Introduction to the Common Core

Engage, Experiment, Enjoy!

The University of Hong Kong’s Common Core, fully launched in 2012, facilitates the teaching of the trans- and inter-disciplinary undergraduate curriculum offered by all 10 Faculties of the university. As the “crossroads” of the undergraduate curriculum, the Core provides the key holistic learning experience for all HKU undergraduates. In addition to the formal curriculum, the Common Core has continuously added new student-based initiatives, increasing the emphasis on project-based learning, undergraduate research, and local and global partnerships to enhance the experience of students.

Why the Core?

The Common Core is organized around offering courses and events that deepen imagination, knowledge, and friendships across campus; that enhance the skills and dispositions for active learning in the classroom and beyond; that provide a context to think about the ethical dilemmas we are all facing; and that support students as they prepare for meaningful careers in a volatile and rapidly changing world.

The Programme Learning Outcomes (PLOs) of the Common Core are:

  1. Articulate a broader perspective and a deeper critical understanding of the complex connections between issues of profound importance.
  2. Better navigate the similarities and differences between their own and other cultures.
  3. More fully participate as individuals, members of social groups, and citizens in global, regional, and local communities.
  4. Demonstrate the creative, collaborative, and communication skills that will contribute to the quality of their own and others’ lives.

More broadly, the Core is designed to contribute to students’ achievement of the University’s Educational Aims (UEAs), specifically to develop their capabilities in:

  • Pursuit of academic/professional excellence, critical intellectual enquiry and life-long learning
  • Tackling novel situations and ill-defined problems
  • Critical self-reflection, greater understanding of others, and upholding personal and professional ethics
  • Intercultural understanding and global citizenship
  • Communication and collaboration
  • Leadership and advocacy for the improvement of the human condition.

The fundamental purpose of the Core is to broaden students’ perspectives and develop the intellectual, social, and innovative capacities that all of our graduates will need to address the complexities of 21st-century life.


The “Common” indicates that the formal curriculum and its many complements focus on the commonality of human experience, while the “Core” gestures toward the centrality of issues that are of deeply profound significance to humankind, as well as the core intellectual, social, and imaginative skills that all HKU undergraduates should acquire during their stay at the university.

Strengthening the Core

The Common Core continues to work to enhance the experience of our students and teaching staff through supporting new course creation, enhancing teaching quality through experimentation with both face-to-face and digital strategies; engaging students with local, regional, and global learning partners; connecting students and staff across all the Faculties; and serving as a visible leader in interdisciplinary and integrative education through our curriculum.

Our ongoing co-curricular initiatives around Transdisciplinary Undergraduate Research opportunities develops students research skills and interests and build pathways to postgraduate research degrees and beyond. Our recent initiative on Transdisciplinary Experiential Learning Fund promotes interdisciplinary active learning, with a special focus on fostering greater understanding, engagement, and connections with mainland China and the region. Initiatives are often organised around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the development of Critical Zones: Gender, Cities, and Well-Being and a series of SDG games, workshops, and video contests in partnership with the United Nations, Universitas 21, and other Hong Kong and international institutions.

We are always scanning the horizon for effective and creative structural changes that will strengthen the Core. Send us your ideas!