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Undergraduate Curriculum

“Adding wings to caterpillars does not create butterflies. It creates awkward and dysfunctional caterpillars. Butterflies are created through transformation.” Stephanie Marshall (1996)


The University has set up the Steering Committee on the 4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum to lead the curriculum reform process. Extensive consultations are conducted with all stakeholders, including academics, administrators, students, alumni, professional organizations and employers. Recommendations are presented to University Senate for approval. Key features of the 2012 curriculum approved by Senate are outlined below.

The reform of undergraduate education under the “334” academic structure is a once-in-a-lifetime exercise for the University and for Hong Kong’s higher education sector. The University is using this unprecedented opportunity to:

  • Revisit and critically reflect on the University curriculum
  • Renew our commitment to providing an outstanding student-centred learning experience
  • Promote a university education distinguished by its international outreach and outlook

HKU Educational Aims and Institutional Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

The 4-year undergraduate curriculum at HKU is designed to enable our students to develop their capabilities in:

Pursuit of academic/professional excellence, critical intellectual enquiry and life-long learning

  • Develop in-depth knowledge of specialist disciplines and professions
  • Maintain highest standards of intellectual rigor and academic integrity
  • Critique received knowledge from multiple perspectives
  • Sustain intellectual curiosity and enthusiasm for learning

Tackling novel situations and ill-defined problems

  • Respond positively to unanticipated situations and problems
  • Identify and define problems in unfamiliar situations
  • Generate and evaluate innovative solutions to problem

Critical self-reflection, greater understanding of others, and upholding personal and professional ethics

  • Maintain highest standards of personal integrity and ethical practice in academic, social and professional settings
  • Heighten awareness of personal strengths and weaknesses
  • Respect individual differences and preferences

Intercultural understanding and global citizenship

  • Heighten awareness of own culture and other cultures
  • Develop cultural sensitivity and interpersonal skills for engagement with people of diverse cultures
  • Perform social responsibilities as a member of the global community

Communication and collaboration

  • Communicate effectively in academic, professional and social settings
  • Work with others and make constructive contributions

Leadership and advocacy for the improvement of the human condition

  • Play a leading role in improving the well-being of fellow citizens and humankind
  • Uphold the core values of a democratic society: human rights, justice, equality and freedom of speech
  • Participate actively in promoting the local and global social, economic and environmental sustainability

Distinctive Features of the 4-Year Curriculum

  • (Inter)disciplinary inquiry
  • Multidisciplinary collaboration
  • Enquiry in multiple contexts
  • Diverse learning experiences
  • Multiple forms of learning & assessment
  • Engagement with local & global communities
  • Development of civic & moral values

Language Provision and Support

English is the University’s medium of instruction and in order to support intercultural communications and understanding, the University’s Senate has endorsed English as the campus lingua franca.

In the 4-year Curriculum implemented in 2012, students are required to take 12 credits of English language (6 of which should be in the form of “English in the Discipline”) and 6 credits of Chinese language courses.

Students who are native-speakers of languages other than Chinese, and students who have not studied Chinese language and culture in their secondary school curriculum up to S6 level can take an elective course in lieu.

4-Year Curriculum

The 4-year curriculum has been implemented in 2012, under which students are required to complete 240 credits. Details are indicated in the following chart.

Component Courses No. of Credits* % of Total No. of Credits
Compulsory Courses Common Core 36 credits 22.5%
English 12 credits
Chinese 6 credits
Specialization Major 72-96 credits 30% – 40%
Minor 36-48 credits 15% – 20%
Electives Electives for all students Remainder to complete 240 credits 17.5% – 32.5%
Total no. of required credits**   240 credits 100%
*6 credits = 120 –180 student workload hours
** Students are allowed to take additional credits up to 6 credits per semester and graduate with a total of 288 credits

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