Academic Year

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

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:; online application:

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.

Common Core

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 /Credit-units

‘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

‘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:

  1. 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
  2. failed to achieve an average Semester GPA of 1.0 or higher for two consecutive semesters, or
  3. exceeded the maximum period of registration specified in the regulations of the degree.

Experiential Learning

“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

‘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

‘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

‘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

‘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.

Professional Core

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.

Summer 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.

Supplementary Examination

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

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.

Course Enrolment

1. How and when should I select courses?

2. How many credits can I take to the maximum? Can I overload?

3. Should I late drop a course?

Major/ Minor

1. When should I declare major? What should I consider?

2. Can I change my major later?

3. What should I do if I have not met the prerequisite(s) for a course I want to take?

4. Can I take a first-year prerequisite course for a major or minor, in my second/third year of study?

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?

6. Are there any academic requirements for double majors or major-minor?

7. If I have declared a second major or a minor, but I cannot go on to complete them. What are the consequences?

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?

9. Is it possible to double minor?

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 240 credits?

Exam and Discontinuation of Studies

1. When are exams held?

2. When are exam results announced?

3. I was sick on the exam date. What should I do now?

4. What should I do if I am unable to take a written exam on the scheduled date?

5. What should I do if I fail a course?

6. Under what circumstances will I be discontinued from my studies?

7. Can I appeal for my exam results?


1. When should I start planning for exchange?

2. Do I need to extend my study period if I go on exchange?

3. Do I get credits for the courses I completed during exchange year?

4. What are the application procedures for credit transfer from exchange studies?

Leave of Absence

When and how do I apply for leave of absence?

FAQ Videos

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?