School-Sponsored Courses (SSCs)

The Senate has approved in February 2012 (110th Meeting) to add School-Sponsored Courses* (SSC) as one of the requirements of the 4Y Common Core Program. All 4-Year undergraduates admitted in 2012-13 and after are required to take 9 credits of SSCs, with 3 credits each from the Science & Technology (S&T) SSCs, Social Analysis (SA) SSCs, and Humanities (H) SSCs.

What are School-Sponsored Courses?

School-sponsored courses (SSC) represent the collective effort of each School to offer to all HKUST undergraduates a distinct HKUST education that reflects faculty strengths and the principle of research embedded teaching. SSC classes in other words in addition to knowledge dissemination also convey the spirit of knowledge creation. Together with other university Common Core courses, these classes strengthen university efforts to produce the Desired Attributes of the HKUST Graduates: ABC LIVE.

Each School, working together with the UCE, will pilot school-sponsored courses for two years beginning Fall 2011. The format of the courses is flexible and includes small as well as large classes, with or without tutorial discussions. Schools have the discretion to decide on the most appropriate approach for delivery and scaling. A number of approaches can be considered, for example:

  • A course wrapped around a theme, e.g. ethics taught from different perspectives - literature, history and philosophy.
  • Team-teaching where rotation may be implemented
  • A single course with multiple sessions taught by different faculty

The Office of the Executive Vice-President & Provost will request additional resources from the Budget Committee for this important 334 initiative. However, the planning of school-sponsored courses must be prudent; and a thorough assessment of existing resources and scalability are needed before coming up with a budget request.

Considerations for School-Sponsored Courses

School-sponsored courses aim to integrate disciplines and transcend subject-area limits. The carefully designed content and pedagogy will provide opportunities for students to search within, to learn and reflect on their situation and history, project into the future, define and formulate their role, their dreams and their own values.

These courses will be well supported by the School, broadly recognized and delivered by experienced faculty capable of communicating the values and ethos of the School and the University. The intention is to realize the 1-HKUST goal of educating students not only to be pragmatic technocrats but also responsible intellectuals in the society, helping to shape their community and nation.

The completed form "Considerations for School-Sponsored Courses" (Download form here) must be attached to EACH school-sponsored course proposal to provide a thorough response to the following questions that serve to differentiate SSCs from other regular common core courses:

  • How does this course exemplify the intentions of the Common Core: Breadth, Scope, Transcending single disciplines, and Presenting the best of HKUST to students?
  • How does this course help to define the uniqueness and values of the school and HKUST?
  • What is the unique intellectual experience students will gain from this course, which forms the basis for requiring students to take this course but not others?
  • How will this course bring about a sufficiently positive impact on the Common Core Education?
  • What processes and pedagogy will be implemented to ensure that this course can be developed in accordance with its stated objectives?
  • What is the optimal capacity for this course, i.e., the number of sections and enrollment per section? Can it be scaled up without compromising the quality of delivery? What will be the maximum enrollment this course can handle?
  • What is the scheduled time table and actions taken (to be taken) for rolling out the pilot run and actual full scale course delivery?
  • What are the major hurdles or practical difficulties to be anticipated in making this course a success? How will these be resolved?

First Phase of Implementation of School-Sponsored Courses

During the period between now and up to Fall 2015, the Committee on Undergraduate Core Education (CUCE) will grant provisional approval to convert all 17 approved intended signature courses to be school-sponsored courses, and to other new SSC course proposals submitted by the Schools during this period. All provisional approvals will expire by Fall 2015-16.

In the meantime, the CUCE will commission an ad hoc group to review SSCs with a holistic perspective, including defining their learning outcomes, formulating a strategy for developing SSCs with the Schools with clear themes for each of the S&T, SA and H common core areas, and a process for reviewing the course proposals. The number of SSCs to be developed for each of these three common core areas is expected to be small.

* School-sponsored courses were called "signature courses" initially. It was rephrased in December 2011 following discussion among the Deans, to highlight the key role of the Schools in leading, coordinating, and resourcing the development and teaching of these courses.