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Doctor of Social Work

Sept 2022 Entry
Programme code: 54053

Faculty of Health and Social Sciences
Department of Applied Social Sciences

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


Initial Registration Credits


Fund Type Self-Financed

Tuition Fee

HK$352,800 per programme (HK$7,350 per credit) for local and non-local students

Programme Leader(s)

Dr Ku Hok-bun
PhD, MPhil, BA


This programme adopts multi-method approaches in teaching and learning such as online, classroom, skill laboratory, or blended learning.

Aims & Characteristics

Programme Aims

The programme aims to provide first-rate education for social workers, welfare administrators and social work educators with substantial professional experience and a commitment to pursuing and integrating a higher level of research, practice and education to advance the framework of knowledge and practice and further social betterment. 


The programme is specifically designed to cater to the needs of those who seek to develop and advance their academic, professional and reflective capacity and capability as practitioner-researcher-educators in a rapidly changing social setting. 


The programme also offers a platform for local-global dialogue on critical social work practices, helping those enrolled to develop mastery of conceptual, methodological, analytical and practice skills with an interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective. 


The programme is to inspire students to uphold a reflexive perspective that emphasises critical reflections on current local and international wisdom and professional practices in social work. 


Programme Features

Practice Research and Practice Education

  • Development of a critical mass of future social work leaders in practice and practice teaching
  • Integration of reflective practice, practice research, and professional education


Integration of Theory and Practice

  • Integration of theory and practice in social work with consideration of relevance, practicality and the specific social and governance setting
  • Embodiment of a reflective approach in theory-practice integration
  • Incorporation of cutting edge knowledge in innovative practice


Dialogue between International Perspective and Local Setting

  • Engagement in critical dialogue between local and global community
  • Development of comparative perspective in understanding local and international social and welfare issues
  • Exploration of culturally sensitive and appropriate social work practices for indigenous and international settings


Individual Concerns and Social Consideration

  • Recognition of complexities of external forces impacting on professional practices
  • Adoption of a cross-disciplinary, inter-professional and holistic approach in problem-solving in social work


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)
  • Social Work Practice Research (3 credits)
  • Pedagogies in Educating & Developing Social Work Practitioners (3 credits)
  • Quantitative Research Methods in Social Work Research (3 credits)
  • Advanced Qualitative Research Methodology (3 credits)


Elective Subjects (9 credits)

Students have to take three subjects, including a guided study subject (3 credits), and select two elective subjects either at level 6 in one of the following three areas OR choose no more than two elective subjects at Master's degree level within the Department.

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)
  • Pathways to Social Development (3 credits)

III. Social Work Education

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


Doctoral Thesis and Research Seminar (24 credits)

  • ​DSW Thesis Seminar & Proposal Development I (2 credits)
  • ​DSW Thesis Seminar & Proposal Development II (2 credits)
  • ​DSW Thesis Seminar & Proposal Development III (2 credits)
  • DSW Thesis (18 credits)


The subjects offered may be altered at the discretion of the Department.

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 preferred.
  • Applicants with a Master's degree in related disciplines other than social work are required to take two additional subjects (total: 6 credits) at Master's level 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.


For enquiries about this programme, please contact: 
Ms Winnie Hui (tel: (852) 2766 4315 or email: sspg@polyu.edu.hk).

Programme Leaflet

Please click here to download.