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Q: What is Social Science Broad-based?
A: It is an opportunity for students to explore their real interest in Social Science disciplines before declaring majors.

Q: How does it work?
A: Students explore various Social Science disciplines in Year 1 and then declare one of the eight majors based on their interests, academic strengths and career aspirations.

Q: How can students explore the various majors?
A: In addition to taking different majors’ foundation courses, students receive extensive counselling and academic advice from teachers and senior students.

Q: Are there any restrictions in major declaration?
A: There is no competition nor quota. Students can choose their majors freely. A few admission conditions only apply to Architectural Studies and Urban Studies.

Social Knowledge in the Making

Immanuel Kant (1724–1804) defined enlightenment as having the freedom to use one’s own reason in all matters. Prof. Chiu Chi-yue, Dean of the Faculty of Social Science, said, ‘We inspire and enlighten. We strive to create social knowledge that is communicable, innovative, rigorous and socially relevant; knowledge that improves the well-being of the individuals and that of society; knowledge that will be taught globally; and knowledge that will inform policies and transform societies.’

To Professor Chiu, social science is the study of how the way of the world and the self constitute each other. The way of the world includes how things are arranged and organized in cultures and institutions, and the self is a complex system of an individual’s thoughts, feelings, motives, judgments and behaviors. Every social science subject, although each has its unique disciplinary perspective, strives to decipher how the world and the self make each other up. Professor Chiu continued, ‘Our Faculty adopts dual-mode admission. Social Science Broad-based, in parallel with programme-based admission, is offered to help its students make informed choices on major declaration.’ It welcomes prospective students with social concern, interdisciplinary vision, proactive learning attitude and curiosity. To ensure that Social Science Broad-based students have adequate exposure to various social science subjects before choosing their majors, they are allowed to take various basic courses offered by the Faculty.

‘Assistant Dean (Student Affairs), teachers from various departments or schools and I serve as academic advisers to provide personal advice and guidance for students on academic issues and programme selection,’ said Dr. Frankie Wong, Associate Dean (Student Affairs) of the Faculty of Social Science. ‘The comprehensive and personal counselling will help students grasp an in-depth understanding of their preferred subjects and enhance teacher-student relationship.’

Jasmine Jim is a recent graduate admitted to Journalism and Communication through Social Science Broad-based as she wished to explore her genuine academic interest before major declaration. ‘It’s vital that every citizen has at least a rudimentary understanding of the interplay of relationships within society. Social science training sharpens my lens to observe society,’ she said.

The one-year untrammelled pursuit of social knowledge was a fascinating experience to Jasmine. ‘I could assess my ability and examine my own interest thoroughly, so as to ensure that the major declared would be the most suitable subject for me. The orientation programme and ongoing academic counselling sessions are definitely helpful.’ There is no pre-set quota for the major subjects. Social Science Broad-based students do not need to compete against each other for their intended majors. They may choose any of the following majors to continue their studies from Year 2 onwards.

  • Architectural Studies
  • Data Science and Policy Studies
  • Economics
  • Geography and Resource Management
  • Global Communication
  • Global Studies
  • Government and Public Administration
  • Journalism and Communication
  • Psychology
  • Sociology
  • Urban Studies

To Jasmine, the most valuable feature of Social Science Broad-based is the freedom to choose subjects from various disciplines. In her first year, she took courses from the School of Journalism and Communication, the Department of Psychology and the Department of Social Work. ‘Before taking psychology courses, my knowledge and impressions of the discipline were mainly from friends and the media. I regarded psychology as a discipline to understand others’ mentality. Now I know the multifaceted dimension of the discipline such as biology. For instance, it also involves how neurotransmitters and hormones affect the human reaction to stimuli received,’ she recalled.

Jasmine found the class dynamics in Social Science Broad-based appealing to her. ‘There’s no model answer in social science training. We engaged in intellectually exciting discussions, which helped train our critical thinking and confidence in expressing our original ideas.’ She also treasures the friends she met in her first year. ‘Although we’re in different programmes now, we still enjoy our occasional catch-ups to simply chit-chat or discuss social phenomena.’

Taking interdisciplinary courses in the first year has enabled Jasmine to comprehend the sociocultural aspects of society from multiple perspectives. Together with invaluable opinions from her academic advisor, Jasmine has better understood her strengths and academic interest, and eventually made up her mind on choosing Journalism and Communication as her major programme. ‘Nowadays, journalism and social science are wings that fly together.’

Social scientists hold up a mirror to society and throw light on the sociocultural aspects of human behaviour with their robust foundation in rational criteria and sophisticated analytical methods. CUHK's Faculty of Social Science is home to many devoted social science researchers and educators, featuring scholars from diverse social science disciplines. Professor Chiu said, ‘I’m proud of our strong humanist tradition and our global perspectives. We shall strive to enlighten and inspire our students through innovative and rigorous social science education and research.’

Published: Summer 2017
Last Updated: Summer 2022