• Offered by Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Science Communication
  • Areas of interest Science Communication
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Lindl Orthia
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Offered in First Semester 2014
    See Future Offerings

This course provides an introduction to contemporary social and communication issues in science, technology, and society. Why communicate science with the public, the media or the government? What are the best ways to go about it and what are the potential pitfalls? And what kinds of factors affect public attitudes to science?

Topics include the history of science communication; competing theories of what science communication is for; different models of effective science communication; obstacles facing scientists wanting to communicate their work; practical skills for communicating science through news outlets, the web, and live presentations; the different languages of science; cross-cultural considerations when communicating science; and the influence of popular media, science centres, politics, history, and cultural values on the public context of science communication.

The course focuses on current events and issues facing scientists, science communicators, policy makers, and the community. Students are encouraged to discuss their own perceptions of science and technology in the context of the broader community, and the problems with (and solutions to) communicating science with non-expert audiences. A strong emphasis is placed on collaboration with other students, and students are expected to take an active approach to learning.

Learning Outcomes

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

On satisfying the requirements of this course, students will have the knowledge and skills to:

  1. Work as part of a team in a collaborative environment (LO1)
  2. Understand and describe the key issues and importance of effective science communication (LO2)
  3. Recognise how social contexts affect the practice and communication of science (LO3)
  4. Translate and report on scientific writing (LO4)
  5. Evaluate the effectiveness of the presentation of science in various media (LO5)
  6. Understand and practice modes of scientific communication appropriate for peers, funding bodies, and publics (LO6)
  7. Synthesise personal interests, values and aspirations with professional development (LO7)

Indicative Assessment

Researching real scientists' involvement in public communication:

  • Interview a real scientist about their attitudes to and experience with communicating their science (15%; LO 3, 6, 7)
  • Learn and apply academic research skills in a research and reference task relevant to this (10%; LO 2, 3, 7)
  • Prepare a group report analysing interviews to understand science communication trends (25%; LO 1, 2, 3, 5)

    Communicating current science:

    • Summarise a scientific paper in "plain English" and reflect on its social communication contexts (15%; LO 3, 4)
    • "Translate" a scientific paper into a format for two different audiences and mediums (30% (15% x 2); LO 2, 3, 4, 6)
    • Formats to choose from are a news article, a public lecture, a blog post, an information leaflet, and a grant application to fund a research project.

    Applying knowledge to science communication activities:

    • Feedback for speakers in SCOM2001 conference (5%; LO 1, 5)

    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.


    One 2 hour lecture plus one 1 hour lecture per week, plus one 2 hour tutorial per week. Lectures and tutorials are not held every week of semester. (Average 4 contact hours per week)

    Prescribed Texts

    Readings available online




    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.

    Units EFTSL
    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 $2298
    2004 $1926
    International fee paying students
    Year Fee
    1994-2003 $3390
    2014 $3762
    2013 $3756
    2012 $3756
    2011 $3756
    2010 $3750
    2009 $3618
    2008 $3618
    2007 $3618
    2006 $3618
    2005 $3450
    2004 $3450
    Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

    Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

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    Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

    First Semester

    Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
    3049 17 Feb 2014 07 Mar 2014 31 Mar 2014 30 May 2014 In Person N/A

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