The name "Liberal Studies" is
meant to suggest that this subject is designed to help liberate the
minds of our students by having them study a wide range of issues
that impact on their daily lives, and in the process requiring them
to take a fresh look at Hong Kong and the wider world, without the
constraints that typify many of the other academic A-level subjects
which they will be studying.
The subject's primary aim is to help students to develop the skills
that are characteristic of a well-educated person. The topics in
the various modules are, in one sense, just a means to this all-important
end. In Hong Kong Studies, for example, it would not be difficult
to devise an alternative syllabus covering matters of great importance
to Hong Kong but with entirely different topics to those actually
The question format used in Liberal Studies differs from that normally
found in local examination syllabuses. The use of this format is
intended to emphasize the need for an inquiry approach in teaching
and studying the subject. Each module spells out a number of issues
and the approach required is indicated by the questions that are
listed under each topic area. It is not intended that each topic
should be covered exhaustively.
The question format is not meant to imply that all students should
aim to identify certain correct answers. On the contrary, the approach
used should stress that most issues are much too complex to allow
for simplistic solutions. In this connection, students should be
helped to appreciate the naivety of much of what they are exposed
to in the public media and elsewhere.
In order to understand an issue to the point where judgements can
be made about it, it is, of course, necessary to have knowledge
of a body of relevant facts. However, in this subject the emphasis
is not intended to be on accumulating factual knowledge and great
care will be taken in the examination papers to avoid questions
which call for detailed factual recall. Instead, the emphasis will
be on understanding and assessing the extent to which the candidate
can demonstrate possession of the skills listed in the subject objectives.
The modules which make up this subject are meant to be equally accessible
to all students without regard both to the subjects they are currently
studying and to those they studied previously for the HKCEE. Teachers
and students reading the details of the syllabus for the first time
need to bear this in mind and carefully study the aims and objectives
both of the subject and the individual modules.
It would be a mistake, for example, to conclude that because a topic
resembles one to be found in an Economics syllabus that it should
be taught in the same way. In Liberal Studies, topics of this sort
should be taught from the point of view of the impact on our lives,
on Hong Kong and on the wider world. Such topics do not, therefore,
require the teacher to have knowledge beyond that possessed by a
well-read individual and the student should not aim to acquire knowledge
of the underlying economic concepts which might be appropriate if
the topics were being studied as part of the A-Level Economics syllabus.
In the same way, it is not
intended that students studying Environmental Studies should have
a knowledge of the complex chemistry, physics and biology which
underlie the issues discussed in this module -- one can have knowledge
of what comes out of the exhaust of a motor vehicle and appreciate
the problems that such exhaust gases cause, without understanding
the processes involved in the working of the internal combustion
The subject aims to broaden
the horizons and skills of Secondary 6 and 7 students by having
them study areas outside the traditional A-level syllabuses, to
increase students awareness of themselves, and to engender a critical
awareness of the society in which they live, and the way that society
relates to an ever-changing world.
The subject also aims to
provide the means by which students may learn to harmonize the different
approaches found in the sciences and humanities. In addition, the
format also allows schools to choose from the list of modules in
such a way that at least one module can provide a contrast to the
student s main course of study.
The subject aims to provide
a framework within which students are encouraged....
to become better informed, interested in and concerned for Hong
Kong and the wider world;
achieve greater self-reliance in learning through the development
of self-study skills, independent use of resources and self-discipline
in the organization of study time and other priorities, which
would ultimately lead students to the point where they can learn
to satisfy their intellectual curiosity;
- to develop the ability to analyze complex wholes
into their component parts and to evaluate the adequacy of evidence
to support conclusions and the validity of arguments in terms
of their objectivity and freedom from bias or prejudice;
- to think more independently so that they are
willing to seek alternatives, to assess and evaluate opinions
put forward by others and to be open-minded enough to accept the
views of others; or, where there are good grounds for doing so,
to maintain their own views;
- to be more creative in the sense that they learn
to identify problems and their solutions through the application
of their skills, their intellectual resources, and what they have
experienced, in ways that are new to them.
The following assessment objectives spell out specifically what
the subject objectives, given above, imply. Not one of them is unique
to this subject since they are meant to exemplify what is meant
by a well-informed and well-educated person who is both open-minded
and able to communicate effectively.
the Liberal Studies examination and project work, candidates will
need to be able ...
to understand sufficiently the basic terminology central to the
issues being studied to follow non-technical articles on
will be rewarded for their ability to show that they can ....
- to scan documents rapidly to locate relevant information,
- to skim through a document so that its gist is understood,
- to read for detailed information,
- to categorize and classify information,
- to extract information relevant to a specific issue from a variety
identify central ideas,
- decide what inferences or predictions might be made on the basis
of given accounts,
- understand the purposes, biases and assumptions which may underlie
a particular view,
- differentiate between what is less important and more important
when evaluating a case,
- test the validity of arguments by relating cause to effect and
evidence to conclusions,
- interpret and use data whether in written text, tables, charts,
graphs, or other forms,
- differentiate among facts, opinions and value judgements,
- provide evidence, usually in the form of specific examples, for
a particular conclusion,
- validly draw conclusions from given evidence,
- discriminate between various sources, to evaluate information
coming from these sources with an open mind, and to appreciate the
differences between first and second-hand information,
- be critically aware of the underlying concepts involved when faced
with two or more apparently authoritative views on an issue,
- organize and present ideas in a clear, and logical form and in
a variety of formats in order to make a convincing judgement,
- argue for and against when examining a particular issue,
- make a reasoned argument when choosing between alternatives,
- support their own value judgements with sound argument,
- show evidence of original and creative thinking,
- draw critically upon their own experience and their encounters
within the community,
- appreciate the moral, ethical and social implications involved
in the issues raised in the syllabus.
[Note: The CDC teaching syllabus
adds to the above list since there are other objectives which
the classroom teacher needs to take into account]
subject consists of six modules:
- Hong Kong Studies
- Environmental Studies
- Human Relationships
- The Modern World
- Science, Technology & Society
- China Today.
Candidates will have to offer two modules, and complete a project
in one of the two chosen modules. Each module paper will contribute
40% towards the subject marks and the project the remaining 20%.
Candidates will be required to submit details of module choice and
project work at the time of registration.
will be required to sit a 21/2-hour paper
in each of their chosen modules.
paper will consist of two sections:
Section 1 (75%)
This section will consist of data-response questions, all of which
will have to be answered.
Section 2 (25%)
This section will consist of four questions, which may be in conventional
or data-response format. Candidates will be required to answer one
1: Data-Response Questions
this syllabus the term data is to be interpreted in
the broadest possible sense to mean any type of information. Hence
when the syllabus says that "Section 1 will consist of data-response
questions", this implies that candidates will have to respond to
information which may be in many different formats including, for
- articles, news items, reports, memos, letters,
- written dialogue;
- tables, charts, graphs, maps;
- cartoons, pictures, illustrations.
Note 2: Optional Issues/Topics
each module, some issues/items are designated as 'optional'. (Please
refer to the ANNEX at the end of the syllabus for this subject.)
Section 1 of the question paper, which comprises compulsory questions,
will not contain any questions related to the optional
issues/items. In Section 2, where candidates are given a choice
of one out of four questions, at least three questions
will fall within the non-optional issues/items (i.e. at most one
question will concern the optional issues/items but it will be possible
not to set any question at all on these issues/items).
Every candidate is required
to prepare a project report on one of the two modules he/she has
chosen. The regulations, guidelines and methods of assessment issued
by the Hong Kong Examinations Authority to schools will apply.
The results for Liberal
Studies will be reported in the form of a three-part profile. As
well as a grade for the whole subject, there will be sub-grades
for each of the two chosen modules and the project. The names of
the two chosen modules will appear on the certificate. The project
module will also be indicated.
The Liberal Studies syllabus
in this handbook provides a basic framework for teaching and learning.
The order in which the various issues are arranged is not necessarily
the order in which they should be covered in teaching.