CCST9064 Scientific and Technological Literacy
The World Changed by DNA


Course Description

Imagine that we turned all the information in our DNA into ‘1’s and ‘0’s. That would be 1.5 gigabytes (GB) of data! To think that this information can determine everything about ‘who we are’ is a frightening thought, but we can now easily obtain this code for each individual in just a matter of days.

Ten years ago, the letters A, T, C and G may only have been relevant in a biology exam, but nowadays, it means so much more!

When your gym reports that you possess the ‘warrior gene’, does it mean you will do particularly well in your workups? Why do twins turn out to be completely different when they grow up in different countries? Are all our problems our parent’s fault? Or is ‘someone’ or ‘something else’ responsible too?

This course aims to explore the ways that the DNA code can influence our lives and well-being. The content will be applicable to students from any background and participants will also get to meet representatives from non-governmental organizations and learn from their perspectives. The teaching will be primarily lecture-based and the assessment will be 100% coursework.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Build awareness of the issues faced by individuals with genetic diseases in their daily lives, through interaction with experts and representatives from patient representation groups.
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of how the DNA code affects us from individual to global perspectives.
  3. Reflect on the meaning of inheritance in our lives.
  4. Be able to distinguish what IS and what IS NOT determined by our genes, and break common myths and misconceptions.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

Second semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 22
Tutorials 8
Film viewing 4
Reading / Self-study 30
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 25
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 30
Assessment: In-class quizzes (incl preparation) 10
Total: 129

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Essay 40
Presentation 25
In-class quizzes 20
Tutorial participation 15

Required Reading

Book Chapter

  • Kenneally, C. (2014, October 9). The invisible history of the human race: How DNA and history shape our identities and our futures. Penguin. [Chap. 9]


  • Evans, J. P., Skrzynia, C., Burke, W. (2001, April). The complexities of predictive genetic testing. British Medical Journal, 322(7293), 1052.
  • Nicholls, S. G., Wilson, B. J., Etchegary, H., Brehaut, J.C., Potter, B.K., Hayeems, R., Chakraborty, P., Milburn, J., Pullman, D., Turner, L., & Carroll, J. C. (2014, August). Benefits and burdens of newborn screening: Public understanding and decision-making. Personalized Medicine, 11(6), 593-607.

Recommended Reading


  • Bromage, D. I. (2006, June). Prenatal diagnosis and selective abortion: A result of the cultural turn? Medical humanities, 32(1), 38-42. From
  • Timmermans, S, & Stivers, T. (2017, June). The spillover of genomic testing results in families: Same variant, different logics. Journal of health and social behavior, 58(2), 166-80.

Book Chapter

  • Ishiguro, K. (2005). Never let me go. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.

Recommended Websites

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Dr B.H.Y. Chung
Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, LKS Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2255 4482
Teacher(s) Contact
Dr B.H.Y. Chung
Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, LKS Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2255 4482
Dr W.L. Yang
Department of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, LKS Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9073
Dr H.Y.J. Wu
LKS Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9073