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8. Research Postgraduate Education

8.1 Introduction

8.1.1The University’s mission on RPg education is to provide first-class RPg education and learning that meet the highest international standard.

8.1.2The major principles of RPg education are: (i) student-centred and merit-based RPg policies; (ii) shared responsibility among central, Faculties/Departments and supervisors; and (iii) recognition of disciplinary differences. In accordance with the above principles, the Graduate School, Faculties, Departments and supervisors work together in the QA and QE processes ranging from admissions, supervision, study progress of students, to examinations and graduation.

8.1.3More detailed information mentioned in this Chapter is available in the Handbook for MPhil and PhD Programmes (Handbook) downloadable from the Graduate School website for easy reference by staff and students (http://www.gradsch.hku.hk/gradsch/publications-newsletters/handbook-for-mphil-and-phd-programme). The Graduate School updates the Handbook annually and provides a copy to RPg students at the beginning of their studies.

8.2 Organisational structure of research postgraduate education

8.2.1The University’s RPg education is governed by the following organisational structure:

Figure 8.1: Organisational structure of research postgraduate education

8.2.2Policy Board of Postgraduate Education
The Policy Board of Postgraduate Education (Policy Board) sets the overall plan of the University’s long-term strategies in, and policies on, all matters concerning RPg education.

8.2.3Board of Graduate Studies
The Board of Graduate Studies (BoGS), a sub-committee of the Policy Board, comprises the Dean and up to two Associate Deans of the Graduate School and Faculty Higher Degrees Committee (FHDC) Chairs of all Faculties. BoGS ensures that good practices, consistent with policies and guidelines determined by the Policy Board, in admission, academic programmes, progress monitoring, thesis submission, and thesis and coursework examinations are adopted throughout the University. The Board may also grant exceptions to the rules and regulations on academic grounds.

8.2.4Graduate School
At the administrative level, the Graduate School is responsible for QA and QE and overall management of RPg programmes. It helps to set guidelines and regulations for Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) programmes, and implements policies on admissions, academic progress, examinations, and QA and QE in respect of training for research students. The Graduate School also provides courses, workshops and other forms of training to RPg students on generic skills relevant to their studies.

8.2.5Faculty Higher Degrees Committees
Each Faculty has a FHDC which reports to the Faculty Board. Its membership is determined by the Faculty itself, which accounts for their differing composition. FHDC advises the Faculty Board on various matters relating to higher coursework and research degrees (except DSc, DLitt, LLD and DSocSc), and such postgraduate diplomas and certificates as the Senate may determine from time to time, where appropriate.

8.2.6Departmental Research Postgraduate Committees
The Departmental Research Postgraduate Committee (DRPC) is the advisory body to FHDC on the management of RPg education at the Department level. Its objectives are to broaden the basis of decision making on RPg education, to give advice to supervisors and supervisees, and to function as the Departmental QA and QE body.

8.2.7Board of Examiners
A BoE is set up by the Faculty and its membership comprises the Dean of the Faculty (Chair), FHDC members, specialist and additional examiners, supervisor(s), and the Chair of the Thesis Examining Committee (TEC). BoE receives the report of TEC, the reports of the specialist examiners of the thesis and the report of the examiners present at the oral examination, and recommends a course of action to BoGS for approval.

8.2.8Thesis Examining Committee
A TEC comprising the TEC Chair, internal and external examiners, and the student’s primary and possibly co-supervisor shall be formed to consider and recommend a result on the thesis and/or oral examination(s) for submission to BoE.

8.2.9The Terms of Reference of the Policy Board, BoGS, FHDC, DRPC and BoE are available in the Handbook.

8.3 Educational aims and learning outcomes for research postgraduate education

8.3.1The University’s educational aims, institutional and programme learning outcomes for RPg curricula are accessible at the Graduate School website (http://www.gradsch.hku.hk/gradsch/programmes/hku-educational-aims-and-learning-outcomes-for-mphil-phd). Faculties may make reference to the general set of learning outcomes, as deemed appropriate, when drawing up their aims and learning outcomes for RPg curricula in specific academic disciplines.

8.3.2An Achievement Card (AC) is designed to document the attainment of educational aims and ILOs of each RPg student over specific periods of time of his/her study. Supervisors will discuss with their students their achievements with reference to the educational aims and ILOs and complete the AC online. The AC is applicable for RPg students who register in or after September 2018.

8.4 Regulations and procedures

8.4.1RPg curricula are governed by the General Regulations. In addition, the MPhil and PhD curricula are governed by the Regulations for the Degree of Master of Philosophy and Regulations for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy respectively, approved by the Senate on the recommendation of the Policy Board. These Regulations make provisions for admission requirements, period of study, progression of studies, coursework requirements, leave of absence and submission of thesis. The Procedures for the Degrees of MPhil and PhD, approved by the Policy Board, provide administrative guidance for the interpretation and execution of the Degree Regulations.

8.4.2The Degree Regulations and Procedures for MPhil and PhD programmes are available in the Handbook and on the Graduate School website (http://www.gradsch.hku.hk/gradsch/current-students/regulations-procedures).

8.5 Good practices and guidelines

8.5.1In addition to the Degree Regulations and Procedures, the Policy Board and BoGS have drawn up good practices and guidelines for RPg students, supervisors, DRPCs and FHDCs to follow. All are listed in the Handbook:

Good Practices
  • Good Practices for Research Postgraduate Students;
  • Good Practices for Supervisors;
  • Good Practices for Faculty Higher Degrees Committees; and
  • Good Practices for Departmental Research Postgraduate Committees.
  • Guidelines for Setting Up and Conducting Oral Examinations for MPhil and PhD Candidates;
  • Guidelines on the Appointment of TEC Chair; and
  • Guidelines on Handling Appeal from a Student whose Candidature is Terminated by the Faculty within the Probationary Period.

8.5.2Booklets on Research Integrity, Plagiarism, Preparing and Submitting your Thesis, How to Prepare Thesis Proposal are also available for students’ reference.

8.6 Quality assurance and quality enhancement

8.6.1The Graduate School monitors and assures the quality of RPg education concerning student admissions and award of postgraduate scholarship, supervision arrangements, students’ study progress, coursework, training and thesis examination. Details of QA and QE measures are available in the Handbook and on the Graduate School website.

8.6.2Channels to collect feedback for enhancement of the quality of RPg programmes include the following:

  • SETL questionnaire (conducted by the Graduate School at the end of each Graduate School course and data analysed by SSRC for submission to BoGS);
  • Survey of Student Learning Experiences (conducted by the Graduate School on current first-year and final-year RPg students, and data analysed by SSRC for submission to BoGS);
  • A Study of Opinions of RPg Students on Leaving the University (i.e., Exit Survey, conducted by the Graduate School and data analysed by SSRC for submission to BoGS);
  • Graduate Employment Survey on Higher Degrees (conducted by CEDARS);
  • Student representation on the Policy Board of Postgraduate Education;
  • Meetings with the Postgraduate Student Association;
  • Staff-Student Consultative Committee meetings at the Graduate School as well as at the Department and Faculty levels; and
  • Feedback collected from BoGS which comprises FHDC Chairs of all Faculties.


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