Teaching and Learning at The University of Hong Kong HKU

Exploring Issues of Profound Significance

The Common Core

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The Common Core Director

The Common Core @ HKU

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The HKU Common Core provides a space for building friendships across all the Faculties; for enhancing creative and critical thinking; and for addressing complex questions of the contemporary world. Focusing on significant issues, the Common Core will help you make connections both to and beyond your chosen disciplinary fields of study and to develop the intellectual, social, and innovative skills that all HKU undergraduates will need, as well as the ethical perspectives that the entire HKU community is striving to practise.

Common Core Office’s Contact

What are the goals?

The overarching goals of the Common Core are:

  1. to enable students to develop a broader perspective and a critical understanding of the complex connections between issues in their everyday lives;
  2. to cultivate students’ ability to navigate the similarities and differences between their own and other cultures;
  3. to enable students to more fully participate as individuals and citizens in global, regional, and local communities; and
  4. to enable the intellectual, collaborative, and communication skills that will be further enhanced in students’ disciplinary studies, and, in turn, contribute to the quality of their lives after graduation.

What will you study?

The Common Core Curriculum is designed to help you see connections across history, culture, knowledge, and experience through an exploration of:

  • the artistic, social and imaginative expressions of ideas and emotions
  • the reciprocal relationships between individuals and communities
  • the relationships between scientific ways of knowing, technology and the natural world
  • continuities and changes that weave together the past, present and future

How will you be assessed?

Since learning occurs best when it is most active, Common Core courses utilize diverse modes of assessment such as essays, journals, scrapbooks, or observation logs; making a short video, map, or soundscape; engaging in relevant experiments and fieldwork; constructing a website; creating a public exhibit; or undertaking group projects or presentations. Occasionally, there will also be a traditional examination or a quiz.

How will you learn?

Student workload hours for a 6-credit course amount to 120-180 hours. Common Core courses normally, but not always consist of 36 contact hours, with a 2-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week. Within these sessions, you may be asked to solve problems, address difficult social questions, discuss different perspectives, or decide on issues you wish to investigate further. The remainder of the hours will be accounted for through engaging in a variety of learning activities including, among others, close reading, reflective writing, media production, fieldwork, group projects, quizzes or exams, interviews and other forms of research.

How is the Common Core Curriculum structured?

In order to ensure a balanced exploration, the Common Core is divided into four Areas of Inquiry (AoIs): Scientific and Technological Literacy, Humanities, Global Issues and China: Culture, State and Society. However, it is important for you to realize that while these AoIs serve as a means of organizing the curriculum, they are inter-related rather than mutually exclusive.Please click the icons below for more information.

How do you select your courses?

Common Core courses are selected online through the Student Information System (SIS). It is important to note that selecting a course online does not guarantee a place on the course as Common Core courses have a fixed quota.

Course Selection Period (Course approval method: First-Come-First-Served)
During the course selection period in August, your selections of Common Core courses are time-stamped. Pending approval of course enrollment, you are able to check your position in the queue as well as the number of vacancies available in the course. The system will approve your course selection on a first-come-first-served basis. Any enrollments not approved as a result of oversubscription will be placed on a ranked waiting list. The system will perform the enrollment approval process a few times a day and you can check and make changes to your course selection online during the course selection period.

After the course selection period closes, all the waiting lists generated during the course selection period will be purged. You will not be allowed to make any changes to your course selection until the add/drop period.

Add/Drop Period (Course approval method: Auto-Ballot)
During the add/drop period, you may select Common Core courses with available places and the system will approve your new enrollments by auto-ballot. The system will perform auto-balloting jobs a few times a day and you may check your course selection status and ballot result online after the suspension period.

*IMPORTANT: You should ensure that your Common Core course selection does not violate the requirement of not taking more than one course from any AoI in an academic year. Otherwise, your enrollment will be disapproved by the system automatically.

Exchange/Visiting students
Subject to availability, exchange/visiting students may take up to two Common Core courses from a selective menu, each from a different AoI. They should enroll to special sub-classes created for exchange/visting students only. The selection process is the same as mentioned above.

You are strongly advised to refer to the Course Selection Schedule as well as the Quick Guide on Course Selection and Enrollment available on the HKU Portal before performing your course selection.

Why are tutorials important?

Tutorials, which are normally conducted weekly in a small groups setting, are an essential and compulsory element of study in the Common Core Curriculum. The purpose of tutorials is to provide a context for you to clarify and deepen your understanding through dialogue with others in an interactive setting. Additionally, tutorials offer an environment for you to improve your communication skills and develop your confidence. Each member of the tutorial group has responsibility for creating an effective learning experience for all concerned, and it is therefore important that you prepare adequately by reviewing lectures, formulating questions for discussion, and completing any preset tasks such as reading, writing, or research requirements.

What are the Common Core Curriculum requirements?

You are normally required to take 6 six-credit courses, one from each AoI and not more than 2 from any AoI. However, the number of courses required and the year and semester in which they are taken vary from programme to programme. The majority of Common Core courses are taught on Wednesday afternoon, with a smaller number of them on Saturday morning.

Please note that whatever the requirements for your programme you are not allowed to take more than one course from any AoI in an academic year (except for students admitted in 2014-15 and thereafter who are required to make up for failed credits).

4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum: Students Entering in 2015-16

4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum: Students Entering in 2014-15

4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum: Students Entering in 2013-14

4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum: Students Entering in 2012-13

3-Year Undergraduate Curriculum: Students Entering in 2012-13

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