This website is designed to acquaint you with the HKU Common Core and to assist you in making an informed selection of the courses you wish to study. In order to maximize the benefits of your university education, it is important that you choose your courses carefully. Map out a useful and exciting pathway for yourself for all four years—which will, of course, shift as you go—and think about how the courses connect with each other, with your majors, and with your life beyond the university. [Keep in mind the option for Transdisciplinary Clusters and Minors, since you must decide on those pathways quickly.]

The website provides you with detailed information of all the Common Core courses on offer in 2022-23. This information includes the course description, the learning outcomes, the study load, the assessment requirements, the required reading and viewing, and the course teacher(s). Additional relevant information might also be available on the course websites.

What is the Common Core?

The Common Core is the series of six self-selected courses across four Areas of Inquiry that is required of all HKU undergraduates. Within the Common Core requirements, you may also pursue an organized course of interdisciplinary study tailor-made to your interests by declaring a Common Core Cluster or Transdisciplinary Minor.

How is the Common Core structured?

In order to ensure a balanced exploration across fields of learning, the Common Core is divided into four Areas of Inquiry (AoIs): Science, Technology and Big Data, Arts and Humanities, Global Issues and China: Culture, State and Society.

<div style="font-size:18px;text-align:center;">Scientific and Technological Literacy</div>
<div style="font-size:20px;text-align:center;">Arts and Humanities</div>
<div style="font-size:20px;text-align:center;">Global Issues</div>
<div style="font-size:18px;text-align:center;">China: Culture, State and Society</div>

Workload requirements for a 6-credit course amount to 120-180 hours and Common Core courses normally consist of 36 contact hours, with a 2-hour lecture and a 1-hour tutorial per week. Common Core courses are usually taught on Wednesday afternoons, with a handful taught on Saturday mornings.

There are regular courses capped at 120, mega-courses capped at 288, experiential learning courses capped at 80, and flipped classrooms in which you prepare by watching videos before class so that time can be freed up for activities. There are also Common Core Research Seminars (CCRSs) and Common Core Global Experiences (CCGEs).

  • Common Core Research Seminars (CCRSs) are a small transdisciplinary research project with between 6 to 16 students in which students and staff co-create the course. They offer a flexible learning structure focused on collaborative research, project-based learning, public sharing of the students’ discoveries, and clear goals for impact.
  • Common Core Global Experiences (CCGEs) are designed for students working away from the HKU campus. They are aligned with the CC values of interdisciplinarity, multiple assessment formats, enhancing communication skills.

Common Core classes are offered during the summer as well, some of which are offered in collaboration with the HKU Summer Institute. You may consider taking CC courses in the summer if you wish to get some relief from your heavy workload during the regular semesters, have a compressed format, and are interested in meeting new friends from different parts of the world.

What is the rationale for the Common Core?

The Common Core will help you, in brief, to create a relationship with your own future.

Upon successful completion of the Common Core, you will be able to:

  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 your 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, critical, collaborative, and communication skills that will contribute to the quality of your own and others’ lives.

How will you learn and be assessed?

Learning is most engaging and lasting when it is interactive, so the Core makes use of a wide variety of in-class activities and assessments, in both F2F and online formats. Within each course, you may be asked to create projects, address social issues, discuss different perspectives, create an innovative solution to a problem or a new company to address those problems, or decide what questions most activate your own curiosity. You will engage in different activities such as role-plays, devising drama, participating in debates, close readings, reflective writings, video production, art installations, fieldwork, group projects, laboratory inquiries, museum explorations, quizzes or exams, interviews, and other forms of assessment and undergraduate research.

Engaging with Undergraduate Research from the Start

From the first moment that you step onto campus, keep in mind that you are an active research collaborator with your professors, tutors, classmates, and external partners. There will be many opportunities to engage with, and refine, your own most valued forms of inquiry—within and across disciplines and between the University and community or global partners, so take advantage of as many of them as possible.

There will be opportunities for undergraduate research in many classes, in the Common Core Transdisciplinary Clusters and Minors, and in Common Core Research Seminars and Common Core Global Experiences. In addition, you are encouraged to participate in Critical Zones: Gender, Cities, and Well-Being; in The Passion Project; the More-Than-Human-City Transdisciplinary Exchange with Utrecht University; Case Competitions around the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); the Transdiscplinary Undergraduate Research Initiatives built around your interests, and many other Common Core and University-wide projects.

Your work will be shown at the Common Core Student Learning Festival, may be submitted to Unforeseen Circumstances—our online journal and exhibit space— and, if you choose, enter into international competitions.

Make your learning your own!

Why are tutorials so important?

Tutorials, which are normally conducted weekly in a small group setting, are an essential and compulsory element of study in the Common Core. The purpose of tutorials is to provide a small seminar context for you to deepen your understanding through dialogue with others in an interactive setting. Additionally, tutorials offer an environment for you to improve your communication skills and develop your confidence. Each member of the tutorial group has the responsibility for creating an effective learning experience for all concerned, and it is therefore important that you prepare adequately by reviewing lectures, formulating questions for discussion, and completing any preset tasks such as reading, writing or research requirements.