CCHU9045 Humanities

Vision: The Science and Art of Perception

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


Course Description

We use vision as a means to illustrate that perception depends on the interaction of body and mind. The course will cover the following topics: (i) “Seeing is believing” – Our eye can be easily fooled and sometimes we see what we want to or expect to see. Under this topic, we will learn how we see and explore the nature of illusion, delusion and hallucination; (ii) “Can we trust our eyes?” – This looks at social media. We will examine how a picture tells a story and find out how our perception can be manipulated to influence our perception; and (iii) “Looking at you, looking at me” – Popular culture can objectify our bodies and endorse a value system that is based on self-image and physical attractiveness. The way we see ourselves and others affects the way we think, feel and behave. All of this is at play in the art and science of perception.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Compare the way pictures are captured by a camera with the perception we acquire through sight.
  2. Analyze how misinformation is widespread to influence our perceptions.
  3. Differentiate when it comes to beauty, the subjective from the objective.
  4. Analyze the nature of conflicts between people and ways to resolve the disputes.

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 40
Film viewing 4
Finding materials from the Internet/magazines, newspapers or books 10
Assessment: Short essay (formative) 6
Assessment: Dissertation 20
Assessment: Photo essay 16
Total: 132

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Essay 40
In-class presentation 25
Class discussion 25
Literature review 10

Required Reading

  • Alissa, I. (1995). The illusion of reality or the reality of illusion – Hallucinations and culture. British Journal of Psychiatry, 166, 368-373.
  • Bottino,  A., & Laurentini, A. (2010). The analysis of facial beauty: An emerging area of research in pattern analysis. Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 6111, 425-435.
  • Cross, J. F., & Cross, J. (1971). Age, sex, race, and perception of facial beauty. Developmental Psychology, 5(3), 433-439.
  • Duane, P. S., & Sydney, E. S. (2005). Theories of personality (9th ed.). Wadsworth Learning.
  • Jefferson, Y. (2004). Facial beauty – Establishing a universal standard. International Journal of Orthodontics, 15(1), 9-22.
  • Miller, K. J., Gleaves, D. H., Hirsch, T. G., Green, B. A., Snow, A. C., & Corbett, C. C. (2000). Comparisons of body image dimensions by race/ethnicity and gender in a university population. International Journal of Eating Disorders, 27(3), 310-316.
  • Patnaik, V., Rajan, S., & Sanju, B. (2003). Anatomy of “A beautiful face & smile”. Journal of the Anatomical Society of India, 52(1), 74-80.

Recommended Reading

  • Cull, N. J., Culbert, D. H., & Welch, D. (2003). Propaganda and mass persuasion: A historical encyclopedia, 1500 to the present. Santa Barbara, CA; Oxford: ABC-CLIO.
  • Horton, B. (2001). Associated Press guide to photojournalism (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.
  • Seckel, A. (2006). Optical illusions: The science of visual perception. Buffalo, NY: Firefly Books.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor G.C.F. Chan
Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2255 4481
Email: gcfchan@hku.hk
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor G.C.F. Chan
Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2255 4481
Email: gcfchan@hku.hk
Dr M.M. Marcet
Department of Ophthalmology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2255 5632 / 3962 1405
Email: marcet@hku.hk
Dr K.C. Shih
Department of Ophthalmology, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2817 5085
Email: kcshih@hku.hk