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Chinese Studies Research MPhil / PhD, option of joint PhD with HKU or NUS

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The Lau welcomes high quality research proposal from interests applicants. We are interested in particular in political economy, political science of contemporary China, Chinese international relations, and China and its natural environment.

Interested applicants should first of all familiarise themselves with the research interests and areas of the current academic staff at the Lau China Institute and see which best fits their proposed research. Applicants should then send a TWO PAGE maximum outline with the following information to the PhD admissions tutor:

  • Research title
  • The key research questions that the thesis will address
  • The proposed treatment of the research - in terms of methodology, theory and any other relevant information 
  • An idea of the kind of evidence base that the research will rely on - whether documents, case studies, etc. 

Applicants need in particular to think about the literature that their research is intended to speak to, the viability of any field research involved (in terms of practicality, funding, ethical clearance, etc) and ways in which it will make a contribution to existing scholarship. 


The Lau China Institute currently consists of the following:

  • Academic staff: 5 (plus affiliates in a number of other departments across the College).

  • Research students: 30.

  • Partner organisations: The Institute is closely involved in the College’s key partnerships with Hong Kong University and the National University of Singapore, with both of which a joint degree may be taken, and also with Renmin University of China, which will allow possible research exchanges for postgraduate students. 

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Key information

Duration Expected to be MPhil two years FT, three years PT. PhD three years FT, four-six years PT. Normal start date September but students may commence at other times by arrangement.

Study mode Full-time, Part-time

Further details

Awarding institution King's College London/King's and HKU or NUS for joint programme

Faculty Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy

Department Lau China Institute



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Course detail


We offer a 2 year full-time or 3 year part-time MPhil, and a 3 year full-time or 4-6 year part-time PhD, with some students registering first for the MPhil and transferring to the PhD programme after their first year. This is a prolonged research programme culminating in the presentation of a thesis, followed by an oral examination (viva voce). The thesis must form a distinct contribution to the knowledge of the subject and afford evidence of originality, shown either by the discovery of new facts or by the exercise of independent critical power.

Staff Research Interests
Our staff research interests, and areas of PhD supervision, include China's international relations and foreign policy, Chinese politics and development, the Chinese economy,  and the social anthropology of China. [Further details]

Joint PhD programme
Exciting opportunities are available to undertake a joint PhD programme either with Hong Kong University (through the Faculty of Arts) or with the National University of Singapore (through the Department of Political Science).

Information is current, but staff members can change.

Course study environment

The King's China Institute offers a unique and exciting environment for the in-depth study of China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore. The Institute is able to draw on academic expertise in a range of disciplinary departments across the College, and supervision may be provided from within the Institute or jointly with other staff of the College.

The College libraries, the British Library and a diversity of China-focussed institutions and organisations in London make the city a resource centre for Chinese Studies which is unparalleled in Europe. Students taking the joint degree in Hong Kong or Singapore benefit from study in a Chinese-speaking environment and from excellent academic and archival resources.

Our PhD students have formed a China Study Group (chinastudygrouplondon.wordpress.com) which meets regularly at King's and includes research students from other universities in London.

Postgraduate training

We offer a series of dedicated seminars on PhD study at the start of each academic year focussing on issues such as planning your research and conducting fieldwork. Students can also participate in the induction and training programmes offered by the College. The China Institute hosts frequent research seminars with speakers from around the world. Where relevant, research students can also audit MSc-level lectures in the China Institute and in other departments.

Joint PhDs - Benefits of collaboration

Research in both London and either Singapore or Hong Kong allows contact with a wider range of perspectives, scholarly methods and research resources.

Joint PhDs - Subjects/specialisms available for joint study

  • Chinese History and Literature (University of Hong Kong)

  • Political Science (National University of Singapore)

Head of group/division

Dr Sun Xin  (xin.sun@kcl.ac.uk)

Contact for information

Postgraduate Admissions Team, Admissions Office
tel: +44 (0)20 7848 7429
fax: +44 (0)20 7848 7200

Contact email

Course website

Entry requirements

Entry requirements

Chinese Res Entry Requirements
Minimum UK requirements  
  • A Masters degree is usually required. 

  • In exceptional circumstances only, an undergraduate degree with 1st Class or high 2:1 honours degree will be considered.

International requirements   Visit our admissions webpages to view our International entry requirements.
English Language requirements Band B Visit our admissions webpages to view our English language entry requirements.


Application procedure

Before applying, please visit the pages Further Information for Research Applicants and read carefully the information about our research interests, making sure that your research topic falls within one of these areas. You are welcome to contact a potential supervisor directly to discuss your research topic, and we also encourage you to contact the China Institute PhD admissions tutor with a draft research proposal before submitting a complete application through the online system. The Admissions Tutor will advise whether your research can, in principle, be carried out with us.

Our Further Information for Research Applicants pages also include details of our requirements for your final complete research proposal.

Admission for intending PhD students will initially be for the MPhil but students are expected to transfer to the PhD proper by the end of the first year, and no later than the end of the second year, on the recommendation of the departmental graduate upgrading panel.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to start their degree at beginning of the academic year in September, when the College offers a full induction programme.

Personal statement and supporting information

Applicants are encouraged to approach potential supervisors prior to application. To identify a supervisor please see: https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/en/

You will be asked to submit the following documents in order for your application to be considered:

China research checklist
Research Proposal Yes The proposal (2 pages maximum) should explain in some detail precisely the field of study that you want to contribute to and current research gaps, what you want to do and how you propose to do it. For advice on how to write a winning application, please visit the following page.
Previous Academic Study Yes A copy (or copies) of your official academic transcript(s), showing the subjects studied and marks obtained. If you have already completed your degree, copies of your official degree certificate will also be required. Applicants with academic documents issued in a language other than English, will need to submit both the original and official translation of their documents.
References Yes One academic reference is required. A professional reference will be accepted if you have completed your qualifications over five years ago.
Travel Plan Yes (joint programme only) If applying for the joint programme, please include the names of your supervisors from both institutions and include a completed travel plan form.
Other Yes Please include a full CV as part of your application. For more information on the Research Proposal and CV that need to be submitted, please see the department webpages.


Course intake

No set number.

Joint PhDs - Application advice

Applicants for the Joint PhD programme must contact the relevant departments at both universities before submitting an application in order to discuss the suitability of their topic for the joint programme and to locate potential supervisors. Applications should initially be submitted to the proposed home institution only, ie where the student will start and finish their programme. Students should note that acceptance onto the programme may take slightly longer than for single-institution PhDs because of the additional steps involved. Further details, including FAQs, can be found on the King’s Worldwide web pages.

Applicants who choose King’s as their home institution should apply through the online system, selecting the appropriate Joint PhD option from the drop-down list. In addition to the standard supporting documentation, applicants should submit a Travel Plan form indicating how they intend to divide their time between the two partner institutions. Students must spend a specified amount of time in each institution, details of which can be found in the ‘Notes’ section of the Travel plan form.

It is recommended that students submit applications for the Joint PhD programme by the end of March to begin the following September.

Application closing date

We recommend that you submit your application as soon as possible as we may need to request further information from you to assess your application. This is also important if your application is successful and you are required to meet any offer condition, and/or you need a Student Visa to study here at King's.

The final application deadlines are detailed below; on these dates, the programme will close at 23:59 (UK time) and we will open for the corresponding intake in 2023 soon after the same intake has passed in 2022.

  • February 2022 entry – 12 November 2021 for Overseas fee status and 6 December 2021 for Home fee status

  • October 2022 entry – 29 July 2022 for Overseas fee status and 26 August 2022 for Home fee status

  • February 2023 entry – 21 October 2022 for Overseas fee status and 22 November 2022 for Home fee status

Please note that funding deadlines may be earlier than the application deadlines listed above.

Help and support

If you don't have a suitable qualification for direct entry to a UK university, or if English isn't your first language, our academic preparation courses can help you get ready for study in the UK.

International Foundation

Fees and funding

UK Tuition Fees 2021/22

Full time tuition fees:

£5,820 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies)

£5,820 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies with University of Hong Kong)

£5,820 per year (MPhil/PhD, Political Science and Chinese Studies with National University of Singapore)

Part time tuition fees: £2,910 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies)

International Tuition Fees 2021/22

Full time tuition fees:

£21,870 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies)

£21,870 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies with University of Hong Kong)

£21,870 per year (MPhil/PhD, Political Science and Chinese Studies with National University of Singapore)

Part time tuition fees: £10,935 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies)

UK Tuition Fees 2022/23

Full time tuition fees:

£6,120 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies)

£6,120 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies with University of Hong Kong)

£6,120 per year (MPhil/PhD, Political Science and Chinese Studies with National University of Singapore)

Part time tuition fees: £3,060 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies)

International Tuition Fees 2022/23

Full time tuition fees:

£22,980 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies)

£22,980 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies with University of Hong Kong)

£22,980 per year (MPhil/PhD, Political Science and Chinese Studies with National University of Singapore)

Part time tuition fees: £11,490 per year (MPhil/PhD, Chinese Studies)

EU Students starting their programme in the academic year 2021/22 will pay international tuition fees.

These tuition fees may be subject to additional increases in subsequent years of study, in line with King's terms and conditions.

Financial help and support

Visit the fees and funding webpages to find out more about bursaries, scholarships, grants, tuition fees, living expenses, student loans and other financial help available at King's.


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