General Education Programme

The General Education (GE) Programme provides the foundation of a well-rounded university education. The goal of the programme is to promote Whole Person Education (WPE) through exposure to a range of transferable skills, guiding principles, and attitudes that all students will need in their future professional and personal lives. Through whole-hearted participation in the GE courses, students will begin to construct a deeper understanding of the world around them by making connections at personal, societal, and historical levels. In doing so, they will begin to determine where they can best contribute their unique talents within the complex and ever-changing global community.

Designed in accordance to an outcomes-based teaching and learning (OBTL) approach, the programme is tailored with clear intended learning outcomes for the students, building on their respective strengths, towards achieving the HKBU Graduate Attributes.

Intended Learning Outcomes of the GE Programme 

By the time students have completed the GE Programme, they are expected to have achieved a number of programme intended learning outcomes (PILOs). Broadly speaking, students should be able to: 

PILO1 Use historical and cultural perspectives to gain insight into the contemporary issues;
PILO2 Apply various value systems to decision-making in personal, professional, and social/political situations;
PILO3 Use data for the purposes of analyses and to make recommendations for strategic implementation of policy on social, economic and business, cultural, and political affairs;
PILO4 Relate their majors with interdisciplinary thematic knowledge;
PILO5 Demonstrate connections among a variety of disciplines to gain insight into contemporary personal, professional, and community situations.

Programme Structure

The GE Programme offers three levels of learning from foundational courses to courses in themes, and a culminating experience, for a total of 18 units. All the Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 courses are interdisciplinary.

Requirements 18 units
Level 1 Foundational Courses (1) 9 units
History and Civilization (3 units)  
Values and the Meaning of Life (3 units)  
Quantitative Reasoning (3 units)  
Level 2 Interdisciplinary Thematic Courses(2) 6 units 
Science, Technology and Society  
Sustainable Communities  
Culture, Creativity and Innovation  
Level 3 GE Capstone(3) 3 units*

Interdisciplinary GE Capstone Course:

• Service-learning course(a), or
• Service Leadership Education course(b), or
• Experiential learning course(c).


Interdisciplinary Independent Study:

• Interdisciplinary group project under the supervision of a faculty member, or
• An individual interdisciplinary project of a student's own choice under the supervision of a faculty member.

Both the group and individual projects can take the form of a thematic study or experiential learning project.


 (1) Students have to take one 3-unit course under each of the three categories.

(2) Students have to take two 3-unit courses under any of the three themes.

(3) Students have to complete one course or independent study.

(a) By means of fostering innovation, students and faculty members apply their academic knowledge and skills to address community needs off-campus.  Meaningful service projects anchored in a specific curriculum are developed to contribute to the common good of humankind in the effort to enrich students' academic learning and personal growth.

(b) Service Leadership Education courses emphasise leadership competencies, entrepreneurial spirit and ethical practices, and aim to equip students to be good service leaders for the community.

(c) Experiential learning shares similar theoretical underpinnings with service-learning but students' application of knowledge and skills in the real life setting may take place in a wider context including internship, guided projects, etc. Service-learning is a form of experiential learning.

* Programmes can decide to count the 3-unit GE Capstone towards their major, minor or concentration requirements but not vice versa. If the GE Capstone is double-counted, the student has to take other course(s) to make up the three units to fulfil the graduation requirement.  Counting GE Capstone as free electives is not allowed.

Level 1 Foundational Courses

Three categories, (1) History and Civilization; (2) Values and the Meaning of Life and (3) Quantitative Reasoning, are included under Level 1 Foundational Courses. In each of the categories, eight courses are available for students’ selection. Students are required to take one 3-unit course in each category, for a total of 9 units.

After taking these courses, students will be able to use historical and cultural perspectives to gain insight into contemporary issues; to apply various value systems to decision-making in personal, professional, and social/political situations, to recognise the value and limitations in the quantitative data encountered in daily life such as in the media or public reports, as well as to make use of quantitative data effectively to support sound reasoning in daily life. In what follows, the outcomes of each category are presented.

History and Civilization (3 units)

The interdisciplinary courses in this category aim to:

  1. Inform the role of history in human endeavours be it cultural, social, political, economic, or scientific;
  2. Allow students to understand how historical events have shaped our current world affairs; and conversely, how the current world affairs have shaped the way the past is being seen;
  3. Provide a journey through the human race in historic times: our activities, ideas, creations, institutions and impact;
  4. Acquaint students with the historical and cultural achievements of some of Asia’s oldest nations, and their persistent influence in the contemporary world. 

Values and the Meaning of Life (3 units)

The interdisciplinary courses in this category aim to guide students to:

  1. Engage in reflection on moral beliefs and practices, through inquiry into questions of ethics and morality as presented in one or more philosophical and/or religious traditions;
  2. Identify, understand and reflect on ethical issues, and to articulate, assess and defend moral judgements in an informed and thoughtful way;
  3. Identify and evaluate moral dilemmas in the context of change and development in an increasingly globalised world;
  4. Recognise philosophical views from different cultures and communities across different times and their implications for answering the question of how we are to live.

Quantitative Reasoning (3 units)

The interdisciplinary courses in this category aim to guide students to:

  1. Use quantitative data for the purposes of analysis and reasoning to understand, interpret, critique, debunk, challenge, explicate, and draw conclusions;
  2. Apply basic mathematics and computational skills to the analysis and interpretation of real-world quantitative information (e.g. Big Data) in the context of a discipline or an interdisciplinary problem to draw conclusions that are relevant in their daily lives;
  3. Model and solve problems with quantitative methods, such as using formulas, interpreting graphs, tables, and schematics, and drawing inferences from them.

Level 2  Interdisciplinary Thematic Courses

All the courses at Level 2 are interdisciplinary and theme-based. Several interdisciplinary themes, each of which is broad enough to accommodate contribution of different academic disciplines, are formulated to allow students more flexibility in the selection of GE courses according to their interest and academic goals. GE courses under the themes are envisaged to be timeless in benefiting students in the long term, and to promote HKBU’s ethos of WPE. Students should be able to relate the courses of their choice to their majors. When choosing courses, students could consult their academic advisors or programme directors.

In each of the themes, a list of courses are available for students’ selection. Students are allowed to take two 3-unit courses, for a total of 6 units, under any one or two of the following themes: (1) Science, Technology and Society; (2) Sustainable Communities; and (3) Culture, Creativity and Innovation.

After completing the two 3-unit courses at Level 2, students should be able to relate their majors with interdisciplinary thematic knowledge and make connections among a variety of disciplines to gain insight into a wide range of issues related to contemporary personal, professional, and community situations. The general aims of each theme and its associated outcomes are presented as follows:

Science, Technology and Society

The courses in this theme provide a broad conceptual and historical introduction to scientific theories that have shaped our world. As such, the courses attempt to increase students’ understanding of the human-built world. Science and technology are no longer specialised enterprises confined to single disciplines but rather they have become intertwined with each other and with human society. The impact of science and technology has to be recognised with its implications for the future. Specifically, the courses in this theme address:

  1. The role of technology in human history, and more specifically the importance of technology and technological innovation to various historical civilizations;
  2. How ideas about nature have evolved, leading to scientific and technological developments that impact societies around the world;
  3. How technology and science have far-reaching effects upon values, cultures, economy and the social, commercial and legal systems of different communities;
  4. What are the ethical and moral reasoning for the use of some technological developments around the world;
  5. How cultural, political, and economic values help to shape and direct technological developments, which in turn can have a profound effect on those same social values and the society that holds them;
  6. How different societies or communities respond and react to the advancement of technology.

Sustainable Communities

The world's environment has emerged as a major subject of political, economic, scientific, ethical and theological discussion and inquiry. This thematic category introduces the students to the broad concept and understanding of sustainable communities. Communities are considered to be sustainable when they are environmentally, socially, and economically healthy and resilient. These communities meet challenges through integrated solutions rather than through fragmented approaches.

The courses address how a sustainable community manages its natural, human, and financial resources to meet current needs while ensuring that adequate resources are equitably available for future generations. Among the many aims, the courses in this category define, and analyse how to:

  1. Protect and enhance local and regional ecosystems and biological diversity;
  2. Utilise prevention strategies and appropriate technologies to minimise environmental concerns that relate to conservation of water, land, energy, and nonrenewable resources;
  3. Attend to the basic human rights of all community members and defend against injustices including exploitation and psychological and physical harm;
  4. Design diverse and financially viable economic base for the community;
  5. Provide businesses and services that enhance community sustainability.

Culture, Creativity and Innovation

Throughout the history of human kind, culture has played an important role in human endeavours. We recognise that works of art, drama, literature, and music have shaped the cultural heritage of the world. There are many ways by which societies shape all aspects of creative expression, ranging from the availability of resources to the provision of rewards or punishments. Cultures can encourage creativity and they can seriously hinder them.

The courses in this theme identify ways in which culture reflects and shape the experience of being human; examine a variety of traditional and contemporary theories of culture that sheds light on innovation and creativity; investigate particular historical periods to discover the social, economic, and political contexts that have contributed to creativity and innovations. The power of creativity, art and culture could be harnessed to play an increasingly important role in driving economic and social progress.

In the courses of this category, students will be able to:

  1. Recognise that cultural factors clearly have a profound influence on different outlets for creative expression, on the nature of the subject matter and form of expression, and on the functions that various forms of expression serve;
  2. Appreciate that “culture” is essential to understanding the role and responsibility of citizenship, and importantly to creativity too;
  3. Define creativity in the larger context of originality, meaningfulness, and value–and the way that this manifests itself around the world;
  4. Recognise that creativity is a way of thinking, and is a collaborative process;
  5. Understand the theoretical models that show the effect of culture on creativity in the global context.

Level 3  GE Capstone

As a culminating experience in the GE Programme, students have an opportunity to engage in the following learning activities that will further enhance their skills in a variety of ways. Students have to complete one course or independent study in any of the following:

  1. An interdisciplinary GE Capstone Course, which can be a Service-learning course, a Service Leadership Education Course or an Experiential Learning course, with a project as a key element; or
  2. An interdisciplinary Independent Study, which can be an interdisciplinary group project or an individual interdisciplinary project of their own choice under the supervision of a faculty member.

Programmes can decide to count the 3-unit course or independent study towards their major, minor or concentration requirements, but not vice versa.  If a course or an independent study is double-counted, the student will have to take other course(s) to make up the three units to fulfil their graduation requirement.  Counting GE Capstone as free electives is not allowed.

The aims of the courses or independent studies in this level are to help students to:

  1. Synthesise knowledge from various disciplines and to provide innovative solutions to solve a societal or global problem;
  2. Value the importance of working as a team for the common good;
  3. Show what has been learnt in the classroom and experiential environments as it applies to addressing an important issue faced by local, regional, and the global community.
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