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:
‘Knowing the past is part of knowing the present. The practices of argumentative historical thinking and evidence-based demonstration of arguments make studying History practical and appealing. In this “post-truth” age, understanding history is the process of approaching the truth; studying history is the training of excavating the truth; debating history is the gleaning of a clearer truth; remembering history is the cornerstone of the defence of the truth. Studying history has taught me not to shrink from discussing any “sensitive” academic topics and to bravely face the truth of history, however unpleasant it is. It is by which humans truly learn from their experiences and move forward,’ remarked Marcus Sherray Lee, a year 4 student of history.
Once identifying a topic for further investigation, the students will 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.
Marcus is particularly impressed with the diversity of the teaching and research in the department.
‘We have teachers with different specialties and hence we have a wide range of courses suitable for students with different interests. One can choose his own field of study according to one’s academic persuasions from areas ranging from ancient to modern ages and from East to West,’ 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, 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 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 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 Prof. 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.
The department sponsors students for their graduation thesis research fieldtrips, which offer them an extremely valuable opportunity to acquire knowledge outside 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.
For example, Marcus was offered an opportunity to join the internship programme of the Museum of the Institute of History and Philology of Academia Sinica at Taipei. The precious experience has broadened his horizon and endowed him insights into his future career.
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.
‘No matter you are passionate about pursuing historical truth or simply about history itself, the History Department at CUHK will be a fulfilling and rewarding place for you,’ said Marcus.
Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2020