First Year Experience – HKU

First Year Studies

Undergraduate Curriculum

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:



No. of Credits*

% of Total
No. of Credits

Compulsory Courses Common Core 36 credits 22.5%
English 12 credits
Chinese 6 credits
Specialisation Major 72 – 96 credits 30% – 40%
Minor 36 – 48 credits 15% – 20%
Electives Electives for all Students Remainder to complete 240 credits 17.5% –32.5%
Total no. of required credits ** 240 credits 100%

* 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.

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 website of the International Affairs Office (  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 financial assistance on the website of CEDARS – Campus Life Section (

You are welcome to visit the website of Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Centre ( 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 (

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-template for making a study plan is available on AAO website (

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 Academic Advising Office as necessary.

Please refer to the website of Academic Advising Office ( study/important-academic-dates) for the important academic dates.

Academic Advising

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 Academic Advising Office (

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, 2019).

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 perform random class assignment to those who have attained Level 3 or Level 4 in HKDSE English Language, or equivalent AND do NOT have any CUE course enrollment.

You can add/drop a CUE class freely only in the FIRST week of the add/drop period during the first or second semester (i.e. until 4pm on September 9, 2019 in the first semester, and 4pm on February 3, 2020 in the second semester).

In the SECOND week of the add/drop period, you (including all optional students) can only change to another CUE class if you can prove that your CUE course clashes with your core course. Please attend your original class until your application for class change has been approved by CAES. Students (including all optional students) adding/dropping a CUE class in the SECOND week of the add/drop period will NOT be accepted normally. (Please note that this arrangement for CAES1000 is different from the enrollment guidelines in other University courses).

Please refer to the course website for the detailed enrollment guidelines and the course video (also available in the course website) for former students sharing their experience and perspective on the CUE course.

*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, 2019.  (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:

Registration Procedure and Student Card

Registration procedure is listed in the following handbooks:

Undergraduate Handbook

Postgraduate Handbook (coursework programmes)

Graduate School Handbook


Internships and Other Learning Opportunities

HKU promotes a total learning experience approach which combines inside and outside classroom learning. Various units in HKU such as Centre of Development and Resources for Students (CEDARS), Centre for Sports and Exercise (CSE), etc. provide non-credit bearing, outside classroom learning opportunities to enable you to achieve the HKU educational aims, such as fostering your abilities in intercultural understanding, enhancing your awareness and commitment to global citizenship, and preparing you to be leaders and advocates for improvement of the human condition.

Here are some of the diverse learning opportunities at HKU:

Department / Network

Learning Opportunities

CEDARS-Campus Life Section Student financial management and investment workshops, training of student leaders and volunteer work opportunities, Student Theatrical Technician Training Programme by CEDARS-Chong Yuet Ming Cultural Centre (CYMCC) on essential stage lighting principles and the use of audio-visual equipment to train students to become CYMCC part-time student technicians
CEDARS-Careers and Placement Section  Career advising, co-curricular programmes, entrepreneurial support, industry talks, training workshops, internships and work placements
CEDARS-Counselling and Person Enrichment Section Person Enrichment (PE) Workshops (Confidence and Social Communication, Relaxation and Resilience, and Thinking and Study Skills), Mental Health  First Aid  (MHFA),  service  opportunities   and   trainings  to support people with disabilities or Special Educational Needs (SEN) both inside and outside campus to participate fully in life through SEN Peer Impact Network (PIN)
CEDARS-Student Development Team Service opportunities, educational funds, leaders’ resources, support for student-initiated projects, NGOs and students’ participation in external competitions and service learning programmes
CEDARS-General Education Team Non-credit bearing co-curricular programmes for all students in wholeperson education, interactive and lively learning activities
Centre for Applied English Studies English language support courses for all undergraduate students, thesis writing and academic English support for postgraduate students, an extensive range of self-access learning opportunities and summer intensive courses
Centre for Sports and Exercise Sports, health and fitness programmes
China Affairs Office China Vision programmes and joint degree programames with renowned universities in Mainland China
Chinese Language Centre Putonghua and Cantonese courses, Chinese language and cultural courses
Gallant Ho Experiential Learning Centre (GHELC)  Experiential Learning Fund, generic workshops on issues such as cultural adjustment, work ethics and interactional skills

HKU Mentorship


Mentees have the chance to look beyond the classroom and learn from HKU Mentors who are professionals and experts from different walks of life
HKU Summer Institute Summer programmes
Horizons Office Experiential learning programmes beyond Hong Kong and financial support to students
International Affairs Office Exchange programmes, Worldwide Plus Visiting Programmes, Short-term Abroad Partnerships, Short-term abroad opportunities, and Globalink Research Internship
School of Modern Languages and Cultures  European and Asian language courses
University Health Service Health education
University Libraries  Library courses to enhance your information literacy skills