ES1531/GEK1549/GET1021 - Critical Thinking and Writing


This course aims to help students think critically through analysing arguments and presenting their arguments effectively. Relevance to engineering practice will be emphasized with reference to Goldberg's seven missing basics in engineering education. Ideas/claims/assertions/inferences are value driven and their successful communication is structured on sound reasoning and convincing expression. In the course, students will learn critical thinking skills through interaction with and rigorous analysis of various written texts. They will assess the arguments of others and develop their own, support them convincingly and convey them effectively in a critical evaluation and problem-solution research paper.

This module is taught over 1 semester with 2 two-hour sectional teachings per week.


On successful completion of this module, students will be able to:

  • apply critical thinking skills as identified in Goldberg's (2009)'s 7 Missing Basics of Engineering Education in the reading and writing of texts/essays;
  • use critical reasoning to present arguments and opinions in writing, give peer feedback and participate in class discussions;
  • identify arguments, retrieve and identify relevant and reliable information from readings and use it to form an argument;
  • identify and break down into smaller parts a problem that is engineering or discipline related;
  • provide appropriate data to justify the solution to an engineering or discipline related problem;
  • evaluate engineering or discipline related solutions with a framework;
  • write comprehensive, clear, and well-organised academic essay and report that responds to a set task;
  • contribute positively to the project goal and decision making of the team.

The skills acquired can be further honed in students' academic life at NUS and in the workplace.

The instructional approach used in the course is a seminar/tutorial rather than a lecture style. As most of the class discussions and other activities will be done in small groups, students' active participation is essential. In this "student-centred" teaching/learning environment, students will have the opportunity to:

  • share ideas with others, ask questions, provide peer feedback, debate issues and orally present and defend during class;
  • practice critical thinking and problem-solving strategies, reflective learning and academic writing when considering the content topics and conducting research; and
  • collaborate actively with peers on classroom activities and course assignments, via the IVLE and other internet-based platforms, meetings and oral peer reviews.


  • Continuous Assessment 70%
  • Final Examination 30%


  1. Students who are required to take ES1000 Basic English and/or ES1102/ES1103 English for Academic Purposes must pass the modules before they are allowed to read this module.
  2. Only students matriculated in AY2014/15 onwards are allowed to take GEK1549 and only students matriculated in AY2015/16 are allowed to take GET1021.


EG1413, Students who have already read a WP2201%, IEM1201% or UTW1001% module, GEK1901/GET1006, U-town students cannot bid for ES1531/GEK1549/GET1021.

Modular Credits