First Year Studies
Basic Curriculum Structure
All HKU undergraduate curricula have certain common learning experiences: the common core, the language component and the capstone experience. Students of professional curricula concentrates a significant portion of their remaining studies on the “professional core”, while students of non-professional curricula are given large flexibility to design their own combination of majors, minors and electives within and outside their home Faculties.
Below are the general components of a typical four-year undergraduate curriculum:
No. of Credits*
108 - 186 credits
72 - 96 credits
(144 to 150 for BSc intensive majors)
36 - 48 credits
Courses within or outside home Faculities
Remainder to complete 240 credits
Total no. of requred credits
* There are considerable new UG programmes with different curriculum designs and structures, such as the BASc 4-year programmes, double degree 5-year programmes and joint-university dual degree 4-year programmes. Check Faculty websites for details.
For more information on the curriculum structure, regulations and selection of major(s) and minor(s), please refer to the website of the Academic Advising Office (AAO) (aao.hku.hk).
Towards the end or after your first year at the University, you may consider going abroad for exchange studies and/or engage in experiential learning required by your course(s). You are therefore encouraged to visit the International Affairs Office (aal.hku.hk/studyabroad) to learn more about the support services to HKU’s incoming and outgoing exchange students, the exchange opportunities, partner institutions, eligibility and application procedures etc. so that you can plan ahead for your studies. You can also find useful information on non-academic support such as visa from studentvisa.hku.hk and financial resources from CEDARS (cedars.hku.hk/cedars-financial-resources).
You are welcome to visit the Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Centre (ghelc.hku.hk) to find out more about the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary learning projects.
If you wish to apply for a testimonial/transcript, you should submit an application via HKU Portal by following the path: SIS Main Menu -> Online Applications -> Application for Testimonial/Transcript. The relevant instructions and user guides are available on the website of the Academic Services Office (ase.hku.hk/asoffice).
Study Plan and Course Selection
Formulate your study plan as soon as possible. You can do so by logging into HKU Portal, reviewing the course and timetable in the Student Information System (SIS), and devising a course selection plan for the coming academic year and a tentative study plan for the whole study period. Identify some backup courses (especially for elective courses and Common Core courses) just in case your preferred courses become full due to quota limitation. Students can make use of the academic planning sheets (aao.hku.hk/planning-sheet/) at AAO's website (aao.hku.hk) to devise their study plans. You can also visit aao.hku.hk/new-students/ for the Welcome Package for New Students, which includes useful information and resources on academic planning and course enrolment.
While you might not be required to declare your major/minor right away, if you are considering a particular major/minor programme, please make sure that you do not miss any pre-requisites that should be taken in your first year.
Pay attention to the dates of the course selection period and add/drop period and enroll your courses in SIS accordingly. Seek advice from your Faculty Office or the AAO as necessary.
Please visit the website of AAO (aao.hku.hk/important-academic-dates) for the important academic dates.
At HKU, academic advising helps you understand the aims of university education, the culture and ethos of learning, the available educational options and the paths that can be taken so that you can draw your own roadmaps to achieve your goals and monitor your own progress. Academic advising enables you to have greater satisfaction with your academic experience, better self-understanding and a sense of success in the achievement of personal and academic goals.
All first-year undergraduates will sign up/be allocated a Faculty Academic Adviser. You are encouraged to meet with your Faculty Academic Adviser to seek advice on different academic issues throughout your studies. Check who your adviser is in the “Student Centre” of HKU Portal and reach out to her/him.
For general questions related to university regulations, study plans and cross faculty learning opportunities, one-on-one advising is available at AAO (booking.aao.hku.hk)
Language Requirement and Pre-requisites
You are advised to pay attention in completing the language and pre-requisite course(s) required by your Faculty in your first year of study.
Some Faculties require students to complete certain introductory course(s) in the first year to facilitate smooth progression to senior years and better understanding of the subject in question. At the programme level, majors and minors may also require students to complete certain pre-requisite(s) in the first year. The failing of which may affect your taking of senior courses and declaration of the relevant major or minor. Please check with your Faculty for the details of the courses.
CAES1000 Core University English (CUE)
You must enroll in the course CAES1000 in either the first or second semester of your first year of study if you have attained Level 3 or Level 4 in English Language in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education Examination (HKDSE) (or equivalent)*.
CAES1000 course is optional for students who achieved Level 5 or above in English Language in HKDSE (or equivalent). All students are welcome to sign up for a CAES1000 class. However, if you have not attained the abovementioned qualifications, you MUST sign up for a CAES1000 class during the course enrollment period (i.e. August 20 – 26, 2021).
All students CAN sign up for a CAES1000 class.
Each CAES1000 class has a quota of 20 and the Student Information System (SIS) approves students’ enrollment requests by auto-balloting. Thus, there is no guarantee that you will be allowed to enrol in the class you have selected. Please check your course selection results periodically. If you fail to enrol in your selected group, please choose another timeslot until you can enrol in a class successfully. The SIS system will automatically assign a class in either the first or second semester at the end of the course enrolment period to those students who have attained Level 3 or Level 4 in HKDSE English Language, or equivalent AND have NOT yet signed up for a CUE class.
Students can add or drop a class of CAES1000 freely during the 2-week add/drop period (i.e. the add/drop period for courses of undergraduate programmes is between 1 September 2021 and 15 September 2021). The SIS system will assign a class to those required students without CAES1000 enrollment (i.e. students who achieved HKDSE English Language Level 3 and 4, or equivalent) after the add/drop period.
Please refer to the course website https://learning.hku.hk/caes1000 for the detailed enrolment guidelines and watch the course video https://youtu.be/sSA6oqQXYsY (also available in the course website) to hear past CUE students talking about how the course benefitted themselves.
*Faculties will input into the system the list of students for whom CUE is optional, and this information will be shown on the students’ degree audit report starting from August 19, 2021. (Navigation path: HKU Portal > SIS Menu > Academic Records > My Degree Audit).
If you have attained Level 5 or above in English Language in HKDSE (or equivalent) but your degree audit report does not show that CUE is optional, please contact your Faculty.
Common Core Curriculum
What is University for? Enjoy your Exploration in HKU!
To all HKU freshmen: Welcome to the University! What is University life to you? What are you expecting for the next few years? Common Core is ready to explore all the exciting opportunities ahead together with you! Enjoy your exploration in HKU.
The HKU Common Core Curriculum is the centerpiece of the undergraduate curriculum. It stimulates students’ intellectual curiosity to explore issues of profound significance to humankind through four Areas of Inquiry (AoIs): Science, Technology, and Big Data, Arts and Humanities, Global Issues, and China: Culture, State and Society. Common Core courses are interdisciplinary in nature and are taught by professoriate staff from all Faculties.
Students of four-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 AoI with not more than 24 credits of courses being selected within one academic year except where students 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 to programme. You are advised to check with your home Faculty on your programme requirements for taking Common Core courses before choosing the courses.
Learn more: commoncore.hku.hk