Four-year curriculum nurtures ideal graduates

Regina Lau

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The aim of the four-year normative degree structure that City University of Hong Kong (CityU) plans to implement is to nurture ideal graduates fully equipped to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Professor Richard Ho Yan-ki, Vice-President (Undergraduate Education) of CityU, said today at a media function that globalization, coupled with rapid technological advances, had intensified interaction as well as competition in this ever-changing world. To meet the challenges, university graduates had to equip themselves not only with an in-depth professional knowledge of one discipline, but also an awareness of the major changes taking place, he said.

They should be lifelong learners who develop an inter-disciplinary approach to learning and problem solving problems, he added.

“The four-year undergraduate curriculum is a much anticipated opportunity to integrate and enhance the learning experience, making students more creative and more adaptable to the interconnected global environment,” he said

“Here at CityU, we will introduce a new four-year normative degree structure that will nurture ideal graduates who are adaptive, resilient and team-oriented. They will be competent professionals who combine rich professional knowledge with the broader skills and poise required for a successful career and to be leaders in the community,” Professor Ho continued.

To cultivate such graduates, the proposed new structure includes a requirement regarding General Education (GE) courses. Of the minimum graduation requirement of 120 credit units, students must fulfill at least 30 units of GE, with the balance to be made up by taking major, minor and free electives.

“The General Education courses will broaden students’ horizons, increase their appreciation of cultural diversity and encourage them to be lifelong learners,” Professor Ho said.

CityU has been committed to the educational philosophy of Outcomes-based Teaching and Learning (OBTL) since mid-2005 in order to create value-added professionals. Under the OBTL approach, students’ language and mathematics skills are enhanced and they have more opportunities for overseas experience, thus increasing their chances of employability after graduation.

CityU has also introduced the concept of “constellations” under which major programmes are to be categorized. These five constellations include: “Creative and Cultural Industries”, “Information and Other Advanced Technologies”, “Risk Management and the Security Industry”, “Professional & Social Services for the Greater China Region” and “Enhancing the Environmental Ambiance for Sustainable Development”.

These constellations have been designed to capitalize on the unique strengths of CityU. They represent major trends in economic development and the growing sectors of manpower needs in Hong Kong in the coming decade.


Under the new four-year structure, which has been benchmarked to international norms, a student’s major subject will provide in-depth knowledge of that field of study and will consist of a minimum of 45 credit units. Students can choose to a take a double major, which will consist of a minimum of 75 credit units, 45 of which will be from the home major and 30 from the second major.

Students can also choose a minor field of study which complements, but does not overlap with, the major studies. A minor requires 15 credit units. Students may even choose double minors which consist of 30 credit units. Students may choose free electives, and must do so if their cumulative credit load is below the minimum graduation requirement of 120 credit units.

Students can choose GE courses that suit their intellectual needs and interests. They should, however, make sure that they satisfy the credit unit requirement of the University and their respective faculties/ schools. They should consult their academic advisors to ensure the courses chosen complement their major studies.

Professor Ho stressed that the new curriculum structure, a landmark development, will be introduced in phases. From now to 2009 is the experimental phase, marked by the introduction of various double majors and minors. From 2009 to 2012 will be the gearing up phase, during which period outstanding students will be allowed to take credit units above the current minimum requirement of 120.

To prepare for the four-year structure, CityU will need to recruit 120 to 150 more faculty staff by 2012, the “big bang” year of launching the new structure.


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