• Class Number 3553
  • Term Code 3130
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 to 24 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Merryn McKinnon
    • Dr Merryn McKinnon
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 22/02/2021
  • Class End Date 28/05/2021
  • Census Date 31/03/2021
  • Last Date to Enrol 01/03/2021
SELT Survey Results

The Bachelor of Science Honours (BSc Hons) in Science Communication is a one year program completed as an adjunct year at the end of a Bachelor of Science degree.

It is a unique opportunity to investigate how an aspect of science that you are passionate about:

  • has been communicated in the public arena.
  • might be communicated better.
  • is affected by such things as government policy and community opinion.

There is considerable flexibility in choosing project topics, and students usually develop their own topic ideas in consultation with their supervisor. Co-supervision across more than one ANU department is sometimes possible.

For more detailed information about past projects and topic ideas, see the Honours information page at the Australian National Centre for the Public Awareness of Science website.

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. Plan and engage in an independent and sustained critical investigation and evaluation of a chosen research topic to generate new knowledge
2. Systematically identify relevant theory and concepts, relate these to appropriate methodologies and evidence, and draw appropriate conclusions
3. Engage in systematic discovery and critical review of appropriate and relevant information sources
4. Analyse and interpret original research data with statistical or other evaluative processes where appropriate
5. Understand and apply ethical standards of conduct in the collection and evaluation of data and other resources
6. Communicate and justify complex concepts and results clearly and effectively to a variety of audiences.

The CHM/COS College Honours Handbook and timelines can be downloaded from the College forms-policies-guidlines website.

Honours students will be enrolled in a dedicated Wattle page for CPAS researchers which contains relevant resources and support materials.

Recommended student system requirements 

ANU courses commonly use a number of online resources and activities including:

  • video material, similar to YouTube, for lectures and other instruction
  • two-way video conferencing for interactive learning
  • email and other messaging tools for communication
  • interactive web apps for formative and collaborative activities
  • print and photo/scan for handwritten work
  • home-based assessment.

To fully participate in ANU learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate.
  • Webcam
  • Speakers and a microphone (e.g. headset)
  • Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate.
  • Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.
  • Printing, and photo/scanning equipment

For more information please see https://www.anu.edu.au/students/systems/recommended-student-system-requirements

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 Overview: The Science Communication Honours Thesis course is taken as a variable unit course over two consecutive semesters. Students enrol in SCOM4005 (12 units) in their first semester of enrolment and SCOM4005 (24 units) in their second Semester of enrolment. For every 6 units of enrolment, the expectation is that the student would work a minimum of 10 hours/week over the course of the semester. Student who are enrolled part-time or taking a reduced study load should consult the Honours convener for information about the due dates and unit distribution. The Honours year commences on Monday 1st February. Students are expected to begin discussions with their supervisor(s) and meet with the Honours Convener in advance of classes beginning on 22 February. This summary provides general information for a student enrolling in this course for the first time. It is expected that full-time Honours students will enrol in this course twice over consecutive semesters.
2 In the first semester of candidature, no later than 12 weeks after commencing candidature, Honours students are required to present a research proposal seminar which outlines the research project including the theoretical underpinnings of both defining the problem and the proposed method. At the end of the first semester, at a date negotiated with their supervisor, a draft of the literature review and method is submitted for formative evaluation. Research proposal seminar (4%) Literature review (hurdle)
3 The second semester of candidature is solely for the writing and preparation of the thesis, culminating in a final seminar. Thesis (86%) Seminar (10%) Milestones - please see 2021 Honours Timeline and Handbook for full details. Thesis Submission - 28 October 2021

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Research proposal seminar 4 % * * 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Formative assessment 0 % * * 1, 2, 3, 6
Final thesis seminar 10 % * * 2, 4, 6
Thesis 86 % 28/10/2021 02/12/2021 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

* 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.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 4 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Research proposal seminar

Students are expected to give a 20 minute research proposal seminar within the first 12 weeks of candidature. The seminar date will be negotiated between Honours students, their supervisors and the Honours convenor. The seminar should present a clearly formulated research question based on the available literature and a well articulated proposed method to address the research question. Candidates are assessed on:

  • Presentation content: well researched, coherent narrative and argument demonstrating critical appraisal and integration of relevant literature
  • Presentation materials: clear, well signposted
  • Presentation style: use of effective communication skills and techniques
  • Presenter preparation: well prepared, ability to answer questions
  • Seminars are conducted face to face, unless COVID Safe restrictions are in place, in which case they will be given online via platforms such as Zoom or Skype.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 0 %
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 6

Formative assessment

Students are required to submit their literature review and methods sections of their thesis at the end of their first semester. These are given to the examiners who will grade the final version of the thesis. The examiners will provide formative feedback on the thesis, and an indicative grade range based on the work assessed. The examiners will outline the reasons for this grade range and how it can be maintained or improved in the final submission. This assessment task is a hurdle requirement and does not contribute to the final grade.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 10 %
Learning Outcomes: 2, 4, 6

Final thesis seminar

Students must present a minimum 30 - maximum 40 minute seminar, plus questions, on their thesis. Presentations should briefly describe the theoretical foundations of the research problem and the method used, present the results and discuss them with reference to the available literature before making final conclusions. Students should also describe any limitations within the study and recommendations for future research. The seminar date will be negotiated between Honours students, their supervisors and the Honours convenor but should take place no later than two weeks before the thesis submission date.

Candidates are assessed on:

  • Presentation content: well researched, coherent narrative and argument demonstrating critical appraisal and integration of relevant literature; quality of data interpretation and conclusions
  • Presentation materials: clear, well signposted
  • Presentation style: use of effective communication skills and techniques
  • Presenter preparation: well prepared, ability to answer questions
  • Seminars are conducted face to face, unless COVID Safe restrictions are in place, in which case they will be given online via platforms such as Zoom or Skype.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 86 %
Due Date: 28/10/2021
Return of Assessment: 02/12/2021
Learning Outcomes: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6


Students are required to produce a thesis of up to 20,000 words outlining an independent research project. Core elements include a literature review, method, results, discussion and conclusion. The exact format and inclusions must be discussed with the supervisor. Theses are examined using the standards outlined in the ANU Science Honours Grading Criteria, the details of which are available to students on the SCOM Researchers Wattle page.

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 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.

You may be able to request an extension for the submission date of your thesis, but this must be made before the specified 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. Extensions of up to two (2) weeks can be granted by the Honours Convenor. An additional two week extension may be provided but only in exceptional extenuating circumstance. This can only be requested via written request to the Associate Dean Education prior to the original due date.

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. 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.

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 Merryn McKinnon
6125 4591

Research Interests

Dr Merryn McKinnon

By Appointment
Dr Merryn McKinnon

Research Interests

Dr Merryn McKinnon

By Appointment

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