• Class Number 4546
  • Term Code 3350
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery Online
    • Dr Matt Nurse
    • Dr Matt Nurse
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 31/08/2023
  • Class End Date 23/10/2023
  • Census Date 15/09/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 04/09/2023
SELT Survey Results

This course focuses on the creation of clearer and more effective ways to communicate scientific matters to larger audiences. It provides participants with a thorough and practical understanding of the process used in developing a communication plan including the development of a strategic framework and accompanying action plan that allocates resources, responsibilities and timeframes. It has a strong emphasis on relating theory to current industry best practice in implementing a strategic approach to planning communication activities. The major project component is based around field work and evaluation of real life science communication strategies.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an advanced understanding of the relationship between a strategic foundation and tactics in communication planning.
  2. Expertly explain the difference between a strategy and a tactic.
  3. Synthesise and apply research-based and experience-based knowledge to strategic planning.
  4. Analyse critically and reflect on the approach taken by current science communication strategies.
  5. Use current theory to develop communication strategies and tactical plans.
  6. Craft a professional standard verbal presentation to interpret and communicate strategies and tactical plans to organisation managers and executives.

Research-Led Teaching

The course is based on research into the development of science based communication strategies and supported by current industry based examples. The need for a strategic based approach to science communication has been informed by research undertaken by Lawrie Kirk. This research investigated science communication capacity building needs for Pacific NGOs, resulting in a recommendation for ways that NGOs could respond to UNESCO’s new strategic direction. 

The approach used in this course for the development of a science based communication strategy and supporting tactical plan has also been successfully used and demonstrated in the UK, Asia, Australia, Canada and the USA. The workshop technique for delivering tactics has been continually tested since its development in 2006 and is annually revised prior to the delivery of each intensive course. The most recent review of this approach was for a commercial application in the UK in June 2018 where the approach was tested and compared against a range of current coaching and collaborative techniques. 

This course is highly research-led in at least four ways:

  • the course readings and lecture content cover influential and current examples of science communication strategies;
  • in one workshop activity you will learn the skills needed to critically differentiate between strategy and tactical activities and how to facilitate a group activity to select and prioritise communication tactics;
  • in the first assignment, you will undertake a desktop review of an existing science communication strategy and analyse this data to present your findings, emulating a presentation to a project Steering Committee or Management Board; and
  • in phase 2, you will read and summarise communication information from the selected communication strategy and translate this into a concise report that reviews the strengths and weakness of the existing strategy as well as prioritised communication tactics for that organisation.

Required Resources

Students are required to undertake a review of the communication activities of a science based organisation. This review uses the framework that is introduced in the course. Students will require access to a webcam and internet for the two webinars.

A list of recommended pre course readings will be provided in Wattle. Resources used in each day are also posted on Wattle.

To fully participate in online learning, students need:

  • A computer or laptop.
  • 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

The presentation for Assignment 1 is delivered to the CPAS lecture room using existing audio visual facilities. Students can use their own computer, video camera and microphone facilities to present via Zoom.

Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

  • detailed, personalised written comments on each assessment, including corrections on the text itself, summary feedback on overall strengths and weaknesses
  • up to two reviews of draft assignments are offered. Drafts are not accepted for review less than 72 hrs before the scheduled submission time. Drafts are submitted on wattle and when submitted a student is required to notify the lecturer
  • opportunities to discuss that feedback with the course convener
  • summary feedback to the whole class where appropriate and relevant
  • for participation-oriented assignments, a clear guide to the marking rubric before the assignment, plus personalised feedback upon request.

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 Overview

This course provides a thorough and practical understanding of the process used in developing a communication strategy. It includes the development of a strategic framework and a tactical plan that allocates resources and time frames. The focus is on how to ensure your science communication activities work together and with other parts of an organisation. What does a science related communication strategy look like? How can I get segment my audiences? How do I select and prioritise communication activities? and how do I evaluate the success of my communication activities?

Topics include the development of a communication strategy, defining communication outcomes, segmenting your audience and defining desired relationships with stakeholders. There is a focus on encouraging students to select and prioritise science communication activities. Skills gained in strategy development and tactic selection provided in this course are also applicable to many other nonscientific areas.

Why study this course? This course builds on successive courses held since 2006. An intensive week residential school will be used to deliver the course. The course has two key phases and the proposed outcomes for each lecture and tutorial are provided in the course schedule below. Emphasis is place on developing an agreed strategic approach within the context of science communication. The outputs from this course can be utilised by the participants to undertake a practical review of how a science based organisation approaches their planning and delivery of communication activities.

Phase one - Building a strategic approach to communication planning. In this phase the students will be shown how to take a more strategic approach to communication planning using a process that has been developed and refined by the course conveners over the past 20 years. There are two assessable pieces of work related to this phase; a presentation to the group at the end of the week and a report of a desktop review of a science based communication strategy. This report is to be delivered after the residential course. The presentation and the report require the students to show their understanding of the strategic process by undertaking a desktop review of an organisation’s communication strategy. Support for developing both assessable pieces of work will be provided by group work and tutorials during the residential week. There will be one video tutorial via Zoom during the week starting 18th September; the purpose of this tutorial is to provide further guidance (if required) on the report. The date and time for this tutorial will be finalised with the participants during the course.

Phase two – Developing a communication tactical plan. In this phase the students will be shown an interactive workshop technique that assists a group in developing a tactical plan. Learning is reinforced by an assessable piece of work where the students will be required to present their findings at the end of the week and then submit a report on the tactical aspects of the strategy reviewed in Phase one. Tutorials and a group demonstration of the interactive workshop technique are provided to assist in students in the assessable work. 


Science communication students can use any recognised academic reference system of their choosing in SCOM courses, provided referencing is complete, comprehensive and correct. Referencing and academic literature searching will be discussed in lectures, tutorials and readings in the first half of the course.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Optional webinar (Tutorial 1)Pre-course webinar (optional) - held 2 weeks before course commencement. Students will be advised of the date and time.
  • Provide outline of the week activity
  • Outline of assignments and pre course work
  • Will be recorded and placed on Wattle
Proposed outcomes
  • Clarification of the course content
  • Identification of organisation to be used for individual case study
2 Day 1 - Lecture 1Introduction and overview
  • Course outline
  • Performance indicators/key milestones
  • Sharing of experience in group
  • Expectations and principles
  • Communication methods
Proposed outcomes
  • Understanding of focus of course
  • Appreciation of principles behind using an industry based lecturer
  • Acceptance of phases and key milestones
  • Appreciation of other experience in class members 
3 Day 1 - Tutorial 2Issuing of assignments for subject Proposed outcomes
  • Overview of assessment tasks
  • Understanding of expectations of assessable work
  • Overview of the use of Turnitin – the ANU’s web based text matching software
4 Day 1 - Lecture 2Strategic Communication Planning -
  • Why plan?
  • Examples of planning cycles
  • Identifying ownership and allocation of resources
  • Case study examples
  • Defining Communication partners
  • Differences between a strategy and a tactic
Proposed outcomes
  • Appreciation of need to undertake a strategic approach to communication
  • Understanding of different ways communication can be planned
  • Acceptance that ownership and resource inventory is a mandatory first step
  • How to segment communication partners into broad categories
  • Appreciation of the difference between a communication strategy and a tactic 
5 Day 1 - Lecture 3Defining Relationships with Communication Partners -
  • Why define relationships
  • How to define relationships
  • Group role play
  • Principles of qualitative evaluation 
 Proposed outcomes
  • Acceptance of the need to define relationships Understanding of principles of qualitative evaluation (built on from the definition of relationships)
  • Understanding of how to facilitate this step in a group 
6 Day 2 - Lecture 4Communication Tactics
  • Defining your communication outcomes
  • Risk Communication
  • How to select tactics
  • Examples of tactics use in a communication plan
Proposed outcomes
  • Acceptance of the need to define desired communication outcomes in a strategic communication plan
  • Awareness of tactics that can be used that are inexpensive but effective
  • Appreciation of the wide array of tactics that can be utilised Understanding of how to cull and prioritise tactics

7 Day 2 - Tutorial 3Outline of second assignment
  • Assistance with second piece of assessable work
  • Selection of tactics
Proposed outcomes
  • Clarification of tactics needed for selected case studies
  • Clarification of expectations of assessable tasks associated with tactics 
8 Day 2 - Lecture 5Tactical planning
  • Revision of previous phase
  • Outline of how to undertake a tactical plan • Principles of developing a tactical plan 
Proposed outcomes
  • Appreciation of principles involved in developing a Communication Tactical Plan
  • Appreciation of the difference between a tactical plan and a strategic plan
  • Preparation for following days interactive workshop

9 Day 2 - Tutorial 4Assignment work
  • Individual work on assignments
Proposed outcome
  • Clarification of tactics needed for selected case studies
  • Clarification of expectations of assessable tasks associated with tactics 
10 Day 2 - Lecture 6Developing a tactical plan
  • Revision of previous phase
  • Outline of how to undertake a tactical plan
  • Principles of action plan workshop (to be held next day)
Proposed outcome
  • Preparation for following days interactive workshop

11 Day 3 - Lecture 7Developing a tactical plan - 3 hour lecture/group exerciseA workshop technique that can be used to allow group participation in developing a communication tactical plan. This is a whole group exercise; there may be students from the co-taught postgraduate class joining online. The workshop is interactive. Please note: This is an enrichment activity and is not required for assessment tasks. Proposed outcome
  • Awareness of one technique that can be used to effectively gain group input into a tactical plan
  • Understanding of the value of group participation Appreciation of the need to have a strategic foundation established prior to undertaking a tactical plan 

12 Day 3 - Lecture 8Workshop Debrief
  • Debrief on the tactical plan – how to document findings
  • Value of mind mapping in documenting strategies and tactics
  • How to present your strategy/tactical plan
  • Analysis of results 
Proposed outcomes
  • How to analyse data from the workshop
  • An understanding of how to document outputs from the workshop in meaningful ways to the end users Understanding of the different ways a strategy and tactical plan can be reported
  • Value of mind mapping techniques to illustrate relationship between strategies and tactics 
13 Day 3 - Tutorial 5Assignment work
  • Preparation for Friday presentation 
Proposed outcome
  • Group discussion on desktop review
  • Time for individual discussion on reviews
14 Day 4 - Lecture 9Costing and planning the implementation of the tactical plan
  • Principles of Project management and Group collaboration
  • How to ensure the tactics will be delivered and how to measure tactics (Overseas guest presentation)
Proposed outcomes
  • Appreciation of how to link in with other methodologies Understanding of project management principles and how they can assist strategy and tactical implementation 
  • Understanding of how collaboration is important for the delivery of a Communication Strategy and provide ways of measuring team collaboration.
15 Day 4 - Lecture 10Presenting your tactical plan
  • Marketing your plan
  • Internal communication
  • Group exercise – questioning and reflection on content of the week 
Proposed outcomes
  • Appreciation of the need to ensure the plan is well presented Understanding of ways plans can be marketed internally and externally
  • Final clarification of outstanding issues
  • Collation of typical questions relating to science communication strategies and tactics; group work to develop responses
16 Day 4 - Lecture 11Course Overview and Career paths in strategic communication planning 
  • Summary of key learning points
  • Completion of group question and answer exercise
  • Career opportunities that use this strategic approach
Proposed outcomes
  • Completion of group exercise
  • Overview and revision of key aspects before presentation Case studies of use of this process
  • Understanding of potential career paths 
17 Day 5 - Lecture 12Course overview
  • revision of key aspects
  • final group question and answer exercise
  • preparation for follow on Webinar/trial run of video conferencing platform
Proposed outcome
  • Clarification of any outstanding issues
  • Finalisation of logistics for Webinar

18 Day 5 - Tutorial 6Finalising presentation (assignment 1) - NB: This time can also be used for presentations if the group is large or a student(s) cannot attend Friday
  • Time for group and/or individual discussion on Friday presentation
Proposed outcomes
  • Clarification of any subject areas
  • Finalise presentations, checking equipment

19 Day 5 - Lecture 13Peer presentation by each member of their desktop review – 15 mins each person with role playing of audience by other members Proposed outcomes
  • Delivery of assessable piece
  • Ability to articulate and communicate key findings of the desktop review
  • Guidance on how to present these findings in the written report 
20 Day 5 - Tutorial 7Second assignment work and course close
  • Guidance on the preparation of written report
  • Individual assistance
Proposed outcomes
  • Clarity of expectation of written work
  • Opportunity for individual assistance
21 Webinar - Tutorial 8Follow up webinar (1 hr) Proposed outcomes
  • Clarification of any concepts discussed during the week
  • Assistance on the second assignment

Tutorial Registration

Tutorials are incorporated into the week intensive course. Each day is a comprised of a combination of lectures, tutorials and group work starting at 9 am and concluding 5 pm with an hour for lunch. Tutorial times will also incorporate some time to work on the first assignment.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Assignment 1- Presentation of preliminary desktop findings 30 % 08/09/2023 25/09/2023 1,2,4,6
Assignment 2 - Report on desktop findings 70 % 23/10/2023 13/11/2023 2,3,4,5

* 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 ANU Online website Students may choose not to submit assessment items through Turnitin. In this instance you will be required to submit, alongside the assessment item itself, hard copies of all references included in the assessment item.

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.


All students are expected to deliver assignment 1 (a presentation to the group) on Friday 8 September 2023.

This course will be delivered online. This is the online class for the Winter 2023 offering of SCOM6501; enrolment in a separate, concurrent in-person class is also possible for postgraduates.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 08/09/2023
Return of Assessment: 25/09/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,6

Assignment 1- Presentation of preliminary desktop findings

This task will require the participant to present their desktop assessment of a science-related communication strategy and supporting tactics.

Objective: This task will require the participant to present their desktop assessment findings of a science related communication strategy. Each participant will need to display a thorough knowledge of both the strategic and tactical planning process demonstrated in this course. This presentation will simulate a real life experience of presenting to a high level Executive, Project Board or Project Steering Committee.

Activity: Each participant is required present to the rest of the class which may include other CPAS staff and students. For undergraduates this will be a maximum 10 min presentation (plus 5 min question time) on their key findings from investigation of the strategic intent and tactical delivery of a science related communication strategy. For postgraduate students (SCOM6501) the presentation will be a maximum of 15 minutes and 5-minute question time. The expectation is that the presentation will be to a professional standard and demonstrate expert review and critical analysis. Prior to the presentation there will be an opportunity for each participant to establish the context and background to the organisation that was reviewed. The order of presentation is determined by random selection.

Presentation: The presentation is to be based on an assumption that the audience represents the Executive of the relevant organisation or a Project Steering/Management Committee. The key findings of the analysis and any recommendations for improvement need to be clearly and effectively articulated. To be eligible for assessment, all presentations are to be delivered on Day 5 (Friday 8th September 2023). Presentations may commence on the afternoon of Thursday 7th September, depending on class size. Note that presentations will be recorded to assist with marking.

Online students should note the recommended resources required to present via Zoom during this session.


Presentation (4 marks)Content (8 marks)Relevance to the audience (3 marks)Understanding of strategy and tactics (15 marks) Total (30 marks)

Assessment Task 2

Value: 70 %
Due Date: 23/10/2023
Return of Assessment: 13/11/2023
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4,5

Assignment 2 - Report on desktop findings

Each participant is required to understand the development of the strategic intent of a Communication Strategy through a desktop review of a science related Communication Strategy. They will also be required to then report on how they have identified and analysed the tactical planning aspects associated with the selected Communication Strategy. Postgraduate participants will be required to demonstrate expert review and critical analysis.

Objective: This task will require the participant to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of the strategic and tactical communication planning process demonstrated in this course. Activity: Each participant is required to understand the development of the strategic intent of a Communication Strategy through a desktop review of a science related Communication Strategy. They will also be required to then report on how they have identified and analysed the tactical planning aspects associated with the selected Communication Strategy.

A desktop review is an industry term that requires a person not to undertake primary research but undertake an assessment using information that is publicly available. You MUST NOT undertake primary research by contact with the organisation, as that requires clearances from the University. Assistance will be provided in tutorials dedicated to this piece of assessment.

The presentation on Friday 8th September will also provide an opportunity for peer review and feedback that can be included in the written report that is due after the presentation.

The following are the minimum areas that need to be covered in the report:

  • Identification of key communication partners and audiences with groupings and categories
  • Relationships – are they defined for each partner and if so what are they?
  • Key communication messages
  • Communication objective(s)/Outcomes
  • Key performance indicators (measurement or evaluation criteria)
  • Identification of specific tactics used and prioritisation
  • Measurement and evaluation of the tactics chosen.

Presentation: The reporting, analysis and recommendations on suitability of the information reviewed must not exceed 10 A4 pages (12 pt font). An executive summary must be provided at the start of the report and is included within the 10 page limit.

Please note: Postgraduate students are expected to demonstrate an advanced understanding of the concepts covered in this course, specifically the difference between a communication strategy and supporting tactical plan. The page length and marking breakdown will remain the same for all class participants but the postgraduate presentation is expected to be of a higher standard. The postgraduate report will need to demonstrate critical analysis supported by scholarly literature. Recommendations will also need to be directly linked to the critical analysis with the overall report keeping within the 10 page limit. Submissions over 10 pages may be reviewed and feedback provided but the content on additional pages will not contribute to the final mark.


Prioritisation of audiences & partners (10 marks)Objectives and desired relationships (15 marks)Relevance of key messages to objectives (10 marks)Tactical plan (15 marks)Evaluation criteria and methods (10 marks)Presentation and referencing (10 marks)

Total (70 marks)

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of our culture as a community of scholars. At its heart, academic integrity is about behaving ethically. This means that all members of the community commit to honest and responsible scholarly practice and to upholding these values with respect and fairness. The Australian National University commits to embedding the values of academic integrity in our teaching and learning. We ensure that all members of our community 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 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 University has policies and procedures in place to promote academic integrity and manage academic misconduct. Visit the following Academic honesty & plagiarism website for more information about academic integrity and what the ANU considers academic misconduct. The ANU offers a number of services to assist students with their assignments, examinations, and other learning activities. The Academic Skills and Learning Centre offers a number of workshops and seminars that you may find useful for your studies.

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 which is available on the Wattle page of this course.

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

No submission of the first assessment task without an extension after the due date will be permitted. If an assessment task is not submitted by the due date, a mark of 0 will be awarded. If you missed the deadline due to serious circumstances that were unforeseen and outside of your control, that genuinely prevented you from completing this assessment, and you have a medical certificate or other authoritative evidence to support your claim, then the Course Convener will set alternative assessment to avoid unfair disadvantage to you. If you need an extension, you must request it in writing on or before the due date. If you have documented and appropriate medical (or other) evidence that demonstrates you were not able to request an extension on or before the due date, you may be able to request an extension after the due date.

Irrespective of when you request it, to receive an extension you must provide a copy of any evidence that documents why you need an extension (e.g. medical certificate, counsellor’s note, police report, etc). You will be granted the extension only if the circumstances necessitating an extension are beyond your control and could not have been reasonably anticipated, avoided or guarded against. Ongoing disabilities and medical conditions are a possible exception to this; if you are registered with Access and Inclusion and they have determined that you may be entitled to extensions routinely.

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. Assignments submitted more than 10 working days after the due date, or on or after the date specified for the return of the assessment item, will not be accepted and will receive a mark of zero.

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

The written component of assessment one and the whole of assessment two will be returned to students via Wattle.

Extensions and Penalties

Extensions and late submission of assessment pieces are covered by the Student Assessment (Coursework) Policy and Procedure The Course Convener may grant extensions 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

No re-submission is permitted as all students have had the opportunity to submit two drafts.

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 Matt Nurse

Research Interests

Communication strategy, misinformation about science, theories of science communication, social psychology

Dr Matt Nurse

Monday 09:00 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 17:00
Thursday 09:00 17:00
Friday 09:00 17:00
Dr Matt Nurse

Research Interests

Dr Matt Nurse

Monday 09:00 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 17:00
Thursday 09:00 17:00
Friday 09:00 17:00

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