MPhil and PhD2023-05-17T09:14:53+00:00


The Department of Art History at the University of Hong Kong is one of Asia’s leading centres of art historical research. We offer research postgraduate (RPg) programmes leading to the Master of Philosophy (MPhil) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degrees. For information on our taught postgraduate (MA) programme, go to the MA section. Please note that we do not offer any applied degrees in studio art or design.

Our MPhil is a two-year full-time (or three-year part-time) programme, while the PhD takes three or four years full-time (four-and-a-half or six years part-time). Both programmes are based primarily on the writing of a dissertation in English under the close supervision of a full-time faculty member from our department. It is possible to have a co-supervisor within or outside our department.

The Graduate School handles the overall management of the degrees; it sets policies for admissions and examinations, and also provides compulsory courses and optional workshops for RPg students. The Arts Faculty’s Higher Degrees Committee provides academic oversight of all RPg programmes and students. And the School of Humanities office handles most of the day-to-day administrative work for RPg students once they have begun their studies.

Note that we do not currently participate in the King’s College London and Hong Kong University Joint PhD programme.

Vivian Sheng
Vivian Sheng
Research Postgraduate Coordinator
RPG Handbook
Current RPG Students

Facilities and Support Services

HKU Research Services

The Research Services unit provides guidelines on research integrity and offers research-related grants, including funding for RPg travel and participation in academic conferences.

HKU Library Service

In addition to its extensive research collections and databases, the HKU Library offers courses on various research tools and provides individualized consultation services to RPg students. The Main Library and branch libraries also offer a variety of study spaces for all users.


The Centre of Development and Resources for Students (CEDARS) assists all students with housing issues, and offers a range of counseling services, including both career counseling and mental health counseling.

Study Space

RPg students share a dedicated School of Humanities study room in Run Run Shaw Tower. The room includes desks, personal lockers, a small meeting room, refrigerator and microwave oven, and lots of natural light with excellent views. Students are also welcome to use the extensive facilities of the Learning Commons (Centennial Campus), the various HKU libraries, and the Art History Resource Centre.

Department Facilities

The Art History Resource Centre houses a small library of reference books and loanable books, AV collections, the Hong Kong Art Archive, computers, and a small meeting room. Contact our department clerk for use of the department scanners and photocopier.

Grad School
HKU Scholarships

Leave of Absence

Full-times RPg students are required to work full-time on their studies and remain resident in Hong Kong, except for periods of approved leave of absence. There are four kinds of leave available: study leave (usually used for research-related travel); non-study leave (for vacation or other personal travel); sick leave (for health-related issues); and maternity or paternity leave (for pregnancy and childbirth). Details on the various leave requirements and limits are available from the Graduate School’s Leave of Absence page. Applications for leave must be approved in advance by the student’s primary supervisor and the Department Research Postgraduate Committee; applications forms are available here.


What is the difference between an MPhil programme and an MA programme?2022-08-10T09:09:11+00:00

The MA is a taught master’s degree. Our MAAH is a 12-month programme requiring students to complete six courses and write a capstone dissertation of 10,000 words. The MPhil, in contrast, is a two-year research-focused degree. Students take only a few short courses and complete a much longer dissertation under the supervision of their primary supervisor. The MAAH qualifies students to apply for our 4-year PhD programme; the MPhil qualifies students to apply for our 3-year PhD programme. Because of its emphasis on coursework, the MA is more recognized internationally as a qualification for overseas PhD programmes.

If my first degree is not a BA degree, will I still be eligible to apply for a research programme in this department?2021-09-02T09:19:46+00:00

Most of our MPhil students have studied art history as an undergraduate; students coming from closely related disciplines such as history, literature, or architecture may also be considered. For students without substantial undergraduate study in art history, our MAAH is a better option. Applicants for our PhD programme must have an MA or MPhil degree, with substantial knowledge of the discipline of art history.

How many Art History research postgraduate students are accepted each year?2021-09-02T09:25:02+00:00

We only have funding to support two or three new RPg students each year, which makes our programmes highly selective. See our research postgraduate intake table here.

How often should I submit the Progress Report?2020-05-21T05:55:01+00:00

Once every six months. For instance, an MPhil student will have to do 4 reports in total. For more information, please click here.

When should I complete all compulsory courses?2021-09-02T09:26:29+00:00

Students should have passed all compulsory courses by the end of the probationary period (end of the 12th month). Students who fail to do so will have to apply to the Arts Faculty for extension of probation.

Do I have to take any elective courses?2021-09-02T09:27:13+00:00

No, Art History MPhil and PhD students do not have to take any electives; but if you think a course may contribute to your research, you may do so with the permission of the instructor and your primary supervisor.

Is there a rule concerning the length of a thesis?2021-09-02T09:28:39+00:00

No, the length of a thesis varies from one to another. Based on our past MPhil theses, the length tends to fall in the range of 100-150 double-spaced pages (25,000 to 35,000 words), excluding images and bibliography. PhD theses tend to range from 170 to 250 pages of text (40,000 to 60,000 words).


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