Head’s Message

Welcome to the Department of Asian and International Studies (AIS) at the City University of Hong Kong. Hong Kong, as the gateway to China and located in the geographic centre of East Asia, is an ideal place for an international studies department focused on this region.

Why study Asian and International Studies at CityU? In a global city like Hong Kong, there is great demand for students who have a broad overview of the politics, society, international relations of rising and changing Asia, who can think critically and independently, who know how to write clearly and make effective presentations, and who already have international experience through exchange programs at overseas universities as well as practical experience through internships. AIS, as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences in which students also take courses, does all this and more. We prepare students for a globalised environment, equipping them with knowledge of Asia and beyond with the critical skills in writing, reading, and speaking needed to successfully pursue a number of different possible career paths, boosted by time studying overseas on exchange programmes and experience gained through internships.

A recent international evaluation of our Department rated its teaching and research on par with similar departments in some of the world’s leading universities, including the Australian National University (ANU) and the National University of Singapore (NUS). Our faculty publish in top tier journals and university presses, while making regular high impact contributions to the international press (including the BBC, CNBC, the Financial Times, the Guardian). We are a truly interdisciplinary department (with foci on comparative politics, political economy, international relations, development studies, anthropology and cultural studies). We have particular strengths in the politics and economies of Southeast Asia (backed by the Southeast Asia Research Centre, the only centre in Hong Kong focused on that region) and Korean and Japanese language, culture and society.

Our courses stress the acquisition of high quality communication skills and innovative forms of teaching (study tours to Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Myanmar, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Peru, Czech Republic, Australia; courses on Asian religion that involve understanding religious techniques such as meditation and visiting Hong Kong temples, mosques, and temples; Asian literature classes which encourage students to themselves do creative writing; policy debates about US politics or change in an authoritarian regimes; simulation exercises relating to territorial conflicts in Asia and the politics of development).

We encourage all AIS students to go on academic exchange programmes at universities around the world. Among other places, students can go on exchange programmes at the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, the University of Goettingen and the University of Mannheim, Germany, Charles University in the Czech Republic, National Taiwan University, Sun Yat-Sen University, Kanagawa University, Japan, Sogang University and Hanyang University, Republic of Korea, Universitas Gadjah Mada, Indonesia, and the Universiti Brunei Darussalam.

We have an undergraduate programme in which students learn both about the politics, economies, and societies of the region but also about its cultures and history. We also offer five minors to undergraduates (in Asian Studies, International Studies, Development Studies, Korean Studies and Japanese Studies). Our three taught post-graduate master programmes focus on development, international studies, and the societies and cultures of modern Asia. We have a large PhD programme, with students drawn from 15 countries. We also host many seminars and workshops open to students by outside experts on cutting-edge research about the region while bringing our alumni into contact with our current students. We have student organised activities, including a regular departmental barbecue.

We offer students numerous internship opportunities and prepare students for the cosmopolitan and competitive job market in Hong Kong and beyond. We also have an active alumni network which helps students better understand job opportunities in Hong Kong. Our graduates do very well in employment placement: nearly 90% find employment within three months of graduation earning salaries that are at the higher end of all academic units at the university. Interestingly, although many AIS graduates enroll in further education here in Hong Kong or abroad, join the civil service, or are employed by NGOs, more than two-thirds end up working in the private sector, including business, service, real estate, financial, insurance, hospitality and tourism, manufacturing, trading, logistics, and communication.

In short, we are an internationally oriented department preparing students with the knowledge and skillsets needed to successfully navigate a rapidly changing and competitive world.

Professor Mark R Thompson