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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:

‘Instead of passively taking in information from books and archives, a history student at the university level needs to learn actively—he or she has to critically analyze the limitations of available historical resources and see whether there is anything these sources fail to reveal,’ remarked Allen Tsoi, 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 Allen, the skills of critical thinking and data analysis are among some of the valuable skills he has learnt from the programme. He is also thrilled to learn about the skills and knowledge from internationally renowned scholars in the Department of History.

‘Every professor in the Department is an expert in a specific field of historical research. Together they form a strong faculty team and offer their learnings in a wide range of topics, including Chinese History, local Hong Kong History, Public and Comparative History and World History. Their classes never cease to inspire me and I feel privileged to become one of their students,’ 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 undergraduate 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.

The students in the Department of History have also developed a strong bond with each other. Allen enjoys the company of his classmates, whom he describes as ‘very friendly’: ‘I can always count on the support and help from my fellow classmates as I cope with the challenges of study and university life,’ said Allen.

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.

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.

Allen is confident that the trainings he receives as a History student at CUHK would equip him with excellent critical thinking skills, an international perspective and a life-long interest in the study of History after graduation. He would like to encourage secondary school graduates who consider themselves history lovers to apply for the programme:

‘If you are eager to experience the study of history at the university level, I’d encourage you to join us and become part of our cohort,’ said Allen. ‘The programme will challenge your conventional understanding on historical writing and research, as well as enlighten you on how we could contribute to the society as history majors.’

Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2018

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