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About the New Semester

Class and Examination Schedules

The Academic Year 2020-2021 will start on September 1, 2020.
(Update on September 18, 2020)

In principle

We remain committed to a dual mode of teaching for UG and TPG courses in S1:

  • Online: all courses, apart from a few exceptions requiring hands-on engagement, will be available online throughout the semester. (Faculties will issue separate guidance to their students about any required hands-on teaching.)
  • Face to face: when it is safe to do so, we will also offer students the option of returning to campus for some f2f classes.

In practice

Since the public health situation in Hong Kong is currently improving, we will make a partial return to face-to-face (f2f) teaching from September 22. Based on the information available to us now, this is how we expect S1 to look for most UG and TPG programmes (for exceptions, see the section below):

  • Sept 1-21: all courses will be delivered online only.
  • Sept 22 – Nov 30: all courses with either ‘f2f’ or ‘mixed’ as the delivery mode (view under ‘course attributes’ in SIS) will provide an f2f option.
  • S1 as a whole: all courses will be available online throughout S1, and every student will have the option of completing S1 online. No student will be required to return to campus for f2f classes in S1.
  • Final exams: all final exams will take place online.

Exceptions

These are the exceptions to our general guidelines:

  • Some courses involve hands-on engagement and will have to be, or will be better if they can be, taken f2f either in whole or in part. Faculties will issue separate guidance to their students about any required hands-on teaching.
  • Some exams will be held in-person either because there are special requirements (eg professional programmes), or because all the students taking a course are in Hong Kong and it is safe for them to attend an in-person exam. Again, Faculties will issue separate guidance to their students about this.

Looking ahead

Both globally and locally, the public health situation remains volatile and unpredictable. In the coming weeks and months, it is quite possible that we will face renewed pandemic challenges. Throughout S1, we will keep the public health situation under close review. Should there be a deterioration, we may need to suspend all f2f teaching at short notice, and switch back to online delivery for all courses.

Add/drop period

As in Semester 2 earlier this year, we are providing students with a ‘self-enrol’ function on HKU Moodle to allow courses to be audited during the add/drop period. This function will be available only during the add/drop period. Once that period ends, all self-enrolments will be deleted unless the student has formally enrolled in the course through the course registration system.

Assessment choices

As you know, we’re offering all UG and TPG students three assessment choices for S1 courses: letter grade, pass/fail, late drop. Assessment choices can be submitted through SIS from 09:00 on Monday September 28 to 23:59 on Saturday October 10 (https://sweb.hku.hk/student/servlet/MyChoice/Status). This deadline is final, and no modifications will be permitted once it has passed. I’d like again to advise all students to think very carefully when opting for pass/fail grading. Courses that are simply passed will be recorded as P on the transcript, with no impact on the GPA calculation. For UG students in particular, this could have important knock-on effects. Internally, we rely on SGPA data for elective opportunities, such as academic exchange and other funded programmes. Externally, employers and universities around the world examine transcripts in some detail when taking decisions about jobs and postgraduate study. Students without solid GPA data may therefore place themselves at a significant disadvantage. Please consult your teachers, your academic advisers, the Academic Advising Office (https://aao.hku.hk/impact-pf/), your family and your friends before submitting your assessment choices. Please also note the points below about honours classification.

Webcams

In 2020-21, students taking online classes are required to turn on their webcams when the teacher asks them to do so. (Virtual backgrounds are of course permissible.) Students with special needs or circumstances may apply to their teachers for exemption on a case-by-case basis. If it is not possible for a teacher and student to reach agreement, the case may be referred to the relevant Associate Dean (Teaching and Learning) or, in the case of Common Core courses, to the Director.

Campus health and hygiene

HKU has devised robust protocols to promote campus health and hygiene (https://covid19.hku.hk/). Everyone coming to campus needs to be aware of and respect these protocols. Throughout S1, the University will continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and make any necessary adjustments. Please always stay vigilant and make personal and group health your top priority.