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The History Department of CUHK strives to promote world-class research and teaching in the field of historical studies. We put great emphasis on diversity and freedom in academic pursuit, student-centered education, relevance of historical knowledge to daily life, and cultivation of cross-cultural sensitivity and global-mindedness.

Our curriculum integrates Eastern and Western learning with thorough understanding of the historical development and the changes from the past to the present. It provides solid training for empirical study of national history and in-depth study of topical history. Our teaching and research in the fields of comparative history and public history illuminate and underpin the unique characteristics of cosmopolitanism and public concern in Hong Kong’s higher education.

To achieve these goals, we offer a comprehensive programme that covers a wide array of topics on Chinese history, world history, comparative and public history, such as Daily Life in Han China, Common People in Modern China, Trans-Pacific Connections in East Asia, War and Society (1000-1900), Gender and History, A Cultural History of Food, Antiquities And Monuments in Hong Kong, etc.

Revolutionizing your Understanding of History

If you think that studying history only means the memorization of important names and dates, a student majoring in this academic discipline at CUHK would tell you otherwise:

‘History, as an academic discipline, requires students to establish their own arguments and judgements on the past based on extensive, contextualized and critical reading and analysis of available primary sources,’ remarked Ben Tsang, a year 4 student of History.

Once they have identified a topic for further investigation, the students would start to gather, organize and analyze various historical data in order to formulate their own arguments and present their findings in the forms of academic writing and presentation.

According to Ben, the study of history in CUHK provides opportunities for students to further develop critical thinking and academic writing, among other skills useful for academic and career pursuits.

Ben is particularly impressed with the diversity of the teaching and research areas of the Department.

‘The Department offers courses on the political, economic, social, intellectual, and urban histories of China, Hong Kong, East Asia, Southeast Asia, America and Europe. The Department is also committed to the study of comparative history and public history, from which students may discover the differences and connections between the East and West, past and present,’ he said.

The undergraduate programme offered by the History Department at CUHK is a leader in the field of history education in Hong Kong. Its origin can be traced back to the History Programme offered by New Asia College in the late 1940s. The founder of New Asia College, Professor Ch’ien Mu, a renowned scholar in Chinese History, also headed the Department of Chinese History and Literature of the College at that time.

‘We look for secondary school graduates who are self-motivated, enjoy critical thinking and analysis, and have a broad interest in the humanities. Our new students receive abundant support from their teachers. We also have a student advisory system and various study tours to enhance the relationship among members of the Department,’ said Prof. Lai Ming-chiu, Head of the Department of History at CUHK.

The Department now receives a cohort of around 50 new undergraduates each year. ‘The small student-to-teacher ratio means that our students will receive plenty of individual guidance in their course of academic pursuit, which is particularly crucial for the study of history. We encourage our students to seek advice from our teaching staff when they encounter any problem in their course work or research,’ remarked Professor Lai.

Undergraduate students of History also receive financial support in the form of scholarships. These scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis, including the Wang Teh-chao Memorial Prizes, Mr. Lau Siu Chun Memorial Scholarship, Professor Tsang Shui-lung Memorial Scholarship, the Leung Hung Kee Scholarships, the Sin Wai Kin Scholarship and the Professor So Hing-bun Scholarships.

The Department sponsors students for their graduation thesis research fieldtrips, which offer them an extremely valuable opportunity to acquire knowledge outside the classrooms.

Ben, for example, conducted research for his graduation thesis on Hong Kong history in the United Kingdom under the auspices of the Leung Hung Kee Scholarship. Ben is grateful that the training he has received has broadened his horizons.

In terms of internship and exchange opportunities, the summer internship scheme provided by the Department covers more than 50 institutions across Hong Kong, mainland China and Taiwan. Students can also participate in the Kyoto U – CU History Student Cultural Exchange Seminar organized annually by the Department of History at CUHK.

The career prospect of its graduates is diversified and promising. Apart from the field of education, many of the graduates in History work in museums, media and the publishing industry, the government, the commercial sector and NGOs.

‘The four years in CUHK as a history student would be exciting and rewarding, regardless of whether one aspires to be a generalist or specialist in history.’

Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2019