PhD Qualifying Examination

Aims of Examination

The examination aims to

  • Allow the student to upgrade / confirm as a PhD candidate;
  • Ensure the student has satisfactory research progress;
  • Ensure the student's research proposal is sufficient for a PhD;
  • Ensure the student is competent at the PhD level.
 

Composition of Examination Panel

  • The PhD Qualifying Examination will comprise of a written and an oral component. The written component will be marked by two invited examiners.
  • The Head of Department may be requested to help nominate an examiner in a highly specialized area.
  • Students will be allowed to proceed to the oral component after they have passed the written component of the PQE
  • For the oral component, there will be at least three members; one member nominated by the School Graduate Programme Committee (SGPC) and the two invited examiners.
  • The Chairperson of the oral panel is empowered to make decisions on the outcome of the PQE in consultation with the other two members.
  • Supervisor(s) will be invited to sit in as observers. Supervisor(s) are not allowed to speak on behalf of their student unless he/she is asked to do so by the PQE panel. The supervisor(s) are also not allowed to take part in the deliberations on the PQE outcome.
 

Requirements

  • Pass the 2 prescribed core modules (MDG5108 and MDG5771).
  • Pass elective modules (worth 2MC or 4MC), totalling 8 MCs with an average CAP of at least 3.5 (B) for all the modules.
  • Pass and obtain a minimum grade C+ for Graduate English course(s), where applicable.
  • Substantial published / publishable work done in a project that is highly creative/original, or involves innovative new technology.
  • Complete the PhD Qualifying Examination within 24 months of their enrolment. Students should apply for PQE about 2-3 semesters after enrolment.
 

Examination Format

Student needs to submit an application form to the Chairman of the SGPC together with:

  • A written PhD Research Proposal for the written component using the prescribed template.
  • Any publication(s) or manuscript(s) submitted, accepted or published.
 

The written Research Proposal will be forwarded to the two invited examiners for review. If the student passes the written examination, the oral examination will be scheduled. If the student is asked to revise, he/she will be given 1-2 months to revise the proposal for re-submission. The student will be allowed to revise the research proposal only once. If the student failed the written examination, he/she will be asked to downgrade to / remain in the MSc programme.

For the oral component, the student is required to give an open seminar. The oral panel will assess student’s presentation ability, understanding of the concepts and critical thinking. The student is also expected to answer questions raised by the audience. The duration of the oral presentation should not exceed 45 minutes. At the end of the open seminar, the panel will conduct a close-door examination. The student will be questioned on the work done as well as his/her future research plans. If the student is asked to re-take the oral examination, he/she will be given 1 month to do so. The student will be allowed to re-take the oral examination only once. If the student failed the oral examination, he/she will be asked to downgrade to/remain in the MSc programme.

 

Possible Outcomes

  • Candidate with good coursework grades and with data published or publishable in a reputable journal will be allowed to upgrade to/confirm as a PhD candidate.
  • Candidate with good coursework grades but whose preliminary data was deemed unsatisfactory after oral examination will be asked to exit with MSc.
  • Candidate with good coursework grades but with no publishable data will not be called for oral examination and exit with MSc.
  • Candidate with poor coursework grades and with no publishable data will not be allowed to upgrade to/confirm as a PhD candidate.
 

Template for PhD Research Proposal – for students admitted in/after August 2010

PQE Written Examination – PhD Research Proposal