• Class Number 3919
  • Term Code 3030
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Rod Lamberts
    • Dr Christopher Cvitanovic
    • Dr Rod Lamberts
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 24/02/2020
  • Class End Date 05/06/2020
  • Census Date 08/05/2020
  • Last Date to Enrol 02/03/2020
    • Dr Christopher Cvitanovic
    • Hannah Feldman
    • Nic Badullovich
SELT Survey Results

As the very first course in science communication at ANU, Science and Public Awareness (SCOM1001) offers a smorgasbord of ideas, information and approaches to all things science communication. It’s designed to help you taste a little bit of everything and see what flavours of science communication most appeal to you!


SCOM1001 provides an introduction to contemporary social and communication issues in science, technology, and society. In the course, we will ask a whole range of questions, like:

  • 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? 
  • How do we make sense of science as it flies between, and well beyond, the lab?
  • What kinds of factors affect public attitudes to science? 
  • Is it OK to be a scientist and have influence beyond your scientific expertise?
  • Just what is “the public” anyway? 


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 via multiple platforms and venues; 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. 


Focusing on current events and issues facing scientists, science communicators, policy makers, and the community, SCOM1001 students are encouraged to discuss their own perceptions of science and technology in the context of society, 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. 


SCOM1001 is also a solid foundation for a Major or Minor in science communication, and for working towards a science communication career. Science communication is a growing area of employment, as science organisations continue to realise the importance of communicating about their work with the public, the media, governments, business, clients, patients, community groups and other stakeholders. 


Science communication graduates have built careers as health promoters, environmental lobbyists or activists, science journalists, science presenters, communications officers for science organisations, science policy analysts working in government, and more. Of course, the skills, ideas, and approaches offered by studying some introductory science communication will also help you if you want to be a research scientist!

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Work professionally in a collaborative environment.
  2. Understand and describe the key issues and importance of effective science communication, recognising how social contexts affect the practice and communication of science.
  3. Evaluate the effectiveness of the presentation of science in various media
  4. Understand and practice modes of scientific communication appropriate for stakeholders and publics.
  5. Synthesise personal interests, values and aspirations with reflective professional development.
  6. Use an active approach to learning
  7. Abstract and characterise key elements of science-based evidence underlying social issues
  8. Defend and construct evidence-based arguments for a position based on sound scientific and science communication/ social evidence
  9. Integrate personal interests, values and aspirations with practical and theoretical development in science communication

Required Resources

All reading and audio visual materials for the course will be made available via the course WATTLE site

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.

Other Information

Course support materials

Please read, watch, or listen to any material that has been set for each week before your tutorial class. These materials are an integral part of your experience in SCOM1001 and form a critical element of the tutorial discussions. They will all be posted to the course WATTLE site (usually as downloadable files or web links). Additional material may be added from time to time and we may occasionally hand out hard copies of reading in class.



This manual and WATTLE are the key forms of communication in this course. All new course information will be communicated to students via the ‘News and course queries’ forum on the course WATTLE site. It is your responsibility to check this regularly. Please contact the course convener if you have trouble accessing this page. 


If you have questions about the course that might be of interest to other students, consider posting them to the WATTLE ‘news and course queries’ forum so the answers can benefit others. If you have more personal queries, for example about extensions or missed classes, contact staff directly, preferably via email.

Communicating with teaching staff

The preferred method of communication with staff outside class time is by email. We will attempt to reply within one business day, although please note that tutors often work part time for the ANU, so it may sometimes take a day or two longer. 


Also, it’s not acceptable (or professional) to send emails in which you do not identify yourself. Emails sent from ANU-assigned email addresses (in the form of uXXXXXX@anu.edu.au) or quirkily named third party email accounts that are not signed will NOT be answered. We need to know who you are.


Finally, if you need to see the convener or your tutor in person, please email to make an appointment. Unless it’s an emergency, please don't just turn up a staff member’s door without an appointment.

Adjustments to delivery in 2020

Course delivery and assessment in 2020 was adjusted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Any information below that replaces what was published in the Class Summary for Semester 1, 2020 was approved by the Associate Dean Education (as is required after 10% commencement of a course). Where an activity or assessment is not referenced below, it remains unchanged.

Teaching Activities

Lectures were pre-recorded or done by Zoom and then recorded and posted.

Tutorials were moved to online Zoom meetings.


Adjustments were made to assignment due dates; for details see the course Wattle site.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to the course and to Science Communication Lecture - Dr Rod Lamberts. Assessment - Reflection #1. This is done in the first tutorial class (marks - hurdle requirement)
2 Science communication: Telling stories Lecture - Dr Rod Lamberts
3 Rhetoric, Persuasion & argument NOTE- no lecture (Canberra Day public holiday) See Wattle for information
4 Informal Science Learning & international capacity building Lecture - Dr Graham Walker
5 Social media and science communication Guest Lecture - Dr Will Grant Assessment - Story time assignment due
6 Advocacy, activism, public intellectualism and more Lecture - Dr Rod Lamberts
7 Knowledge Brokers & playing with policy Lecture - Dr Chris Cvitanovic
8 Science in fiction NOTE - No Lecture (ANZAC DAY public holiday) Assessment - essay due
9 Science, science communication and gender Guest Lecture - Dr Merryn McKinnon
10 Responsible innovation and sci comm Guest Lecturer – A/Prof Sujatha Raman
11 Critiques and criticism of science communication Lecture - Dr Rod Lamberts Assessment - podcast assignment due
12 Wrapping it up, pondering the future NOTE - no live lecture, see wattle for information Assessment - Reflection #2 due

Tutorial Registration

Refer to the SCOM1001 wattle site for information about tutorial sign-up

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Reflection #1 0 % * 5
Short Essay 30 % 03/05/2020 2,4,5,6,7,8,9
Story Assignment 30 % * 5,6,8,9
Podcast Assignment 35 % * 1,2,4,5,6,7,9
Reflection 2 5 % * 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 Academic Integrity . 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.


Class participation is not assessed in SCOM1001. However, students are very strongly encouraged to come to all the classes (both lectures and tutorials) wherever possible. 

  • Lectures – while they will be recorded, lectures could at times be quite discursive and interactive. It’s not as easy to get the full benefit from lecture interaction listening to a recording. 
  • Tutorial classes – you should strive to attend all your tutorials to fully benefit from your SCOM1001 experience. The tutorial classes provide a regular place and time where ideas and readings are discussed and assessment matters can be addressed.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 0 %
Learning Outcomes: 5

Reflection #1

Value                                      Hurdle Requirement 

Due                                         Completed in tutorial classes in WEEK 1

Estimated return date          Returned in WEEK 10 tutorials

Word limit                              N/A - a template will be provided in class

Description of the task

This is a reflective writing activity designed to get you actively thinking about the course, the major themes and how you will engage with it. You will be given a template to fill out in class asking questions about things like:

  • Your social and science related values
  • The strengths you believe you bring to SCOM1001
  • The challenges you believe you will face in SCOM1001 
  • What you hope you will know, feel, or be able to do after completing SCOM1001

Note – this hurdle requirement will be collected in class and returned to you in class in week 10 to use when completing the final piece of assessment, “reflection 2” (see further down in this document).


Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 03/05/2020
Learning Outcomes: 2,4,5,6,7,8,9

Short Essay

Description of the task

Choose ONE of the following topics

  1. If scientists get it wrong and people get injured or die, how (if at all) should they be held accountable? (Discuss using the L’Aquilla earthquake case)
  2. Anti-vaccination: epidemic, no big deal, or a little bit o’both?
  3. Social media is destroying science communication
  4. Science has / does not have a gender problem
  5. How should we handle CRISPR? Not just tech, but social, cultural, political, ethical implications. Be prepared to conclude with your position on it (it’s good, it’s bad, it could work for X but not so much for Y, it should be regulated like this by these people, etc)


No matter which topic, you need to

  • State clearly what your essay is about
  • Identify ~3-6 main points you will present to support your argument/ topic/ position 

o  First -introduce the points overall

o  Next - step though them in turn, using evidence and examples to support your claims

o  Finally - summarise and conclude you essay, remembering to refer back to your original goal, and the extent to which you addressed it

  • Set out a clear line of reasoning that links your essay topic through your 3-6 points and gets you logically to your conclusion
  • Draw on both formal and grey literature/ evidence to set the topic and argue your position
  • Reference appropriately
  • Use clear examples to support and clarify your argument

Value                                      30% of the total course mark

Due                                         End of week 8 (11:59 PM, Sunday 3 May)

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 5,6,8,9

Story Assignment

Description of the task

Part 1 – A personal story

Write a short story that doesn’t have science as its main theme or topic. It should be personal (that is, it’s about you or your own experience), but you don’t have to write about anything that makes you feel uncomfortable sharing. That is, it should be personal, but not private! 

The purpose of Part 1 is to write a tale that tweaks the reader’s emotion and demonstrates narrative structure. 

Try one of these as inspiration for your story

  • The weirdest thing about my family is…
  • When I was 12, I…
  • You know what really drives me crazy…
  • This is why I love to…
  • Let me tell you about my favourite picture…
  • When I was on holiday last month/ year/ summer/ winter, I saw/ heard/ did the strangest thing…
  • I got into science because…(note, this is about the emotion, not science facts)

Part 2 – Science and humans

A human story behind some the science. Focus on a human, or humans, involved in the story. Science should be a part of the story, in fact a vehicle for it, but not the primary focus.

For example, if you were to talk about Tuskegee syphilis experiments (look it up!), you should make the people (or perhaps just one of them) the main focus, with the syphilis experiment a supporting character. Use your story to bring in elements of the science-related stuff, rather than the other way around. 


Total 30% of the total course mark, split into 2 parts. 

Part 1 = 10%

Part 2 = 20%

Word limits

Part 1 – between 500-750 words  

Part 2 – 1,250 words maximum


Due: Week 5. See course wattle site for details

Assessment Task 4

Value: 35 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,5,6,7,9

Podcast Assignment

There are 4 different ways you could approach this assignment. You need to choose ONE version listed below. We will do formally in tutorial classes.

Podcast structure options

ONE – solo effort

A speaks to the mic about their topic 

3-5 minutes

A has to make sure you keep it interesting/ engaging, not just droning into a microphone

Individual mark for A

TWO – one-way pairs

A tells B a story (3-5 minutes) B offers a few reactions

B tells A a different story (3-5 minutes) A offers a few reactions

Individual mark for A and B

THREE – two-way pairs

A and B have a conversation about topic. 

o  Full 2-way yack about 1 topic (scripted or semi-scripted) 6-10 minutes total

o  A and B get the same groupmark

FOUR – 3 way all-in

A, B & C all have a conversation about one topic

Full-way yack about 1 topic (scripted or semi-scripted) 9-15 minutes total

A, B & C get the same groupmark



Audio file of your podcast - MORE DETAILS ON THIS IN CLASS

Show notes – supporting refences/ sources

Brief reflection on what worked well and what you’d change next time. This should be a short document of no more than 500 words per person


Due: Week 11. See course wattle site for details

Assessment Task 5

Value: 5 %
Learning Outcomes: 5

Reflection 2

Description of the task

In this final piece of assessment in SCOM1001, you are asked to look back over what you have experienced and learned during the course of the semester and reflect on your experiences. You will also be expected to use your first reflection (the one you did in week 1) and consider what has changed, what hasn’t, and why.

You should try and balance writing about things you liked and did well against things you didn't like and did poorly. Note also that this is supposed to be about you, not a critique of others or the course (unless directly pertinent to your own experience). 

Below are some questions to help inspire you to reflect. Note that these are just suggestions, you should feel free to add your own or take it in a different direction 

  • In what way(s) has your attitude to science, and science communication changed since you began the semester?
  • What did you find
  • easy
  • challenging, 
  • interesting, 
  • confronting, 
  • boring?
  • What’s next for you & science communication?

Due: Week 12. See course wattle site for details

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically, committing to honest and responsible scholarly practice and upholding these values with respect and fairness.

The ANU commits to assisting all members of our community to 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 be familiar with the academic integrity principle and Academic Misconduct Rule, 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 Academic Misconduct Rule is in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Very minor breaches of the academic integrity principle may result in a reduction of marks of up to 10% of the total marks available for the assessment. The ANU offers a number of online and in person services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. Visit the Academic Skills website for more information about academic integrity, your responsibilities and for assistance with your assignments, writing skills and study.

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

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 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.

Returning Assignments

Reflection 1 will be returned in class in week 10

Story-time, essay and second reflection will be 'returned' via turnitin

Podcast assignment will be "returned" via email

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure. Extensions may be granted 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


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 Rod Lamberts
6125 0747

Research Interests

Dr Rod Lamberts

By Appointment
Dr Christopher Cvitanovic

Research Interests

Dr Christopher Cvitanovic

Dr Rod Lamberts

Research Interests

Dr Rod Lamberts

By Appointment
Dr Christopher Cvitanovic

Research Interests

Dr Christopher Cvitanovic

Hannah Feldman

Research Interests

Hannah Feldman

Nic Badullovich

Research Interests

Nic Badullovich

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