• Class Number 3947
  • Term Code 3330
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Prof Joan Leach
    • Prof Joan Leach
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 20/02/2023
  • Class End Date 26/05/2023
  • Census Date 31/03/2023
  • Last Date to Enrol 27/02/2023
    • Dr Dan Santos
SELT Survey Results

This course introduces students to the history, theory and practice of science communication at an advanced level. It covers contemporary competing theories in science communication, the historical roots of the discipline, fundamental practical skills for communicating science with the public, and a deep understanding of science communication professional practice. It provides a solid foundation for further studies in science communication, touching on multiple communication mediums, considerations of different aims and audiences, and some specifics of communicating particular kinds of scientific information. Students will develop foundational science communication research skills in this course.

The course is compulsory for students in the Master of Science Communication and Master of Science Communication Outreach programs, but postgraduates in other disciplines, particularly in the sciences, can also benefit from its overview of the current science communication landscape.

The course will be run as a combination of online content, face-to-face or online classes and an intensive component on-campus.

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 and critically evaluate published papers on science communication history, theory and practice.
  2. Critically analyse examples of science communication practice in light of theory and best practice literature.
  3. Synthesize relevant research in science communication and relevant disciplines and apply to practice
  4. Critically evaluate the communication context of scientific issues and apply that evaluation to communication practice.

Research-Led Teaching

This course is designed to introduce postgraduate students to research in science communication. This includes understanding the possible orientations of science communication research, the aims of science communication research, and the methods used across different science communication orientations. Weeks 9 and 10 include journal review activities that discuss the research front in science communication. The Golem project asks students to do independent research (guided by the lecturer) and write for a research audience.

Required Resources

Required readings are listed on Wattle and available online through ANU Library and other sources.

 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). Feedback can also be provided to Course Conveners and teachers via the Student Experience of Learning & Teaching (SELT) feedback program. SELT surveys are confidential and also provide the Colleges and ANU Executive with opportunities to recognise excellent teaching, and opportunities for improvement.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 Week 1 (20 Feb) Introduction to course and introduction to Science Communication as a field of research and practice. Reading list will be posted to Wattle. There are readings for each week of the semester and regular writing tasks.
2 Week 3 (6 March) Models of Science Communication
4 Week 4 (13 March) CANBERRA DAY HOLIDAY (International Women's Day) As our class meeting will not happen due to the holiday, there will be a series of activities/readings for you to complete this week.
5 Week 5 (20 March) PUS/PEST/PAS: Understanding, Engagement, Awareness
6 Week 6 (27 March) Trust in science
7 Week 7 (17 April) Ethics of Science Communication
8 Week 8 (24 April) Oral exam ORAL EXAM: the week of 24 April will include scheduled oral exams for the course.
9 Week 9 (1 May) Science Communication Research Overview
10 Week 10 (8 May) Introduction to Project Journal review presentations in tutorial, written components due online.
11 Week 11 (15 May) Methods in Science Communication Overview Continuing journal review presentations in class.
12 Final Week (22 May) Preparation for Project Submission/Course summary Project submission due in exam period.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Regular writings 30 % 27/02/2023 1,2,3,4
Oral exam on science communication history and theory 20 % 24/04/2023 1,2,4
Journal Review 20 % 08/05/2023 1,2,4
The Project 30 % 09/06/2023 1,2,3,4

* 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 Integrity 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 Skills website. 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.


Students are expected to attend tutorials and contribute to discussions. When this is not possible students are expected to listen to the audio recording(s) of all lectures and to attend online tutorial.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 27/02/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

Regular writings

Weeks 1-7 have associated writing tasks. These writings are 500 words long (+/- 10%) and will respond to a prompt posted on Wattle. You will receive feedback on the content and writing.

Writing 1 will be worth 5%, writing 2 worth 10% and writing 3 worth 15%, totalling 30%.

The date range for these tasks indicates the approximate due date for the first task. It is intended that the marked tasks will be returned the week following submission. Further details can be found on the Course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 2

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 24/04/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4

Oral exam on science communication history and theory

Please note, that where a date range is used in the Assessment Summary in relation to exams, the due date and return date indicate the approximate timeframe in which the exam will be held. Students should consult the course Wattle site to confirm the date, time and venue of the exam.

The oral exam assesses student understanding of the material and readings from weeks 1-7. The oral exam takes the form of a short (10 minutes or less), friendly (nobody is trying to 'catch you out'), oral interview (in person or where needed, by zoom) where students select questions randomly 'out of a hat' to answer and discuss with the course lecturer and tutor. While these 'orals' were a mainstay of University education in previous eras, many students have never had one. However, in previous years of this course, students have been surprised at how much they enjoyed talking about what they've learned and demonstrating their knowledge. The process is designed to help students summarise their knowledge gained in the course and put it to use to key questions that are asked about science communication.

Assessment Task 3

Value: 20 %
Due Date: 08/05/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4

Journal Review

This t?ask requires the critical evaluation of an article from a science communication journal to support your project.

There is a written component (10%) and an oral component (10%). The oral component of the assessment will be peer-evaluated as well as evaluated by the lecture and tutor. This assessment will happen in weeks 10 and 11 in tutorials.

Assessment Task 4

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 09/06/2023
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4

The Project

This research and writing task requires writing a science communication chapter for an imagined book series. In 2022, students will have two options--to write a chapter of The Golem series which focussed on an aspect of science communication OR to write a chapter of a book on the Covid-19 pandemic that introduces a key science communication concept or issue. The chapter is 2500 words and introduces an issue of science communication and theoretical concepts, methods and analyses to make sense of this issue.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is a core part of the ANU culture as a community of scholars. The University’s students are an integral part of that community. The academic integrity principle commits all students to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support, academic integrity, and to uphold this commitment by behaving honestly, responsibly and ethically, and with respect and fairness, in scholarly practice.

The University expects all staff and students to be familiar with the academic integrity principle, the Academic Integrity Rule 2021, the Policy: Student Academic Integrity and Procedure: Student Academic Integrity, and to uphold high standards of academic integrity to ensure the quality and value of our qualifications.

The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 is a legal document that the University uses to promote academic integrity, and manage breaches of the academic integrity principle. The Policy and Procedure support the Rule by outlining overarching principles, responsibilities and processes. The Academic Integrity Rule 2021 commences on 1 December 2021 and applies to courses commencing on or after that date, as well as to research conduct occurring on or after that date. Prior to this, the Academic Misconduct Rule 2015 applies.


The University commits to assisting all students to understand how to engage in academic work in ways that are consistent with, and actively support academic integrity. All coursework students must complete the online Academic Integrity Module (Epigeum), and Higher Degree Research (HDR) students are required to complete research integrity training. The Academic Integrity website provides information about services available to assist students with their assignments, examinations and other learning activities, as well as understanding and upholding academic integrity.

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

The Academic Skills website has information to assist you with your writing and assessments. The website includes information about Academic Integrity including referencing requirements for different disciplines. There is also information on Plagiarism and different ways to use source material.

Returning Assignments

Assignments will be returned via wattle or 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

Resubmission is not permitted.

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).

Prof Joan Leach
(02) 6125 0498

Research Interests

Science Communication, Rhetoric of Science, Public engagement with Science, Social Epistemology, Responsible Research and Innovation

Prof Joan Leach

Monday 14:00 15:00
Monday By Appointment
Prof Joan Leach
(02) 6125 0498

Research Interests

Prof Joan Leach

Monday 14:00 15:00
Monday By Appointment
Dr Dan Santos
02 61250498

Research Interests

Dr Dan Santos

Monday 12:00 13:00

Responsible Officer: Registrar, Student Administration / Page Contact: Website Administrator / Frequently Asked Questions