What is HKUtopia?

Capstone experience is an integral part of the science major programme which focuses on integration and application of knowledge and skills gained in the early years of study. It can be seen as a culminating academic event for undergraduate students. The purposes of capstone experience are to integrate the curriculum thereby allowing students to make connections between course contents, skills learnt and applied contexts, and to provide students the opportunity to demonstrate their ability to organize and synthesize knowledge as developed throughout their academic programme. The capstone course carries a minimum of 6 credits and students must complete this for fulfillment of the graduation requirements. Capstone course is normally taken in the senior years (year 3 or 4) of study. The Department of Chemistry offers a range of courses (e.g. research project, internship, project-based course) for students to fulfill the capstone requirement in the Chemistry-Major curriculum.


In this web page, you will find information about the project-based course named HKUtopia: Capstone Experience for Chemistry Undergraduates (6 credits) offered by the Department of Chemistry. The course codes is CHEM4911. HKUtopia** is the idea of developing an ideal living environment through the use of chemistry and its related technology. We are living in a world of chemistry. From the food we eat to the clothes we wear, chemistry contributes to almost every aspect of our daily lives. The findings in chemistry and advances in chemical technology have brought our living standards to a new high level. Moreover, chemistry provides solutions to many major challenges we are facing today. Issues like environmental pollutions and energy crisis are all connected to chemical context and require a chemistry solution. Chemistry, along with the related technology, is indispensable for us to achieve an ideal living environment.


** HKUtopia is a term invented by a group of Chemistry undergraduate students when they participated in 2011 in the annual chemistry competition – The Hong Kong Chemistry Olympiad for Tertiary Institutions. The aim of the event is to promote interest in Chemistry by a competition for the best solution in given chemistry problems. The theme of the competition in 2011 was “Chemistry for a Better Living in a Foreseeable Future”. Our chemistry student team came up with the idea of using a house of the future where advanced chemistry and chemical technologies currently under development were used to illustrate to the judges and the general public how chemistry can apply to our daily life and improve the quality of living. They illustrated how chemistry and new technologies could be used to generate pollution-free energy, tackle waste treatment, and improve living standard with modern conveniences made possible by chemistry in future. Our students called this house of the future HKUtopia, connoting that this would be an ideal house for living (Utopia) and this is developed by the students of the University of Hong Kong (HKU). In terms of scientific merits and relevance to chemistry, novelty, preparation as well as delivery and presentation, our team won the championship of the competition. As seen from this experience, students were given the opportunity to integrate the knowledge and skills they learnt before and apply them to generate new ideas to tackle a situation. Through this direct experience, student motivation and satisfaction, appreciation to chemistry and its relevance to our daily life and capacity to improve living quality were much enhanced after joining this competition. Given the many merits this type of project can bring to our students, the idea of HKUtopia has therefore been extended to an on-going project, by making it a well-structured course to provide capstone experience to our students for all-rounded development.