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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-centred 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 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, Gender and History, Cultural History of Food, Antiquities and Monuments in Hong Kong, and many more.

Revolutionizing your Understanding of History

Hiu-wah is particularly impressed with the diversity displayed in the department’s teaching and research.

If you think studying history is merely just memorizing names and dates, a student majoring in this academic discipline at CUHK would tell you otherwise:

‘Studying history emphasizes thinking and interaction with people, not only mastering specific historical facts but also cultivating the skills of retrieving and recreating the past. The training provided at CUHK not only allows us to master the skill of how to use and judge historical materials, but also gives us a keen sense of exploring new research fields and helps us to connect with contemporary society, learn from the past, and gain insights for future development,’ remarked Lau Hiu-wah, a year 4 student of history.

After identifying a topic for further investigation, students will start gathering, organizing and analyzing various historical data in order to formulate their own arguments and present their findings in academic writing and presentation.

‘We are inspired by the professors to explore the history of the ancient and modern world in different perspectives, such as contemplating an issue from the point of view of an emperor and that of a peasant, and learn how to identify, check, and verify the truth of historical materials,’ she 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, Prof. 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 are looking for secondary school graduates who are self-motivated, enjoy critical thinking and analysis, and have a broad interest in 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 academic pursuits, 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 coursework 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 Sin Wai Kin Scholarship and the Prof. So Hing-bun Scholarships. In addition, the department sponsors students for their graduation thesis research field trips, which offer them an extremely valuable opportunity to acquire knowledge outside of the classroom.

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 department also provides a series of activities for students to apply what they have learned. For example, I have participated in the Kyoto U–CU History Student Cultural Exchange Seminar for two years. We have shared the history of Hong Kong football with Japanese students and, in turn, we have learned about the variations in the applications of historical methods in different schools. I have also signed up for a cultural exchange programme to Harbin and Shenyang from the department to conduct field trips. It surely broadens my horizons. Besides, summer internship programmes are held to provide internship opportunities in different history-related industries for us, meaning we can put what we have learned into practice before entering the workplace,’ Hiu-wah said.

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

‘Whether you want to have a deeper understanding of your society or to enrich your knowledge in history, the History Department of CUHK will enlighten and help you to explore the subject in greater depth than you did in secondary school,’ said Hiu-wah.

Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2021