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Social conscience

Development studies is a relatively new subject addressing social and economic issues. The department of Asian and international studies at City University offers the only master of social sciences degree in development studies in Hong Kong.

Dr Kyaw Yin Hlaing, head of the programme, says the course is multidisciplinary. "Students could develop expertise in human rights, social movements, global institutions, policy-making, gender, ethnicity, labour and the environment, and develop knowledge to advocate policy changes and implement development projects," he says.

It is designed for practitioners, educators, staff in non-governmental organisations, media and government.

"We try to establish interactivity in the classroom. The atmosphere is less formal and students are engaged in debates, group projects and presentations. There are also field trips to places in Hong Kong and overseas," Kyaw says.

Applicants should have a bachelor's degree from a recognised tertiary institution. A background in a social science-related discipline will be an advantage. Applicants should also have at least one year's work experience, but fresh graduates will also be considered.

Lessons are held on weekday evenings and Saturdays. The course's yearly intake is 30. Students can choose to study full-time for one year, or part-time for two to three years.

Jason Lam, a student in the programme, attained his initial degree in Southeast Asian Studies. He believes the course will help him to achieve his vision of making society better.

The programme offers plenty of exposure to international issues. "On a trip to Manila, I got to understand how politics plays a role in disaster management. On another field trip to Vietnam, I realised that the development of tourism has lots of unintended consequences on the indigenous people and their culture," Lam says.