• 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 PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Prof Joan Leach
  • Mode of delivery Online
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in First Semester 2017
    See Future Offerings

Politicians, chief scientists and others are increasingly calling for scientists to communicate their work with the public, but how, where and when did this start? Why have scientific societies like the Royal Society of London transitioned from doing scientific research in the seventeenth century to promoting the interests of science in the twenty-first? Are there parallels between eighteenth century amateur science and citizen science today, or between nineteenth century science popularisation and today's science journalism? How can we map institutional relationships between science and the bodies that promote it, popularise it, and link it to political processes? Is science communication an added extra in the world of science, or integral to its success and longevity?

This course applies historical and institutional approaches to science communication to explore the big picture view of how this discipline and its professional practices have developed across the world and through time. Students will map the relationships between science and the science communication-type activities and organisations that have always surrounded and supported western science as an institutionalised pursuit - scientific societies, advocacy for science funding, science professionalisation measures, science popularisation efforts of different kinds, science museums and centres, and more. Course assessment emphasises reflection on the significance of this big picture for professional practice in science communication, as well as developing science communication research skills.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Research the roots of science communication-type activities and organisations through time, space and institutional networks.
  2. Investigate and critically analyse material links between science communication-type activities and organisations and  institutionalised science, including the changing significance of scientific societies and science advocacy movements for the development and funding of science.
  3. Analyse and critically reflect upon the major phases in twentieth and twenty-first century science communication and science advocacy more broadly.
  4. Develop a personal philosophy of professional practice in science communication, encompassing a big picture view of its institutions, ideologies and practices.

Indicative Assessment

  • Contributions to forum discussions x10 weeks (20%) (LO 1,2,3,4)
  • Reflective essay on the significance of the course material for professional science communication practice, 2000 words (20%) (LO 1,2,3,4)
  • Mindmap/infographic about  the relationships between science and institutions of science advocacy and support (10%) (LO 1,2)
  • Research essay, 4000 words (50%) (LO 1,2,3)

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.


This course will require approximately 10 hours work per week, fully online, including forum discussions, set readings and assessment tasks.

Requisite and Incompatibility

Incompatible with SCOM3032


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. Tuition fees are indexed annually. 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
2017 $3660
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2017 $4878
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
4648 20 Feb 2017 27 Feb 2017 31 Mar 2017 26 May 2017 Online N/A

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