• 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

This course is offered in online mode only.

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? Can we draw connections between things like eighteenth century British amateur science and citizen science today, or nineteenth century French science popularisation and today's science journalism? Can we identify histories of science communication-type practices for knowledge systems across the world beyond Western science, such as Australian Indigenous ecological and astronomical knowledges, Chinese engineering techniques or Islamic world mathematical methods? And how important is communication to these scientific traditions? Is science communication an added extra in the world of science, or integral to its success and longevity? How can we map institutional relationships between science and the bodies that promote it, popularise it, and link it to political processes? Thinking globally, how was 'modern science' made, in all these ways?

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. You 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. You will also look at communication practices in knowledge systems beyond the modern West to develop long term, cross-cultural histories of science communication. 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 diverse science communication-type activities through time, place and culture.
  2. Describe competing big picture histories of science and science communication.
  3. Identify and describe material links between science communication-type activities and institutionalised science in the world today.
  4. Apply a big picture view of science communication institutions, ideologies and practices to reflective professional practice.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Online quizzes (best 5 of approximately 8 count) (25) [LO 1,2,3]
  2. Historical research assignment (35) [LO 1,2,3]
  3. Visual presentation of big picture science communication history for a popular audience (10) [LO 1,2,4]
  4. Professional values reflective essay (30) [LO 1,2,3,4]

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.


The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:

  • Face-to face component which may consist of 1 x 2 hour lectorial per week.
  • Approximately 106 hours of self-study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.

Inherent Requirements

To be determined.

Requisite and Incompatibility

Students must have completed 18 units of 2000 level courses or have the permission of the convener. Incompatible with SCOM6032.

Prescribed Texts

There are no prescribed texts. Links to all required readings will be provided through the Wattle site.

Assumed Knowledge

SCOM1001 and SCOM1002 are recommended.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you 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). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found 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
2021 $4110
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2021 $5880
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
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
3193 20 Feb 2023 27 Feb 2023 31 Mar 2023 26 May 2023 In Person N/A
3579 20 Feb 2023 27 Feb 2023 31 Mar 2023 26 May 2023 Online N/A

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