With half the world’s population already living in cities, the global trend towards increasing urbanisation shows no signs of slowing down. Along with the advantages that come with metropolitan life, such as proximity to the hub of economic growth, there’s often a price to pay in the form of issues such as increased pollution, crime rates and health risks.
In response to the growing demand for expertise to tackle such problems, and to build on the success of its existing Master of Cities and Governance programme, Lingnan University is going to launch a Research Postgraduate MPhil/PhD Programme in Urban Studies in September 2023.
A natural home for urban studies
Rather than house such a programme in a single specialist department, Lingnan’s School of Graduate Studies (SGS) will host the new MPhil/PhD programme. The SGS is home to experts in a wide range of disciplines, from housing and education to business, and many faculty have research backgrounds at some of the most prestigious institutions across the globe.
“This type of environment makes trans-disciplinary research possible,” Professor Yung Yau, the professor of urban studies at Lingnan University, explains. “So, when we talk about urban regeneration, it is not just a question of land use, we can also discuss, say, the effects of this process on the elderly, and the possible social exclusion as a result.”
Lingnan is also uniquely located within China’s Greater Bay Area, a few kilometres from Hong Kong’s border with the Mainland, and with easy access to most of Asia.
Structure of the programme
Both PhD and MPhil students on this programme will take courses to enhance their skills in areas such as academic writing, critical thinking, research design, and qualitative and quantitative research methods. They will attend workshops on topics such as research ethics, and seminars in which their proposed research topics will be discussed, and honed, in partnership with faculty members. They will also be provided with training in the use of technologies such as Geographic Information System, and in the creation and use of infographics to communicate their findings.
“Lingnan University is a liberal arts university and we want to make sure that the research we conduct has a real impact on society,” Prof Yau adds. This concept of care encompasses everything from encouraging entrepreneurship to revitalising Hong Kong’s heritage.
The future: for graduates and for urban studies
Among the wide range of employment possibilities open to graduates are roles as: an academic researcher in higher education institutes; a researcher or policy advocate in a think tank; a specialist government employee; a member of an NGO; a consultant or administrator in real estate companies, and; an ESG officer in a variety of other private sector businesses.
Prof Yau has a vision for the future of urban studies at Lingnan and beyond. “My ambition is to turn it into a trans-disciplinary field, so we are not just integrating knowledge from different disciplines but, through a joint effort, building a new concept, or framework, that may eventually result in some kind of social innovation.”