Medium of Instruction and Assessment
Unless otherwise approved by the Senate for a specific course or program of study, English is the medium of instruction and assessment at the University. It is, therefore, crucial for research postgraduate students to possess an adequate level of English proficiency in order to (a) become more effective learners in their respective disciplines through the medium of English; (b) be able to disseminate their research effectively to an English-speaking audience and readership; and (c) enhance their educational and career prospects.
Spoken English Test for New Research Postgraduate Students
In order to ensure research postgraduate (RPg) students have the oral and aural skills for effective postgraduate studies and classroom teaching, before the start of their first term of study at HKUST, all new full-time RPg students are required to take a spoken English test, the English Language Proficiency Assessment (ELPA), administered by the Center for Language Education.
ELPA provides a useful assessment of the spoken English ability of those whose mother tongue or first language is not English, to determine if they can effectively perform Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA) duties in English. The work of GTAs is an integral part of the training for all full-time RPg students. The duties assigned to GTAs may include direct class interaction with undergraduate (UG) students in the conduct of tutorials, assistance in laboratory sessions, and/or engagement in other UG class activities. It is important that RPg students who perform GTA duties have an adequate mastery of spoken English.
For more information concerning the design of ELPA, how to register a timeslot for the test, and how native English speakers can apply for exemption, please refer to the ELPA website.
English Language Enhancement Courses
Students whose score is below the threshold score or who failed to take the test in their first term of study at the University are required to take LANG 5000 Foundation in Listening and Speaking for Postgraduate Students until they pass the course by attaining at least Level 4 in the ELPA Speaking Test before graduation. Students who obtained a score below Level 4 in the ELPA Speaking Test would not be allowed to serve as graduate teaching assistants until they have passed LANG 5000.
Departments may link the performance of students in LANG 5000 with the Postgraduate Studentship (PGS) rate those students receive by reducing the PGS rate by 25% in the following term for students who fail LANG 5000 after the first attempt.
In addition, some programs require their students to take and pass additional language courses as part of the program requirements.