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Why BA(HDT)?

 What is the programme about? 

What are the Humanities? 

Humanities is the study of the stories, ideas, and words that help us understand our lives and our world. They help us decide what matters and how to make our lives, and others’, meaningful. Humanities comprise disciplines such as philosophy, history, art history, comparative literature, linguistics, gender studies or yet music. 

What do ‘digital technologies’ mean? 

Digital technologies encompass a wide variety of emerging technologies which involve computers. They reshape our societies and can also impact how we study them. Extended reality, digital twins and the blockchain are some recent well-known examples. Mobile phones and social networks have been around for a longer time and have dramatically altered how we communicate with each other. They can now help us to understand significant social phenomena, such as the spread of infectious diseases or fake information. 


Why combine the humanities with digital technologies? 

The digital humanities are defined as the use of digital tools and resources in the humanities, and as the analysis of what this approach entails. This helps revisit old questions with a new perspective and discover new questions. Today, an archeologist can rely on 3D printing to recreate old artifacts or use drones to map a digging site. A librarian can use scanners to digitize old manuscripts and make them available to anyone on the Internet, while scholars in literature can take advantage of algorithms from natural language processing to study the content of thousands of books at once.  Your creativity is the only limit! 


Further, given the humanities focus on human societies and these are being deeply transformed by emerging digital technologies, it becomes crucial to be able to critically assess the latter and their impact on our lives. 

 Why choose the BA(HDT) and not another programme? 


What is the difference between the BA(HDT) and the traditional BA? 

Like several majors / minors of the BA (e.g., linguistics, gender studies), the BA(HDT) focuses on the Humanities. However, unlike the BA, the BA(HDT) pays attention to the intersection between the Humanities and digital technologies. It aims to provide students with a comprehensive and multifaceted understanding of the role digital technologies can play in the Humanities, and the ability to critically assess emerging technologies from a humanistic perspective. Concretely, you will go into much greater details about the concepts, theories, and critical debates of digital humanities. You will also acquire a much wider palette of digital tools, and the ability to participate in crucial debates around the benefits and dangers of digital technologies.


If I like history (or philosophy or comparative literature), shouldn’t I do a major in history (or philosophy or comparative literature) instead? 

The answer to this question lies in your interest in learning both the traditional concepts and methods of a field like history or literature, and the use and influence of digital technologies in this field. If you take a major in history, you will get some opportunities to learn about the growth of digital forms of culture and the use of digital tools, but this won’t be the focus of your programme. If you like music, or art history, but also want to think across disciplinary frontiers and stand at the frontline of the digital revolution, then the BA(HDT) is the right programme for you. 


What is the difference between the BA(HDT) and a BEng in computer science? 

During a BEng in computer science, you will study in depth how computers work at different levels, and focus among other things on algorithms, programming, computational modelling, and AI. You will not, however, focus on how digital tools – including low-code / no-code ones – can help us understand past and modern human societies and cultures, and how our lives and experiences are shaped by digital innovations. During the BA(HDT), you will also study AI, algorithms and computational techniques, but from a higher and less technical viewpoint – in a nutshell,  you will spend more time working with computer tools than time working on computer tools.


Is it a programme about AI? 

AI certainly plays a role in digital humanities and in the BA(HDT) programme. You will learn how to effectively leverage generative AI tools like ChatGPT or MidJourney. You may even go further and for instance explore how generative AI may redefine video making – in positive but also possibly negative ways. You will also cover some key techniques in machine learning and ponder the ethical aspects of the spread of AI in our societies. The objective of the programme is not, nevertheless, to turn you into a programmer able to design complex AI solutions such as deep neural networks.


Are there postgraduate studies in HDT? 

There is currently no postgraduate programme in HDT at the University of Hong Kong, although this may happen in the future. However, there are very attractive programmes in some leading universities like King’s College London or the University of Cambridge. You may also choose to do an MPhil or a PhD in the field of the Humanities you focused on during your BA and continue to work with digital tools then – you will be well prepared for that! 


What are possible careers upon graduating?

Digital skills are fast becoming a requirement in a wide range of industries, and what you will learn during the programme will be suitable for careers in banking and finance, government and public service, education and training, advisory and consulting etc. You may work as a consultant or research, as a user experience designer, content strategist, data analyst, education technologist, digital media producer etc.


How of the ambition of the programme is to position you as a project leader who will be able to engage with a variety of partners and stakeholders. In other words, you’ll be able to talk to engineers and web designers as well as to museum curators or historians.


Do you have a motto or something?

We do! ‘Understand, Innovate, Thrive’. We want you to join our programme to understand the world around you, with all its technological developments and transformations. And equipped with this critical knowledge, we want you to innovate, to come up with solutions which are thoughtful and mindful of what we know of Humankind, society, and culture. And we strongly believe that if you do that, you will thrive and get a strong feeling of accomplishment and success.

 Joining the BA(HDT) 

What’s the requirements to enter the programme? 

Apply Now 

Are there scholarships? 



Do I need to be good at programming to join the programme? 

Although having some coding experience will offer you more resources and flexibility when working on your projects, we do not expect our students to know programming before joining the programme. It is expected that you will acquire some coding skills over the four years of the programme, which will again broaden your horizon, but the goal is not to turn you into expert coders. Now, if you enjoy programming, you will have the option to take courses in computer science and hone your skills!

 During the programme 


Is there a lot of math and programming? 

There will be courses oriented toward digital methods where you learn how to use a range of techniques which rely on mathematics and programming. You will also learn the basics of coding. However, much can be accomplished today with low-code / no-code tools, and without an extensive knowledge of math. This is fully acknowledged in the programme, and you will be encouraged to find simple but effective tools. Now, if you want to delve deeper into math and programming, you will have the possibility to take advanced electives in the faculty of engineering.

Do you follow a specific pedagogical approach?

We can mention three important aspects of the overall pedagogy of the programme:

First, pluri/cross-disciplinarity is an essential component of the approaches you will be introduced to. We want you to look for the best ideas and tools to tackle a problem, wherever they are, and that means not being afraid of exploring various fields of knowledge. Innovations often come from creating connections between previously unconnected elements.


Second, we emphasize project-based and problem-based learning, which means that the assessments in your courses will often rest on projects, and that these projects will often aim to tackle an interesting challenge and/solve an interesting question. We believe a hands-on approach and real-life problems are best to learn and acquire actionable skills. Also, building a strong project portfolio is a very effective way to convince a future job recruiter.


Third, teamwork matters, especially during projects. It’s by brainstorming together and combining your respective skills that you will make great strides. The whole can be more than the sum of the parts.

Who are the teachers? 

The teachers in charge of the programme are all members of the Faculty of Arts with a solid engagement with digital humanities and digital technologies. There is currently a digital historian with extensive practice of digital humanities, an archaeologist using drones and VR in his fieldwork and research, an expert in digital humanities and English literature, a practitioner in architectural design and film producer, and a computational linguist. They are all passionate about their research and deeply committed to the programme. Two have been distinguished by the University for the quality of their teaching.


Can I take another major or minor(s) if I join the programme? 

Unlike other Arts students who choose their major in Year 2, your default major will be ‘Humanities and Digital Technologies’ from Year 1 and won’t change. Then, like all HKU students, you will have the choice to complete another major or up to two minors in other fields, whether in the Faculty of Arts or in another Faculty. There are a lot of options to build your very own academic trajectory and focus on what you really like.


Can I go on exchange? 

Yes, like other HKU students, you will be given the possibility to go on exchange overseas for a semester (or even a full year), usually during Year 3 or Year 4. There are other undergraduate programmes in digital humanities around the globe, including in some renowned universities like the University of Chicago, UCLA, UPenn, Duke, the University of Toronto, or King’s College London. Don’t miss the opportunity to discover another country and another learning environment!

What about the internship? 

During Year 3, you will do an internship of around 120 hours, with the objective of discovering the role of digital humanities and digital technologies beyond academia. You will apply the skills you have acquired in real-world settings and gain valuable hands-on experience. The range of options is not limited, and you may work for a commercial company, a non-profit, a research lab, a government office, a cultural institution etc.


You will be encouraged to find your own placement – one that really matches your interests and skills – but we will also provide you with a number of options thanks to our network of partners. A supervisor will provide guidance during your journey and help make your experience a smooth and positive one.



What is the final-year project? 

The final-year project, also known as the capstone experience, takes place during your fourth and final year. It is in a way the crowning achievement of your studies, and something you find in many majors across the university. You will be free to choose your very own project and apply everything you have learned. It will be possible to work either individually or in small groups. We will encourage bold thinking and innovative approaches, whether it is to create a one-of-kind mobile phone app, experiment with new digital learning tools in the classroom, collect and analyze data to combat food waste or mental health issues etc.

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