In this post I have explained some of the key academic differences I have experienced between Manchester and Hong Kong. I hope this will help you when choosing an exchange university or for guidance if you will be studying at PolyU.


The first notable difference for me whilst studying in Hong Kong is the workload. In Hong Kong we are required to study 5 modules per semester, whereas in Manchester I will only study 3 or 4. I find the work in Hong Kong not necessarily more difficult than the work in Manchester but just that there is more of it. Rather than having final projects at the end of the semester (like I do in Manchester), there are more continuous assessments and projects throughout the semester.

In my first semester I chose to study designed based modules. I wanted to develop my design skills in more creative subjects which I am not able to do in Manchester. Another key reason I chose such subjects is so I did not have to do any exams. Firstly, because I tend not to do very well in exams and secondly because the last exam date was the 23rd December and I really wanted to go home for Christmas!

Whilst choosing these subjects meant that I finished my semester weeks earlier than other exchange students, I did however have a huge amount of work load particularly in the last 4 weeks and I found myself under a lot of pressure to complete work often staying up until the early hours of the morning. These were also subjects that I was not incredibly confident in as I study mainly business based subjects in Manchester and learning how to use the Chinese sewing machines and make a denim skirt from scratch was certainly a challenge! I think this is definitely something important to bare in mind when choosing modules and the exchange university.


Subject Choices

Manchester require students from the textile/fashion department to study 5 modules at PolyU. At PolyU there is an extensive list of subjects to choose from ranging from business management type subjects to design and illustration subjects. In my first semester I particularly enjoyed studying shoe design, something I would never have had the opportunity to study in Manchester. When you go to register for the subjects they may say that they are full but I found that if you just go to the first class and ask the teacher if you can take the subject because you are really keen, they will allow you to join. Just to give an idea of subjects available I have listed my chosen subjects below.

Semester 1

  • Fashion shoe design (coursework)
  • Visual merchandising (coursework)
  • Design studies (coursework)
  • Apparel pattern (coursework)
  • Denim fashion (coursework)

Semester 2

  • Sustainability in fashion (coursework)
  • Omni-channel fashion marketing and retailing (coursework)
  • Fashion retail buying (exam)
  • Colour and fashion trends (coursework)
  • Fashion marketing (coursework)


Group Work

Group work is a huge aspect of the work in Hong Kong. If you really hate group work I would recommend carefully selecting modules (usually those with exams rather than coursework) which have the least percentage of group work as possible! In semester 1, two of my subjects were 100% group work with no individual assessment, which as someone who likes to take control of my work, I did find challenging. On a couple of occasions, I was the only exchange student in a group of 12 locals and I found communication and coordination of the group work particularly tricky! That being said, I would like to mention how friendly and helpful the students at PolyU are. Often if I have been struggling with working a machine or finding equipment, the local students have gone above and beyond to help me which I really appreciated!


Work Ethics

Unlike in Manchester, the local students tend to work through the night. On some occasions where I had stayed until 1 or 2am to finish work in the design studio, there would always be lots of local students still working when I left. I remember one girl said to me that she wakes up at 1pm because she stays up until 4am working as“that is the life of a design student”. For this reason, I would recommend not arranging group meetings with local students before 11am!

I have also found that the teachers at PolyU do not reward students for doing more than or exceeding the work requirements. I find that in Manchester we are rewarded for doing more work than is asked or more research and reading than is suggested. This is not really the case at PolyU as the teachers just like to see the student has met the requirements not necessarily exceeded them.


I hope this post has been helpful. If you have more questions regarding studying at PolyU or more general questions about Hong Kong please email me at  🙂

Leave a Reply