CCST9038 Science, Technology and Big Data
Science and Science Fiction

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

  • Sustaining Cities, Cultures, and the Earth (SCCE)
  • Creative Arts (CA)

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 oral and digital communication ‘literacies’; and (ii) at least 40% of the course grade assigned to communication-rich assessment tasks.]

Course Description

Science fiction represents a blend of science, social science and arts. It frequently draws inspiration from science, as well as addressing the social issues relevant today by highlighting certain social aspects. Science fiction also serves to popularize science and affects public opinion about certain scientific and technological issues. Therefore, there is a complex relationship between science and science fiction, and understanding this relationship requires its analysis from multiple perspectives.

This course will cover the topics of the influence of science on science fiction, the influence of science fiction on science, and the influence of science fiction on public perception of science and scientists. These topics will be discussed in the context of examples of science fiction works dealing with space exploration and space travel, time travel, near future fiction, and science fiction dealing with social issues. The science concepts involved in these topics will be briefly explained at a layperson level, and the main emphasis will be placed on critical thinking and analyzing interdisciplinary connections and relationships.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Illustrate the use and misuse of science as a plot device.
  2. Describe and explain the influence of science on science fiction and vice versa using both written and oral formats.
  3. Appraise and evaluate scientific and societal relevance of science fiction works in an argumentative essay and collaborative presentation.
  4. Analyze possible effects of scientific progress on the evolution of social norms using both written and oral formats.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 22
Tutorials 12
Reading / Self-study 60
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 25
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 30
Assessment: In-class test (incl preparation) 12
Total: 161

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Group presentation 45
Short essays 40
In-class test 15

Required Reading

Lecture notes provided.

At least one of the books from a list of examples of works provided. Science fiction books not on the list can be acceptable if approved by the course co-ordinator.

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor A. Djurisic
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science
Tel: 2859 7946
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor A. Djurisic
Department of Physics, Faculty of Science
Tel: 2859 7946