Should broadening courses be voluntary or compulsory for all students

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In this essay I address the problem of narrow scopes of undergraduate education. The main question, arising from this problem, which I address, is whether the broadening courses should be compulsory. My central thesis in addressing this question is that it should be compulsory. My aims and purpose in this essay are thus to justify the need to count the broadening courses to be included in the university curriculum.

The research context of this study is in the domain of territory education idea. I start from the premise that broadening courses offer a wider horizon for education in university curriculum, provided that broadening courses widen the learning aspect of degree courses. The method I use to achieve these aims is my own experiences, arguments and reasons. I conclude that broadening courses should be included in the degree courses. The implication of my findings and conclusion is that students can better equip themselves for future challenges if the broadening course is compulsory. In short, this essay addresses the problem of narrowness of undergraduate curriculum by making broadening courses compulsory for all students.

The importance of broadening courses

The importance of broadening courses in the university curriculum is illustrated in this paragraph. To discuss it, we should have a good idea about the rationale of university education. The rationale of university education is to nurture the excellent so that they can perform their jobs in the best manner in our society. On the other hand, it also aims to provide idea on how to see an issue or object in various sights like ethnical, scientific, technological, critical, and creative thinking etc so that the students can think and act with proper reasons. To achieve so, university should nurture students by providing knowledge of various professional fields and inspiring their creativity, learning and freedom of thought and expression. The purpose of broadening courses is served to achieve these targets by providing diverse general courses.

Broadening courses comprise several academic fields. In the University of Hong Kong, broadening courses consist of four domains: Humanities and Social Science Studies, Science and Technology Studies, Culture and Value Studies and Information Technology Courses. Under each domain, different subjects are offered to students from different curricula. The aim of these subjects is not solely to transfer the knowledge but also to train the students to be critical thinkers and to think in different aspects. For example, in a course like Culture, Value and Life, a biology student can learn the idea of life not only in technical way but also think about life morally. Obviously, broadening courses are very crucial for all students and should be included in degree courses.

The advantages of the broadening courses being compulsory

The benefits of studying broadening courses are discussed in this section. Hence arguments and my experience are used for further explanations. If the broadening courses are compulsory for all students, all students must have opportunity to broaden their horizon and enrich their knowledge. For examples, an art student can learn scientific subjects like astronomy from teachers with professional qualifications. Similarly, a science student has chance to study art- related subjects like literature and philosophy. Some broadening courses are designed to arouse the awareness of critical judgment and morality, such as Critical Thinking and Culture, Value and Meaning of Life. The former aims at developing students’ skills of critical questioning and reasoning, logical argument and problem solving by introducing students to analytical and critical skills of thought. The later is designed to educate students the introductory ethnic which definitely useful for their own good. Therefore, such kinds of subjects are really worth studying.

Apart from enriching our knowledge, broadening courses provide a good opportunity of developing social relationship. As broadening courses are designed to all students in university, students from different faculties have the chance to gather together in one class. By doing group discussion and group project, students can meet new schoolmates who study in different streams. Take me as an example, I am a social sciences student and my majors are Politics and Philosophy. In the broadening courses, Healthy Body, Healthy Mind, I have met two students who major in architecture and law, and one who was major in business. If I have not studied this course, definitely it is not easy to know other schoolmates studying in the fields so different from mine. Therefore, broadening course can enlarge the social circle of students.

The disadvantages of the broadening courses being voluntary

The disadvantages of the broadening courses being voluntary are discussed in this section and therefore it contains some counter arguments to support my central thesis. If broadening courses are optional, students will very likely not to enrol these courses, because students would think that the courses are not related to their major, in addition to unattractive and boring. Hence, students will intend not to take any “irrelevant” courses in their sense.

In order to strengthen their professional study, students would only concentrate on subjects that are related to their major program, and very seldom they want to actively take these useful courses. Consequently, students’ knowledge and scope will be confined in their own professions. Even people may argue that the people could concentrate more then before, I think it would be a waste of resource of university funding as the users would decrease in number according to my argument above, and that students could concentrate more is of no certainty – students can spend the time on neither their main stream courses nor broadening courses.


The three-year undergraduate curriculum is a type of comprehensive education. Students should use their time efficiently to obtain knowledge in various professional fields. Broadening courses offer broader scope and knowledge to students so that the students then can relate their professional study to various contexts and equip themselves to make good judgments in facing an ever-changing society. In addition, these courses provide the opportunity to enrich student’s social life. To conclude, it is fruitful to make broadening course compulsory for all students.

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