刘兆佳教授于1947年在香港出生。1971年毕业于香港大学，主修社会学及经济学，获颁社会科学学士（一级荣誉）学位。旋赴美国明尼苏达大学 (University of Minnesota)修读社会学，主攻社会发展及政治社会学，于1975年毕业，获哲学博士学位。毕业后回港任教于香港中文大学，1990年晋升为讲座教授。1990至2002年兼任香港亚太研究所副所长，1994-2002年兼任社会学系系主任。2007年于中文大学退休，旋即获委任为荣休社会学讲座教授。
刘教授于1993-1997年获中国政府委任为港事顾问，1993-1995年获全国人大常委会委任为香港特区预备工作委员会委员，1996-1997年获全国人大常委会任命为香港特区筹备委员会委员。2002年至2012年出任香港特别行政区政府中央政策组首席顾问。2003年起获委任为全国政协委员。2013年当选为全国港澳研究会副会长。 刘教授的学术研究范围包括社会与政治发展、香港社会与政治、国际政治。已出版的著作包括Society and Politics in Hong Kong （1982）, The Ethos of the Hong Kong Chinese (with Kuan Hsin-chi)(1988), 《过渡期香港政治》（1996）, 《回归十五年以来香港特区管治及新政权建设》（2012），《回归后的香港政治》（2013），《香港的独特民主路》，和一批散见于香港、内地和国际期刊的研究论文。
Professor Lau Siu-kai was born in Hong Kong in 1947. He received his Bachelor of Social Science (First Class Honour) degree from the University of Hong Kong in 1971, majoring in sociology and economics. In 1975, he was awarded Ph.D. in sociology by the University of Minnesota, specializing in social development and political sociology. Professor Lau taught at the Chinese University of Hong Kong since 1975 and was promoted to Chair Professor in Sociology in 1990. He retired from the Chinese University of Hong Kong in 2007 and was appointed Emeritus Professor of Sociology since then. Professor Lau was appointed as Hong Kong Affairs Advisor by the Chinese Government in 1993-1997. He was appointed as Member of the Preliminary Working Committee for the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress in 1993-1995. The same body appointed him as Member of the Preparatory Committee for the HKSAR in 1996-1997. In 2002-2012 Professor Lau was Head of the Central Policy Unit of the Hong Kong SAR Government. Professor Lau has been Member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference since 2003. Professor Lau was elected Vice-President of the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies. Professor Lau's research interests include social and political development, society and politics in Hong Kong and international politics. His publications include Society and Politics in Hong Kong (1982), The Ethos of the Hong Kong Chinese (with Kuan Hsin-chi) (1988), Hong Kong Politics in the Transitional Period (in Chinese)(1996), Governance and New Regime Building in Hong Kong Fifteen Years Since the Handover (2012), Hong Kong Politics since the Handover (2013)(in Chinese), Hong Kong's Unique Path of Democratization (2014)(in Chinese), as well as articles in local, Mainland and international scholarly journals.