CCHU9021 Arts and Humanities

Critical Thinking in Contemporary Society

[This course is under the thematic cluster of ‘Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth’.]


Course Description

The aim of this course is to introduce students to the basic concepts and techniques of critical thinking as these apply to life in contemporary society. The course covers fundamental logical notions crucial to critical thinking, including the notions of argument, sound reasoning, and rationality. In addition, the course will cover social, legal, consumer, and health issues, along with issues in the public understanding of science, medicine, and the environment. Special emphasis will be placed on understanding the role of critical thinking in scientific investigation and how critical thinking applies in philosophical investigations of the nature of value. The course will train students in both theoretical knowledge and practical skills essential to a well-rounded liberal education, and to life as a thinking citizen in contemporary society.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Demonstrate understanding of and identify a variety of distinct styles of argumentation and be able to make an informed judgement about when a claim is supported by evidence.
  2. Support claims of their own with good reasons and explain why the reasons soundly or cogently justify the claims.
  3. Collaborate and coordinate with others, in tutorial meetings, and in a group project involving the use of problem-solving skills and other critical thinking techniques.
  4. Interpret and analyze statistical information, for example about health products, and apply this information to evaluate their effectiveness.
  5. Apply critical thinking skills in assessing contemporary debates over such things as evolution, global warming, and race and intelligence.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Course will be offered twice
Section 1 – First semester (Wed); Section 2 – Second semester (Wed)


Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self-study 50
Assessment: Group project (incl preparation) 10
Assessment: Essay 15
Assessment: In-class test (incl preparation) 12
Total: 123

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Tutorial participation 10
In-class test 30
Group project 30
Essay 30

Required Reading

  • Lau, J. Y. F. (2011). An introduction to critical thinking and creativity: Think more, think better. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
First semester
Dr R. Sterken
School of Humanities (Philosophy), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 2796
Email: sterkenr@hku.hk
Second semester
Professor G.A. Cook
School of Humanities (Philosophy), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 4335
Email: cookga@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
First semester
Dr R. Sterken
School of Humanities (Philosophy), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 2796
Email: sterkenr@hku.hk
Second semester
Professor G.A. Cook
School of Humanities (Philosophy), Faculty of Arts
Tel: 3917 4335
Email: cookga@hku.hk