Postgraduate Programs 2018/19
Master of Philosophy and Doctor of Philosophy Programs in Environmental Engineering
Award Title

Master of Philosophy in Environmental Engineering
Doctor of Philosophy in Environmental Engineering

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 Chii SHANG, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering


The Master of Philosophy (MPhil) Program seeks to strengthen students’ knowledge of environmental engineering and to expose them to issues in environmental pollution and conservation, and sustainable development. 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 aims to develop and strengthen students’ skills in identifying key issues related to environmental engineering, in formulating original research plans and methodologies, and in implementing those plans and methodologies to produce results that are useful for reducing environmental pollution and advancing environmental conservation and sustainable development. 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.

The Environmental Engineering (EVNG) Program offered by the School of Engineering at HKUST is one of the most successful interdisciplinary research programs in this field of study, with the following research foci and state-of-the-art facilities.

Research Foci

The program focuses on innovative technologies for different applications in the environmental engineering area and seeks to provide research students with an understanding of effective environmental management strategies.

The main research areas include:

  • Innovative Water and Wastewater Treatment Technologies

  • Solid/ Hazardous Waste Management and Waste Recycling/ Reuse

  • Contaminated Land and Groundwater Remediation

  • Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality

  • Environmental Sustainability and Renewable Energy


The facilities of the Environmental Engineering Laboratories are divided into standard instruments and advanced stationary equipment, as required for different environmental studies. Standard instruments can provide accurate measurements of routine environmental analyses, such as DO, pH, COD, BOD5, ORP, salinity, conductivity, and turbidity.

Advanced equipment includes: a FTIR system with MIR and DTGS detectors for the analyses of functional groups in solid or non-aqueous liquid samples, total organic halogen with ion chromatography system to measure the amount of TOX in liquid or solid samples, UV/ Vis spectrophotometer for measuring absorbance or transmittance of liquid samples, florescence spectrometer for analyzing luminescence samples, programmable tube furnace with three control zones for various degree of combustion of different materials, and BET system for the characterization of surface area and pore volume of solid samples.

A relevant central facility is the Material Characterization and Preparation Facility comprising 10 main research groups: surface science, electron microscopy, scanning probe microscopy, x-ray diffraction, nuclear magnetic resonance, thin film deposition, optical characterization, electrical and magnetic characterization, thermal analysis, and sample preparation. Each research group houses state-of-the-art multidisciplinary instrumentation, supported by a team of experienced staff. Major items include X-ray diffraction systems, transmission electron microscopes, scanning electron microscopes, thin film sputtering and evaporation systems, a multi-technique surface analysis system (XPS Auger, ISS), a TOF-SIMS system, a Dynamic SIMS system, scanning probe microscopes (STM, AFM and MFM), FTIR/ Raman spectrometers, thin film measurement systems, thermal analysis instruments.

  1. Minimum Credit Requirement

MPhil/PhD: 15 credits


  1. Credit Transfer

PhD students with a master’s degree in an Environmental Engineering or a closely related field may be granted credit transfer by the Program Director on a case-by-case basis.


  1. Required Courses
  1. Students are required to complete at least 15 credits of approved coursework taken from more than one department, including at least 9 credits from the following courses offered by the School of Engineering. A maximum of 6 credits of 4000-level undergraduate courses may be taken.
CENG 5210
CENG 5840
CIVL 4430
CIVL 4460
CIVL 4470
CIVL 4520
CIVL 5410
CIVL 5420
CIVL 5430
CIVL 5450
CIVL 5460
CIVL 5470
MECH 4350
MECH 5210


  1. Students may take the following courses or other courses outside the School of Engineering to count toward the program requirements, subject to the prior approval from their thesis supervisors and the final endorsement of the Program Director.
ENVR 5210
ENVR 6050
EVSM 5220
SOSC 5620


  1. Students who do not have sufficient exposure to environmental courses need to take CIVL 3420 and/or CIVL 4470, or equivalent courses as advised by the EVNG Program Committee.
CIVL 3420
CIVL 4470


  1. PhD students admitted to the program without a master’s degree may be required to take additional credits to fulfill the program requirements.


  1. School Requirements on PhD Programs

In addition to the program requirements, all full-time and part-time PhD students are required to complete the school requirements, which aim to help students gain a wider exposure to multidisciplinary areas, and attain all-rounded learning by broadening their knowledge base.

PhD students are required to take at least a 3-credit course at 5000-level or above outside their programs offered by the School of Engineering. The 3 credits may be satisfied by courses from other Schools upon approval.

In some exceptional cases where students can provide sufficient justifications and obtain prior approval from their supervisors, PG Coordinators, and Heads of Department/Program Directors or designees, they are allowed to take the 3-credit course within their home departments/programs but the course must be in areas outside their specialty.

Details of the requirements are available on the website of the School of Engineering.


  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 until they pass the course by attaining at least Level 4 in the ELPA Speaking Test before graduation. The 1 credit earned from LANG 5000 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.

LANG 5001

Students are required to complete LANG 5001. Students can be exempted from taking LANG 5001 with the agreement of the Program Director. The 1 credit earned from LANG 5001 cannot be counted toward the credit requirements.


  1. Postgraduate Seminar
EVNG 6050


Students are required to complete EVNG 6050 for at least two regular terms, and present at least one seminar during their study.


Students are required to complete EVNG 6050 for at least four regular terms, and present at least two terms during their study.


  1. PhD Qualifying Examination

To become a doctoral candidate, the student must pass a qualifying examination within the first 18 months of study. The qualifying examination involves the submission of a research proposal and an oral/written examination given by the Thesis Supervision Committee. The purpose of the qualifying examination is to establish the student’s ability to formulate and conduct original research in the chosen field of study.


  1. Thesis Research
EVNG 6990
EVNG 7990



  1. Registration in EVNG 6990; and
  2. Presentation and oral defense of the MPhil thesis.


  1. Registration in EVNG 7990; and
  2. Presentation and oral defense of the PhD thesis.


Last update: 31 July 2018

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

  • TOEFL-Revised paper-delivered test (effective from 2018/19 admission): 60
    (total scores for Reading, Listening and Writing sections)

  • 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.

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