General Information Period of Study Coursework

General Information

The Research Postgraduate programme is designed to provide students an opportunity to acquire greater expertise in a chosen field of Computer Science through a combination of courses and intensive research under the supervision of an experienced researcher.  A student is required:
A candidate registered provisionally for the MPhil degree is subject to a probationary period of up to 12 months for full-time and 18 months for part-time study.

3-year PhD Programme (Applicable to students who have commenced their studies on or before 16 August 2019):
A candidate registered provisionally for the PhD (or MPhil/PhD) degree is subject to a probationary period of up to 18 months for full-time and 21 months for part-time study.

4-year PhD programme (Applicable to students who commence their studies on or after 1 September 2019):
A candidate registered provisionally for the PhD (or MPhil/PhD) degree is subject to a probationary period of up to 30 months for full-time and 42 months for part-time study.

Before the end of probationary period, PhD and MPhil candidates are required to apply for confirmation of candidature based on the Departmental and the University’s guidelines and procedures.  Failure to attain full candidature in a timely manner may result in dismissal.

Period of Study

Both the PhD and MPhil degree programmes may be pursued either on a full-time or a part-time mode.
Programme PhD Degree MPhil Degree
3-year Programme^ 4-year Programme
Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time Full-time Part-time
Minimum Period 24* or 30 months 36* or 60 months 36 months 48 months 21 months 36 months
Normal Period 36 or 48** months 72 months 48 months 72 months 24 months 48 months
Maximum Period 60 months 96 months 72 months 96 months 48 months 72 months

^The last admission cohort of 3-year PhD Programme is 2018-2019. This is applicable to students who have commenced their studies on or before 16 August 2019.

*The shorter period is applicable to PhD entrants who possess a Master's degree in a closely related field.

**The longer period is applicable to PhD entrants who do not possess a research Master's degree. A studentship is normally provided for 36 months. If students wish to extend to beyond 36 months, they should apply in writing, with the recommendation of the Dean, for approval by the Graduate School.

Note: Any exception to these rules requires the approval of the University Research Postgraduate Studies Committee.


PhD and MPhil candidates will pursue a programme of study approved by the Graduate School, and shall present themselves for relevant examinations and at such times as may be required by the examiners.

The programme of study shall comprise:
  1. supervised original research work culminating in the submission of a thesis;
  2. coursework as required by the Department of Computer Science, as well as the Faculty of Science;
  3. mandatory research seminars and mandatory course(s) on research methodology;
  4. active participation in lectures, study groups, workshops, seminars, colloquia and conferences as directed by the supervisor(s);
  5. any other courses needed to make up for the candidate’s deficiencies as required by the supervisor(s) and the University; and
  6. the Mandatory Common Core Programme, which shall be completed satisfactorily before the arrangement of confirmation of candidature.

    The following are also mandatory for students undertaking the 4-year PhD Programme:

  7. 3-6 months overseas learning experience;
  8. oral/poster presentation at a reputable international conference, workshop or exhibition;
  9. publications as required by the Faculty; and
  10. any other discipline-specific requirements.

Candidates should respectively successfully complete a minimum of 12 units of coursework for MPhil programme, 15 units for 3-year PhD programme and 22 units for 4-year PhD programme (including three units of mandatory common core courses) as laid down by the Faculty and achieve a minimum GPA score of 2.67.  Except the common core courses, each course normally carries 2 to 3 units per semester/trimester/term. For candidates on joint or dual degree programmes, the unit requirements for graduation may vary.  All coursework courses taken for fulfilling the coursework requirement will be included in the GPA calculation.

As a departmental requirement, students should take the seminar course: COMP7080 Postgraduate Seminar per semester in their normal study period. The unit of this course is, however, NOT counted towards the coursework requirement for MPhil programme and 3-year PhD programme.  Further, students who take the course COMP7080 are required to submit five seminar reports per semester.

Make-up courses and laboratory courses which are required to cover the candidate’s deficiencies are not counted towards the coursework requirements.

PhD candidates who have a relevant Master’s degree may be exempted from 3 units of coursework. 

For candidates who have been transferred from MPhil candidature and have successfully completed the MPhil coursework requirements, the units gained in their MPhil coursework requirements can be counted towards their PhD coursework requirements if deemed appropriate by the Faculty.

In course selection, please note that not more than two courses (which must have direct relevance to the research area of the student) are to be taken at advanced undergraduate level (i.e. 3XXX series courses). As a reference, the detailed courses offered by the Department can be found here.

Any course to be taken by a candidate will need to be recommended by the Principal Supervisor and endorsed by the Department Head with due reference to the candidate's academic background.

If a required course cannot be offered by the University at a given time, an equivalent course may be taken from another university in Hong Kong with the approval of the Principal Supervisor and the Department Head.