General Education Programme

Today's world is more global, knowledge-based, connected, and, facing faster changes. Today's graduates will have several different careers after graduation, sometimes quite unrelated to their major studies at university. Students need to respond creatively and seize opportunities in such a fast changing society by possessing an integrated knowledge and a diverse skill set. University education is therefore more than subject knowledge teaching or career training. General Education is a major part of liberal arts education or whole-person education.

General Education (GE) is defined as "that part of a curriculum that is shared by ALL students (regardless of their original major/profession), provides broad exposure to multiple disciplines, and forms the basis for developing important intellectual and civil capabilities" (Spencer Benson, 2009). GE is designed to achieve more than just broadening students' knowledge. It is learning that empowers individuals and prepares them to deal with complexity, diversity and change.

Our GE model aims to embrace this direction for achieving our education missions. It provides the key common learning experience for all UM undergraduate students. GE programmes, if designed and implemented well, are equally as important as studies in the major programmes.

There are several major models of GE in existence. Regardless of their source, modern GE should address the skills, knowledge and values of 21st century lifelong learners. They should cover some basic knowledge such as communications, informational, science, cultural, historical, and social sciences.

One key feature of a good GE model is the focus on the commonality of human experiences, issues that are of prime importance to human beings, and the core intellectual skills and values that we believe all undergraduates should acquire. Modified and extended from the 2007 Harvard model, the UM General Education programme is designed as follows:

General Education
No. of
General Education Courses Year/Level
I. Language and Communication
1. English Language 6 Year 1
2. Chinese / Foreign Language*# 3 Year 1
3. Communication# 3 Year 3 to 4
II. Science and Information Technology
4. Mathematics/Quantitative Reasoning#+ 3 Year 1 to 2
5. Information Technology and Knowledge Society# 3 Year 1 to 2
6. Physical Science and the World# 3 Any Year
7. Life Science, Health and the Human Condition# 3 Year 2 to 4
III. Society and Culture
8. World Histories and Cultures# 3 Year 2 to 4
9. Macao, China and other Societies# 3 Year 2 to 4
10. Values, Ethics and Meaning of Life 3 Year 2 to 4
IV. Self-Development
11. Physical Education (Pass/No Pass) 1 Any Year
12. Visual and Performing Arts# (Pass/No Pass) 2 Year 2 to 4
13. University Life (Pass/No Pass) 0 Year 1
* Students will be assigned to different levels/nature of courses depending on their prior achievements or assessment results in the respective area before enrollment.
# For pre-approved programmes, these courses can be substituted by equivalent major prerequisite/foundation courses.
+ Students can only enrol either in MATH112 or MATH113 for credits.

For each general education course theme/area, students will be allowed to choose a course from a list of courses to be offered. However, at least 25% of these different courses should cover common concepts and topics which we expect all students should possess. These general education courses are extended throughout all 4 years. Furthermore, courses taken to fulfil general education and distribution/diversity requirement will not be counted towards the major, minor or free elective requirements.

In our reformed undergraduate curriculum model, some approved major programmes will be allowed to fulfil part of the university-wide general education requirements by equivalent foundation or preparative subjects. Each student is required to take at least 20 out of the 36 prescribed specific general education credit requirements. With approval, the remaining 16 can be substituted by their Year 1 and Year 2 equivalent major prerequisite/foundation/preparative courses.

The following pedagogical and assessment issues will be taken into account when designing and delivering GE courses:

  1. GE courses should be seen as inter-related and integrated. They are not simply introductory courses to a discipline. They should be contributing to many of the undergraduate learning goals.
  2. Their design should be cross-disciplinary, student-centred, learning outcome-based, inquiry-oriented, action-driven, and related to students' life and their society.
  3. Innovative pedagogy and assessment methods are strongly encouraged to enable interactive learning to take place. Information technology and web-based resources could be explored to supplement/integrate with traditional face-face learning.
  4. Teaching general education is about determining the minimum common knowledge that all UM undergraduate students will possess after graduation and the enduring understandings that they will take away after classess.
  5. GE should encourage students to learn how to learn. They should expose our students to a way of thinking, and encourage students to be able to transfer skills, knowledge and values from one domain of knowledge to new areas.