• Class Number 4744
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Lindy Orthia
    • Lindy Orthia
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 25/02/2019
  • Class End Date 31/05/2019
  • Census Date 31/03/2019
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/03/2019
    • Lindy Orthia
SELT Survey Results

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. Map the roots of science communication-type activities and organisations through time, space and institutional networks.
  2. Identify and describe 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. Describe the major phases in twentieth and twenty-first century science communication and science advocacy more broadly.
  4. Apply a big picture view of science communication institutions, ideologies and practices to reflective professional practice.

Research-Led Teaching

This course is highly research-led:

  • the course readings are almost all influential and/or recent academic research papers from this field;
  • the research assignment requires students to retrieve relevant research papers themselves and to conduct an original historical analysis of an artefact;
  • the reflective essay requires students to apply what they have learned from research papers to professional practice.

Required Resources

There is no single set text for this course, however there is a required set of readings. They are available online through the course Wattle site, mostly as links to pdfs at online journal archive sites. Download and read them electronically or print as you see fit.

There is an expectation that your assignments will engage with the readings, both to establish that you have studied the scholarly literature and also to flesh out your arguments with challenging or complementary points. Assignments that are light on referencing or that miss out on obviously relevant material from the readings and class activities will be highly unlikely to get a good mark, and may fail on this basis alone.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • written comments on written assignments, including corrections on the text itself, and summary feedback on overall strengths and weaknesses.
  • opportunities to discuss that feedback with the course convener.
  • summary feedback to the whole class where appropriate and relevant.

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.

Other Information

Science communication students can use any recognised academic reference system of their choosing in SCOM courses, provided referencing is complete, comprehensive and correct.

Please note, that where there are multiple assessment tasks of the same type, e.g weekly quizzes, a date range is used in the Assessment Summary. The first date is the approximate due date of the first task, the return date is the approximate return date for the final task. Further information is provided in the assessment section of the class summary, and details are provided on the course wattle site.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1 Introduction to course
2 Week 2-4 Theme A: History of western science and its publics Quizzes 1-2
3 Week 5-6 Theme B: Geography of science and its discontents Quizzes 3-4
4 Week 7 class devoted to assignment help Research assignment due
5 Week 8-11 Theme C: Truth and glory in the world of science Quizzes 5-8
6 Week 12 Class devoted to assignment help Reflective essay due early in exam period

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Quizzes 25 % 04/03/2019 31/05/2019 1,2,3
Research assignment 35 % 26/04/2019 17/05/2019 1,2,3,4
Reflective essay 40 % 07/06/2019 21/06/2019 1,2,3,4

* 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. In rare cases where online submission using Turnitin software is not technically possible; or where not using Turnitin software has been justified by the Course Convener and approved by the Associate Dean (Education) on the basis of the teaching model being employed; students shall submit assessment online via ‘Wattle’ outside of Turnitin, or failing that in hard copy, or through a combination of submission methods as approved by the Associate Dean (Education). The submission method is detailed below.

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.


This is a face to face course, so students are expected to attend classes. Students who do not attend must take responsibility for their own learning, so the course convener will not be obliged to meet with students individually as a substitute for non-attendance.

It is highly recommended that you attend every class to perform well in the course, however class participation is not assessed. Technically it is possible to succeed in this course without attendance.



Assessment Task 1

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 04/03/2019
Return of Assessment: 31/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3


This assessment item tests the breadth of your learning in the course and your engagement with the weekly readings.

A quiz will be set for each week that there are set readings, aside from week 1 and week 4. The quizzes will be posted on Wattle, and open book, but timed, so you will need to know the readings well before attempting each quiz. The questions will be quite straightforward, mostly multiple-choice or true-false type questions with right and wrong answers. You’ll usually have about 12 minutes to complete ten questions.

Details of the day and time the quizzes will open will be posted on Wattle soon after the course commences.

There will be eight quizzes in total, but only your best five results will count towards your mark. You will receive a mark of 0 for any quizzes you miss, but if you are unable to attempt a quiz one week due to illness or other serious, unavoidable, unforeseen circumstances, you can use the others to make up the marks. That means the missed quiz will not affect your overall mark in the course.

Weekly, weeks 2-3, 5-6, 8-11

Value: 5 x 5% (total 25%)

The date range for these tasks indicates the approximate due date for the first quiz and the approximate return date for the last quiz. There are 8 quizzes due over the semester. It is intended that the marked quizzes will be returned within 1 week after submission. Further details can be found on the Course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 35 %
Due Date: 26/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 17/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Research assignment

This assignment tests your ability to apply what you learn in this course to the interpretation of an object, text or image from the history of science or science communication.

You will choose an object, text or image to base your assignment on, and you MUST get approval from the course convener for your choice.

You will then draw on what you’ve learned in the course readings, and other relevant academic literature, to write a scholarly interpretation of the meanings of the object/text/image in a historical sense.

You will explicate its meanings with respect to all of:

(a) its production,

(b) its message and

(c) its reception.

Consider what it is that we know about science and about science communication that makes this item legible? How was it created and in what context? How do we know what its intended message(s) was or were? Who was the intended audience? How do we know that? Where does it fit in the evolution of science and science communication?

In terms of your assignment structure, first introduce your item and describe it. Include a reference or link to it or images of it in an appendix.

Then answer the three points about the item (a, b and c) in turn, using subheadings for clarity. Finish with a brief conclusion if you like, but there’s no need to use a traditional essay structure for this assignment.


To be eligible for a pass on this assignment (to avoid an automatic fail):

  • your chosen item must have been approved by the course convener.
  • it must be 1500 words ±10% (SCOM3032) or 2000 words ±10% (SCOM6032), excluding your final reference list and any appendices. All other text is included in the word count: headings, in-text citations, quotes from the literature or from the source, image captions, and anything else.
  • appendices must only be used to reproduce text or images from/of the item, and must be used sparingly. Longer texts should not be reproduced in the assignment - instead give a hyperlink or reference.
  • spelling, grammar and punctuation must be reasonable.
  •  it must include some references to the scholarly literature, with an emphasis on the course readings.


What your assignment should ideally demonstrate, for a great mark:

  • an accurate, intelligent and evidence-based interpretation of the meanings of your chosen item for the history of the cultural infrastructure of science and/or the history of science-communication.
  • comprehensive and relevant use of scholarly literature to build your arguments.
  • an argument that is well-constructed, flows and makes sense.
  • evidence-based and literature-based reasoning to build and illustrate your arguments and to make your key points.
  • excellent comprehension and application of course readings to this question.
  • excellent scholarly referencing.

The assigment will be returned within 3 weeks from submission.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 07/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 21/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Reflective essay

This assignment tests your ability to reflect on what you learn in this course, in terms of how it applies to your professional development.

Drawing on the course readings and other scholarly works, you must discuss the following statement:

We make better professionals if we understand the history, geography and institutional contexts of our discipline.


Since this is a science communication course, the ‘discipline’ in question must be science communication or one of the sciences.

While the assignment is called a reflective essay, you should write it in an academic tone, constructing arguments that can apply broadly to your discipline, rather than writing solely about your own personal journey and experiences. You can write in first person, but in a scholarly way. If you’re unsure what that means, take another look at some of the course readings, many of which are written in first person, but take a scholarly tone.



To be eligible for a pass on this assignment (to avoid an automatic fail):

  • it must be 2000 words ±10% (SCOM3032) or 2500 words ±10% (SCOM6032), excluding your final reference list. All other text is included in the word count: headings, in-text citations, quotes from the literature and anything else.
  • spelling, grammar and punctuation must be reasonable.
  • it must include some references to the scholarly literature, with an emphasis on the course readings.


What your assignment should ideally demonstrate, for a great mark:

  • comprehensive, intelligent and relevant use of scholarly literature to build your arguments.
  • an argument that is well-constructed, flows and makes sense.
  • evidence-based and literature-based reasoning to build and illustrate your arguments and to make your key points.
  • excellent comprehension and application of course readings to this question.
  • excellent scholarly referencing.

The assigment will be returned within 2 weeks from submission.

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

You will be required to electronically sign a declaration as part of the submission of your assignment. Please keep a copy of the assignment for your records. Unless an exemption has been approved by the Associate Dean (Education) submission must be through Turnitin.

Hardcopy Submission

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

Note that by default assignments in this course will NOT be submitted hard copy. However, if for some reason you believe it is necessary to submit a hard copy assignment, please speak to the course convener.

Late Submission

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted for quizzes. A mark of 0 will be awarded for any quizzes missed.
  • Late submission permitted for other assessment items. 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. Late submission is not accepted for take-home examinations.

If an assignment is due Friday 11.59pm, you will not be penalised in this course if you submit the assignment before the following Sunday 11.59pm, since the intervening time constitutes non-working days. This is not an ANU-wide policy but will be applied consistently in this course.

Note that no extensions will be granted for completing quizzes. Instead, if students miss a quiz, the other quizzes will be considered alternative assessment.

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

Feedback on the Research Assignment and Reflective Essay will be provided electronically via 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

Students may sometimes be offered the opportunity to resubmit an assignment for a borderline pass if they are in danger of failing the course. Talk to the Course Convener any time if you believe you are in that situation.

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).

Lindy Orthia
02 6125 6148

Research Interests

History of science communication, science in popular fiction

Lindy Orthia

Lindy Orthia
02 6125 6148

Research Interests

Lindy Orthia

Lindy Orthia
02 6125 6148

Research Interests

Lindy Orthia

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions