Admission Requirement
PG Research-oriented Programs:
SZU-HKUST Joint PhD Program in Marine Environmental Science


The Joint PhD program offers students the opportunities to benefit from shared research excellence in Marine Environmental Science between Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (“HKUST”) and Shenzhen University (“SZU”). The program is an interdisciplinary and collaborative program which aims to cultivate outstanding science and technology talents to help build the sustainable economic development for China. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive certificate from SZU and degree certificate from HKUST, with a special note to show that the degree was conferred through a joint program.

Program Details


Interested students who apply for the program should lodge their applications for admission via the admission system of HKUST. The applications will first be assessed and selected by HKUST, then recommended to SZU for review, and officially admitted by HKUST. Current Postgraduate students of both universities are eligible for the program provided that the students meet all the admission requirements of both universities including the English Language proficiency requirements of HKUST.

Details about postgraduate admissions can be found at Office of Postgraduate Studies, HKUST.

Program duration

The intended duration of the program is normally 4 years. Each student is required to spend a minimum of 2 years at each university.


The curriculum is divided into two parts, one set at SZU and one at HKUST. Students are required to fulfill both sets of requirements for graduation.

HKUST Curriculum

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) program aims to train students in original research in Marine Environmental Science, and to cultivate independent and innovative thinking that is essential for a successful research career in environmental science. Students must fulfill the following program requirements:

Specific PhD program requirements are

a. Completion of at least 12 credits of coursework, including:
  i. 3 credits of core course ENVR 6050 Introductory Oceanography;
  ii. 6 credits of elective courses chosen from the elective course list;
  iii. 3 credits of approved PG course endorsed by the Program Director;
b. Completion of and passing ENVS 6770 Professional Development in Science (Environmental Science Programs). Students are expected to complete the course in their first year of study. The maximum time allowed for course completion is two years for full-time students, or three years for part-time students. The 2 credits earned from ENVS 6770 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements. HKUST MPhil (MES) graduates who have taken and passed this course before may be exempted from this requirement, subject to prior approval from the Program Director and PG Coordinator;
c. Completion of and passing LANG 5010 Postgraduate English for Science Studies, which should be taken in the first year of study. The 1 credit earned from LANG 5010 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements. HKUST MPhil graduates may be considered for exemption from this requirement, subject to prior approval from the Program Director and PG Coordinator;
d. Taking and passing in ENVS 6011 Postgraduate Seminar whenever it is offered; maximum number of credits to be earned from the course is 4 for PhD students. Students who have taken the HKUST MPhil (MES) Program will be granted credit transfer from ENVS 6011 to the PhD program up to 1 credit;
e. Submission of a thesis proposal to the Qualifying Examination Committee who will examine the student’s general background knowledge and knowledge related to the topic of the research proposal. The student must pass the qualifying examination;
f. Registration in ENVS 7990 Doctoral Thesis Research; and
g. Presentation and oral defense of the PhD thesis.
Elective Course List for Marine Environmental Science:
- ENVR 5210 Environmental Microbiology
- ENVS 6012 Special Topics in Environmental Science
- EVSM 6070 Environmental Impact Assessment
- LIFS 5320 Ecotoxicology
- MATH 5311 Advanced Numerical Methods I
- MATH 5350 Computational Fluid Dynamics of Inviscid Flows
- PHYS 5110 Mathematical Methods in Physics


A pair of supervisors, one from SZU and one from HKUST, will be assigned to each student. A study plan will be developed by a three-person group consisting two co-supervisors and the student. The study plan stipulates clearly the graduation requirements of the two universities, including the curriculum and the research topic. The study plan will also include the period of attendance at each institution; arrangement of the qualifying examination; a brief description of the thesis research; the courses to be taken at each university and the credit transfer arrangement. The study plan must be endorsed by the co-supervisors of SZU and HKUST before commencement of the study. Subsequent changes made to the study plan must be endorsed in writing by the relevant department of both universities.

Course works

Students are required to take at least 12 credits of courses at HKUST and satisfy all the degree requirements of PhD degree program at HKUST.

Medium of Instruction

All coursework, qualifying examination, thesis work, and the thesis examination are in English.

Progress Assessment and Quality Assurance

The academic progress of students will be monitored by a thesis supervision committee consisting of a minimum of three faculty members from both institutions, including the two co-supervisors of the student and one faculty member from HKUST. Each student is required to submit an annual progress report at the end of each academic year for assessment by the thesis supervision committee. A thesis in English together with an abstract in Chinese has to be submitted after the completion of thesis research. Oral defend in English in front of a thesis examination committee is required.

Registration and Degree Conferment

Each student has to be registered annually at both universities to enjoy a full range of facilities. Upon successful completion of the program, students will receive certificate from SZU and degree certificate from HKUST, with a special note to show that the degree was conferred through a joint program. Graduates of the program are allowed to attend the graduation ceremonies at both universities.


Students may be awarded the following scholarship and studentship:

i. First-class scholarship

Students may be awarded the first-class scholarship provided by SZU during their residency in SZU.

ii. Studentship

Students will be awarded the studentship provided by SZU, the amount of which is equivalent to the postgraduate studentship for other HKUST research postgraduate students during their residency in HKUST.

Scholarship and studentship may be suspended if a student fails in his/her interim or annual examination or has not made good progress in thesis work. Students who withdraw from the program of study without justifiable reasons will be required to fully refund the scholarship received during their residency in SZU.


Due to limited student accommodation at HKUST, students are required to arrange their own accommodation outside HKUST campus.

Intellectual Property

Published papers based on a student’s research work during the Joint PhD Program study should carry the names of both institutions. The first affiliation of the papers should be determined by the co-supervisors of the student. Ownership of Intellectual property created by students in the Joint PhD Program will be governed by the policy on ownership of intellectual property of the institution at which the student is in residence at the time the intellectual property is created.

In other situations where the demarcation of intellectual property rights cannot be clearly defined, an agreement should be reached between the co-supervisors and the student concerned before the student graduates.