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3. Curriculum Development and Approval

3.1 Development and approval of new curricula

3.1.1 The conceptualisation of new curricula usually occurs within academic Departments and Faculties. 7 Consultation on the planning of such developments, particularly multidisciplinary programmes and collaborative ventures, extends beyond contributing units to cognate groups and stakeholders within and outside the University. External input and benchmarking of new curricula against similar offerings of internationally reputable universities are mandatory, and all concerns raised by external advisers must be addressed.

3.1.2 Curriculum and programme development is therefore informed by feedback from disciplinary experts and stakeholders as well as external peer reviews and benchmarks. Curriculum and programme approval processes involve iterations of feedback and improvement.

3.1.3 There are broad guidelines on the preparation of academic proposals which must include: academic rationale, alignment with the Faculty’s and University’s strategic development, curriculum structure and governance, input from external assessors, international and professional benchmarking, teaching expertise, QA and QE mechanisms, articulation with other curricula and programmes in the same area of study, market demand and competitiveness, latest academic, societal and professional needs, and financial viability and sustainability (Appendix 3.1). Submission of a Financial Planning Form is required for offering new self-financing curricula and programmes to ensure financial viability and the absence of cross-subsidisation. Strict compliance with the Cost Allocation Guidelines (https://www.ugc.edu.hk/doc/eng/ugc/note/CAGs.pdf) and other relevant financial administration procedures of the University is mandatory.

3.1.4 There are also detailed guidance notes and a designated template to assist Faculties and Departments in preparing proposals for new academic curricula and programmes (Appendix 3.2).

3.1.5 Curriculum and programme proposals at Ug and TPg levels must be endorsed by the Faculty Board before submission to the AB Sub-group, which facilitates the review process by engaging in proactive discussions with the Faculties and offering advice on all issues pertaining to the proposal. 8 Faculties should then submit a formal proposal to AB for consideration. Approval processes are iterative, with AB having to be satisfied that Faculties and Departments have addressed the concerns raised either by external assessors or by AB before referral to the Senate for deliberation. New UGC-funded curricula (not already included in the approved triennial Planning Exercise Proposal) must receive UGC’s endorsement. Where the proposed curriculum is offered in partnership with Mainland or international institutions, the “Guidelines for Joint and Dual Taught Degrees” and/or the “Guidelines for Off-campus Taught Degrees” at Appendix 3.3 should be followed respectively. They should be read in conjunction with these broad guidelines and other prevailing University policies, regulations, guidelines, as applicable.

3.1.6 The Senate is the approving authority of new academic curricula and programmes, and major changes to approved curricula listed under Statute III. All necessary approval processes should be completed at least one semester in advance of the implementation date. Statute XXIII.2 of the “Powers of the Senate” stipulates that:

(1) The Senate may by regulation provide for any of the following matters or for any of the following purposes –


(c) courses of study and examinations; …
(2) All such regulations shall be reported to the Council and shall come into operation not earlier than 1 semester after the day on which they are made, unless otherwise provided by the Council.

Figure 3.1: Curriculum Development and Approval Processes at Ug and TPg levels
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3.1.7 A PLOAP, which ensures that every academic curriculum/programme can demonstrate the use of direct evidence of student learning for gauging students’ achievement of the PLOs of the curriculum/programme, should be created shortly after the curriculum/programme is implemented (see Section 4.8).

3.2 Development and approval of new disciplinary courses

3.2.1 Faculty Boards have delegated authority from the Senate to approve syllabus changes. Introduction of new disciplinary courses is also approved by the Faculty Boards. A template for offering a new disciplinary course with guidance notes is at Appendix 3.4.

3.3 Changes to existing taught curricula, programmes and disciplinary courses

3.3.1 Major changes to existing curricula and programmes include changes to the curriculum structure, substantial changes to the curriculum or programme requirements, adding or dropping a mode of study, change of degree or programme name, and other key features of the curricula which depart significantly from those approved originally. Input from external assessors must be sought for significant changes proposed to existing curricula and programmes. The template for making major changes to a taught curriculum or programme is at Appendix 3.5.

3.3.2 Proposals for making major changes to curricula and programmes must be endorsed by the relevant Faculty Board before submission to the AB Sub-group, which offers advice on possible refinement before Faculties submit a formal proposal. The formal proposal should be submitted to AB, which will make a recommendation to the Senate for deliberation.

3.3.3 Revisions to an existing disciplinary course may cover a change of course code, course title, course description, coursework/examination ratio, CLOs, and course grade descriptors. These revisions should be approved by the relevant Faculty Board(s). Other minor changes are normally approved by the relevant Department, School, or Programme Committee. The template for proposing changes to an existing course is at Appendix 3.6.

3.4 Suspension and sun-setting arrangements

3.4.1 The Senate has delegated authority to the Faculty Boards to approve suspension of curricula, with the proviso that suspension of admission to any curricula listed under Statute III must be reported to the Senate. The template for suspending a curriculum/programme is at Appendix 3.7.

3.4.2 A mechanism is in place for sun-setting obsolete TPg curricula (Appendix 3.8). (Sun-setting in this context means suspending admission to a curriculum without a planned timeline for re-introducing it.)

3.4.3 An obsolete disciplinary course necessitates updating of the curriculum syllabus. This requires approval from the relevant Faculty Boards. A template for closing an existing course is at Appendix 3.9.

3.5 Approval processes for Common Core and language enhancement courses

3.5.1 CC, and Chinese and English language enhancement courses constitute a significant part of the Ug graduation requirements. Central committees have been set up as sub-committees of AB to oversee these courses, including the Common Core Curriculum Committee and CCELE.

3.5.2 The CC Curriculum has robust review processes for course selection, changes to course particulars and course renewal. The processes adopted for the selection of the CC courses are both iterative and rigorous. The template for proposing a new CC course is at Appendix 3.10. Proposals have to be submitted online. Course proposals are selected on the basis of academic quality, that is, the extent to which the proposals are consistent with the University educational aims and the goals of the CC Curriculum. Applications are submitted to the Common Core Curriculum Committee from the Faculty Boards, Boards of Studies or Management Committees (in the case of non-Faculty teaching units) to make recommendation to AB Sub-group and the Senate.

3.5.3On delegated authority from the Senate, the Common Core Curriculum Committee approves the course learning outcomes, grade descriptors and amendments to the syllabuses of courses, and determines the assessment procedures/processes and the appointment of internal examiners for the Common Core Curriculum, subject to reporting to the Academic Board annually on the exercise of the delegated authority. Requests for making minor changes to course particulars (e.g. slight changes to the course T&L activities) should be submitted by the Course Coordinator of the CC course concerned to the Director of Common Core Curriculum for approval.

3.5.4 An ongoing monitoring and formal review system for course renewal is in place. All approved CC courses are normally offered for 3 years in the first instance, with a formal course review to be conducted at the end of the second year of offering to determine whether a particular course will be offered for another 3-year cycle.

3.5.5 New English-in-the-Discipline and Faculty-specific Practical Chinese Language course proposals should be considered by the relevant Faculty Board before submission to CCELE for approval by the Senate via AB Sub-group. New proposals for University-wide language enhancement courses (e.g. Core University English) should be submitted to CCELE for approval by the Senate via AB Sub-group, upon consultation with all Faculty Boards. For Chinese language courses offered by the Chinese Language Centre mainly to international students, new proposals should be submitted to CCELE, AB Sub-group and the Senate for approval, upon consultation with the Board of the Faculty of Arts. New language enhancement free elective course proposals should be submitted to CCELE in the first instance. On delegated authority from the Senate, CCELE approves the course learning outcomes, grade descriptors and amendments to the syllabuses of courses in Chinese and English language enhancement, subject to reporting to the Academic Board annually on the exercise of the delegated authority.

3.5.6 The templates for introducing a new language enhancement course (with guidance notes), changes to an existing course and closing a course are at Appendix 3.11.

3.6 Approval processes for HKU Horizons programme

3.6.1 Credit-bearing courses are offered under HKU Horizons programme to broaden students’ vision through acquiring learning experience outside Hong Kong. Each course proposer should submit his/her proposal for credit-bearing Mainland/international learning experience under the HKU Horizons programme to the HKU Horizons Committee, which is an AB sub-committee, for endorsement before it is forwarded to AB Sub-group and the Senate for approval.

3.6.2 On delegated authority from the Senate, the HKU Horizons Committee approves the course learning outcomes, grade descriptors and amendments to the syllabuses of courses, and determines the assessment procedures/processes and the appointment of internal examiners for the HKU Horizons programme, subject to reporting to the Academic Board annually on the exercise of the delegated authority.

3.7 Approval processes for Bachelor of Arts and Sciences core courses

3.7.1 BASc core courses form part of the graduation requirement of the four-year BASc curricula. The BASc Curriculum Committee is set up to oversee the development and delivery of the three BASc core courses.

3.7.2 New BASc core course proposals are considered by the Board of the Lead Faculty of the core course concerned before submission to the BASc Curriculum Committee for approval by the Senate. On delegated authority of the Senate, the BASc Curriculum Committee approves the course learning outcomes, grade descriptors and amendments to the syllabuses of the BASc core courses, and determines the assessment procedure/processes and the appointment of internal examiners for the core courses, subject to reporting to the Senate annually on the exercise of the delegated authority.

3.8 Approving authorities for curriculum matters

3.8.1 Faculty Boards endorse curriculum regulations, and approve CLOs and grade descriptors of the courses for which they are responsible, and on delegated authority from the Senate, disciplinary syllabuses. The Senate approves the curriculum regulations and details of all new degrees, and has delegated its authority to the Common Core Curriculum Committee, CCELE, the HKU Horizons Committee and the BASc Curriculum Committee to approve syllabus amendments and other key curriculum components of the CC Curriculum, Chinese and English language enhancement programmes, credit-bearing courses offered by the HKU Horizons programme, and BASc core courses respectively. The approving authorities for the various components of the taught curricula are summarised at Appendix 3.12.

3.8.2 In accordance with Statute XXIII.2(2), the Council’s waiver of the requisite one semester’s notice requirement has to be sought, when necessary (see paragraph 3.1.6).


7 The Faculties of Business and Economics, Dentistry and Education are unitary Faculties, under which there are no teaching Departments formed by the Senate. For administrative purposes, the Faculties of Business and Economics and Dentistry are organised into a number of academic/disciplinary areas and the Faculty of Education into academic units.
8 Reference to the powers of the Faculty Boards shall be applicable to Senate Boards of Studies which administer Ug and TPg curricula.

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