Call for PhD Application in Discourse Analysis of Telegenetic Counseling Communication

Job location: University of Hong Kong, Center for the Humanities and Medicine
Job rank: PhD

Applications are invited for a three-year full-time PhD position in the area of discourse analysis of telegenetic counseling communication. This position relates to the project titled ‘A Discourse Analytic Study of Telegenetic Counseling in Hong Kong’ currently conducted at the Center for the Humanities and Medicine (CHM), Hong Kong University. The CHM is the first institution of its kind in Asia, and one of the few in the world that combines the commitment to cutting-edge interdisciplinary research with the cultivation of professional competencies and practices. The fellowship is funded by the Research Grant Council’s General Research Fund (GRF, funding period 2011-2013; the PhD position will go beyond the project period).

Genetic counseling is a complex activity type in which counselors inform clients at risk of a genetic disorder about the familial basis of the disorder and available testing options, and thus facilitate clients’ decisions regarding (not) testing and (not) disclosing their genetic status. When counseling is mediated through telephone or computer systems, the activity becomes even more complex, highlighting context-specific interactional demands on the participants. While telemedicine has been researched widely in various healthcare sites, there are fewer studies of telegenetic counseling, in particular in South Asia, including China and Hong Kong. In Hong Kong, telegenetic counseling is an unavoidable necessity due to the small number of trained professionals in the region and the wide population they serve. In general, the aim of the project is to investigate the precise nature of the telephone-mediated counseling activity and the ways in which it differs from face-to-face counselling. The project examines risk explanations; information-giving vis-à-vis advice-giving; reassurance and other associated themes. The PhD candidate will be actively involved in researching one of the abovementioned aspects of telegenetic/face-to-face counseling. While the PhD dissertation will identify a distinct research topic, it will remain linked to the parent project. It is also expected that the PhD candidate will contribute to the development of the Health Communication Research Cluster of the Center through his/her participation in health communication-related activities organized by the CHM.  The position is available for 36 months and the candidate is expected to register not later than January 1, 2013.

Candidates should preferably have background in one of the following areas: (applied) linguistics, discourse analysis, health communication, or healthcare-related studies. Knowledge of Cantonese and/or Mandarin are desirable but not pre-requisites.  

Applications must be submitted via the standard on-line application process for HKU. For further information on research postgraduate education at Hong Kong University, application procedure and financial assistance, see Full-time PhD students who hold a first degree with second-class honors first division (or equivalent) or above are normally considered eligible to receive a Postgraduate Studentship during the normative study period. Candidates' results in Master's degrees may also be considered. The basic level of studentship is currently HK$13,600 (US$1,740) per month (subject to revision). Candidates may also apply for other financial awards. The Hong Kong PhD Fellowship (HKPF) provides each awardee with a monthly studentship of HK$20,000 and a conference and research related travel allowance of HK$10,000 per year for a period up to three years.

The deadline for application is 1 May 2012, HKT 12 noon. Applicants who have applied for the HKPF will be automatically considered for the award of University Postgraduate Fellowships (UPF) of HK$70,000 in addition to the Postgraduate Studentships. Information on awards and financial assistance may be found at

Applicants should  send a short e-mail to Dr. Olga Zayts ( to notify her that they have applied for the position. Further inquiries about the position should be sent to Dr. Olga Zayts at zayts at hkucc dot hku dot hk; or Professor Srikant Sarangi at Sarangi at cardiff dot ac dot uk. 

Web Address for Applications: