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The Mainstay of Science Education

Admitting more 400 new students each year, the broad-based admission scheme in the Faculty of Science at CUHK looks to attract students who are intellectually curious, persistent, open-minded and creative in their approach to scientific subjects. In the words of Prof. Xie Zuowei, Interim Dean of the Faculty, ‘We aim to educate and inspire the next generation of scientific innovators and leaders, and to expand the frontier of human knowledge through quality teaching and research excellence.’

The broad-based admission scheme places high priority on each individual student and his/her interests. Students can choose from among 11 major programmes in the Faculty:

  • Biochemistry
  • Biology
  • Cell and Molecular Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Earth System Science
  • Environmental Science
  • Food and Nutritional Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Molecular Biotechnology
  • Physics
  • Statistics

There is no quota for a specific major, while ample academic advising will be provided to assist students in selecting their programmes of study. Students may declare their majors at the time of entrance, or at the end of Year 1 or Year 2. Acceptance is guaranteed.

Although the students are necessarily of diverse backgrounds and concentrations, most of them recognize the value such arrangement offers them. Serene Yue is a Biochemistry student. She thought that the scheme gives her ‘the opportunity to both specialize in a field and explore new horizons. This is particularly valuable to the freshmen and sophomores as they are developing their interests and finding their fields. For myself, in addition to the required courses in biochemistry, I could take electives in subjects as diverse as animal physiology and bioethics.’

Tsang Tsz-to, a Biology student, the multidisciplinary exposure has been most valuable: ‘I have been given a lot of chances to learn in different fields of science on both the theoretical and the practical level. I was a volunteer in the Marine Science Lab working on the molecular evolution of marine bacteria, which has sharpened my skills in working in a laboratory. I am also honoured to be one of the participants in the first Berkeley Biosciences Study Abroad (BBSA) programme, which gave me the chance to spend a semester in one of the leading universities in biological sciences, namely, UC Berkeley. All these experiences have shaped me into a more open-minded and all-round biology student.’

Ho Ka-ka, a Chemistry student, was also opened up to the fascinating world of research. She said, ‘What I find most valuable is the undergraduate research opportunity whereby I can take part in a research project under the guidance of a postgraduate or a postdoctoral student. It is a precious opportunity that I can get a glimpse of the research path and have someone knowledgeable to consult whenever I encounter academic problems. With the past year staying with the research group, not only have I improved my technical laboratory skills, but I have also clarified some of the difficulties encountered in the courses taken thus far.’

Such ‘precious opportunity’ is further afforded by the Science, Technology and Research Stream (STARS), which enables students with ability and strong interest to gain wider exposure and research experience during their undergraduate studies. Prof. Wong Hoi-ying, Associate Dean (Student Affairs) of the Faculty, explained, ‘STARS’s features include supervised research from the first year, opportunities to join international conferences and seminars, a four-week outgoing exposure, and financial support and scholarship.’

Right from the beginning of her studies here, Dorothy Cheng, a Cell and Molecular Biology (CMBI) student, has been impressed by the meticulousness with which the programme was designed. She gave an example: ‘In a course that is supposed to train us to write journal-standard papers, we were given a made-up research topic that nobody has investigated before. However, research has been done on closely related topics, and the “data” we were given made logical sense and sat well with existing research. I cannot imagine the time and effort put in just to come up with such a topic perfect for practice. I have no doubt that equal effort has been put into the designing of the other courses.’

Tsz-to will go to Germany for an internship about phylogeny and biogeography of crabs. He believes that the three-month training can further prepare him for a career in research. Serena also relishes her experience: ‘I worked for six months in the Laboratory of Drosophila Research at CUHK. As a team we uncovered new genetic insights that propel us one step farther in the cure for neurodegenerative diseases such as Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1. I will always remember attending one of the gathering events for the Spinocerebellar Ataxia Association in Hong Kong and a patient's family member approached me to ask whether we had made a breakthrough. I smiled and answered, “We're working on it, hard.”’

Their various internships and research experiences have made the graduates of the Faculty of Science much sought-after employees. They are found in many sectors including civil service, education, biotechnology, testing and accreditation, pharmaceuticals, environmental consulting, finance, insurance and actuarial, data analytics, etc.

The CMB major Dorothy said, ‘If you are interested in biological research, or want to have a taste of what research is like, CMB is undoubtedly for you. The training it provides will definitely benefit you in your future path.’

From a different school but still within the Faculty of Science, Tsz-to concurred: ‘I believe that the School of Life Sciences has provided excellent opportunities in both local and overseas training, and the campus itself is a great place to study biodiversity. So come join us and be a part of CUHK’s life sciences community!’

Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018

Programme Code

BSCIN

JUPAS Code

JS4601

Open for

JUPAS, Non-JUPAS Year 1 Entry, International, Mainland