PhD in Information Systems

We welcome graduates with good academic potential and strong interest in research to be a part of the premier research-based programme leading to a doctoral degree.

Students in this programme spend the first two semesters on advanced courses before embarking on a research project that culminates in a research dissertation.

Detailed information on the research interests of our faculty members can also be found here.

Structure of Programme

All graduate research students are admitted directly into a full-time graduate programme that leads to either:

  • Doctor in Philosophy (PhD), if the candidate passes the Qualifying Examination (QE); or
  • Master of Science (MSc), if the candidate fails the Qualifying Examination but is allowed to complete as an MSc candidate

PhD students admitted from August 2018 intake onwards to the Department of Information Systems and Analytics (DISA) will follow the structure for the IS PhD programme:

Structure of PhD Programme (Information Systems) [with effect from August 2018 Intake]
Year 1 Semester 1 2 Foundation Courses + 1 Elective Course
Semester 2 2 Foundation Courses + 1 Elective Course + Teaching
PhD Qualifying Examination (QE)
Year 2 Semester 1 2 Elective Courses + Research + Teaching
Semester 2 2 Elective Courses + Research + Teaching
Year 3 Semester 1 Research + Teaching + Thesis Proposal
Semester 2 Research + Teaching
Year 4 Semester 1 Research
Semester 2 Pre-submission Presentation (before thesis submission) PhD Defense (Seminar Presentation + Oral Defense)

Coursework Requirements

All IS PhD candidates are required to complete four out of five foundation courses (16 units), spanning the different streams of IS research. For students who plan to work on economics of IS, design science, or data mining research, they can take relevant elective courses from the Computer Science or Economics departments in the first year. IS PhD candidates will also have the flexibility to select elective courses (24 units) that are relevant to their own study and research plan. For the elective courses, at least 16 units must be at level 6000, and at least 8 units must be from School of Computing.

PhD Qualifying Examination (QE)

The QE is to be taken by all postgraduate students, and the PhD candidate must pass his/her QE 18 months after admission. A maximum of two attempts will be allowed. Candidates are allowed to take the QE earlier than the specified period. There is no exemption of the QE. The PhD QE will be offered twice a year, e.g., in January/August for IS candidates. The research scholarship will be terminated the moment a student fails the QE. The student will complete the rest of the degree requirements as an MSc candidate.

The PhD QE for IS PhD students will be assessed through the Graduate Research Paper (GRP) after their first year of PhD study. The GRP should highlight the importance and novelty of the proposed research problem, and demonstrates sufficient knowledge of related literature and research methods, with the potential of publications in top journals or conferences.

PhD Thesis Proposal / Doctoral Seminar

The Thesis Proposal is an important component of the PhD programme. It should highlight the significance of the research topic, its goal, the approach adopted, and work to be done. It should be precise and convincing to the examiners that the candidate is proposing a novel area of research and the goal is achievable.

PhD candidates are encouraged to attempt the Thesis Proposal by their 5th semester of PhD study. A PhD candidate must pass his/her thesis proposal by the end of Year 3. The proposal will be examined by two faculty members of SoC familiar with the area of research in the proposal. A maximum of two attempts are allowed.

The PhD candidature of a student will be terminated if s/he fails to pass the Thesis Proposal. This student, subject to the approval of the School, may proceed to obtain an MSc degree by completing a dissertation and meeting all the requirements of an MSc degree.

The Thesis Proposal comprises of an open seminar presentation (doctoral seminar), followed by a close-door oral examination.

The presentation is a public talk open to both staff and students, and should take about 30 to 40 minutes. The seminar, which should include any research findings or work from published papers, will be graded on a satisfactory/ unsatisfactory (S/U) basis.

A close-door oral examination will follow after the seminar presentation. The student is expected to answer satisfactorily any questions raised by the evaluators

PhD Defense

The PhD Defense will be pre-scheduled when the candidate submits his/her thesis. It will comprise of an open seminar presentation, followed by a close-door oral examination.

Seminar presentation should take about 30 to 40 minutes. This will be a public talk open to both staff and students. After the presentation, a 10-minute Q&A session will be available for the public.

A close-door oral examination will follow after the seminar presentation. The student is expected to answer satisfactorily any questions raised on the subject matter pertaining to her/his research thesis and related subjects.

This oral examination will be conducted by a 3-member panel that is chaired by the Head or nominee.

Duration of Programme

The maximum candidature period inclusive of periods of approved study leave for PhD programme is 5 years

Language of Instruction

The language of instruction for the graduate programmes is English.