• Offered by Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Science Communication
  • Areas of interest Science, Science Communication
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Lindl Orthia
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

How has Brave New World shaped the human cloning debate? Why did forensic science enrolments boom simultaneously with the popularity of CSI and Silent Witness? How is Doctor Who useful for engaging high school students in science learning? To what extent did Frankenstein establish a negative image of scientists? Why is theatre an effective HIV/AIDS education tool in South Africa and not in Australia? What role did Star Trek's Lt Uhura play in recruiting astronauts to the NASA space program? How might The Day After Tomorrow impact the public understanding of climate change?


This course provides an introduction to the impact of fictional representations of science and scientists on public perceptions of science. It introduces research, theory and methods from this growing area of science communication as applied to fictional works including films, television programs, plays, novels, short stories and comics. Students are encouraged to share their own experiences of science-based fiction and to pursue their areas of interest through assessment. The major piece of assessment is a research project testing students' hypotheses about the impact that a work of fiction might have on public perceptions of science. The research project will be completed individually, but the research ideas will be developed as a team with a view to obtaining publishable results.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

Upon satisfactorily meeting the course requirements, students will be able to:

  1. describe, question and critique the historical developments in the ways that fiction has been discussed by science communication scholars
  2. distinguish between different fictional representations of science and scientists in terms of their significance for the science-society relationship
  3. apply theory and research about science in popular fiction to science communication practice
  4. think reflexively about the study and application of science in popular fiction and the student's place within it
  5. work as a team to deliver research reports and other materials for public consumption in a timely manner
  6. manage a public science communication project that involves both collaboration and independent learning
  7. critique and correct others’ public science communication efforts in a professional and encouraging manner
  8. conduct science communication research using social science research methods such as content analysis, focus groups and questionnaires

UG Version


  1. explain the context and importance of fiction in the discipline of science communication
  2. reflect on the social implications of science-based fiction including for their own lives
  3. demonstrate the significance of fictional images of scientists for access and equity in science work and study
  4. work effectively with others as part of a group
  5. work independently through discovery-based learning
  6. use social science research methods such as content analysis, focus groups and questionnaires to investigate public perceptions of science
  7. access, organise and present material explaining the ways in which science-based fiction has been found to influence public perceptions of science
  8. critically evaluate strengths and weaknesses of current research methods for investigating fiction's influence on public attitudes, knowledge and beliefs

Indicative Assessment


  1. Reflective folio critically reflecting on the relevance of the course readings, classes and assessment for professional practice in science communication (30%; LO 1,2,3,4,7)
  2. Management and curation of, and contributions to, an online Wiki that all students co-author (20% LO 1,2,3,5,6,7)
  3. Public perceptions research project proposal and ethics application, completed as a group (10%; LO 1,2,3,5,8)
  4. Public perceptions research project final report, completed individually (40% LO 3,4,5,8)


  1. Learning journal critically reflecting on readings, classes and other learning activities (25%; LO 1,2,3,7,8)
  2. Written contributions to online Wiki (25% LO 1,3,6,7)
  3. Public perceptions research project proposal (25%; LO 1,4,5,6)
  4. Public perceptions research project final report (25% LO 2,4,5,6,7,8)

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


Two x two hour studio classes per week, comprising lecture & tute material

Assumed Knowledge



Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

If you are a domestic graduate coursework or international student you will be required to pay tuition fees. Students continuing in their current program of study will have their tuition fees indexed annually from the year in which you commenced your program. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are an undergraduate student and have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). You can find your student contribution amount for each course at Fees.  Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee Description
1994-2003 $1650
2014 $2946
2013 $2946
2012 $2946
2011 $2946
2010 $2916
2009 $2916
2008 $2916
2007 $2520
2006 $2520
2005 $2520
2004 $2160
International fee paying students
Year Fee
1994-2003 $3606
2014 $3762
2013 $3756
2012 $3756
2011 $3756
2010 $3750
2009 $3618
2008 $3618
2007 $3618
2006 $3618
2005 $3618
2004 $3618
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9261 21 Jul 2014 08 Aug 2014 31 Aug 2014 30 Oct 2014 In Person N/A

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