• Class Number 6728
  • Term Code 2950
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Bradley Tucker
    • Dr Bradley Tucker
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/06/2019
  • Class End Date 02/08/2019
  • Census Date 05/07/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 05/07/2019
SELT Survey Results

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 there will be an option to develop the research ideas 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. 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

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:
  • Written comments
  • Verbal comments
  • Feedback to the whole class, to groups, to individuals, focus groups

Student Feedback

ANU is committed to the demonstration of educational excellence and regularly seeks feedback from students. Students are encouraged to offer feedback directly to their Course Convener or through their College and Course representatives (if applicable). The feedback given in these surveys is anonymous and provides the Colleges, University Education Committee and Academic Board with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement. The Surveys and Evaluation website provides more information on student surveys at ANU and reports on the feedback provided on ANU courses.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Course activities: Face-to-face component: 24-28 June 2019 (9-5) Some assessment pieces will be due after the intensive component.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
3 Minute Science - Monday 10 % 24/06/2019 24/06/2019 1,2,3,4,7,8
3 Minute Science - Friday 10 % 28/06/2019 28/06/2019 1,2,3,4,7,8
Project Proposal 20 % 08/07/2019 22/07/2019 1,5,6,7,8
Final Report 60 % 05/08/2019 30/08/2019 1,4,5,6,7,8

* If the Due Date and Return of Assessment date are blank, see the Assessment Tab for specific Assessment Task details


ANU has educational policies, procedures and guidelines, which are designed to ensure that staff and students are aware of the University’s academic standards, and implement them. Students are expected to have read the Academic Misconduct Rule before the commencement of their course. Other key policies and guidelines include:

Assessment Requirements

The ANU is using 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. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

Moderation of Assessment

Marks that are allocated during Semester are to be considered provisional until formalised by the College examiners meeting at the end of each Semester. If appropriate, some moderation of marks might be applied prior to final results being released.


Participation in this course is not assessed, but reflection upon class activities IS assessed in the 3 minute science assessment item. For that reason, attending and participating actively is critically important. In addition, most class activities are very interactive - there are very few lectures - so it is not possible to record most classes or to have a catch-up session. For that reason it is difficult (though not impossible) to complete this course without attending the entire intensive week.

Actively participating in your own learning will also enable you to get the most out of this course. You are expected to read the required readings for each intensive day before you arrive, so that you can participate in class activities. Ideally you should complete all the required readings before the intensive week. The basic premise of the course is that instead of having lectures, we will have unlectures as well as hands-on creative activities, activities applying knowledge and theory, and skills workshops. In an unlecture, you the students will pool your collective knowledge on a given topic, drawn from the readings, and together build up a picture of everything that we know about that topic. In other activities you will have to apply what you learned in the readings to solve a problem or create a science communication product. This is a much more effective way to learn something than sitting back passively and absorbing what a lecturer thinks about the readings. Ideally you will leave the course a more experienced and critical reader, with a deep and broad knowledge of the academic literature on this subject. For this reason, the readings are compulsory and central to the course. 

Assessment Task 1

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 24/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 24/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,7,8

3 Minute Science - Monday

This assessment item tests the breadth of your learning in the course. In pairs, you will present a piece of science fiction that you can choose. For both Monday and Friday, you will present a 3 minute presentation on said piece. There will be no visuals allowed.

For the presentation on Monday, you will focus on:

• Provide a brief synopsis of the piece.

• What is the role of fiction in the piece?

• What is the science you can see in the piece?

• How would you use it as a science communication tool? 

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 28/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 28/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,7,8

3 Minute Science - Friday

This assessment item tests the breadth of your learning in the course. In pairs, you will present a piece of science fiction that you can choose. For both Monday and Friday, you will present a 3 minute presentation on said piece. There will be no visuals allowed. 

For the presentation on Friday, you will focus on:

Provide a brief synopsis of the piece - the same piece as Monday.

  • What influences (societal, portrayal, science, storytelling) can you see?
  • What results/consequences (science, perception, policy, etc.) have there been or could there be?
  • How would you use it as a science communication tool? 

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 08/07/2019
Return of Assessment: 22/07/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,5,6,7,8

Project Proposal

These two pieces of assessment test your ability to apply what you learn in this course, your skill at conducting a real research project, and your depth of understanding of a specific topic in this research field. In a nutshell, you will conduct an original research project investigating some aspect of the science-fiction-public nexus. As a whole the assessment item is worth the vast majority of course marks and will require planning and organisation. It entails planning every aspect of a research project, collecting and analysing original data, and writing a report. This final component is a research report in the style of a journal paper, and it is worth 60% of your mark in this course. You will need to be organised to complete these assignments within the three weeks after the intensive week is finished. Your project can address any aspect of the relationship between science, fiction and the public,

Here are some ideas for structuring your project:

  • Show a group of people a fiction text and use a focus group to explore how they respond to its science content, where response might mean their emotions, thoughts, behavioural intentions, perspectives, attitudes, opinions, etc.
  • Use a focus group (and possibly other methods, like an online survey) to investigate how people's attitudes and behaviours towards science - for example their interest or disinterest in studying science at university - have been influenced by a particular fiction text, or by any and all fiction they've encountered over a long term period, e.g. their whole life.
  • Create a science-themed short story, a science-themed short film, a fiction-based science centre exhibit, etc., then test how well it communicated the messages you intended it to communicate.
  • Devise a lesson plan for using one or more fiction texts to teach an aspect of the science curriculum to a group of students.
  • Outline an idea for a far-fetched blockbuster movie, then make scientists or science students pretend they are scientific advisors for the movie or devise a strategy of engagement

The project also needs to be well thought out in terms of methods, and soundly based on social research methods literature. For these reasons, the project is completed in two stages: a project proposal and final report. 

The first step is to come up with a plausible proposal for a project, which has to be approved by Brad before you can proceed to collecting your data. The proposal needs to include, at minimum, 4 elements:

  • engagement with relevant literature as the basis for the project
  • a content analysis of your chosen fiction text(s), if your study is designed with one or more specific fiction texts in mind
  • a research question that derives from the above
  • a full outline of your proposed methods.

As you can see, it will resemble the first half of a journal paper, including what are generally presented as an introduction, literature review and methods sections. After a general introduction your project proposal should set the scene with a discussion of why your project is important for science communication. Use the literature to discuss this context and any previous research that has similarity or relevance to your project. What problem are you trying to solve here? Why does that problem matter to science communicators or science teachers (or whoever is relevant)? How have other researchers tried to solve the project?

The problem might be something like we want more people to be interested in science or people dont practice safe sex or students have trouble learning Newtonian mechanics - nothing specific to fiction, just a general problem for science communicators. You need to explain (with references) why this is a problem. Draw on the general science communication, science education, science policy etc literature to construct this explanation. You will then need to explain why you think fiction could help solve this problem - again with references, but this time specifically drawing on previous studies in the science and popular fiction area, that have shown how and when fiction can be used to solve similar problems. 

Assessment Task 4

Value: 60 %
Due Date: 05/08/2019
Return of Assessment: 30/08/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,4,5,6,7,8

Final Report

Your final report should follow a conventional scientific report structure as much as possible. Its up to you to determine the structure of your report, as it will depend on the data you gather and what you want to write about. If you have quantitative data such as survey or quiz results, you may want to report those in a conventional results section, if your sample size is large enough to warrant it. Have a look at how others have presented their work in the course readings, and follow their examples, especially those that you think are high quality studies.

When dealing with your results and discussion, think about both how the data answer your research question, and whether any other unexpected or interesting results emerged. Then discuss your results in light of relevant scholarship - both the literature you already consulted for your project proposal assignment, and any new literature that you need to bring into the discussion to make sense of your results, e.g. if you found something unexpected and want to focus on that.

Make sure you put considerable effort into your results/discussion sections and conclusions. Your mark will be based on them to a large extent because the other sections of the report will already have been marked in the Project Proposal stage.

You must include your transcript of any focus group conversation in an appendix (submitted separately on Turnitin as Part 2 of the assignment). This is your raw dataset so needs to be checkable by the person marking your assignment. To protect your participants anonymity, this transcript should not include real names. 

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. The ANU expects staff and students to uphold high standards of academic integrity and act ethically and honestly, to ensure the quality and value of the qualification that you will graduate with. The University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

Online Submission

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.

Hardcopy Submission

For some forms of assessment (hand written assignments, art works, laboratory notes, etc.) hard copy submission is appropriate when approved by the Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

No submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date will be permitted. Late submission of assessment tasks without an extension are penalised at the rate of 5% of the possible marks available per working day or part thereof. Late submission of assessment tasks is not accepted after 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified in the course outline for the return of the assessment item.

Referencing Requirements

Accepted academic practice for referencing sources that you use in presentations can be found via the links on the Wattle site, under the file named “ANU and College Policies, Program Information, Student Support Services and Assessment”. Alternatively, you can seek help through the Students Learning Development website.

Returning Assignments

Assignment returns and feedback will occur via wattle and turnitin.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions for assessment pieces that are not examinations or take-home examinations. If you need an extension, you must request an extension in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request it after the due date.

Resubmission of Assignments

No resubmission of assignments is permitted.

Privacy Notice

The ANU has made a number of third party, online, databases available for students to use. Use of each online database is conditional on student end users first agreeing to the database licensor’s terms of service and/or privacy policy. Students should read these carefully. In some cases student end users will be required to register an account with the database licensor and submit personal information, including their: first name; last name; ANU email address; and other information. In cases where student end users are asked to submit ‘content’ to a database, such as an assignment or short answers, the database licensor may only use the student’s ‘content’ in accordance with the terms of service — including any (copyright) licence the student grants to the database licensor. Any personal information or content a student submits may be stored by the licensor, potentially offshore, and will be used to process the database service in accordance with the licensors terms of service and/or privacy policy. If any student chooses not to agree to the database licensor’s terms of service or privacy policy, the student will not be able to access and use the database. In these circumstances students should contact their lecturer to enquire about alternative arrangements that are available.

Distribution of grades policy

Academic Quality Assurance Committee monitors the performance of students, including attrition, further study and employment rates and grade distribution, and College reports on quality assurance processes for assessment activities, including alignment with national and international disciplinary and interdisciplinary standards, as well as qualification type learning outcomes. Since first semester 1994, ANU uses a grading scale for all courses. This grading scale is used by all academic areas of the University.

Support for students

The University offers students support through several different services. You may contact the services listed below directly or seek advice from your Course Convener, Student Administrators, or your College and Course representatives (if applicable).
Dr Bradley Tucker

Research Interests

Dr Bradley Tucker

Dr Bradley Tucker

Research Interests

Dr Bradley Tucker

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