications:
(i) an LLB degree or equivalent from this or any other approved University with honours and a taught Masters degree in law from this or any other approved University; or
(ii) an LLB degree or equivalent from this or any other approved University with normally First Class Honours or equivalent; or
(iii) any other qualification accepted by the Senate on the recommendation of the Faculty of Law in an individual case.
For an applicant who is seeking admission on the basis of a qualification from a university or comparable institution outside Hong Kong of which the language of teaching and/or examination is not English, shall satisfy the University English language requirement. Preference will be given to those who obtain one of the following recognized English tests:
(i) Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) – a score of 593 or above (paper-based test) or 97 or above (internet-based test); or
(ii) International English Language Testing System (IELTS) – an overall band score of 7 or above with no subtest below 6.5;
in each case, for admissions purposes, the test score report is regarded as valid for two years.
Hong Kong PhD Fellowships: https://cerg1.ugc.edu.hk/hkpfs/index.html
PhD programmes: http://www.gradsch.hku.hk/gradsch/prospective-students/how-to-apply/
A completed application includes:
– officially certified certificates and complete transcripts of undergraduate and postgraduate studies;
– research proposal; (suggested format of a research proposal)
– two academic referee’s report through the online application system (by the referee concerned)
PhD programme (for admissions in 2022-2023)
Hong Kong PhD Fellowships: 1 December 2021 at 12:00 noon (Hong Kong Time)
Main round application: September 1 – December 1, 2021
1st Clearing Round : December 2, 2021 – April 30, 2022
2nd Clearing Round : May 1 – August 31, 2022
Click here to view the 2023-24 admissions flyer.
Click here to view our latest programme pamphlet.
Professor He Xin
Director of Postgraduate Research