• Class Number 2921
  • Term Code 3430
  • Class Info
  • Unit Value 6 units
  • Mode of Delivery In Person
    • Dr Matt Nurse
    • Dr Matt Nurse
  • 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

For the public to be able to make informed decisions about important scientific issues, they need to have access to accurate yet understandable information. The best vehicle for this is through the print and electronic media. However very few scientists are trained to communicate effectively with the media, which can make informing the public a difficult process.

This course examines the relationship between science and the media and the cultural differences that often make the relationship difficult. Topics to be covered include an analysis of science-media relations from both the scientists' and journalists' perspective; the style in which science is reported in the media; and how best to present science in the media. This is a skills-based course, the aim of which is to train science students in the production of material suitable for publication or broadcast in the popular media. Students will have opportunities to practice the skills of this course in ‘real life settings’ gaining valuable industry experience and contacts.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Identify and apply the processes involved in getting an issue into the media
  2. Apply the basics of print media production
  3. Discuss, and where appropriate explain, current issues in journalism
  4. Differentiate the communication needs of various audiences
  5. Evaluate the suitability of topics for different media, and examine and select appropriate background material for a story

Research-Led Teaching

This course encompasses the four main aspects of research-led teaching. There is a focus on research content; the curriculum is structured around the existing body of literature in the field and the core theoretical understandings. Students are encouraged to actively critique and reflect upon the literature in their own analyses of science in the media. This provides students with a sense of the research process and problems as the course examines how the ‘treatment’ of science in the media has changed over time, and how the concept of ‘best practice’ has also evolved. The course also contains a core element of research process, as students are required to undertake their own original research for the majority of the assessment tasks, including for an external organisation.

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.

Class Schedule

Week/Session Summary of Activities Assessment
1 News values and hard news
2 What is science journalism for? 
3 Plain English
4 Framing Assessment one (Writing assignment) due Monday,11 March
5 Communication plans & media releases
6 Misinformation and reporting controversies Assessment two (Major project group progress report) due Thursday, 28 March
7 Writing features and storytelling
8 Science and social media 
9 Writing for a youth audience
10 Solutions journalism and other reporting approaches Assessment three (Promotion assignment) due Monday, 6 May
11 Ethics, society & future of the media
12 Undergraduate group presentations Assessment four (Presentation), Tuesday, 21 May

Tutorial Registration

There are no separately timetabled tutorials for SCOM2016, so there is no tutorial registration required. The only timetabled activity is a lectorial.

Assessment Summary

Assessment task Value Due Date Return of assessment Learning Outcomes
Writing assignment 15 % 11/03/2024 25/03/2024 1,2,4,5
Major Project Progress Report 10 % 28/03/2024 11/04/2024 1,2,3,4,5
Promotion assignment 25 % 06/05/2024 20/05/2024 1,2,4,5
Assessment Task 4: Presentation 25 % 21/05/2024 04/06/2024 1,2,3,4,5
Assessment Task 5: Final report 25 % 06/06/2024 20/06/2024 1,2,3,4,5

* 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 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.

Assessment Task 1

Value: 15 %
Due Date: 11/03/2024
Return of Assessment: 25/03/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,5

Writing assignment

Assessment Task 1: Writing Assignment –

Details of task:

In this assignment you must choose one recent journal article (published within the last 12 months) from a science, technology, engineering, mathematics or medicine related journal and turn it into a news story of no more than 350 words. Please also include a brief description (no more than 150 words) of why you selected this research to write about – why is it suitable for coverage in a news story?

Assessment Criteria

  1. Choosing a suitable topic: Is the paper you have chosen recent and the findings interesting to a general reader? Think about WHY it is newsworthy and use that to justify your choice. (1 mark)
  2. Effective explanation: You need to identify the substance of the research and explain the science clearly, presenting it accurately. (4 marks)
  3. Appropriate style (upside down triangle): This is your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the news style. You need to include the relevant items, e.g. who, what, where, when, why and how (4 marks)
  4. Clear expression and flow: This relates to the readability of your writing, whether you have proofread the work, and whether you have correctly pitched the story to the audience. (3 marks)
  5. Attribution: Identifying the paper, researchers and their organisation/s (so the reader can track down the source). Any quotes are properly attributed to the speaker and/or the source of the quote. (2 marks)
  6. Short and catchy pull out: Taken straight from the news article text, it ‘grabs’ the reader. (1 mark)

Word limit (where applicable): 500 words in total (350 words for the news story and 150 words for the description as described above).

Value: Total of 15 marks towards the overall grade

Presentation requirements: 

  • Headline
  • Byline Your name (optional) and student number on every page
  • Pull out quote: (This is a phrase or sentence reprinted somewhere on the page, taken directly from the text)
  • Word count

Due: Monday, 11 March

Estimated return date: Within two weeks after submission

Assessment Task 2

Value: 10 %
Due Date: 28/03/2024
Return of Assessment: 11/04/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Major Project Progress Report

The progress report should outline your organisation, explain your task and clearly describe how you are progressing so far. Each group should outline what you are planning to do and any problems or opportunities you may have already encountered, and how you are managing (or intend to manage) these. This report must be submitted or additional work for the client may not be approved. It is to be no longer than four pages.


Marking Criteria – Progress report

·        Well written, easy to read, minimal jargon. (3 marks)

·        Excellent spelling, punctuation, grammar. (2 marks)

·        Structured well including:

o  overview of organisation

o  organisation’s objectives

o  your assignment (and how these relate to objectives)

o  description of your work plan and how you are working towards assignment completion, with reference to evidence/literature, as appropriate

o  Any barriers or problems your group has encountered so far and how you are going to address them. (5 marks)


Presentation requirements: The report should be in Microsoft Word similar easy-to-read format with clear layout.

Word limit: Four pages maximum.

Value: Total of 10 marks towards the overall grade

Due: Thursday, 28 March

Estimated return date: Within two weeks after submission. 

Assessment Task 3

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 06/05/2024
Return of Assessment: 20/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,5

Promotion assignment

Students are required to select from one option from the following three tasks:

1.   Communication plan

2.   Essay

3.   Feature article

Value: Total of 25 marks towards the overall grade

Due: Monday, 6 May

Estimated return date: Within two weeks after submission



Assessment task 3, Option 1: Communication plan

Details of task:

Develop a communication plan and appropriate material to promote National Science Week in the ACT. You can choose to promote National Science Week in its entirety or one particular event. Or, you can choose a different event altogether – please check your event choice with Matt prior to starting. You are allowed to use whatever materials you see fit, so long as you have clearly identified the resources required in your communication plan. You must identify which specific media channels you are using and why.

What you must include:

·        A brief overview of what you are going to promote (i.e. a single event or the whole week)

·        The objective of your communication plan

·        Your target audience/s is/are clearly identified

·        A press release

·        A communication plan

·        At least three (3) of the following - brochures, posters, invitations, postcards, websites, sample tweets (or posts on similar platforms), sample content for Facebook posts, blog entries etc.

*NOTE: Because tweets (or posts on similar platforms) are short, you need at least three tweets to count as one example. You cannot just submit three tweets.

You are judged on content and clarity of the message, not your design or artwork skills. I look at placement of information and font size and how easily read & understood your materials are, and if they fit their purpose in communicating to their intended audience.

What you are NOT expected to include or do:

  • Provide budgets or any form of itemised costs or staffing
  • Develop a website (a mock-up of the front page is fine but nothing more!)
  • Produce and edit a video
  • Actually run the event!

If you are unsure about any aspect of this assessment task, please check with Matt.


Assessment Criteria

Work can be presented in any format you choose (hard copy or electronic or a mixture). Grading will be based on:

  • Evidence of understanding (and application of understanding) of how to develop a communication plan. (5 marks)
  • Appropriateness of promotional materials for identified purpose and target audience (5 marks)
  • Key messages directly support the specified objective of the communication plan. (5 marks)
  • Correct press release layout (5 marks)
  • Professional and compelling presentation of the communication plan. (5 marks)


Word limit: Eight pages maximum.


Assessment task 3, Option 2: Essay – Promotion of science controversies in the media

Details of task:

Choose a scientific topic which has had some coverage in the media (e.g., renewable energy, reintroducing the thylacine using stored genetic material, does bacon cause cancer?). Then describe at least three different media items on the topic from different sources and, compare them with the relevant scientific literature, answer the question “How has science been represented in this article and promoted to suit particular points of view?”


Elements to consider:

  • The possible agenda of people or organisations quoted in the media item
  • The accuracy of the science presented
  • The framing and/or tone of the media items


This is to be written in essay style and must include proper referencing style and format. As this is an essay please don’t forget to make your argument clear. You are encouraged to look at https://academicskills.anu.edu.au which has a section on essay writing.


Assessment Criteria

Marking explanation

Grading will be based on:

  • Clear and persuasive argument. (5 marks)
  • How well you focus your essay on the issues and their implications. (5 marks)
  • Evidence of wide and critical reading, including appropriate critique of the use of scientific evidence. (5 marks)
  • Correct spelling, grammar and punctuation. (5 marks)
  • Proper and consistent academic referencing. (5 marks)


Word limit: 2,000 words in total (leeway of ±10% without penalty)


Assessment task 3, Option 3: Feature article

Details of task:

Find a science researcher (from ANU or elsewhere) and interview them about their research. Then find a person who can provide a human interest storyline to illustrate the science. Write the two interviews up as a feature article of 1000 words maximum, including one or two illustrative images. You can suggest images, you do not need to take them yourself. You should aim to make your article suitable for publication in a magazine. Please specify which publication you would pitch this piece for.

Assessment Criteria

Marking explanation

Grading will be based on:

  • Topic choice: Features require sustained interest from the reader and should be relatively timeless, not relying too strongly on a news item, but can refer to news events. (5 marks)
  • Structure/Storyline: A catchy opening of the story, to grab the reader. The story you have chosen should illustrate the science featured in the article. Does the feature take the reader on a journey? (5 marks)
  • Interviewees: You need to interview at least two people. These marks are being allocated for the appropriateness of the scientific representative and the choice of the person to run the storyline. You also must attribute your interviewees appropriately. (5 marks)
  • Language: This covers things like readability of the story, whether it is interesting, whether quotes and images have been handled well, whether information is attributed and whether the document has been proofread. (5 marks)
  • Explaining the science: Features often go much broader and therefore don’t include a huge amount of science, but the science that is there should be well explained. (5 marks)


Word limit: 1,500 words in total (leeway of ±10% without penalty)

Assessment Task 4

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 21/05/2024
Return of Assessment: 04/06/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Assessment Task 4: Presentation

As a group, present for not more than 15 minutes on what your task was for your industry group. This should be a concise but comprehensive coverage of who you were working for, what their objectives were and how your assignment was helping to meet these objectives, and how successful you were in doing so. You are encouraged to think about the strengths of your work, as well as identify opportunities for further development. Every group member is expected to speak in this presentation. The portfolio should include a brief (up to two pages) summary of your task and the expected deliverables for the organisation then copies of all the materials you produced. You may include a table of contents which does not count towards the summary page limit if you wish. Only one portfolio submission per group, which should be submitted via Turnitin. Make sure you also send a copy to your client in a format that allows them to easily use the materials you produce for them. The final mark for this component will be influenced by industry representative feedback.


Marking Criteria – Presentation

  • Well presented, easy to understand, minimal jargon in oral presentation. (5 marks)
  • Excellent supporting materials (such as presentation slides). (5 marks)
  • Appropriate, well justified approach to task. (5 marks)
  • Clear explanation of process and outcomes or expected outcomes. (5 marks)
  •  Portfolio of materials produced during the project, see details below. (5 marks)


Presentation portfolio

A portfolio can be presented in hard copy or electronically in whatever format makes most sense to convey the information clearly

This portfolio should include:

  • No more than two-page summary of your task and expected deliverables (if necessary also documenting how those deliverables evolved)
  • Any materials produced during the course of work (i.e. web sites, blogs, pamphlets etc) are included. Meeting notes are also acceptable.
  • Excellent spelling, punctuation, grammar

Word limit: Two pages for the portfolio and presentations must be 15 minutes or less.

Value: Total of 25 marks towards the overall grade

Due: Tuesday, 21 May

Estimated return date: Within two weeks after submission

Assessment Task 5

Value: 25 %
Due Date: 06/06/2024
Return of Assessment: 20/06/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Assessment Task 5: Final report

An individual submission which provides an in-depth overview of your work throughout the semester. It should not exceed eight pages maximum. See the further guidance from the marking criteria below. You are encouraged to think reflectively and link what you did for your organisation with relevant theories and best practice from the literature. ANU Academic Skills has some useful guidance on reflective writing here - https://www.anu.edu.au/students/academic-skills/writing-assessment/reflective-writing

Marking Criteria – Final Report

  • Structured well including:
  • overview of organisation and organisation’s objectives
  • your assignment (and how these relate to objectives) *NB – You can incorporate this material from your progress report, however any suggested changes from the first assessment of your work should be included.
  • description of process used to develop resources to meet identified needs, including justification of choices based on evidence and literature as appropriate.
  • how successful was your group in meeting identified need? (how would or could you evaluate success?)
  • Recommendations for future activities based on identified challenges, barriers and opportunities. (10 marks total)
  • Reflection, including limitations if appropriate. (5 marks)
  • Conceptual links to course material. (5 marks)
  • Well written, easy to read, minimal jargon. (5 marks)


Presentation requirements: The report should be in Microsoft Word similar easy-to-read format with clear layout.

Word limit: Eight pages maximum.

Value: Total of 15 marks towards the overall grade

Due: Thursday, 6 June

Estimated return date: Within two weeks after submission.

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.

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

Once graded, assignments will be returned via Wattle. Comments will be provided on the original document and attached to the grading on the Wattle system.  

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 of assignments is only possible under extraordinary circumstances. Generally, resubmission will not be an option.  

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

Dr Matt Nurse

By Appointment
Dr Matt Nurse

Research Interests

Dr Matt Nurse

By Appointment

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