Academic Differences between CUHK and Manchester

Riva Japaul, CUHK, Hong Kong

Before coming to Hong Kong I assumed that the teaching style at CUHK wouldn’t be that different to Manchester, 3 months later and I’ve been proven wrong time and time again. The language barrier is definitely a recurring theme in these differences!

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A photo from my trip to Tokyo before we get into the academic stuff!

1. Essays aren’t sent in anonymously here. Unlike Manchester where you only put your student number, at CUHK the lecturers know exactly which student has written which essay. This system comes with benefits and disadvantages, if your teacher likes you and you’ve made a good impression on them you can definitely get a better grade! However, if you’ve missed a few lectures because you’ve been travelling (guilty), this might affect your grade (Sidenote: GPA’s are weird and I definitely don’t understand them!)

2. You will definitely get picked on to speak practically every lecture! Lecturers definitely ask my opinion on almost every topic they speak about. Lectures themselves seem quite informal to me, often we’ll have a 2 hour lecture where the lecturer doesn’t mention any anthropological theory at all, it’s more of a class discussion which I quite like.

3. There are way more assignments per module, but they’re all smaller and count for less marks. I like this approach to grading because it feels less stressful as you know you can have a chance to do better in the next assignment if you mess one up. The only downside to this grading system is sometimes it feels like the work is never ending! Also, in most of my modules you can gain 10% of your marks just for participation and discussion in your lectures.

4. Local students most likely will not want to do group presentations with you, I think this is a mix of their consciousness about their standard of English and the fact that in Hong Kong exchange students are generally seen as lazy.

5. Joint essays here are really popular, but they are completely bizarre to me! Essentially 3 people will have to jointly write a 2000 word essay, naturally this leads to an unfair amount of work being shared across the group, and is probably one of my biggest complaints with the CUHK system.

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