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Undergraduate Research Fellowship Programme (URFP)

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The URFP is a prestigious programme aimed to enhance students’ learning experience and to nurture the next generation of researchers/scholars. It offers opportunities for academically outstanding students to undertake research under the guidance and supervision of academic staff who have a strong research track record and experience in training research postgraduate students. Students enrolled in the URFP are required to undertake a research study. Research internship may form an essential part of such a research study, if determined by the supervisors concerned.

Eligibility Criteria

(a) Students who are in the 90th percentile of top students in a study programme; or

(b) Students admitted under the 4-year curriculum who have a cumulative GPA of 3.5 and above; and

(c) BBA(IBGM), BEcon, BEcon&Fin and BSc(QFin) students

Year of Study

Students generally enroll in the URFP in their final year of study. Flexibility is provided for cases with strong research interest and potential are identified earlier than the final year.

URFP Components and Postgraduate Courses for attendance

All students enrolled in the URFP 2019-20 will be required to take two postgraduate level courses and produce a dissertation paper for assessment.

Students can apply for research internship; such availability of internship is subject to the arrangement by the supervisors concerned. Students who are granted the University Research Internship Award under URFP 2019-20 are required to submit an internship report in addition to their dissertation paper.

 

CoursesCredits
ECON4294 / FINA4392 Dissertation 12
Two courses from the following postgraduate level courses: 
ECON6005: Econometric Theory I
ECON6010: Monetary Policy: Theory and Practice
ECON6011: Microeconomic Theory
ECON6012: Macroeconomic Theory
ECON6036: Game Theory and Applications
12
Notes:
  • The courses listed above enrolled for URFP 2019-20 will be counted as advanced level economics electives.
  • All the credits gained in the required components of URFP 2019-20 will be counted towards the graduation requirement.


Non credit-bearing components:

Students under the URFP are also encouraged to attend postgraduate seminars organized by the Faculty of Business and Economics but attendance is not compulsory.  (Note: The Faculty will send notification emails to URFP students regarding the details of seminars, and will take attendance in the seminars for record purpose.)

The following non-credit-bearing RPg course(s) can also be taken by URFP participants:

ECON6002: Selected Topics in Microeconomics*
ECON6052: Selected Topics in Macroeconomics*
FINA6016: Asset Pricing Theory*
FINA6017: Corporate Finance Theory*
FINA6052: Empirical Asset Pricing*
FINA6053 Empirical Corporate Finance*
*Application for enrolling in this course may be required.

 

Course Descriptions [for reference ONLY]

(Information of the courses is subject to updates from time to time)

 

ECON4294 Dissertation (12 credits)

Candidates may write a dissertation under the supervision of faculty members of the Faculty. Topics offered may vary from year to year, depending on the research interests of the lecturer. A satisfactory dissertation may be offered in lieu of two written papers in the Examination. 

Candidates must submit the title and an outline of their dissertation for approval by the BEcon/BEcon&Fin Programme Director not later than the last day of the revision period in the first semester. The dissertation shall be completed and presented not later than the first day of the assessment period for the second semester. (Note: The course extends over two semesters. Candidates must enroll in the first semester.) 

Prerequisites:ECON2210 Intermediate microeconomics; and 
 ECON2220 Intermediate macroeconomics; and
 ECON2280 Introductory econometrics; and 
 Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above at the time of enrolment

Remarks: Open only Year 4 students majoring in Economics. Candidates intending to take this course shall complete an application form which is available at the Faculty Area Administration Office (Room 1305, K.K. Leung Building).

FINA4392 Dissertation (12 credits)

Candidates may write a dissertation under the supervision of faculty members of the Faculty. A satisfactory dissertation may be offered in lieu of two written papers in the Examination. 

Candidates must submit the title and an outline of their dissertation for approval by the BEcon/BEcon&Fin Programme Director not later than the last day of the revision period in the first semester. The dissertation shall be completed and presented not later than the first day of the assessment period for the second semester (Note: The course extends over two semesters. Candidates must enroll in the first semester). 

Prerequisites:ECON2280 Introductory econometrics; and 
 FINA2320 Investments and portfolio analysis; and 
 FINA2322 Derivatives; and 
 Cumulative GPA of 3.0 or above at the time of enrolment 

Remarks: Open only to Year 4 students majoring in Finance. Candidates intending to take this course shall complete an application form which is available at the Faculty Area Administration Office (Room 1305, K.K. Leung Building).

ECON6002 Selected Topics in Microeconomics

This is a course of axiomatic choice theory in which classic results as well as current developments are surveyed. Students are expected to be proficient in fundamentals of microeconomic theory, analysis and probability theory. Potential topics include choice under uncertainty, subjective beliefs and updating, ambiguity aversion, temptation and self-control.

ECON6005 Econometrics Theory I (6 credits)

This course is an introduction to econometric theory and applications at an advanced level. Students are expected to be proficient in calculus, matrix algebra, and econometrics at the undergraduate level.

Potential topics to be discussed include the classical linear model, generalized method of moments, and multiple equation models. Note: Candidates may be required to pass a mathematics test in order to take the course.

ECON6010 Monetary Policy: Theory & Practice (6 credits)

This course traces the evolution of central banks over the last 200 years from primitive financial clearing-houses to promoters of macroeconomic stability and growth as a natural progression as policy-makers sought to combat various challenges to macroeconomic stability, such as inflation and systemic financial risk. The course will discuss different monetary policy regimes, including currency boards and inflation targeting, and the inherent trade-offs between them, focusing especially on the importance of credibility and expectations. Optimal monetary policy design and the monetary transmission mechanism will also be covered.

ECON6011 Microeconomic Theory (6 credits)

This course covers how consumers and producers make choices and how these choices are equilibrated by the market. In the part on choice theory, utility maximization and profit maximization problems together with corresponding dual problems are considered. Optimal value functions are studied and used to perform comparative static analysis. Restrictions imposed by optimization on consumer and producer behaviour are discussed. Choices under uncertainty are also investigated. The second part mainly covers the equilibrium in perfectly competitive markets and the two fundamental welfare theorems. It will also discuss the consequences of market failures, including public goods, externalities, and market power. Game theory will also be introduced.

ECON6012 Macroeconomic Theory (6 credits)

This course covers neo-classical macroeconomics, the Keynesian model and its problems, the consumption function and investment and economic fluctuations, supply and demand of money, the counter-revolution in monetary theory, inflation and unemployment and alternative policies for dealing with them, and open economy macroeconomics.

ECON6036 Game Theory and Applications (6 credits)

This course covers game theory and its applications to various fields of economics. It studies static games with complete information, dynamic games with complete information, static games with incomplete information, dynamic games with incomplete information, and the equilibrium concepts corresponding to these games. It considers applications of these concepts to the study of industrial organization, international trade, labor economics, public economics, corporate finance, and monetary economics. Applications to auction and bargaining are also considered. Finally, it offers an introduction to mechanism design and its application to the procurement problem.

ECON6052 Selected Topics in Macroeconomics

This is a special-topics course on macroeconomics (i.e., the study of aggregate or economy-wide behaviour). Presumably, the topics may vary from year to year, depending on the interest of the instructor. In any case, they will be related in one way or another to the central issues of (long-run) growth and (short-run) fluctuations, as well as the analysis of growth and stabilisation policies. This year the course will focus on macro-finance, firm dynamics, and heterogeneous agent models. This course is aimed to introduce PhD students the research frontier of dynamic and quantitative models in macroeconomics and finance. Students are expected to use these tools to study economic growth, business cycles, consumption, savings, investment, asset pricing, and government policies.

FINA6016 Asset Pricing Theory

This course is an introductory PhD level course on the basic theories of asset pricing. It consists of five parts. The first part deals with individual choices under uncertainty, including expected utility theory, risk aversion, and two-period consumption portfolio problems. The second part deals with equilibrium pricing theories, including implications of no arbitrage and stochastic discount factor, risk sharing, aggregation, and consumption-based pricing in complete markets, mean-variance efficiency and the Capital Asset Pricing Model. We also explore the relation between these various pricing theories and extend the treatment of individual consumption/portfolio problems and equilibrium pricing to a multi-period setting. In the third part, we review recent developments in asset pricing by introducing some stylized facts and new theories. The fourth part introduces asymmetric information in financial markets. The fifth part provides a brief introduction of the recent development of market frictions in financial markets, including leverage constraints, short selling constraints and the interaction between financial markets and real economy.

FINA6017 Corporate Finance Theory

This course covers selected PhD-level research-related lectures in corporate theories, real options and financial intermediation. The instructors will lecture selected topics and associated papers.

FINA6052 Empirical Asset Pricing

This course is an in-depth study of existing empirical work in asset pricing, including econometric and statistical methods. The focus is on empirical studies of the fundamental economic questions in asset pricing. This course consists of reading, presenting, and discussing articles on the general subject of empirical asset pricing.

FINA6053 Empirical Corporate Finance

This is a special course that deals with various topics in empirical corporate finance. Topics covered may vary from year to year, depending on the research interests of the instructor.


Supervisory Arrangements

Students are expected to find a supervisor based on their research interests prior to the submission of URFP application (same arrangement applies to students who would like to take the Dissertation course). The supervisor should be an academic staff of the Faculty of Business and Economics. Identifying an academic staff who agrees to supervise the dissertation and subsequently to develop the dissertation topic together are necessary conditions for URFP application. 


Responsibilities of Supervisors 

A supervisor’s responsibilities include helping the student to develop the topic of his/her research study and supervising the dissertation through regular meetings with the student.  If research internship is deemed necessary beneficial to the student’s research study, the supervisor should help make necessary arrangements of internship.


Recognition

The fellowship will be recorded in the transcripts of students who have successfully completed the URFP.  Awards will be established to recognize outstanding performance.


University Research Internship Awards

Students who are interested in research internship and whose research internship has been arranged by their supervisors, may seek their Supervisors’ nomination for the University Research Internship Award.

Research internships awarded under the URFP are generally expected to take place during inter-semester breaks.  For overseas research internships, the value of an award is up to HK$40,000 for a period of not less than 8 weeks on a full-time basis to cover economy return airfare and part of overseas accommodation and living costs.  For research internships in Hong Kong or the Mainland, the value of an award is HK$15,000 for the same period as stated above.  The awards will be granted on a competitive basis and by the Working Group of URFP.

To provide more research learning opportunities to students, the University has partnered with the University of Warwick to allow undergraduate students participating in HKU’s URFP and Warwick’s Undergraduate Research Support Scheme (URSS) to carry out a non-credit bearing summer research project under the guidance of an allocated supervisor at the other university. Each year, HKU can send up to four students to Warwick for a period of 8 to 10 weeks between June and August for an overseas research internship under the URFP.  

Research internship awards under the URFP 2019-20 will be funded by the HKU Foundation with co-funding from Faculties as well as the Joseph Chow Education Fund.  Students should acknowledge the appropriate fund source if any conference papers and /or publications emanate from research supported by the awards. Students who are granted the University Research Internship Award under URFP shall submit an internship report.


Application Procedures and Timetable

The deadline for application is February 24, 2019 (Sunday). Selected students will be informed of the application result.  If the selected students are interested in research internship, they will be asked to contact with their supervisors directly for the availability of research internship in summer 2019.  Availability of opportunity and funding of research internship is subject to arrangement by the supervisors concerned.  Selected students whose supervisors will arrange research internship for the students concerned may also apply for the University Research Internship Awards.  


Selection of Participants

Selection will be based on students’ academic performance, and their Statement of Intent.  When necessary, an interview may be arranged.


Notification of Selection Results

Students will be notified of the selection results in April 2019.

 

Contact Person

Name:    Ms. Cobe Fan
Tel. no.:  3917 8455
Email:     cobefan@hku.hk