An ‘academic year’ comprises two semesters, the first semester to commence in September and end in December, and the second semester to commence in January and end in May/June, on dates as prescribed by the Senate. It includes, normally at the end of each semester, a period during which candidates are assessed. For some curricula, a ‘summer semester’ may be organized in addition to the normal two semesters. Clinical curricula have extended semesters.
Capstone Experience is an important component of HKU’s 4-Year Undergraduate Curriculum. It requires students to integrate various aspects of their learning in the course of their undergraduate education and may take the form of undergraduate research, field work project, internship, practicum, and so on. It will be made a graduation requirement under the new (4-year) 2012 curriculum.
Certificate of Graduation
A Certificate of Graduation certifies that a student has successfully completed the requirements for the conferment of a degree in the Congregation Ceremony to come. Notes on Application for Certificate of Graduation: http://www.ase.hku.hk/asoffice/doc/CoG.pdf; online application: https://extranet.hku.hk/cog/servlet/cogInput/notes.
Classification of Honours
The classification of honours shall be determined by the Board of Examiners at its full discretion by taking into account the overall performance of the candidates and other relevant factors as appropriate. Usually, there are five divisions: First Class Honours, Second Class Honours (Division I), Second Class Honours (Division II), Third Class Honours and Pass.
The Common Core Curriculum is a new requirement for all undergraduate students at HKU. It is designed to broaden students’ horizons beyond their chosen disciplines and give them the opportunity to explore issues of profound significance to humankind in the 21st century.
The Common Core Curriculum is divided into four Areas of Inquiry to enable students to explore a range of common human experiences. Each area offers numerous courses. The Areas of Inquiry are: Scientific and Technological Literacy; Humanities; Global Issues; China: Culture State and Society.
‘Corequisite’ means a course which candidates must take in conjunction with the course in question
‘Course’ means a course of study, with a credit value expressed as a number of credit-units as specified in the syllabi for a degree curriculum.
‘Credits’ or ‘credit-units’ means the value assigned to each course to indicate its study load relative to the total study load under a degree curriculum. The study load refers to the hours of student learning activities and experiences, both within and outside the classroom, and includes contact hours and time spent on assessment tasks and examinations. Candidates who satisfactorily complete courses with a credit value earn the credits assigned to these courses.
Cumulative Grade Point Average
‘Cumulative Grade Point Average’ or ‘Cumulative GPA’ is the GPA in respect of courses attempted by a candidate (including failed courses) at the time of calculation.
‘Degree curriculum’ means the entire study requirements for the award of an undergraduate degree.
Disciplinary Elective Course or Disciplinary Elective
‘Disciplinary elective course’ or ‘Disciplinary Elective’ means any course offered in the same major programme or discipline which can be taken by candidates to fulfill the curriculum requirements as specified in the syllabuses of the degree curriculum.
Discontinuation of Studies
Unless otherwise permitted by the Board of the Faculty, candidates shall be required to discontinue their studies if they have:
- failed to complete successfully 36 or more credits in two consecutive semesters (not including the summer semester), except where they are not required to take such a number of credits in the two given semesters, or
- failed to achieve an average Semester GPA of 1.0 or higher for two consecutive semesters, or
- exceeded the maximum period of registration specified in the regulations of the degree.
“Experiential learning” refers to the development of knowledge and skills through direct encounter with the phenomena being studied. It means learning in an authentic context relevant to their discipline. The scope of experiential learning embodies but is broader than internship in professional training. It is a very powerful form of learning and it will be one of the fundamental elements of the new curriculum. It takes learning outside the traditional boundary of the classroom, and facilitates the development of an integrated and holistic understanding of issues.
‘Grade Points’ are standardized measurements of candidates’ academic achievement in courses taken to satisfy the requirements of the degree curriculum and are expressed as a scale prescribed in these regulations.
‘Grade Point Average’ is a numerical measure of a candidate’s academic achievement over a specified period of time, and is calculated by the total of the product of grade points earned for each course attempted (including failed courses) and its credit value being divided by the total number of credits attempted:
|GPA =||∑i Course Grade Point × Course Credit Value/∑i Course Credit Value|
(where ‘i‘ is the number of all passed and failed courses taken by the student over a specified period)
Internship is defined as a form of on-the-job training in which students gain supervised experience and practical knowledge that is relevant to their programmes. There are many internship possibilities at HKU, across mainland China, US, UK, Canada, Singapore and possibly other destinations. The industries and job nature vary from accounting & finance, advertising/marketing/media, airlines, art and culture, business, engineering, government bodies, hospitality, international affairs, IT to NGO etc. One of the ultimate goals of internship is to improve students’ employability after graduation.
‘Major programme’ means the study requirements for a single major area of disciplinary, interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary study, accumulating not fewer than 72 credits nor more than 96 credits, as prescribed in the syllabuses for a degree curriculum.
‘Minor programme’ means the study requirements for a single minor area of disciplinary, interdisciplinary or multidisciplinary study, accumulating not fewer than 36 credits nor more than 48 credits, as prescribed in the syllabuses for a degree curriculum.
Maximum Period of Registration
The ‘maximum period of registration’ is equivalent to a period which is 150% of the curriculum’s normative period of study as specified in the degree regulations, provided that where this results in a residual fraction of an academic year, the fractional period shall be extended to one full academic year.
A practicum is an opportunity in which students of professional curricula spend a defined period of time in a professional setting outside the University which is relevant to their main area of study. They are required to apply the professional knowledge they have learnt in their practicum.
‘Prerequisite’ means a course or a group of courses which candidates must have completed successfully or a requirement which candidates must have fulfilled before being permitted to take the course in question.
Core subjects in a professional curriculum.
A student who has failed in an examination may be offered a chance to present himself for re-examination. Faculties have discretion on the detailed arrangements subject to different programme requirements.
Semester Grade Point Average
‘Semester Grade Point Average’ or ‘Semester GPA’ is the GPA in respect of courses attempted by a candidate (including failed courses) during a given semester.
A ‘summer semester’ normally comprises seven to eight weeks of intensive timetabled teaching and assessment to commence four weeks after the end of the second semester assessment period, and to conclude about one week before the start of the next academic year.
Candidates who are unable, because of illness, to be present at the written examination of any course may apply for permission to present themselves at a supplementary examination of the same course to be held before the beginning of the First Semester of the following academic year. Any such application shall be made on the form prescribed within two weeks of the first day of the candidate’s absence from any examination. Any supplementary examination shall be part of that academic year’s examinations, and the provisions made in the regulations for failure at the first attempt shall apply accordingly.
A transcript lists the courses of study attended by a student and the examination results, if appropriate.
A testimonial certifies the qualification(s) awarded to a student by the University.
Undergraduate research is one form of capstone experience. Undergraduates can join Graduate School courses, research projects and international research conferences under a Research Undergraduate Fellowship scheme.
Weighted Grade Point Average
‘Weighted Grade Point Average’ or ‘Weighted GPA’ is the GPA in respect of courses attempted by a candidate calculated with weighted factors defined by the Board of the Faculty.
We have collected some of the most common questions you might ask about your studies. Since Faculties might have different policies and practices with regard to different curriculum requirements, all answers here are for your reference only. If in doubt or wish to have more information, please consult the relevant Faculties/offices concerned.
You select courses via SIS (Student Information System—link) during the course selection period at semester start. You can modify your enrolment in the add/drop period, usually during the first two weeks of teaching.
The University recommends you to take 24-30 credits in one semester (except the summer semester) unless otherwise permitted or required by your Faculty. Theoretically, you can take additional 6 credits to the maximum in one semester, accumulating up to a maximum of 72 credits in an academic year. For details, please look at UG 4 (link) of the Regulations for First Degree Curricula.
Late drop is usually impossible after the add/drop period. Also, the decision to late drop a course might have far-reaching ramifications, such as jeopardizing your progress of studies and you might not meet the minimum requirement of 24 credits after dropping the course.
For most non-professional programmes, you do not need to declare major in your first year of studies. Usually, you have to declare your major during the course selection period (August) before the start of the second year of your studies. Before deciding on your major, you have to think about your academic interests and career inspirations. It is also very important for you to consider which prerequisite courses to take in your first year in order to declare the major(s)/minor(s) you like.
If you are in a non-professional programme, after you declare your major/minor, usually you will still have chance to revise your choice in subsequent course selection period. However, please consider the followings before you make your decision:
- Are you ready to study a major/minor that is completely new to you?
- Have you fulfilled the pre-requisite requirements of that major/minor? Will this switch lengthen your study period?
- Are there any completed courses that can be counted in the major/minor you wish to switch to?
- Are you serious about this decision?
You should consult the Faculty Office in case of doubt.
Sorry, almost all courses stay strict with their prerequisite requirements. You may further check with the Faculty concerned.
4. Can I take a first-year prerequisite course for a major or minor, in my second/third year of study?
For most majors and minors, you can. As for the detailed arrangement and the relevant weighting issue, please consult your Faculty Office.
5. Would all the credits that I took for a particular major be 'totally wasted' if I switch to a new one? Do I need to start from scratch again?
A first major usually requires 72-96 credits and a second major usually requires 60-72 credits. If you switch major, it is very likely that you have to start with the introductory courses in the “new” major again. Therefore, you should consider carefully whether you can finish your degree on time if you switch. Usually, the credits that you have already earned can be counted as electives. In all cases, please double check with your Faculty Office.
It depends. Some Faculties have set a minimum requirement for their majors and minors offered. For example, the Faculty of Business & Economics (FBE) has set GPA requirements for non-FBE students who wish to declare a major/minor offered by FBE. It is very important to check the academic requirements of specific major/minor programme before you commit.
7. If I have declared a second major or a minor, but I cannot go on to complete them. What are the consequences?
If you cannot complete the second major or the minor, it would not be shown on your transcript. Nonetheless, you are highly encouraged to consult your Faculty Office for help.
8. Can a course satisfy the requirement of two different majors (or a major and a minor) if such a course appears in both syllabi?
It depends on the requirements of specific programmes. Please consult the Faculties concerned.
Yes, as long as all minor requirements are fulfilled.
10. Can I extend my period of study to fulfill the requirement of an additional major/minor, even if I have already taken the required 180 credits?
It depends. Under normal circumstances, if a second major or minors are only the optional parts in your curriculum, there is a possibility that you will not be permitted to extend the period of study to fulfill such requirements if you have already completed the graduation requirement.
Exam and Discontinuation of Studies
For most programmes, there are two exam periods: one in December for first semester courses and one in May for second semester and full-year courses.
For most programmes, exam results are announced in January for first semester courses and June for second semester and full-year courses.
According to UG 7 of the Regulations for First Degree Curricula, if you are unable, because of illness, to be present at the written exam of any course may apply for permission to sit for a supplementary exam of the same course to be held before the beginning of the First Semester of the following academic year. You have to make your application to the Examinations Unit of the University and submit a completed Form of Medical Certificate to the University Health Service within two weeks of the exam you were unable to attend. For detailed arrangement, please consult your Faculty Office.
Special arrangement will be made only under exceptional circumstances. You have to write at your earliest opportunity to the Examinations Unit who will seek the recommendations from the Chief Examiner(s) concerned on your request. Approval MUST be sought before the original date of the exam.
In general, you have to take course(s) to make up for the failed/outstanding credits immediately in the following semester, by either repeating the same course or taking another course with the required credits. For detailed arrangement, please consult your Faculty Office.
According to UG 4 of the Regulations for First Degree Curricula, you will be required to discontinue your studies if you have:
- failed to complete successfully 36 or more credits in two consecutive semesters (not including the summer semester), except where you are not required to take such a number of credits in the two given semesters, or
- failed to achieve an average Semester GPA of 1.0 or higher for two consecutive semesters, or
- exceeded the maximum period of registration specified in the regulations of the degree.
If you are required to discontinue your studies, you will be interviewed by the Faculty Review Committee (FRC) before your case is considered by the University’s Committee on Discontinuation (COD). If you have any study problems, please seek help early! Please make an appointment with us at the Academic Advising Office. We are here to help.
There are no appeals against the results of exams and all other forms of assessment. You may however request checking of assessment results on grounds of procedural irregularities. The application fee is HK$200 for each assessment result to be checked. For further information, please see the Procedures for Checking of Assessment Results of Taught Courses.
If you are interested in going on exchange in your second year, you should start planning in your first semester. Visit the Study Abroad Fair organized by the Office of International Student Exchange (OISE) to get more information!
It depends on whether your host institution offers subjects in your major programmes at HKU. Try to get help from OISE and your Faculty Office should you have any questions.
You must apply for credit transfer in advance according to your Faculty’s regulations and requirement. However, the actual transfer of exchange credits happens when you return to HKU. Your Faculty is the final authority to decide on how courses taken at the partner university will be credited towards your HKU degree.
Before going on exchange, you have to consult the relevant School(s)/Department(s) at HKU on which courses you can take in your host institution in order to transfer credits when you return. After you return from your exchange studies, please approach your Faculty Office and submit the relevant transcript and application for credit transfer.
Leave of Absence
You need to apply for leave of absence if you are unable to attend classes (lectures, tutorials, or any other scheduled teaching) due to exchange studies, medical or personal reasons. If you go on exchange studies, you have to apply for leave of absence for the semester(s) during which you will be away from HKU. You have to complete the form “Application for leave of absence” and submit it to the Faculty Office at the earliest opportunity, in any case BEFORE the commencement of the leave period. In the application you have to explain clearly the reason(s) for taking leave (either for exchange studies, medical or personal reasons) and attach the relevant supporting document(s). Applications for leave retrospectively are normally not accepted.
Apart from the questions listed above, there are also some FAQ videos that you may feel interested. These video clips are produced by the Centre of Development and Resources for Students (CEDARS). They will give you insights on how to better prepare for the challenges ahead and to develop positive attitudes for a fruitful and healthy university life. The video topics include:
- Will my academic results be revealed to my parents without notifying me?
- What is IELTS (International English Language Testing System)? Do I have to take it for graduation?
- I find it difficult to handle my studies. Where can I seek help?
- How can I build a better relationship with my lecturers?
- My lecturers seem busy all the time. How and where should I contact them?
- How can students and teachers work together to achieve better student learning?
- What should I do if my academic result in the first semester is not good?
- How can I make the most out of my university life?