• Offered by Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Science Communication
  • Areas of interest Cultural Studies, Science, Science Communication
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Anna-Sophie Jurgens
  • Mode of delivery Online
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Winter Session 2021
    See Future Offerings

This course is offered in online mode only. The intensive component of this course will be delivered between 12-16 July.

How can humour – and what kind of humour – be used in science communication? What does comic performance offer to understanding the public image and pop cultural narratives of science? What can we learn from comic scientists about science? (e.g. in the Nutty Professor films or comic Frankenstein stories) How can we use the Joker – ‘spreading’ laughter in DC comics and animated films – to teach virology? Or what does Todd Phillips’s 2019 Joker blockbuster teach us about neurology? What can we learn from the interplay between forensic science and comic zombies in splatstick films (from Braindead or Zombieland to iZombie) for the communication of science?

Humour, this course elucidates, it not only one of the most powerful tools in communication, and a great way to bring science to the public, but it also shapes – and has been shaping – cultural ideas of sciences. The course thus investigates both, the ways science has influenced and generated rich and fascinating comic traditions in popular culture, and how humour and comic performance have shaped cultural ideas of sciences and ‘science humour’. It looks at the exchange between popular entertainment and science in various media (e.g. comics, film, fiction) over the last 150 years – the course is a conversation between the past, present and future – and clarifies the power of humour for bringing science and scientists into the general public discussion.

Note: This course is co-taught with undergraduate students but assessed separately.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Examine and evaluate the importance and value of humour and comic performance in the communication of science and the discipline of science communication.
  2. Analyse the social and ethical implications of humour in science-related contexts and for their own lives.
  3. Discover the diversity of pop cultural ideas and fictional narratives around science from the last 150 years in a variety of different media and explain their significance for today’s access to and understanding of science as and in culture.
  4. Select, examine and (creatively) present material explaining the role of humour, comedy and comic performance for the public perceptions of science.
  5. Critically appraise science humour contexts through application of appropriate discovery based learning techniques.
  6. Increase skills to engage with and communicate to a range of stakeholders.

Other Information

This course is conducted entirely online.

System Requirements  

To participate in this course, you will need: 

  1. A computer or laptop. Mobile devices may work well but in some situations a computer/laptop may be more appropriate. 
  2. Reliable, stable internet connection. Broadband recommended. If using a mobile network or wi-fi then check performance is adequate. 
  3. Webcam. 
  4. Speakers/headset and a microphone. 
  5. Suitable location with minimal interruptions and adequate privacy for classes and assessments.  

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

Indicative Assessment

  1. Written reflection on the use of humour and humour theories for science communication (in two parts) (25) [LO 1,2]
  2. 3min video exploring one of three questions about the links between science, humour and society (15) [LO 1,2,3,4]
  3. Science and Humour project proposal (including methods and literature review) (25) [LO 1,3,4,5,6]
  4. Original Science and Humour research project or humour-based science communication product (35) [LO 1,3,4,5,6]

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 session including:

  • Five day online intensive (35 hours) including lectures and interactive online and offline activities.
  • Approximately 95 hours of self directed study which will include preparation for lectures, presentations and other assessment tasks.

Students will complete assessments (1) and (2) during the week and complete assessment (3 and 4) in the weeks or months after the intensive week.

Inherent Requirements

To be determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

You are not able to enrol in this course if you have previously completed SCOM2006.

Prescribed Texts

Not required

Preliminary Reading

Readings will be included in the class summary on the course Wattle site.


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

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

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.

Winter Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
4715 28 Jun 2021 12 Jul 2021 16 Jul 2021 17 Sep 2021 Online View

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