• 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, Science Communication
  • Academic career PGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Brad Tucker
  • Mode of delivery Online or In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Summer Session 2022
    See Future Offerings

See https://www.anu.edu.au/covid-19-advice. In 2022, this course is entirely delivered remotely.

How has Brave New World shaped the human cloning debate? Why did forensic science enrolments boom simultaneously with the popularity of CSI and Silent Witness? How is Doctor Who useful for engaging high school students in science learning? To what extent did Frankenstein establish a negative image of scientists? Why is theatre an effective HIV/AIDS education tool in South Africa and not in Australia? What role did Star Trek's Lt Uhura play in recruiting astronauts to the NASA space program? How might The Day After Tomorrow impact the public understanding of climate change?


This course provides an introduction to the impact of fictional representations of science and scientists on public perceptions of science. It introduces research, theory and methods from this growing area of science communication as applied to fictional works including films, television programs, plays, novels, short stories and comics. Students are encouraged to share their own experiences of science-based fiction and to pursue their areas of interest through assessment. The major piece of assessment is a research project testing students' hypotheses about the impact that a work of fiction might have on public perceptions of science. The research project will be completed individually, but the research ideas will be developed as a team with a view to obtaining publishable results.

This course is co-taught with undergraduates, but the assessments are different.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. describe, question and critique the historical developments in the ways that fiction has been discussed by science communication scholars;
  2. distinguish between different fictional representations of science and scientists in terms of their significance for the science-society relationship;
  3. apply theory and research about science in popular fiction to science communication practice;
  4. think reflexively about the study and application of science in popular fiction and their place within it;
  5. manage a public science communication project that involves both collaboration and independent learning;
  6. critique and correct others’ public science communication efforts in a professional and encouraging manner;
  7. conduct science communication research using social science research methods such as content analysis, focus groups and questionnaires;
  8. critically evaluate strengths and weaknesses of current research methods for investigating fiction’s influence on public attitudes, knowledge and beliefs.

Other Information

The intensive week in 2021 will be 18 - 22 January.

Indicative Assessment

  1. 3-minute small-group presentation on Monday, evaluating the role of science and fiction in the piece (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,7,8]
  2. 3-minute small-group presentation on Friday, evaluating the piece in light of the week (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,7,8]
  3. Research project proposal. This should include a literature review, content analysis of the piece(s), lesson plan/exhibit design/project plan, and evaluation methods (35) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
  4. Research project - carrying out the project and analyzing the results (45) [LO 5,6,7]

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:

  • The face-to-face component will be delivered in intensive mode over one week, Monday - Friday 9am - 5 pm (total 35 hours). Students participating online will be able to join activities remotely via Zoom.
  • Approximately 95 hours of self directed study will include pre-reading before the intensive week and assessments to be submitted after the after the intensive week.

Inherent Requirements

To be determined

Requisite and Incompatibility

Incompatible with SCOM2003

Prescribed Texts

Krueger RA and Casey MA. (2014) Focus Groups: A Practical Guide for Applied Research. UK: Sage (5th edition).
Recommended text: Gilbert J.K. & Stocklmayer S. (eds.) (2013) Communication and Engagement with Science and Technology: Issues and Dilemmas. A reader in science communication. New York and London: Routledge.
Other readings provided online.

Assumed Knowledge



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
2022 $4200
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2022 $6000
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.

Summer Session

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
1535 10 Jan 2022 17 Jan 2022 21 Jan 2022 20 Feb 2022 In Person View
1536 10 Jan 2022 21 Jan 2022 21 Jan 2022 20 Feb 2022 Online View

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