CCST9035 Science, Technology and Big Data
Making Sense of Science-related Social Issues

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth (SCCE)

Non-Permissible Combination:
CCST9028 Science and Technology: Facts and Fallacies

[This is a certified Communication-intensive (CI) Course which meets all of the requirements endorsed by HKU’s Senate, including (i) the teaching assessment of written and visual communication ‘literacies’; and (ii) at least 40% of the course grade is assigned to communication-rich assessment tasks.]

Course Description

The course aims to enhance students’ understanding about science and technology, and to enable them to critically evaluate socio-scientific issues (SSI) as reported in the media. Such critical evaluation should enable them to make rational and responsible decisions on these issues, and to be aware of the implication of such decisions.

The course will consist of three components: (1) Features about science and technology aims to promote an understanding of the nature of science and technology. Cases on frontier scientific research such as the development of anti-cancer drugs and prenatal diagnosis, and their implications and controversies, will be discussed. (2) The making of science-related news in the media aims to develop an understanding of the agendas behind the inclusion of certain science-related social issues in media reports. Operation of the media, criteria of “news worthiness” of science news, and editorial stances of different media, etc. will be considered. (3) Critical evaluation of SSI and making of sensible decisions aims to develop transferable skills such as reasoning, analytical and evaluative skills through critical analysis of the impact of scientific and technological development on issues like equity, public health, and socio-cultural practices.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

    1. Identify and describe relevant features of science and technology as reflected in history of science and contemporary science practice.
    2. Explain the intricate relationship between facts and opinions, and evaluate arguments as presented in different sources of the media on the same issue.
    3. Apply the understanding of the nature of science and technology and news media in critical analysis of SSI.
    4. Communicate ideas related to science, technology and society in an organized manner with appropriate terminology.
    5. Critically evaluate a SSI and make sensible judgments and decisions on the SSI based on evidence and ethical values, etc.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures / Seminars / Workshops 24
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self-study 40
Assessment: Oral presentation (incl preparation) 10
Assessment: Group project and presentation 40
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 20
Total: 146

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Participation in classroom activities 10
Reflective writing 25
Group project and presentation 25
Essay 40

Required Reading

  • Jarman, R., & McClune, B. (2007). Developing scientific literacy: Using news media in the classroom. McGraw-Hill/Open University Press, Maidenhead, UK.
  • McComas, W. F. (1998). The principal elements of the nature of science: Dispelling the myths. In W. F. McComas (Ed.), The nature of science in science education: Rationales and strategies (pp. 53-70). Kluwer Academic Publishers, Boston.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr J.S.C. Leung
Faculty of Education (Teacher Education and Learning Leadership)
Tel: 2241 5085
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr J.S.C. Leung
Faculty of Education (Teacher Education and Learning Leadership)
Tel: 2241 5085