Frequently Asked Questions on Common Core

Course Enrollment

Determine from your Faculty how many Common Core courses you need to take and by which year you need to complete them. (Faculties differ on the timing, but not the number, of the required courses.)

Then, ask yourself what you are most interested in exploring. The Common Core is an opportunity for you to see what most intrigues you beyond your own discipline and gives you a chance to meet your peers from across all the Faculties. Take advantage of that.

As part of your process, check out the course descriptions and types of assessment, and ask your seniors about what they have found most intriguing. We strongly recommend, however, that you create the Common Core pathway that you most want.

You can also meet with both your Faculty Advisor as well as an Advisor from the Academic Advising and Scholarships Office ( if you have questions about this process.

You make your course selections via the online Student Information System (SIS) during the course selection period at the beginning of each semester. You can modify your enrollment during the stipulated add/drop period.

For details about the procedures on how to select Common Core courses on SIS, please refer to the ‘Student’s Guide to Common Core Course Selection in SIS’ which is downloadable from the SIS Website (

Please visit the Academic Advising and Scholarships Office’s website ( for information about course selection schedule.

Yes. You should select courses you want to take for both Semesters 1 and 2 during the course selection period in August. You are allowed to change your selected courses during the add/drop period.

Students of 4-year curriculum are required to complete 36 credits of courses in the Common Core Curriculum, comprising at least one and not more than two courses from each Area of Inquiry with not more than 24 credits of courses being selected within one academic year except where candidates are required to make up for failed credits. However, the number of courses required and the year and semester in which they are taken vary from programme from programme. You are advised to check with your home Faculty on your programme requirements for taking Common Core courses before choosing the courses.

No. Common Core courses cannot be taken as free electives. If you have already taken enough Common Core courses required by your programme with pass and/or pending grade, you cannot take any extra Common Core courses.

Yes. You can take two courses from the same AoI in a semester / year. Please note however that the maximum number of Common Core courses a student could take within a year is four and students should not take more than two courses from any AoI during the whole period of study.

After the SIS Self-Service Enrollment page opens and before the official course selection period begins, you can start to preview the available courses and put courses into the ‘Temporary Course List’. For new students, you can access this function after completing online Master Registration. Please however note that putting courses into the ‘Temporary Course List’ does not save you a spot in the class or guarantee that you will be able to take the class. The courses in your ‘Temporary Course List’ will NOT be considered until you have submitted the enrollment requests during the official course selection period.

The course approval method of Common Core courses is: (i) first-come-first-served during the course selection period in August; and (ii) auto-ballot during the add/drop period.

During the course selection period, your selections of Common Core courses are time-stamped. The system would approve students’ course selections on a first-come-first-served basis based on the time-stamps. Any enrollments not approved as a result of oversubscription would be placed on a waiting list (ranked according to the timestamps). The system would run the enrollment approval process a few times per day and you can check your queue position as well as the number of vacancies available and make changes to your course selection online during the course selection period. Please note that after the course selection period closes, all the waiting lists generated would be purged. If you have not been approved to take the course(s) during the course selection period, the system will automatically drop your enrollment(s) for you.

The first auto-balloting job is executed during the suspension period. The system will perform subsequent auto-balloting jobs 6 times a day at 8 am, 11 am, 2 pm, 5 pm, 8 pm and 11 pm respectively after the suspension period. You can check your course selection status and auto-ballot result online anytime and make changes to your course selection before the add/drop period ends.

You are strongly advised to plan for your Common Core course selection ahead of time and submit your enrollment requests as soon as the course selection period begins. During the course selection period, students’ Common Core course selections will be time-stamped and places would be given to those students who make their course selection at the earliest times.

You should ensure that your Common Core course selections do not violate the Common Core requirements. If you do not follow the enrollment requirements when you select the courses, the system might prevent you from enrolling on them. Avoiding these hiccups from happening would definitely help you secure a better position in the queue during the course selection period.

Please also check and take account of your queue position to modify your course selection accordingly.

You may go to SIS Menu > Enrollment > Enrollment Status page to view the approval status in the ‘Action’ column. Please note that selecting a course online does not guarantee a place in the course. Only when the approval status is changed to ‘Approved’, your enrollment to the course is considered successful. If your enrollment record is approved (or disapproved), you will receive notification email within one working day.

Time clash is strictly prohibited on SIS. Please plan your course selection carefully and/or seek advice from your home faculty.

You have already exceeded the maximum total units of enrollment limits in the semester set by your Faculty, and, therefore, you should consider dropping courses in the semester and/or seek assistance from your home Faculty.

The class has been full and thus closed for enrollment. Students can only enroll on courses that are in ‘open’ status. If any student currently enrolled drops a course, the place would be released and the class will be opened again for other students to enroll.

The system will drop the course automatically, or your enrollment will be disapproved, if it does not follow the regulations of the Common Core Curriculum. Please make sure that your Common Core course selections do not violate the Common Core requirements.

Students would be able to access the Moodle course pages and they are placed on the temporary class lists when the enrollments are still pending approval. Please check on SIS for confirmation of your enrollment status. You would also receive a notification email within one working day after your enrollment has been approved / disapproved.

The class has been fully enrolled and thus is closed for enrollment. The reason why the enrollment statistic still shows “1” is related to the computer cache. Please clear cache and cookies in your browser to view the most updated information on the Common Core course enrollment statistics page.

After the course selection period closes, all the waiting lists generated during the course selection period would be purged. If you are still on the waiting list by the end of the course selection period, the system will automatically remove your course enrollment(s). Please note that all Common Core courses have a fixed quota and the system will only approve enrollments up to the class quota, which cannot be increased.

No. Once you drop a course, the place will immediately be released for other students to enroll. When you drop a course during the course selection period, the queue will immediately move forward. It is not possible to put you back to the original queue position or help you register to the course that you have dropped. Be careful!

No. It is not possible to ‘swap’ your enrollment from one course to another. If you would like to change your course selection, you have to drop and add the courses on SIS. Dropping a course that you have been approved to take does not guarantee that you will secure a place in another course. Your new enrollments will be approved / disapproved on a first-come-first-served basis during course selection period or by auto-ballot during the add/drop period.

No. All students should select Common Core courses online through the SIS during the designated course selection period and add/drop period. Course teachers will not and cannot approve individual course selection manually via SIS. Faculty/Department Office colleagues are also not able to facilitate students’ Common Core enrollment.

As students would be making changes to their enrollments during add/drop period, the courses which are full and closed at the moment would be opened again once enrolled students drop them. You are advised to keep an eye on the enrollment statistics page ( and on SIS, and add courses accordingly once there are vacancies during the add/drop period.

No. Class sections with the ‘X’ suffix (e.g. 1AX, 2AX, etc.) are opened for exchange / visiting students only. Exchange / visiting students are also not allowed to enroll on regular sub-classes. This is to ensure that exchange / visiting students will not take up the enrollment places offered to regular students, vice versa.

Please make sure you, as a regular student, enroll on sub-classes that are not marked by ‘X’ (e.g. 1A, 2A, etc.). Your enrollment will be disapproved / dropped by the system automatically if you select a wrong sub-class.

Please check to see if you have selected the correct sub-class with suffix “X” (e.g. 1AX, 2AX, etc.) which are for exchange student only. Please also make sure that you have only selected up to two courses, each from a different AoI. The system will drop the course automatically, or your enrollment will be disapproved, if you violate the requirements.

Requests to add or drop a course beyond the designated add/drop period will not be considered, except under extenuating circumstances. You will not be permitted to change your course selections after the add/drop period for reasons that you have forgotten to save or check your enrollments during the add/drop period. Neither will you be allowed to change your course selections if you are not satisfied with your performance in a particular course.

Advanced Standing, Credit Transfer

You may be eligible for applying for Advanced Standing credits for Common Core courses in recognition of studies completed before admission to the University. Kindly contact your home Faculty if you wish to make an application. The Faculty Office will pass your application to the Common Core Office for consideration, and we will forward our recommendation to your Faculty for further handling.

Credits earned at other institutions (whether inside or outside of Hong Kong) may be transferred to HKU for fulfillment towards your degree requirements in accordance with the University’s “Credit Accumulation and Transfer Policy”. Faculty Boards are the authority for approving credit transfer. If you wish to apply for credit transfer for Common Core courses, please submit a formal application to your home Faculty for consideration. Your home Faculty, in consultation with the Common Core Director if necessary, will review your case and inform you if your application is successful. In your application, you would be required to do the course mapping to specific courses yourself, and submit up-to-date and detailed information such as course description, week-by-week schedule, learning outcomes, learning activities, assessment, study load, reading lists, etc.

Some Faculties provide a database in which you may find for reference records of course mappings which have been approved previously for credit transfer. Please consult your home Faculty directly about this.

No. MOOCs do not have enough face-to-face interaction whereas CC courses have consistently demanded face-to-face time. Common Core courses conducted in a “Flipped Classroom” format also adopt a blended learning approach, i.e. blending technology into traditional face-to-face instruction. In this sense, MOOCs are not comparable to the Common Core Courses and thus no credits could be transferred.

In considering the granting of credits, we look primarily at criteria of addressing issues of importance, interdisciplinary connections, content and methodologies, a variety of assessment formats, maps onto the Areas of Inquiry and broad-based Learning.

The maximum number of credits that can be transferred for Common Core courses is limited to 50% of the Common Core requirements of your programme, i.e. 50% of 36 credits or 24 credits as the case may be.

Common Core Clusters or Transdisciplinary Minors

No. Common Core Clusters and Transdisciplinary Minors are available only to students of the 2017-18 intake and thereafter.

No priority will be given to any students to enroll on courses for completing a Cluster.

After you have completed four courses from the same thematic cluster, you can declare a Transdisciplinary Minor. You will be given priority to enroll on the final two courses belonging to the same cluster you need to complete for the Minor after the declaration.

Assessments, Grades, Common Core Special Proviso

GGPA is the GPA in respect of courses attempted by a candidate (including failed courses) at the point of graduation. The failed Common Core Course will still be counted towards the GGPA, unless pass/fail grading was previously chosen (applicable to courses in 2019-20 S1-S2 and 2020-21 S1). You are required to make up for the failed course. The special proviso will apply to the six Common Core courses you have successfully completed.

Grades are awarded in accordance with UG8(a) of the Regulations for First Degree Curricula (

The Common Core adopts standards-based assessment, i.e. students’ assessments are graded on the basis of the quality of their work alone, not how they perform compared to other students in the class. There is, in other words, no “normal” distribution or “bell curve” to be adhered to. In each course, grade descriptors are established to guide the marking process and clarify expectations for students. Course grade descriptors would be provided to students by the course team and/or could be assessed via SIS and students are encouraged to get clarification from the tutors and teachers. Students will receive a grade based on these benchmarks.

Common Core special proviso will apply to the GGPA, not CGPA, of eligible students automatically. GGPA is the GPA in respect of courses attempted by a candidate (including failed courses) at the point of graduation. Whether the grades of all the six CC courses, or just the best five, would be calculated into your GGPA would need to take account of the grades of all the courses (including both CC courses and non-CC courses) you have completed for your curriculum at the point of graduation. However, you may refer to the “Quick Guide on Calculation of CGPA (Based on best 5 CCCs) Before Graduation” at to calculate your CGPA (based on your best 5 CC courses) before graduation which will help you monitor your study progress and facilitate your course selection.

The grade obtained in the course which you changed to Pass/Fail grading will not contribute to your GPA. However, the special proviso for GGPA calculation will no longer apply to you since the proviso operates only when there are six letter-graded Common Core courses.

If you have failed a course for which you opted for Pass/Fail grading and retake it, your original decision will stand for the retaken course.