• Class Number 2601
  • Term Code 2930
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Joan Leach
    • Prof Joan Leach
  • 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
SELT Survey Results

This course introduces students to the history, theory and practice of science communication at an advanced level. It covers contemporary competing theories of what constitutes 'best practice' in science communication, the historical roots of the discipline, fundamental practical skills for communicating science with the public, and a deep understanding of science communication professional practice. It provides a solid foundation for further studies in science communication, touching on multiple communication mediums, considerations of different aims and audiences, and some specifics of communicating particular kinds of scientific information. Students will develop foundational science communication research skills in this course.

The course is compulsory for students in the Master of Science Communication and Master of Science Communication Outreach programs, but postgraduates in other disciplines, particularly in the sciences, can also benefit from its overview of the current science communication landscape.

The course will be run as a combination of online content, face-to-face or online classes and an intensive component on-campus.

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. Research and critically evaluate published papers on science communication history, theory and practice.
  2. Critically analyse examples of science communication practice in light of theory and best practice literature.
  3. Interpret published scientific knowledge and effectively translate it into multiple mediums for diverse non-scientific audiences.
  4. Critically evaluate the communication context of scientific issues and apply that evaluation to communication practice.
  5. Use social science research methods to research contemporary science communication professional practice

Research-Led Teaching

This course is designed to introduce postgraduate students to research in science communication. This includes understanding the possible orientations of science communication research, the aims of science communication research, and the methods used across different science communication orientations. Weeks 9 and 10 include journal review activities that discuss the research front in science communication. The Golem project asks students to do independent research (guided by the lecturer) and write for a research audience.

Required Resources

Required readings are listed on Wattle and available online through ANU Library and other sources.

Staff Feedback

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

  • written comments
  • verbal comments
  • feedback to whole class, groups, individuals, focus group etc

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 Week 1 Introduction to course and Introduction to Science Communication as a field of research and practice Reading list will be posted to Wattle. There are readings for each week of the semester and weekly writings.
2 Week 3 CANBERRA DAY HOLIDAY As our class meeting will not happen due to the holiday, there will be a series of activities for you to complete this week.
4 Weeks 4-6 Bêtes Noires of Science Communication: Public, Deficit Model, Education vs Entertainment, Role of Scientists vs Mediators, Public Good vs Advocacy in Science Communication There is a list of readings for weeks 4-6 that discuss the central debates in science communication. Our seminar time will be a series of activities that deepen understanding of these debates. There are also weekly writings.
5 Autumn Break ORAL EXAM: The return date for the Autumn Break is 23 April (Tuesday). Again, we will miss another meeting at the end of the break. However, the week of 22 April will include oral exams for the course which will be organised on a sign up sheet.
6 Weeks 7-8 The Golem Project
7 Weeks 9-10 Methods in Science Communication Journal review
8 Final Week Reconciliation Day Holiday Joan will be available for additional consultation this week to discuss the Golem Project. Again, our class meeting time is interrupted by another Monday holiday!

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Oral exam on science communication history and theory 20 % 23/04/2019 06/05/2019 1,2,4
Weekly Writings 30 % 25/02/2019 05/04/2019 1,2,3,4,5
Journal Review (part 1) 10 % 13/05/2019 27/05/2019 1,2,5
Journal Review (part 2) 10 % 20/05/2019 27/05/2019 1,2,5
The Golem Project 30 % 11/06/2019 20/06/2019 1,2,3,4,5

* 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.


Students are expected to attend lectures and contribute to discussions. When this is not possible students are expected to listen to the audio recording(s) of all lectures

Assessment Task 1

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 23/04/2019
Return of Assessment: 06/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4

Oral exam on science communication history and theory

Please note, that where a date range is used in the Assessment Summary in relation to exams, the due date and return date indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held. Students should consult the course wattle site to confirm the date, time and venue of the exam.

This oral exam will assess student understanding of the material and readings from weeks 1-6.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 25/02/2019
Return of Assessment: 05/04/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Weekly Writings

Weeks 1-6 have associated writing tasks. These writings are aprox. 500 words long (+ or - 10%) and will respond to a prompt posted on wattle. Your weekly writings will be peer assessed as well as assessed by the course lecturer.

Writing 1 will be worth 0% but will get an indicative mark so students can track their progress.

Writing 2 is worth 5%

Writing 3 is worth 10%

Writing 4 is worth 5%

Writing 5 is worth 5%

Writing 6 is worth 5%

The date range for these tasks indicates the approximate due date for the first task, and the approximate return date for the last task. There are 6 tasks due in weekes 1-6. It is intended that the marked tasks will be returned the week following submission. Further details can be found on the Course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 13/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 27/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,5

Journal Review (part 1)

This written (15%) and oral (10%) t?ask requires the critical evaluation of 3 articles from a science communication journal (these will be reviewed in class ahead of the task). The oral component of the assessment will be peer-evaluated as well as evaluated by the lecture and tutor. This assessment will happen in weeks 9 and 10.

Written task due: 2019-05-13

Oral task due: 2019-05-20

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 20/05/2019
Return of Assessment: 27/05/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,5

Journal Review (part 2)

Please refer to Journal Review (part 1)

Assessment Task 5

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 11/06/2019
Return of Assessment: 20/06/2019
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

The Golem Project

This research and writing task requires writing a science communication chapter for _The Golem_ series. The chapter is 4000 words and introduces an episode and theoretical concept or framing of science communication.

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 Associate Dean (Education). Hard copy submissions must utilise the Assignment Cover Sheet. Please keep a copy of tasks completed for your records.

Late Submission

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

  • Late submission 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. Late submission is not accepted for take-home or oral examinations.

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.

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.

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).

Prof Joan Leach
(02) 6125 0498

Research Interests

Science Communication, Rhetoric of Science, Public engagement with Science, Social Epistemology

Prof Joan Leach

Monday 12:00 13:00
Prof Joan Leach
(02) 6125 0498

Research Interests

Prof Joan Leach

Monday 12:00 13:00

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