B.A. (Hons) in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics (or RPE in short) is a relatively new interdisciplinary programme offered by the Department of Religion and Philosophy with effect from academic year 2017/18. Students studying in the RPE programme will benefit from writing, public presentation, and critical thinking skills learnt from the programme, as well as from a close student-teacher relationship which defines liberal arts education.
Students will join summer study tours to Dunhuang-Xinjiang, Europe, and short trips in neighbouring regions to gain first-hand experience of a variety of religious and intra-cultural traditions of different parts of the world. A Summer Internship Programme is also provided for students to work in NGOs, social enterprises, offices of Legislative Councilors, and institutions from public and private sectors. They can widen their exposure through working, relate real life to their studies, gain valuable working experience and become able to identify their career path after graduation.
- To equip students with critical, analytical and interpretative skills with which they may understand religious and philosophical traditions, and schools of ethical thought in an objective way;
- To provide students with substantial information about ideas and practices of major religious and philosophical traditions, thus building a solid foundation for their understanding and interpretation;
- To help students develop capability in correlating religious ideas and values, philosophical traditions, and schools of ethical thought to socio-cultural problems;
- To widen students’ perspective in the understanding of both the human person and human culture through a comparative study of different religious and philosophical traditions, showing the range of human responses to life problems;
- To prepare students for postgraduate studies in at least some major religious or philosophical traditions; and
- To assist students in preparing for careers in education, cultural affairs and related fields.
- First RPE Programme in Hong Kong
The programme, specializing in three different but closely related disciplines of religion, philosophy and ethics, is the first-of-its-kind in Hong Kong. RPE is a multidisciplinary programme and in fact one of the flourishing programmes in the international trend in recent decades. Examples include the RPE programme in King’s College London and University of Nottingham in UK.
- Four Study Areas
Foundational courses covering key areas of religion, philosophy and ethics are covered in the second year. Starting from the third to fourth years, students can choose major electives among the four study areas, namely Philosophical Studies, Christian Studies and Comparative Religion, The Interdisciplinary Study of Religion, and Ethics and Society. The multiple foci of the programme would be able to cater for the diverse interests of students. Students can choose to declare or not a concentration in one of the four study areas at the end of their second year of study.
- Critical Thinking
We emphasize nurturing students’ abilities in critical thinking, justifying arguments and evaluating claims, which help to enhance their reasoning and analytic skills. These are transferable skills which are essential to many professions.
- Value Analysis
We emphasize the analysis of underlying moral values, social values, political values and cultural values in current issues, which are diverse, complex and often in conflict with one another.
- Excellence in General Education
Our programme provides a channel for achieving the higher goals of Liberal Studies, namely, (a) the cultivation of the ability to analyze complex human problems with intellectual rigor, and (b) the cultivation of practical wisdom for moral reasoning and impartial value analysis.
To encourage and reward REL Major students who have worked hard and excelled in their studies, our Department offers a number of scholarships to students according to their GPA in that academic year:
- Department of Religion and Philosophy Scholarships for Major Students
- Luk Yin Memorial Scholarship
- Dr. Stephen Chan Christian Spirituality Scholarship
Overseas Exchange Programme
Students have opportunities to study abroad in partner institutions by joining the University's Overseas Exchange Programme.
"It was really a challenge for me to join a reading club, which was not an easy task in the busy study mode here. However, I understand more about the thoughts of European civilization. The most memorable experience is the orientation week. Students from different countries were grouped together and mingled with each other without boundaries. In The Netherlands, it is common for students to live in a single room in a dormitory. Solitude could help you treasure the time of working and thinking, as well as experiencing friendship. During the weekend, I travelled a lot with friends to neighbouring places. I visited over ten countries in half a year, and now I am able to distinguish cultures and characters of different countries. What I was rewarded with was more than the happiness during the trips."
Summer Exchange and Study Tour
The Dunhuang-Xinjiang Study Tour is a special joint programme coorganized by the Department of Religion and Philosophy, HKBU and the School of History and Culture, Lanzhou University. The ten-day tour offers a unique opportunity through which students learn about and experience a variety of religious and intra-cultural traditions.
The Europe Study Tour aims to provide an excellent way for students to get first-hand information about religious issues and enjoy a unique learning experience, broadening their understanding of western European countries and enriching their knowledge of different historical periods of Christianity.
Besides the above summer tours, we also organize short trips outside Hong Kong during the semesters, such as Guangzhou and Macau, to explore different religious activities in the neighbouring region.
Summer Internship Programme
The Department organizes Summer Internship Programme for our students since 2002 to work in NGOs (Non-governmental Organisations), social enterprises, offices of Legislative Councilors, and institutions from public and private sectors. Students can widen their exposure through working, relate real life to their studies, gain valuable working experience and identify their career path after graduation.
Lam Chiu Ping (Graduate, 2016) Project Trainee of Soul-mate Company in Summer 2015
"I learnt a lot from the internship in Soul-mate, such as interviewing writers and assisting with simple editing tasks. I could also help in funeral service, and even observing how a mortuary beautician applied makeup and dressed for the deceased. While witnessing colleagues in planning ceremony theme and rundown of each funeral, decorating venue and writing obituary and eulogy, it made me understand that it is of utmost importance in arranging a good funeral for the deceased and the family. To some extent, one’s attitude towards funeral service may represent his/her respect for life. I was happy that I once worked here as an intern."
Pang Hiu Yu (Graduate, 2016) Summer Intern of Fair Circle in Summer 2015
"The importance of being fair and just is an old saying. Yet who can really be fair and ethical in the business world when facing interest and profit? I am very happy to work in Fair Circle, which gave me the first-hand experience to work in an NGO (Non-governmental Organisation). My understanding towards fair trade and its values behind was much deepened. The internship not only convinced me to pursue a career in an NGO after graduation, it also let me reflect more on what equality and justice mean."
The programme provides high-quality training which enables students to engage in independent academic research. Graduates in RPE will be well-equipped for postgraduate studies. Graduates can also engage in a career not only in the field of teaching in Ethics and Religious Studies and Liberal Studies (after obtaining PGDE/DipEd from a qualified tertiary institution), but also in cultural affairs, publication business, in religion-related social service agencies, or going to the administration sector in the civil service as well as in the business sector. Recently the whole concept of the function of higher education has changed. The significant role of higher education is the training of analytical and critical thinking, creativity and flexibility, and a broad base of knowledge. Employers in Hong Kong are looking for these qualities rather than hard skills in a very narrow scope which may become obsolete in several years. Nowadays, a graduate with good training in religion, philosophy and ethics can go into a wide variety of fields for career development.
According to the employment survey conducted by the Office of Student Affairs, our graduates have nearly 100% employment rate in recent years. The mean monthly salary of 2016 graduates nearly reached HK$14,500, ranking the third among all programmes offered by the Faculty of Arts.
The Department of Religion and Philosophy brought unexpected change to me
Dr. Lui Yue Chun, Matthew (1999), Major in Religion, Philosophy and Ethics
"The Department of Religion and Philosophy brought unexpected change to me. I have learnt how to speak, write, and think, as well as organization skills through my study there."