About this Course

This course explores the history, culture, and identities of Hong Kong from the port’s pre-colonial settings in the early nineteenth century to its post-colonial contexts. Its goals are to help students develop the language and tools to understand the metamorphoses of this most unusual metropolis as well as to further their skills in historical analysis. This course encourages students to critically consider Hong Kong’s multifaceted identities as well as to take into account the local, national, and transnational (not to mention international) contexts of its extraordinary transformations.

Course Structure

As it stands (and circumstances may change), with the exception of the first four weeks, when we are meeting online, this course will be conducted in person, to be supplemented with additional asynchronous components.

Please note that, whether online or in-person, the class will meet on Mondays from 15:15 to 17:45.

Students are expected to have reviewed and reflected on the assigned readings (including both primary and secondary sources) as well as the occasional audio-visual recordings prior to each week’s session. Special emphasis will be placed on the reading and analysis of various kinds of primary sources.

The weekly session will comprise a lecture and a tutorial: we will review the key themes of the week, and we will discuss the assigned materials, both as a class and in break-out groups.

Learning Objectives

By the end of the term, students should be able to:

  • discuss, in an informed manner, the changes and continuities of Hong Kong society since the mid-nineteenth century;
  • articulate how the transformations of Hong Kong should be understood in world-historical contexts;
  • gain some experiences in working with (primary) historical sources;
  • understand how to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of historical claims.

Assessment of Learning

For more details on the individual components, see the Assessment section.

Quizzes 10%
Discussion Posts 15%
Attendance/Participation 10%
Newspaper Column 20%
Mid-term Checkup 5%
Book Review 20%
Take-home Examination 20%
Virtual Exhibition (optional) 40%

Important Dates (Pacific Time)

Jan. 10 First session
Jan. 21 Last date to withdraw without the “W” standing
Feb. 18 Draft of newspaper column due
Feb. 21–25 Mid-term break
Feb. 28–Mar. 4 Mid-term checkup
Mar. 4 Last date to withdraw
Mar. 11 Newspaper column due
Apr. 4 Last session
Apr. 8 Book review due
Apr. 22 Take-home exam/Virtual exhibition due

Learning Materials

Office Hours/Learning Lounge

No doubt you will have questions. Do feel free to contact the instructor (preferred to be addressed as Dr. Shin or Prof. Shin) through email or via Canvas. The usual response time is within 24 hours (except for weekends or holidays).

Virtual office hours are by appointment (sign up here). Students are strongly encouraged to check in with the instructor, particularly early on during the term, to make sure all is on track.

A Learning Lounge has also been set up under Discussions in Canvas for students to post—and answer each other’s—questions. The instructor will “drop in” at least once a week to see if there are outstanding questions. Respectful netiquette is expected and appreciated.

Online Learning and Safety

Keep in mind that some UBC courses might cover topics that are censored or considered illegal by non-Canadian governments. This may include (but is not limited to) human rights, representative government, defamation, obscenity, gender or sexuality, and historical or current geopolitical controversies. If you are a student living abroad, you will be subject to the laws of your local jurisdiction, and your local authorities might limit your access to course material or take punitive action against you. UBC is strongly committed to academic freedom, but has no control over foreign authorities (please visit http://www.calendar.ubc.ca/vancouver/index.cfm?tree=3,33,86,0 for an articulation of the values of the University conveyed in the Senate Statement on Academic Freedom). Thus, we recognize that students will have legitimate reason to exercise caution in studying certain subjects. If you have concerns regarding your personal situation, consider postponing taking a course with manifest risks, until you are back on campus or reach out to your academic advisor to find substitute courses. For further information and support, please visit: http://academic.ubc.ca/support-resources/freedom-expression.


UBC’s Point Grey Campus is located on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territory of the xwməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam) people. The land it is situated on has always been a place of learning for the Musqueam people, who for millennia have passed on their culture, history, and traditions from one generation to the next on this site.