Research Postgraduate Studies
King's College London (KCL) and HKU Joint PhD Programme

King's College London Health Schools

King's College London (KCL) is internationally recognised for excellence in biomedical and health research and training. Health related research and teaching spans four academic Faculties at King's.

  • Dental Institute
  • Faculty of Life Sciences and Medicine
  • Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing & Midwifery
  • Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience

Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong

The HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine is one of the top medical schools in Asia, with an emphasis on collaborative and multi-disciplinary research. The Faculty concentrates its research efforts in the following strategic themes:

  • Emerging Infectious Diseases
  • Cancer
  • Stem Cell, Development & Regenerative Biology
  • Cardiometabolic Diseases & Healthy Ageing

Both medical schools are committed to the education of research postgraduate students. Staff members of the two institutions are already engaged in research collaboration by means of joint supervision of research postgraduate exchange students.

Students may pursue research in any of the participating strategic research themes offered by KCL and HKU, or any other interdisciplinary project relating to one of these themes, that may involve other faculties.  In particular, some Faculty members at HKU have identified counterparts at KCL with complementary research strengths for joint supervision of PhD students.  Some of them have already established research collaborations while others have close academic connections.  A list of intending supervisors with their research interests/topics are available at the following link.  The list will be expanded upon approval from the Faculty Higher Degrees Committee (FHDC) and the Board of the Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of HKU and the corresponding approval authorities/committees of KCL.

List of intending supervisors with their research interests/topics

Academic staff members of both parties who are eligible to be a principal supervisor of PhD candidates in accordance with the regulations of the respective institutions may identify high caliber students for the joint PhD programme. It is expected that applicants should possess excellent academic qualification (e.g. Bachelor's degree with 2.1 or first-class honours/and normally a Master's degree with high standing from a reputable university). Applicants' research experience will also be taken into consideration.

Applicants should submit a PhD application following the format stipulated by the home institution, together with following supporting documents:

  • A research proposal;
  • A statement on the applicant's aspiration/vision for studying the joint PhD programme;
  • A CV detailing the applicants' academic qualifications, working experience, publications, professional qualifications, prizes and awards, extracurricular activities, volunteer work and community services.
  • A letter of support from the HKU & KCL supervisors, a plan on how they will jointly contribute to the supervision of the candidate and which parts of the proposed PhD project will be conducted at the home/partner institution;
  • A research plan detailing the study period and dates to be spent at each institution and research training arrangements;
  • Certificates/transcripts of the applicant's Bachelor's and Master's degree qualifications;
  • Evidence of meeting the English language proficiency criteria stipulated by KCL and HKU; and
  • Reference letters from two referees who are able to comment on the applicant's academic and research capabilities.

Applications will be considered through the normal admission process at HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine and KCL. For admission to the Joint PhD programme, the Joint Academic Committee (JAC) must approve all candidates. No offer may be made without the JAC's approval.

Up to 5 students may be admitted under this joint PhD programme each year. Flexibility may be allowed if more than 5 candidates are deemed to be of outstanding merit for admission to the joint PhD programme, but the overall number may not be more than 10 from each institution as a whole.

Learn more about the application and admissions process on the HKU Graduate School's website.

Similar to the existing Research Postgraduate Exchange Scheme of the HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty will provide a subsistence allowance of HK$5000 per month, in addition to the usual postgraduate studentships, for students with HKU being their home institution during the period while they are conducting research at KCL School of Medicine up to a maximum of 24 months.

Apart from the travel insurance programme arranged by HKU covering students with HKU being their home institution for overseas exchange up to a maximum of 180 days, the HKU Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine will provide an additional travel insurance policy for students undertaking research exchange at KCL for the remaining period.

Students should comply with the rules and regulations of the home and host institutions in all areas of the candidature and as laid out in the MOU on joint PhD programme signed between HKU and KCL on 8 May 2009. Students should comply with the rules and regulations of the home institution in all areas not specified by this document or the above mentioned agreement.

Students with HKU being their home institution are subject to a probationary period and are required to submit progress reports bi-annually in accordance with the HKU Regulations for the Degree of PhD.  The candidates' probationary report and bi-annual progress reports should be endorsed by both the HKU and KCL supervisors. The bi-annual supervision report should be completed by the HKU supervisor and counter-signed by the KCL supervisor.

Students with KCL being their home institution are subject to the College regulations for monitoring and assessment of students' progress.

Students with HKU being their home institution are required to complete the required Graduate School Core Courses and Faculty Research Postgraduate Courses in accordance with the HKU Regulations for the Degree of PhD.  Students also have to satisfactorily complete the induction and training programmes which are offered by KCL. Where requirements at both institutions overlap, students may be able to fulfil the above requirements by attending courses at one of the partner institutions and applying for a waiver from the other institution for equivalent courses.

The written submission of the thesis and the oral examination will be undertaken jointly. As per the MOU dated May 8, 2009, students will meet submission requirements for both institutions and submit their thesis simultaneously.

The PhD thesis will be examined by a joint PhD Exam Panel of three members: one nominated each by KCL and HKU, and one external examiner (external to both HKU and KCL), and approved in accordance with the Home Institution's usual PhD practices. 

The Assessment of each student's PhD thesis will include an oral examination, which should be conducted with video-conference between KCL and HKU. 

The examination result recommended by the joint PhD Exam Panel should be submitted to the relevant committees at both institutions for approval.  The degree can only be conferred by both institutions if the graduation requirements of both Institutions have been fulfilled.

Students are allowed to apply for transfer from the joint PhD programme to the conventional single PhD degree programme due to problems arising during the study or any other reasons as specified by the students. Students may choose to transfer to the conventional single PhD degree programme offered by HKU or KCL with the approval of both institutions.

The medical schools of HKU and KCL will provide research supplies and consumables, as well as access to library, research equipment, computer and related core facilities for students.

Should you require further information on the joint PhD programme, please send an email to