Teaching and Learning at The University of Hong Kong HKU

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The University of Hong Kong

Teaching and Learning

Governance and Planning

Teaching and learning is central to the University’s Mission, which together with the University’s Vision and Role statements articulate HKU’s position as an English-medium, research intensive institution, committed to providing a campus-based education in a comprehensive range of academic disciplines for outstanding students by world-class academics.

Our academic pursuits, benchmarked against leading institutions across the world, are globally competitive and regionally engaged, committed to producing well-rounded graduates with lifelong abilities to provide leadership within the societies they serve.

In the past decade, HKU witnessed a historic reform in its undergraduate education. The new undergraduate curriculum was successfully implemented in September 2012. HKU took full advantage of this opportunity to re-envision our curriculum as a ‘total learning experience’. We have introduced new and innovative forms of learning, upgraded our infrastructure and extended learning into all corners of university life.

HKU Governance Structure

Educational Aims and Institutional Learning Outcomes for Ug Curricula

Benchmarked against the highest international standards, the 4-year undergraduate curriculum at HKU is designed to enable our students to develop their capabilities in:

Aim 1:   Pursuit of academic/professional excellence, critical intellectual inquiry and life-long learning

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

Aim 2:   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

Aim 3:   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

Aim 4:  Intercultural communication, 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

Aim 5:   Communication and collaboration

  • Communicate effectively in academic, professional and social settings, making appropriate use of available technology
  • Work with others and make constructive contributions

Aim 6:   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

Educational Aims and Institutional Learning Outcomes for TPg Curricula

Benchmarked against the highest international standards, the taught postgraduate curricula at HKU are designed to enable our students to develop their capabilities in:

Aim 1:   Critical intellectual enquiry and acquiring up-to-date knowledge and research skills in a discipline/profession

  • Critically review, consolidate and extend knowledge, skills and practices and thinking in a discipline/profession
  • Critically evaluate new knowledge and research skills of specialist disciplines and professions from a range of global sources
  • Demonstrate enhanced analytical skills

Aim 2:   Application of knowledge and research skills to practice or theoretical exploration, demonstrating originality and creativity

  • Apply disciplinary knowledge to practice or theoretical exploration creatively
  • Employ research skills in practice or theoretical exploration in an original way
  • Demonstrate critical awareness of the appropriate application of knowledge and research skills to practice or theoretical exploration
  • Apply knowledge and skills in a broad range of professional work activities, drawing on relevant local, regional and international experience

Aim 3:   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 problems
  • Deal with complex issues and make informed judgements in novel situations

Aim 4:   Collaboration and communication of disciplinary knowledge to specialists and the general public

  • Work with others in a constructive manner to complete tasks
  • Negotiate with others in making a decision
  • Communicate ideas professionally, making appropriate use of available technology
  • Effectively communicate disciplinary knowledge with key stakeholders locally, regionally and internationally

Aim 5:   Awareness of and adherence to personal and professional ethics

  • Maintain highest standards of personal integrity and ethical practice in academic and professional settings
  • Demonstrate critical awareness of global best practice in personal and professional ethics

Aim 6:   Enhancement of leadership and advocacy skills in a profession

  • Play a leading role in professional settings
  • Articulate ideas effectively and motivate others to action
  • Address critical issues and make contribution to change and development in the profession
  • Attain familiarity with global best practice in the profession

(This educational aim applies only to professional curricula.)

Forms of Learning

Experiential Learning

The incorporation of experiential and ‘out of classroom’ learning into the formal curriculum is standard practice in professional programmes and is increasingly being formalized in non-professional programmes at HKU. This bottom-up initiative has been made one of the common learning experiences in the 4-year curriculum.

Other experiential learning is also organised at University level. The HKU Worldwide Student Exchange Programme administers reciprocal academic student exchanges with over 280 partner institutions in 37 countries. Incoming exchange students contribute to internationalising the campus while outgoing undergraduates invariably return as more mature and resourceful individuals after having acquired a rich learning experience in a different educational, social and cultural environment.

Outcome-based Approach to Student Learning (OBASL)

Embedded in the plans for implementing the 4-year curriculum are strategies for making curriculum objectives and pedagogical concerns a more explicit focus. This is achieved through incorporating OBASL as an integral part of Curriculum Reform to ensure that the educational aims are achieved in students’ learning experiences rather than as a separate initiative in response to the University Grants Committee’s call. OBASL entails a shift in focus from teaching to learning. The ultimate goal is to engage students in deep understanding (deep learning) rather than a surface factual recall (surface learning) which teaching and learning research indicates is achieved through clear understanding and appreciation of the Learning Outcomes.

Problem-based Learning

The University adopts problem-based and student-centred learning to stimulate active learning among students. Authentic problems or situations are used as a way of stimulating students to discover and explore the key concepts and skills of the discipline in class, while teachers act as facilitators and guides in the process. This new learning method helps students to reason their way through problems, to think critically, and to learn to become self-directed lifelong learners.

Co-curricular Learning

The Centre of Development and Resources for Students (CEDARS) and the General Education Unit (GEU) are the main providers of co-curricular non-credit-bearing learning activities at HKU. Students also engage in community service or advocacy projects which typically entail a process of training, service and reflection. CEDARS liaises with Faculties on how to better integrate service learning with the formal curriculum.

Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement

Quality Assurance and Quality Enhancement Processes

All taught programmes, at both the University’s undergraduate (Ug) and taught postgraduate (TPg) levels, undergo similar quality assurance and quality enhancement processes. Details are set out in the University’s Quality Manual.


Teaching Excellence Awards (TEAS)

Teaching Excellence Award Scheme
2015 / 2014 / 2013 / 2012 /
2011 / 2010 / 2009

In 1996, the University introduced the Teaching Fellowship scheme to reward and promote good teaching. This scheme has undergone continuous improvement to emphasize the importance attached to teaching by the University. The awardees under this scheme were all professoriate staff.

This scheme was replaced in 2008 by the Teaching Excellence Award Scheme (TEAS) to encourage participation by both professoriate and non-professoriate staff.

The assessment criteria have been refined to distinguish two levels of teaching excellence, covering excellence in teaching and curriculum design for the Outstanding Teaching Award, and the additional attainment of excellence in leadership and scholarship of teaching and learning for the University Distinguished Teaching Award.

The award amounts have also been increased to bring them closer to the Outstanding Researcher Awards. Awardees are expected to contribute to HKU’s teaching and learning initiatives, including sharing their work and participating in the work of implementing the 4-year undergraduate curriculum.

All Faculties administer their own teaching award schemes. In some, receiving the Faculty-level award is a pre-requisite for nomination for the University-level award. These schemes enable nominees to receive useful formative feedback from their Faculty peers.

Awards and Scholarships for Students

Student scholarship and bursary information is available by linking from the University Home Page to the University’s Student pages.

Students who perform well in their studies may be awarded scholarships for overseas exchanges. The University has about 2,400 scholarships and prizes available for undergraduate students.

Scholarships and prizes are awarded on both academic merit and/or other specific conditions stipulated by the donors.

Undergraduates can apply directly for scholarships advertised on the Faculty notice-boards and on the Student Intranet. The Registry also advertises scholarships and prizes for students as they become available throughout the year.

Students are advised to periodically check the notices on the Faculty notice-boards and the e-notices on the University Intranet system via the HKU Portal for details of how to apply for the various scholarships during the year.

Teaching Development Grant (TDG)

The TDG Scheme underlines the University’s commitment to furthering its mission in Teaching and Learning. The TDGs are intended to support projects and activities that will have an impact on the strategic development and promotion of Teaching and Learning. To view completed TDG projects (awarded from 2005-2006 onwards), please click here. For HKU staff members who are interested in submitting TDG applications, please access News for Staff.

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