The Chinese University of Hong Kong Department of History Department of History
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Engaging with Urban History to Promote Deep Learning: Thinking, Seeing, and Reading the Built Environment in Hong Kong and Beyond

Funded by the EDB Gifted Education Fund

Course Description

This programme is suited for students who wish to further their study and/or pursue a career in relevant fields such as architecture, tourism, urban planning, etc. in the future. 



  • Secondary 4-5 students in the academic year of 2021-2022
  • Interested in history, geography, environmental studies, etc.
  • Studying at least one elective subject related to the Personal Social and Humanities Education Key Learning Area in schools




  • To broaden the knowledge of gifted students on the methods, perspectives and historiographies of urban history (i.e. the development of cities), the relationship between city design and the nature of civilisation, and also the factors that shape the form and meaning of the built environments
  • To equip students with the critical analytical skills to understand the development of the urban environment in Hong Kong and in other places through lectures, site visits and independent researches
  • To provide an opportunity for students to understand the significance of urban historical study should they wish to pursue a future career in an area related to conservation of the cultural heritage, tourism, museum administration, architecture, urban planning, etc.
  • To develop aesthetic appreciation among the students and nurture positive values and attitudes such as responsibility, caring of people and the environment, empathy, etc.


Medium of Instruction: English but students may use Cantonese during discussions.


Admission Fee: Free


Programme Delivery Period: June 2022 – March 2023 (9 months)

Programme Staff:

Instructor — Prof. Ian Morley

Programme Leader — Prof. Cheung Sui Wai

Programme Assistant — Maleah Do Cao

Programme Outline (Tentative)



Lesson Topics

June 2022

Class 1 – What is Urban History?

July 2022

Class 2 – The first cities, and the Greeks and Romans: Grasping deeper ties between cities and civilisations

August 2022

Class 3 – The Renaissance and the Baroque (contexts, causes and effects, seeing the city in new ways)

Late August to Early September 2022

Class 4 – Cities and public health 1, 19th century Britain and understanding public health history in Hong Kong

Class 5 – Cities and public health 2, lessons from the past to rethink the Covid-19 pandemic and future urban resilience

Class 6 – Cities and power, American urban influence in Australiasia and Asia

Class 7 – Cities and modernity, the indigenous and modern in South America

Class 8 – Cities and governance, past-present challenges in developing nations

October 2022

Class 9 – Urban History and Independent Inquiry.

November 2022

Class 10 – Skyscrapers, seeing and reading tall edifices

December 2022

Class 11 – Urban alternatives, new urban planning models as reactions against existing city problems

Mid-December 2022

Field trip in Hong Kong (depending on the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic)

January 2023

Class 12 – Understanding why 19th century London and Paris were so different (and thus why the cities look so different today)

February 2023

Class 13 – Cities and values, from monuments to globalization to infrastructure and heritage

March 2023

End of course showcase of student research/presentations

Mode of Instruction: Face-to-face or online classes via Zoom depending on the the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and the latest teaching arrangement of CUHK.



Application Form:


Documents to be Submitted along with the Application:

  1. Personal statement (in English) — In the section of “Student’s Self-introduction” in the application form, please explain how participating in this programme might broaden your knowledge in history and enhance your learning in school.
  2. Self-introduction video (in English) — Compose a short video clip of no more than 10 minutes to introduce yourself and to state what your career plan is. Please highlight how taking part in this programme may assist you in reaching your career goals. You may send the link to your video or as an attachment to Please ensure that your full name is included in the email.

Application Deadline: Extended to 27 May 2022

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