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Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies
Course List

Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies - Course List

Course List

"The course offering varies each year, not all courses will be offered"  

Medium of Instruction

The official languages of instruction are English and Chinese.

Required Course

CULS5201 Basic Issues in Intercultural Studies  

This course explores the core areas of (inter)cultural studies. Topics such as media culture, consumer culture, theme parks, cityscapes, spectacle society, cyberculture and technoscience culture will be discussed. Emphasis will be given to Hong Kong culture as a basic reference point in its contact and interaction with other cultures.

Special Electives

CULS5202 Asian Modernities and City Cultures 

This course is interested in how modernity is defined by contradiction and plurality not simply within the same city but across disparate geographic locations and historical periods. Looking at the variances of urban modernity, we will examine how blueprints for modernist, global, creative, and smart cities are articulated within the greater Asia region. Such templates are often standardized, top-down visions for urban renewal, economic growth, and technological progress with contrasting degrees of triumphalism and failure. The focus on metropolitan areas and city clusters offers a way of thinking beyond (or beneath) the nation. Uncovering characteristic tropes in film and visual cultures of the city, we will explore how multiple modernities are produced, disseminated, consumed, and reproduced through different media ecologies such as cinema, photography, visual art, architecture, maps, comic books, video games, and social media. Embracing a more expansive definition, we will regard Asia as sprawling, archipelagic, and diverse, inclusive of the marginalized, diasporic populations of Southeast Asia.


We will ask: How can the complex flows, processes, and rhythms of a modern metropolis be visualized? What social and economic changes prevail in the shift to modes of governmentality characteristic of the conditions of neoliberal capitalism, media convergence, and immaterial production? How do urban infrastructure and architecture manage the dynamisms and tensions of modern flows and rhythms to reshape work productivity, public order, and collective memory? How are the voices and rights of the burgeoning class of cosmopolitan consumers and transnational migrants delimited and excluded from the configuration and operation of the modern Asian city?

CULS5203 The Body in Culture and Art  

Images of the body represent systems of thought, aesthetics beauty and our identity. In this course we will ask: What is a body? How do we define and represent different bodies? In what ways do cultural values mold our perception of the body? How is the understanding of the body informed and transformed by scientific development? Throughout this course we will seek answers to these questions by focusing on the Western and the Chinese traditions from the cultural and the scientific perspectives.

CULS5205 The Culture of Travel and the Travel of Culture  

Travel has recently become a complex phenomenon of unprecedented proportions. Whereas people travel and bring themselves into contact with other people and other cultures, cultures themselves also travel to different places and societies. Through an interdisciplinary approach, this course provides a theoretical and historical framework to analyze and reflect upon the relationships between travel and culture with the concerns of globalization, consumption, people and places.

CULS5206 Gender, Love and Sexuality in Intercultural Studies  

The course aims to explore the meaning of gender, love and sexuality in an intercultural context from three perspectives: 1) the gender politics as practised by Chinese and Western societies, 2) the concept of love in various schools of thought in the Chinese and Western traditions; and 3) the manifestation of love in Chinese and Western literatures. Literary works will be selected from a variety of genres, including myths, folklore, poetry and fiction, aiming at a critical appreciation of the differences and similarities in the treatment of themes such as romantic love, “boudoir brief,” sexuality and human relationships.

CULS5207 Interdisciplinary Study of Technoscience Culture  

This course endeavours to find ways of integrating different approaches in various disciplines such as history, philosophy, anthropology, sociology, communication, journalism and literary analysis with an aim to establish a critical and theoretical foundations upon which the relationships between technoscience and contemporary culture can be investigated with references to scenes in music, literature, media and film. Actual processes of contemporary culture in the making will also be highlighted.

CULS5208 Adaptations, Theatre and Culture  

This course will look at theatre as an intercultural transference, “an unique machinery for overcoming cultural differences and reaching out towards other cultures.” It will examine plays and productions, original and in translation, from theoretical and practical, literary and theatrical perspectives. The concern is not only with how the text is translated but also how new meanings are created against a local cultural environment, such as Hong Kong. Students will attend some local and visiting productions in the theatre.

CULS5209 Special Topics in Intercultural Studies  

The specific topics of this course vary from year to year. Generally, they can be genres, systems of representation, cultural forms, issues and/or theories related to the dynamic process of interactivity among cultures.

CULS5212 Globalization and the Politics of Representation  

Globalization has become a key term in the analysis of contemporary society and culture. This course will trace the development of the concept across different disciplines and theoretical paradigms, review socioeconomic and cultural accounts of globalization, study artistic production, and examine counter-discourses and social movements against globalization. Throughout the course, we will interrogate the politics of representation around globalization, questioning specifically the grounds on which global claims are made; the categories, processes, and practices foregrounded and occluded; the voices privileged, heard and silenced; and the kinds of subjectivities and collective identities enabled and produced in globalization discourses.

CULS5214 Politics of Cultural Identities    

This course dwells on various topics in the field of cultural identities, from its historical origin and theoretical ground in the West, to its contemporary phenomena and ramifications across the globe, ranging from Europe, North America, to Chinese and local contexts. The course ends with a discussion of the situation in post-colonial Hong Kong.

CULS5215 MA Research Paper  

Research on an approved topic for writing a graduation paper under individualized supervision. Consent of teacher required.

CULS5216 Queer Movements and Sexual Politics  

This course aims to examine the historical trajectory of queer movements as well as the issues and debates pertinent to them so as to make sense of the complexity of sexual politics in the late modern society. It also poses challenges to the commonly held division between academy and social activism by examining their intertwined but not very smooth relationship.

CULS5218 Practical & Critical Film Criticism Writing  

This course focuses on exploring different ways, approaches and theories to write film criticism, primarily on narrative film. There are mainly three teaching objectives the course aims to achieve:1) Examining various critical approaches and techniques of film criticism (humanism, auteurism, genre, social science, historical, esthetics, etc.) and studying functions of each approach, its brief history and its development; 2) Exploring and criticizing the hidden ‘conspiracy’ and ideologies behind the visual and auditory representations; and 3) In popular press, evaluating and reviewing films currently playing in theaters in your own style.

CULS5219 Chinese Society, Culture and Politics 

This course aims to think through some of the contradictions and issues concerning developmental transition, culture and politics in mainland Chinese society through texts on cultural theories, Chinese studies, local and oversea. The course is divided into three sections. The first reviews cultural debates and social concerns in the late 70s and 80s of China. The second investigates the emergence of sharp inequalities arising from developmental contradictions, class stratification and the intellectual debates surrounding these issues. Last the course looks at the latest studies on topics such as new religions, ethnic conflicts, middle class desires and the web media in contemporary China.

CULS5222 Culture and Politics in the Anthropocene 

The idea of the Anthropocene – the geological Age of Man – has become widely adopted as a way of describing the entanglement of human activities and the natural world after its popularization by Paul Crutzen in 2000.  In the age of the Anthropocene, challenges arising from global environmental change are numerous: extreme weather, land and water pollution, species extinction, toxic contamination, just to name a few. These challenges are now raising concerns both from scholars in the natural science and from the humanities and the social sciences. This course works on a rapidly growing field of Enviornmental Humanities constituted by the work of scholars from a wide variety of disciplines including history, literature, philosophy, cultural studies, religion studies, arts.


It aims to provide students with some recent methodological and theoretical approaches of understanding the anthropocene, including cultural ecology, environmental history, science studies, poststructuralist cultural studies, and eco-feminism. Envisioning the field as a trandisciplinary arena, the course will foster students to think across disciplinary borders in order to tackle the environmental and social challenges of current times.

CULS5223 Animals and Society 

Cultural studies has sustained concern on everyday life with mass production, consumerism, sexism, racism and postmodernism, but the discipline is always thought to be lagging behind the concern of nature and animal. Nevertheless, as the issues of animal abuse, environmental protection, factory farming, protection policy, law-making and media portrayals of animals are the hot topics in our (post)modern culture, the study of animal with the perspective of cultural studies and other humanity disciplines can explore the possibilities of an advanced human-animal relationship. This course is designed with an empathic concern of other-than-human animals. By exploring different issues of human and animals’ life, this course looks for a harmonious balance of nature and modern culture.

CULS5224 Discourse on Hong Kong, Hong Kong Discourse 

This course is designed to study Hong Kong from the perspectives of HK discourses formed in the past decades, with emphasis on the post-1997 context, where we witness the proliferation of HK discourses consolidating, contesting or displacing each other incessantly. In this course we will examine them in both breadth and depth; topics discussed include (post)coloniality, transborder, city and space awareness, variegated localism, China factor, cosmopolitanism, mega-region, generation, social movement, etc. While the topics are not in strict chronological order and each has a narrative of its own, they are unfolded in a sequence that overall form a historical picture of Hong Kong and its discourse formation. For each topic, students will be introduced with theoretical concepts, narrative and representations involved. Students will also get to know some key scholars involved in the discussion. Not shun from taking position, students are encouraged to keep open-minded and evaluate the issues critically, particularly to treat the discourses as ongoing process rather than static products. While we focus on one topic per week for explication purpose, students should note the intricate relationship among the related topics, and keep in mind to build the linkage and dialogue among them.

CULS5226 Transnational Asian Cultural Studies 

This course aims to trace affinities and linkages among cultural processes, geopolitical conditions, and media representations within the greater Asian region, broadly defined. Expanding its scope beyond a single nation, race, or language, the course builds on the comparativist work of Benedict Anderson, Chen Kuan-hsing, Aihwa Ong, and Anna Tsing in Asian Studies and Inter-Asia Cultural Studies to uncover the multiplicity of diverse Asias. Its focal points are keywords, objects, and images that would have social resonance in particular locations and societies. Examining their global interchange through an array of print, audiovisual, and digital media, it focuses on their variance in form, use, and meaning across distinct spatial environments and historical periods with a spotlight on vernacular perspectives and experiences.


In each semester, the course will explore a combination of the following questions: How are different understandings of ‘neoliberalism,’ development,’ and ‘democracy’ exemplified by contrasting conditions of political, social, and historical transformation? How are the racial, ethnic, or religious identities of Chinese-ness or Muslim-ness shaped by diaspora, tourism, and media? How is the experience and consumption of nostalgia configured by particular conditions of intensifying economic and emotional instability? How is colonialism a system that exceeds the dichotomy between East and West to encompass intraregional hierarchies centered on the economic and cultural superiority of Japan or China? How have interactions and exchanges among intellectuals, revolutionaries, and migrants constituted imaginaries of ‘pan-Asianism’? With this transnational orientation, the course hopes to expand the locus of the discussion beyond Asia to encompass its trans-oceanic connections with Africa and Latin America.

CULS5227 Fandom and Participatory Culture 

Fandom, or fan culture, is a term that accompanies lots of stigma in the past and is now a fancy entry into cyberspace subculture in the web 2.0(or even web 3.0) era. It describes communities built by like-minded people in any aspect of popular culture, such as sports, movies, television dramas or music, who actively produce creative content for their uses. As Henry Jenkins once suggested, most fan cultures show elements of participatory culture, as fan communities enjoy their own readings of popular culture and encourage artistic creations and expression. While scholars of popular culture criticise consumers of popular content as "disciplined readers" who are being manipulated by the culture industry and follow suit the mass culture, scholars who underpinned the participation of fans consider popular culture consumers as poachers who appropriate ideas from the media text and reinterpret them in creative ways. Therefore, by focusing on fan activities, this field of study provides gateways for further investigation of both individual and collective human agency in media and popular culture through community building, mass consumption, subculture in mediascape and participatory culture. Through this course, students will learn the relationship between fan cultures concerning consumer culture, identity formation, gift economy, emotion economy etc., in contemporary mediascapes.

CULS5228 Media, Medicine, and Justice 

Cultural meanings of health and disease are shaped not only by scientific and medical discourses but also by media technologies, from film to smart phones to medical imaging technologies like X-rays. Through an interdisciplinary approach that combines cultural studies, media studies, science and technology studies, and cultural anthropology, this course examines how the media of medicine shapes well-being and vitality in a global context of profound inequality and geopolitical tension. Through topics like mental health, vaccine politics, surveillance, clinical research ethics, and refugee medicine, we will learn how media shapes ideas of normal vs. abnormal, public support for health interventions, and how individuals and collectives understand and contest biomedical knowledge. Our investigations will show us why some people's bodies and lives are made to suffer more in the name of public health and medical advancement—which often reflect race, class, gender, sexuality, and other categories of social difference— and why the legacies of colonialism in health and medicine persist in both local and global contexts.
This course is open to all, and no background in medicine is necessary.

CULS5301 Concepts of Contemporary Culture 

This course looks into basic theoretical perspectives and areas of interests in cultural studies. At the knowledge level, this core course is to survey in some detail how the cultural turn in humanities and social sciences helps us understand everyday life in a fresh way, for example ways in which we are being constructed and reshaped by our experience of everyday life, as well as the embedded values (in financial terms and ethical terms) are being forged and circulated explicitly and implicitly. This course seeks to encourage among students attitude of openness to new ideas and learning creatively through living.

Film and Visual Studies Emphasis

CULS5204 Cultural Studies in Film and Video  

Cinema is one of the most important forms of representations in contemporary culture, and in this course we study film and video culturally and politically. We want to examine how the cultural forms of moving images carry meanings, and how it can and cannot be used as ideological apparatus. Through the studies of film and video we also trace the development of contemporary visual culture and examine how it defines (post) modern lives and experience. Our ultimate aim is to interrogate the boundaries and to locate new terrains between cinema studies and cultural studies.

CULS5213 Media and Popular Culture  

This course introduces students to the critical study of media theory and popular culture, and its socio-cultural impacts on everyday life, society and geopolictics. It emphasizes the study of history, production, genre, social reception and political effect of various kinds of cultural products such as advertisement, photography, comics, television and VCD technology, popular music and MTV, newspaper and printing culture, computer and internet. The course’s objective is to acquaint students with different methodologies in media theory, and encourage them to examine the media text from the perspectives of semiotics, ideological criticism, gender representation and cultural policy. We also focus on the analysis and evaluation of popular culture in relation to the formation of capitalism, the rise of mass media, the commercialization of culture, lifestyle and leisure in comparative perspective.

CULS5217 Digital Culture and Society  

The course focuses on the correlation between culture and technology in the contemporary society. The rise of the information age has brought about categorical changes in social expressions, cultural productions and personal identities. The course will begin a contextual discussion on the advent of the digital age and its impact on traditional media. Thereafter, the course will look into how technology affects the understanding of the trends and developments of a variety of topics related to the contemporary society, such as human rights (including the rights of LGBT), citizen journalism (and public shaming), independent films and documentaries, visual and performing arts, and cultural heritage. The course will conclude with an exploration on how digital media has affected the practices of social work, especially in youth work.

CULS5225 The Chinese Independent Film Studies 

Since 1989, the independent film has become the unique window to understand the real China beyond the national mainstream discourse and state-controlled film industry. The content of independent films reflects the various social problems and cultural phenomena confronting contemporary China in its rapid economic development. This course, in surveying its development of the past three decades, strives to describe the changes of the internal environment of the independent film’s circles, explore the aesthetic characteristics as well as, politics, ethics and techniques of the Chinese independent film.

CULS5405 Immersive Media 

This course explores the intersection/interface of the technological and the cultural, especially in relation to immersive (sometimes called ‘pervasive’) media in everyday life (in the use of mobile devices, PDAs, games and mobile games consoles, MPS players, interactive video screens in public spaces/shopping centres etc) and in the increasing use of interactivity in new media research and its creative applications in museum display and interactive and new media arts. The course is concerned to chart the development of new technocultural forms of literacy and their conceptual frameworks in cognitive and affective thought processes, in ‘information aesthetics’ and in distributed network theory. The aim is to understand the cultural implications of these developments as well as considering cultural and economic dimensions of the transformation of the ‘public sphere’ in, for example, the use of tracking and surveillance technologies for both security and market research activities.

CULS5411 Documentary Media 

This course aims at introducing history and theory of documentary in film, video, digital moving image, and new media including web-based archive and multi-media web communities. This is not a regular class on documentary film history. Rather, it explores the idea of documentation throughout history on various media. Realism as a mode of discourse will be re-examined. General concepts, aesthetics, ethics, practices and modes of documentary production will be introduced in lectures, followed up by discussions in tutorials. Research methods will also be discussed from various modes of documentary productions.

CULS5412 Visual Research Methods  

This course will introduce visual and sensory research methods to enable innovative research projects, drawing on frameworks in art history, visual anthropology, new media and cultural research. Students will learn techniques of formal and compositional analysis and study the history of objects and material and intangible culture. They will study questions of ethnographic method, observational and interview skills and visual data production, as well as ethics in fieldwork and in the use of images. The use of photography and video will be presented. Exercise in photo-elicitation, photo- documentation, and image-text and image-sound combination, (photo-essays, soundscape composition etc) will be undertaken as well as basic skills in video composition, videography and editing. New media techniques for image display will be studied as well as methods of archive research focusing on images, film, video and sound. Methods of image classification and interpretation will be introduced. The course will enhance students’ capacities in undertaking visually-focused research projects in community and professional contexts.

CULS5413 User-Generated Content and Digital Culture  

This course is designed to introduce digital culture in web 2.0. It aims to engage learning of cultural activities that takes place in social networking setting. User-generated content is the main form of cultural text that we will examine in this course. The course begins with an understanding of basic theories in cultural studies. Students are expected to understand the fluid nature that culture becomes in the globally connected internet world. The course secondly introduces concepts that are recently developed in the study of user-generated content. It introduces emerging cultural concepts including creative labor, produsage, mashup, convergence, participatory creativity, networked community, remixed culture, copyleft and controlled regulation. The course also includes specific case discussion on how user-generated content is studied in the field of digital humanity. The approach of this course emphasizes lecture, discussion of reading materials, student presentation and applied media practice in student projects.

CULS5416 Twentieth Century Chinese Visual Arts  

The twentieth century is a period of rupture for Chinese arts, in which artists experimented ferociously to develop different forms of modern arts that could respond to drastic social change. A central concern is to transform Chinese visual arts into both modern and Chinese, representing an independent people and nation marching into modernity. Developed around the visual arts, the course would ultimately like to ask a political question: is there a national style? 


This course focuses primarily on the Chinese arts, but we will also pay attention to artistic movements outside China. We will explore different genres of visual arts as well as the overall social and political order of the time. In contrast to the traditional art history approach, this course is devoted to the investigation of how arts and politics became so mutually constitutive with each other in the Chinese context, and how the revolution discourse relied heavily on the arts to connect to the people. We will also explore how Maoist arts cannot be understood simply as political tool. In addition to providing a general overview of the development of arts, we will also investigate the meanings of artistic freedom in China, and explore the identity of artists and authors under an official ideology in which collectivity is deemed much more important than individuals. At a time when nationalism perpetuates Chinese society, a revisit of the “national style” of Chinese arts developed in the twentieth century invites students to reflect on the meanings of Chinese arts beyond narrow-minded Sino-centric frameworks. We could instead go back to some basic aesthetic values and concepts such as emancipation, democracy, and plurality. This course is as much one of art history as one of political and intellectual history.


"The course offering varies each year, not all courses will be offered"