Doctor of Social Work

Sept 2019 Entry
Programme code: 54053

Duration & Credit Requirement

Stream Code

DF (Full-time)
DP (Part-time)

Mode of Study
Mixed Mode
Normal Duration

3 years (Full-time) with summer terms
4 years (Part-time) with summer terms

Credits Required for Graduation


Fund Type
Initial Registration Credits


Tuition Fee

HK$5,690 per credit

Programme Leader(s)

Dr Ku Hok-bun
PhD, MPhil, BA


This programme will not invite applications for admission in 2019-20.

Aims & Characteristics

Programme Aims

This is an advanced, practice-based professional doctoral degree programme that aims to develop the advanced professional competence, reflective practice and applied research capacities of senior practitioners, human service managers, action researchers and social work educators in changing contexts. As we believe that practice wisdom should be rooted in specific political, economic, social and cultural contexts, and should evolve through persistent professional and personal commitments, this programme emphasises opportunities for students to engage in continual dialogue and critical reflections in practice. As social work is an international profession that is grounded in commitment to local communities, the understanding of both global trends and local issues is equally emphasised in the curriculum.


DSW graduates are expected to demonstrate a critical understanding of and the ability to integrate the following elements:

  • ​Theory and Practice;
  • International perspective and Local context;
  • Personal values and Professional conduct; and
  • Individual concerns and Societal consideration.



The characteristics of the DSW programme include:

  1. ​Reflective practice with a concentration on professional social work practice in specific political, social and cultural contexts;
  2. Exposure to social problems and social work practice in the Chinese societies and overseas countries;
  3. Dialogue with scholars, researchers, teachers, administrators and practitioners from different service settings and cultural contexts; and
  4. Opportunities to conduct high-level practice-based applied research.

Recognition & Prospects

No information is available at present.


Programme Structure

To be eligible for the DSW award, students are required to complete 24 credits of coursework and a DSW Thesis that counts for 24 credits.


Students can choose to graduate with the award of MASW(Research Studies) after completing 24 credits of coursework and passing a Thesis proposal defence (6 credits).


Core Areas of Study

Core Subjects (15 credits)


Students are required to take all of the following subjects: 

  • ​Epistemology of Social Work Knowledge (3 credits)
  • Controversies & Issues in Social Work Practice: Global & Local Dialogues (3 credits)
  • Challenges & Opportunities in Educating & Developing Social Work Practitioners (3 credits)
  • Philosophies & Paradigms in Social Work Research (2 credits)
  • Quantitative Research Methods in Social Work Research (2 credits)
  • Advanced Qualitative Research Methodology (2 credits)


Elective Subjects (9 credits)

Students have to take three subjects, including a guided study subject (3 credits) and two subjects at level 6 in one of the following three areas:

I. Direct Service Practice (Family Practice & Mental Health)

  • ​Advanced Family-Centred Social Work: Theory, Practice & Research (3 credits)
  • Recovery & Emotionality in Mental Health Practice (3 credits)

II. Policy & Administration Practice (Social Policy & Social Service Administration)

  • ​Critical Social Policy in Comparative Contexts (3 credits)
  • Innovations & Explorations in Social Service Administration (3 credits)
  • Pathways to Social Development (3 credits)

III. Social Work Education

  • ​Towards a Personal Stance in Teaching Social Work Practice (3 credits)


Doctoral Thesis and Research Seminar (24 credits)

  • ​DSW Thesis Seminar & Proposal Development (6 credits)
  • DSW Thesis (18 credits)

Entrance Requirements

  • ​MSW, MASW, MSocSc (Social Work) or a Master's degree in related disciplines.

For all applicants, five years of relevant work experience is normally required.

Applicants with a Master's degree in related disciplines other than social work are required to take two additional Master-level subjects (for a total of 6 credits) related to social work theory and practice. Students are required to pay the additional credit fees.

If you are not a native speaker of English, and your Bachelor's degree or equivalent qualification is awarded by institutions where the medium of instruction is not English, you are expected to fulfil the University’s minimum English language requirement for admission purpose. Please refer to the "Admission Requirements" section for details.

Other Information

No information is available at present.


For enquiries about this programme, please contact: 
Mr Ken Wan (tel: (852) 2766 5784);
or Ms Angel Shing (email:

Student Message

Life is a continuous learning process. After 30 years of field practice, I returned to the APSS to enrol in the Doctor of Social Work programme. This has been my dream since I was a young practitioner. I feel fortunate to have been accepted as this is the first social work doctoral programme in Hong Kong. When I look back on the past year, I must confess it has been a totally new learning experience for me. I have developed a broader vision of social work practice. I have faced many philosophical and epistemic challenges to my “old-fashioned ideas” of social work practice. I have learned to see and think from different perspectives. The greatest challenge for me is pondering on the new ideas and exchanges in class, both from professors and fellow classmates. It is sometimes painful to admit my own “ignorance” in the discussion, but most of the time, I enjoy engaging in this new horizon of learning, which demands my active reflective thinking and endeavour in knowledge building. It is, after all, a transformative experience for me.

Yeung Yee Yu, Leo

I feel very fortunate that I was able to enrol in the Doctor of Social Work (DSW) programme at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. This is the first programme of its kind to be launched in Hong Kong. It is designed to provide leading edge knowledge of social work practice and to advance the integration of knowledge, research and practice.


Having practised for over 20 years, I find it especially timely and meaningful to re-examine social work as an epistemology, as a clinical practice, as a macro policy process and as a professional education base. The programme also offers dialogues between DSW students and international social work educators and practitioners. Discussions with overseas experts have allowed me to reflect on my personal commitment to the profession and acquire a deeper understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the policies and practices in our local community.


Students of the DSW programme are expected to conduct high-quality practice or academic research on selected topics using qualitative and/or quantitative research methodologies. This is an area that I very much look forward to engaging in.


A vote of thanks must be given to Professor Tsui Ming Sum and his colleagues in the DSW programme. Their tremendous understanding and great support have made our studies so much easier, giving us relevant information and logistical support.


I would highly recommend the DSW programme to social work professionals and practitioners aiming to acquire the top educational opportunities in the social work profession.

Wong Fung Yee, Margaret

Additional Documents Required

Programme Leaflet


Transcript / Certificate

Copies of Transcripts and Graduation Certificates are required.

Info Seminar

No information is available at present.