• Class Number 3875
  • Term Code 3230
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Rod Lamberts
    • Dr Rod Lamberts
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 21/02/2022
  • Class End Date 27/05/2022
  • Census Date 31/03/2022
  • Last Date to Enrol 28/02/2022
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

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.

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Introduction to the course and to Science Communication no tutorials in week 1
2 Science communication: Telling stories Assessment - Reflection #1. This is done in the first tutorial class (no marks - hurdle requirement)
3 Advocacy, activism, public intellectualism and more
4 Rhetoric, Persuasion & argument NOTE- no f-2-f lecture (Canberra Day public holiday) See Wattle for material on this week's topic
5 Social media and science communication Assessment - Story time assignment due
6 Informal Science Learning & international capacity building
7 Science, science communication and gender NOTE - No f-2-f Lecture (Easter Monday) See Wattle for material on this week's topic
8 Science in fiction NOTE - No f-2-f Lecture (ANZAC DAY public holiday) ?See Wattle for material on this week's topic Assessment - essay due
9 Knowledge Brokers & playing with policy
10 Responsible innovation and sci comm
11 Critiques and criticism of science communication Assessment - podcast assignment due
12 Wrapping it up, pondering the future NOTE - see wattle for information on how this lecture will run Assessment - Reflection due

Tutorial Registration

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

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Learning Outcomes
Short Essay 30 % 2,4,5,6,7,8,9
Story Assignment 30 % 5,6,8,9
Podcast Assignment 30 % 1,2,4,5,6,7,9
Reflection 2 10 % 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 –
  • At the moment, most tutorial class options are scheduled for on-campus delivery.
  • Remote tutorials - if there are circumstances beyond your control that mean you cannot attend an on-campus tutorial, we have provisionally timetabled 2 online (zoom-based) tutorials. We will decide whether to run both, one, m or either of these depending upon demand
  • REGARDLESS of whether you are doing on-campus or online tutorials, you should strive to attend all these classes 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.

PLEASE NOTE - if we will need to respond to changes due to COVID, the course convener will let you know through the course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 2,4,5,6,7,8,9

Short Essay

Description of the task

Choose ONE of the following topics

1.     If scientists make mistakes and people get injured or die, should they be held accountable (and if so, how)? Discuss using either the L’Aquilla earthquake case from Italy, or choose up to 3 specific examples based on COVID-19 in 2020-22

2.     Are anti-vaccinators are a problem in Australia? If so, what kind of problem(s)? How do you know (that is: what's the evidence)? Discuss your position on this using specific examples. This doesn't have to be about COVID vaccines!

3.     Does science have an equity problem? Discuss using specific examples.

4.     What role(s) should science communicators fulfill in encouraging climate change action? Discuss your position on this using specific examples.

5.     What are the societal implications of CRISPR? Not just the technology, but social, cultural, political, ethical implications. Be prepared to conclude your essay with a clear position ( for example: it’s good, it’s bad, it could work for X but not so much for Y, it should be regulated like this, etc.)


No matter which topic you choose, you need to

·       Give your essay a meaningful title

·       Identify ~3-6 main points you will present to support your argument or position 

o   First - State clearly what your essay is about and introduce your overall argument 

o   Next - step though the relevant points related to your argument in turn, using evidence and examples to support your claims

o   Finally - summarise and conclude you essay, remembering to refer back to your original intention (or argument) in the introduction, 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(s)

·       Draw on both formal and grey literature/ evidence as is appropriate to set the topic and argue your position

·       Incorporate science communication theory where relevant

·       Reference appropriately

·       Use clear examples to support and clarify your argument

Assessment Task 2

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

Story Assignment

Description of the task

Part 1 – annotated bibliography and framework for science-based story 

The purpose of Part 1 is to identify key, relevant resources that will form the major elements of your story in Part 2, and create a basic narrative framework that will support a sound narrative structure. 

Part 1 should 

·       Include 5-10 sources relevant to Part 2 – note, you are likely to need to draw on a variety of sources (that is: not just scientific material) 

o   For each source, write 3-6 bullets about key elements most relevant to the story you will tell in Part B

·       Present an outline for the story using a basic narrative framework. The ABT framework would work here (see week 2 lecture for details on this), but you are welcome to use something else, or combine other story-telling structures. This outline/ framework serves as a plan for what you will write and should include the main elements of your sources that will feature in Part 2, and what order you will use these to unfold your story. This could be a list of headings/ subheadings, and you may find using bullet points will help make it clear in your head, and easier for the marker to make sense of.  

Part 2 – A science story

Tell a factual story relating to an interesting science-related situation, event, person or discovery.

Science should be a part of the story, indeed a vehicle for it, but not necessarily the primary focus (you are not supposed to be writing an “explainer”). For example, your “character” could be the drug Thalidomide and how it was discovered, what went wrong, and its subsequent re-consideration for entirely different matters years later.  

Or you could talk about the Tuskegee syphilis experiments, making the people (or even just one of them) the main focus, with the syphilis experiment a supporting character. 

Or you could write about the discovery that stomach ulcers were caused by infections, and focus on Barry Marshall, rather than the intricate details of the science and the experiments.

While your story must be factual, it doesn’t need to include huge amounts of scientific detail. Continuing with Barry Marshall and ulcers example, you might name the bacteria responsible (H.Pylori), say how it was cultured in a dish, and then say anti-biotics conquered it. But there’s no need to explain how antibiotics work, or present a genetic assay or the bacteria itself - unless this is critical to the story.


1)    “story” does NOT mean “fiction” 

2)    “factual” does not mean “boring”

Use your story to bring key elements of the most relevant, interesting or unusual science-related material in your story to life. 

Referencing – Part 1 serves as your reference list for this assignment. You do not need to include in-text referencing unless you are including direct quotes from a source. 

Some general tips

·   What are the emotional hooks in the story?

·   Look for the drama, the twists, or the surprises

·   Is there tension and resolution in your story? For example, did a discovery or person attract controversy, defy the odds, or lead to large change? Perhaps things went very wrong before they finally worked out?

·   Narrative structure – for example, be guided by the “And, But, Therefore” structure, or the Dobzhansky Template (“Nothing in _____ makes sense, except in the light of _____.”) or others of your choosing.

·   You will probably not be able to include all the details about the people, places, or science elements in your story. Part of the skill we’re practising here is working out what to leave out.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,5,6,7,9

Podcast Assignment

Description of the task

Podcasts have become enormously popular. The range of podcast topics and styles is almost endless, so there really is something for everyone out there in podcast land. Podcasts can be cheap to produce and distribute, and can be created on what are now basic and common technologies, so pretty much anyone who wants to can make their own.


For this assignment, you get to build your own science-related podcast! 

Your job is to summarize a science-related issue, story, person, discovery, or discipline, that you think would appeal to your peers in SCOM1001 (your “target audience”) and create a short podcast. 

You have a lot of leeway to choose how to approach your subject matter. For example, you might focus on one, or some, of the following angles: 

·       A science-related public / social issue

·       A person or people related to a science, science issues, science discovery, science controversy, etc

·       A local matter of interest that has a clear science element

·       A particular discovery

·       A discipline area

·       An explainer of some aspect of science 

·       Got a different idea? No problem at all, BUT check with your tutor to make sure your topic will work before you start ... 

Regardless of your final choice, your podcast topic must be based on facts that have at least some science-related element(s). This is not the place to try out fictional stories.

Podcast Options 

You will need to choose one of these options for doing this assignment. 

Option A – solo 

·       The student records their podcast for 3-5 minutes on their own

·       Make sure you keep it interesting/ engaging, don’t just drone into a microphone 

·       The student receives an individual mark for their recording 

Option B – one-way pairs 

·       A (“story teller”) tells B (“reactor”) a story (3-5 minutes) and along the way B reacts to the story teller as suits the podcast. They may be someone to chat with (a “buddy” podcast), they may be there to ask questions (for example, serving as a “proxy audience”), or maybe you want to bring in an expert to add extra clout. 

·       Marks are allocated ONLY to the A (the “story teller”), not B (“reactor”) 

·       NOTE – this means you could choose to use a person who is not involved in the course as a “reactor” for this option (like a parent, a friend or you could even invite a topic expert to talk with you). 

·       Total length is 3-5 minutes: you do not get extra time for having another participant if they’re not also being graded.

Option C – two-way pairs 

This option involves two people (A and B) who are both enrolled in SCOM1001 and are being graded for the podcast. 

This is a 2-way conversation, interview, and/or exchange of information, ideas, details, responses, comments etc about the podcast topic 

Total length is 6-10 minutes (so, 3-5 minutes per person receiving a grade for the assignment) 

A and B get the same mark for the finished product

Option D – 3 way, all-in 

·       Three students (A, B & C) create a single podcast about one topic. All three are enrolled in SCOM1001 and are submitting the same item as their podcast assignment.

·       You can decide how best to organise this yourselves. For example, if you don't just have a 3-way conversation, you might have one person take on more of a hosting role, or all three of you could take turns to offer different angles or information on the topic/ story. 

·       Total time is 9-15 minutes (so, 3-5 minutes per person receiving a grade for the assignment)

·       A, B & C get the same mark for the finished product 

Breakdown of marks for the 2 elements of this assignment 

1 - The podcast recording –  25 marks of the total (30)

·       Time penalty – we will deduct 10% of the total recording mark for every 30 seconds (or part thereof) you go over time. The penalty applies only to the podcast recording element NOT the show notes. This means:

o   1-29 seconds over – no penalty 

o   30-59 seconds over, subtract 10% (2.5 marks) of the total marks for the recorded element of this assignment. 

o   60-89 seconds over, lose 20% (5 marks), 90-119 seconds over, lose 30% (7.5 marks) and so on

o   There is no time penalty for going under the time limit, the risk is it might be too short to do a good job 

2 - Show notes -- 5 marks of the total (30)

·      The show notes should feature material you drew upon specifically, tangentially, or were inspired by when creating the podcast episode

·       Show notes are where you would put things people might want to follow-up with from your podcast, or if you refer to anything specifically, you can tell your listeners to check the show notes for details

·      These could be a mix of relevant links, pictures and/or references rather than a formal reference list per se 

·       Do not include a transcript of your episode, show notes should augment, support or enhance what was in your recording. 

·       Maximum of 2 x A4 pages

There will be much more detail shared in class

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
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, discussed and discovered (or not!) during the course of the semester and reflect on your experiences. 

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 

o   easy

o   challenging, 

o   interesting, 

o   confronting, 

o   boring?

·   What’s next for you?

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.

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

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
By Appointment
Dr Rod Lamberts

Research Interests

Dr Rod Lamberts

By Appointment
By Appointment

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