• Offered by Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Classification Transitional
  • Course subject Science Communication
  • Areas of interest Science Communication
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Co-taught Course

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.

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. Research diverse science communication-type activities through time, place and culture.
  2. Analyse and critically reflect upon competing big picture histories of science and science communication.
  3. Investigate and critically analyse material links between science communication-type activities and institutionalised science in the world today.
  4. Develop a personal philosophy of professional practice in science communication, encompassing a big picture view of its institutions, ideologies and practices.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Online quizzes (best 5 of 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 1,2,4]

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

Incompatible with SCOM3032

Prescribed Texts

There are no prescribed texts. All required readings will be linked through the course Wattle site.

Assumed Knowledge

A general understanding of science communication, such as that offered through SCOM8014, is 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

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There are no current offerings for this course.

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