First Year Studies
HKU's four-year undergraduate curriculum structure provides flexibility for you to design your own combination of disciplinary majors, minors and electives under proper academic advising to pursue your own academic interests, and enables you to engage in diverse learning experiences, such as overseas exchange programmes, internships, real-life projects, etc. The distinctive features of the four-year undergraduate curriculum can be viewed at: tl.hku.hk/reform/#anchor-2.
No. of Credits*
% of Total No. of Credits
72 - 96 Credits
36 - 48 Credits
30% - 40%
15% - 20%
Electives for all students
Remainder to complete 240 credits
17.5% - 32.5%
Total no. of required credits**
* 6 credits = 120-180 student workload hours
** Students are allowed to take additional credits of up to 6 credits per semester and graduate with a total of 288 credits.
For more information on the curriculum structure, regulations and selection of major(s) and minor(s), please refer to the website of 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 to the Academic Services Office, Room G04, Run Run Shaw Building. The relevant application forms are available from the Academic Services Office, or the website (ase.hku.hk/asoffice).
Study Plan and Course Selection
Formulate your study plan as soon as possible. You can do so by logging into the HKU Portal, reviewing the course and timetable in 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. An E-academic planner for making a study plan is available on AAO's website (aao.hku.hk/eplanner).
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.
If you have any academic questions, one-on-one advising is available at the AAO (booking.aao.hku.hk).
All first-year undergraduates will be assigned to a Faculty Academic Adviser upon registration. You are required to meet with your Faculty Academic Adviser once every semester in your first year of study to discuss different academic issues. Check who your adviser is in the “Student Centre” of the HKU Portal and reach out to her/him.
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 21 – 27, 2020).
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 enroll in the class you have selected. Please check your course selection results periodically. If you fail to enroll in your selected group, please choose another timeslot until you can enroll in a class successfully. The SIS system will automatically assign students to a class in either the first or second semester at the end of the course enrollment period to those who have attained Level 3 or Level 4 in HKDSE English Language, or equivalent AND do NOT sign 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 2020 and 15 September 2020). 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.
Note: The add/drop period of CUE will be aligned with that of the university starting from the academic year of 2020-2021 and thereafter.
Please refer to the course website https://learning.hku.hk/caes1000 for the detailed enrollment 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, 2020. (Navigation path: HKU Portal > SIS Menu > Academic Records > My Degree Audit). Please refer to the user guide on how to access the degree audit system.
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
The HKU Common Core Curriculum is the centrepiece of the undergraduate curriculum. It stimulates students’ intellectual curiosity to explore issues of profound significance to humankind through four Areas of Inquiry (AoIs): Scientific and Technological Literacy, 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 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 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