Postgraduate Programs 2017/18
Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy Programs in Marine Environmental Science
Award Title

Master of Philosophy in Marine Environmental Science
Doctor of Philosophy in Marine Environmental Science

Program Short Name


Mode of Study

Both full- and part-time

Normative Program Duration


Full-time: 2 years
Part-time: 4 years


Full-time: 3 years (with a relevant research master’s degree), 4 years (with a bachelor’s degree only)
Part-time: 6 years

Program Advisor

PG Programs Coordinator:
Prof Hongbin LIU, Professor of Ocean Science and Professor of Life Science

The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Program aims to train students to conduct independent research in Marine Environmental Science. A candidate for an MPhil degree is expected to demonstrate knowledge in the discipline and to synthesize and create new knowledge, making a contribution to the field.

The Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Program seeks 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. A candidate for a PhD degree is expected to demonstrate mastery of knowledge in the chosen discipline and to synthesize and create new knowledge, making an original and substantial contribution to the discipline.

Also, the SZU-HKUST Joint PhD Program in Marine Environmental Science offers students the opportunities to benefit from shared research excellence in Marine Environmental Science between The 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.

The programs are offered by the Department of Ocean Science with the following research foci and state-of-the-art facilities, equipping students with expertise and research experience in marine environmental science.

Research Foci

  • Air and Water: Includes their relation to climate change.

  • Economic and Social Impact: The effect of and solutions to environmental problems.

  • Environmental Change: Studies investigate on regional and local scales, and explore their global effects and implications.


Our Coastal Marine Laboratory on campus is a key item of infrastructure supporting our marine researches, while the Environmental Central Facility provides a range of equipment and technology commonly used in water and atmospheric environmental research.

Coastal Marine Laboratory

The Laboratory is located on the seafront at HKUST, with a total area of about 1,200 sq. meters. The lower floor houses an excellent natural running seawater facility, together with two fully equipped wet laboratories and two well-designed environmentally controlled rooms. The upper floor is a dry laboratory area, compartmentalized into a multipurpose research laboratory, a molecular biology laboratory, an analytical laboratory, a microscope room, a radioisotope laboratory and a multifunction room.

Environmental Central Facility

The Environmental Central Facility provides common analytical instruments for environmental chemical analysis laboratory service (e.g., GC-MS, LC-MS, TOC, UV-Vis, etc) and real-time meteorological and environmental database service. It also offers field and technical support for environmental research projects.

To qualify for admission, applicants must meet all of the following requirements. Admission is selective and meeting these minimum requirements does not guarantee admission.


1. General Admission Requirements of the University
  • Applicants seeking admission to a master's degree program should have obtained a bachelor’s degree from a recognized institution, or an approved equivalent qualification;

  • Applicants seeking admission to a doctoral degree program should have obtained a bachelor’s degree with a proven record of outstanding performance from a recognized institution; or presented evidence of satisfactory work at the postgraduate level on a full-time basis for at least one year, or on a part-time basis for at least two years.

2. English Language Admission Requirements

Applicants have to fulfill English Language requirements with one of the following proficiency attainments:

  • TOEFL-iBT: 80

  • TOEFL-pBT: 550

  • IELTS (Academic Module): Overall score: 6.0 and All sub-score: 5.5

Applicants don't need to present TOEFL or IELTS score if

  • their first language is English, or

  • they obtained the bachelor's degree (or equivalent) from an institution where the medium of instruction was English.

  1. Minimum Credit Requirement

MPhil: 11 credits
PhD: 16 credits

  1. Core Course

ENVR 6050


  1. Elective Courses

MPhil: 6 credits, including:

  1. 3 credits from the following course list; and

  2. 3 credits of approved postgraduate course endorsed by the Program Director.

PhD: 9 credits, including:

  1. 6 credits from the following course list; and

  2. 3 credits of approved postgraduate course endorsed by the Program Director.

ENVR 5210
ENVS 6012
EVSM 6070
LIFS 5320
MATH 5311
MATH 5350
PHYS 5110


  1. Professional Development Course Requirement
PDEV 6770

Students are required to complete PDEV 6770. The 1 credit earned from PDEV 6770 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.

PhD students who are HKUST MPhil graduates and have completed PDEV 6770 or other professional development courses offered by the University before may be exempted from this requirement, subject to prior approval of the School.

  1. English Language Requirement

LANG 5000

Full-time RPg students are required to take an English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA) Speaking Test administered by the Center for Language Education before the start of their first term of study. Students whose ELPA Speaking Test score is below Level 4, or who failed to take the test in their first term of study, are required to take LANG 5000 Foundation in Listening & Speaking for Postgraduate Students until they pass the course by attaining at least Level 4 in the ELPA Speaking Test before graduation.

LANG 5010

Students are required to complete LANG 5010 in the first year of study. The 1 credit earned from LANG 5010 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements. PhD students who are HKUST MPhil graduates may be considered for exemption from this requirement subject to prior approval from the Program Director and PG Coordinator.

  1. Postgraduate Seminar

MPhil: 2 credits
PhD: 4 credits

ENVS 6011

Students are required to complete ENVS 6011 whenever it is offered. The maximum number of credits to be earned from this course is 2 for MPhil students and 4 for PhD students. PhD students who have taken the HKUST MPhil Program in Atmospheric Environmental Science will be granted credit transfer from ENVS 6011 to the PhD program up to 1 credit.

  1. PhD Qualifying Examination

PhD students are required to submit a thesis proposal to the Qualifying Examination Committee who will examine the students’ general background knowledge and knowledge related to the topic of the research proposal. They must pass the qualifying examination.

  1. Thesis Research

ENVS 6990
ENVS 7990


  1. Registration in ENVS 6990; and

  2. Presentation and oral defense of the MPhil thesis.


  1. Registration in ENVS 7990; and

  2. Presentation and oral defense of the PhD thesis.


Last update: 8 February 2018