• Class Number 3742
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Rod Lamberts
    • Dr Rod Lamberts
  • Class Dates
  • Class Start Date 19/02/2024
  • Class End Date 24/05/2024
  • Census Date 05/04/2024
  • Last Date to Enrol 26/02/2024
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.

Whether you are on campus or studying online, there are a variety of online platforms you will use to participate in your study program. These could include videos 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/or photo/scan for handwritten work and drawings, and home-based assessment.

ANU outlines recommended student system requirements to ensure you are able to participate fully in your learning. Other information is also available about the various Learning Platforms you may use.

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.

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.


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 NOTE: no tutorials in Week 1
2 Science communication: Telling stories
3 Science and pop culture (humour, art, and more)
4 Rhetoric, Persuasion & argument NOTE: no f-2-f lecture in Week 4 (due to Canberra Day public holiday)See Wattle for material on this week's topic.
5 Sites and spaces of science communication Assessment - story assignment due
6 Social media and science communication
7 Informal science learning and international capacity building
8 Science, science communication and gender NOTE: NO TUTES this week (due to ANZAC DAY public holiday)Assessment - essay due
9 Science communication and science (in) fiction
10 Responsible innovation and sci comm
11 Advocacy and activism. Critiques 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 your MyTimetable. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Learning Outcomes
Story assignment 30 % 24/03/2024 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9
Short essay 30 % 28/04/2024 5,6,8,9
Podcast assignment 30 % 19/05/2024 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9
Reflection 10 % 26/05/2024 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 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.


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 – 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-19, the course convener will let you know through the course Wattle site.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 24/03/2024
Learning Outcomes: 2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9

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) 
  • 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.

Late submission possible with legitimate extenuating circumstances – see ANU policies and SCOM1001 course information wattle for details OR ask your tutor

Assessment Task 2

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 28/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 5,6,8,9

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 2020-23

2.     Are anti-vaccinators 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

Late submission possible with legitimate extenuating circumstances – see ANU policies and SCOM1001 course information wattle for details OR ask your tutor

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 19/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,9

Podcast assignment

BRIEF overview of the task - for full details, please refer to Wattle

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.

Coming up with a topic, format and structure


1)“story” doesn’t mean “fiction” 

2)“factual” doesn’t mean “boring”

Ideal audience –

  • It helps to have an ideal audience member in your mind when thinking about your podcast. Imagine you are speaking to a person from your ideal audience, then design and record your podcast for them.
  • Your audience will have the same average knowledge, reading level etc as a SCOM1001 student.
  • This doesn't mean you have to somehow find a “perfect” topic that would appeal to absolutely everyone in SCOM1001, but it should clearly suit at least  sub-group of your peers.

Content/ subject matter – some tips and advice

  • Imagine what might be interesting, relevant and engaging for your audience. Also make sure it’s interesting to you. This assignment shouldn’t bore you!
  • Think about who might care about your subject (who should care, who doesn’t, who doesn't but should, who shouldn’t but does, etc)?
  • You might talk about how your topic looks/ has been represented in “the” media (this could include social media as well)
  • Perhaps compare public conversations and representations with the science literature and tell your listeners what most stands out (most different, most similar) especially to a science communication person
  • Look for engaging people, stories, successes (or failures) related to the science that sits behind your topic
  • Talk about why you think your topic is interesting, exciting, important, fun, horrible, etc.
  • There could be a number of great ways to present your material, make sure you pick one that has some shape to it, don't ramble, or fall into the trap of just listing facts!
  • Remember to pay attention to narrative structure and the story arc.

Presentation / delivery style

  • Decide whether you’ll be serious, light-hearted, authoritative, naive (i.e., you represent the voice of the audience)?
  • Delivery should suit your personal style(s) and your relationship to the topic


  • Will it be a conversation between people, an interview, documentary style, or possibly an explainer?
  • Will it be fully scripted, spontaneous, or a little bit of both?


  • Give your podcast a name, this will help set the scene for what it is, and help audiences decide if it’s for them
  • For example - “Preggers: everything you wanted to know about pre-natal vitamins”
  • You could choose to make it part of a pretend series, it’s way of giving it context without having to make the whole series. For example, you might be into solar energy, but can’t talk about everything in one short podcast, so you could call you podcast “We Love Solar” and include in your introduction “In this episode of We Love Solar, we’re talking about BIG batteries”...


  • As a rule, your podcast should have a clear beginning, middle and end. It shouldn’t just ramble and then suddenly stop when you run out of time.
  • At a minimum, you could try using a straightforward And-But-Therefore structure. This will help guide the narrative arc of your podcast.


Each assignment will have TWO files associated with it.

1) the podcast audio file

This should be a single file, preferably in .m4a or .mp3 / .mp4 format.

Do not submit sound files in obscure, or niche, formats, because staff may not be able to open them.

Make sure you check the file plays and the voice(s) are audible - we can’t mark what we can’t hear!


  • We might not be able to use Turnitin for the audio file component
  • Instructions on how to submit this component will be provided closer to the submission date.

2) the show notes document

Indicate which Option you chose - A, B, C, or D - at the top of this document:

If you chose Options A or B:

  • Submit your own file individually via Turnitin

If you chose option C or D:

  • One person from the pair or trio should submit on behalf of everyone
  • ONE document with the show notes and the names and u-numbers of the people who should receive a grade for this assignment


Please include the names and u-numbers of all people involved in the assignment in the show note document

Also make sure you note the name of the podcast in the text document so that everyone receives a grade for the audio component

Late submission possible with legitimate extenuating circumstances – see ANU policies and SCOM1001 course information on wattle for details OR ask your tutor

Assessment Task 4

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 26/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 5


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?

Late submission possible with legitimate extenuating circumstances – see ANU policies and SCOM1001 course information wattle for details OR ask your tutor

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

Individual assessment tasks may or may not allow for late submission. Policy regarding late submission is detailed below:

  • Late submission not permitted. If submission of assessment tasks without an extension after the due date is not permitted, a mark of 0 will be awarded.
  • Late submission permitted. 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

Story-time, essay and reflection will be 'returned' via turnitin. Podcast feedback will be included on the show notes in turnitin

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
(02) 6125 0747
<p>&nbsp;<a href="mailto:rod.lamberts@anu.edu.au" rel="noopener norefe

Research Interests

Dr Rod Lamberts

By Appointment
By Appointment
Dr Rod Lamberts
6125 0747

Research Interests

Dr Rod Lamberts

By Appointment
By Appointment

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