• Offered by Centre for the Public Awareness of Science
  • ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
  • Course subject Science Communication
  • Areas of interest History, Science, Science Communication
  • Academic career UGRD
  • Course convener
    • Dr Laura Dawes
  • Mode of delivery In Person
  • Co-taught Course
  • Offered in Second Semester 2024
    See Future Offerings
  • STEM Course

Modern science reaches way beyond laboratories and scholarly institutions. It is part of an integrated world where scientists routinely explain their work to non-scientists – to secure funding, or drive policy, or build a career. Scientists communicate beyond their scientific colleagues to promote innovations, to improve how we live, or secure justice. By communicating with the public, scientists affect how science is done, how it impacts our lives, and who gets to do it. Communicating creates a feedback loop between science and the world, conveying science to the public and affecting scientific practice. 

This course is about the history of science communication and the ways in which talking to non-scientists about science has contributed to scientific endeavour and its impact on society. It traces developments in science communication from 19th century science showmen whose public demonstrations built scientists’ professional standing, through the use of communication to gain support for ‘big science’, like the space race in the 20th century, through to the need for scientists to communicate with influence to address serious challenges, such as climate change. On the way, the course traverses key questions, theories and critical moments in the global history of science, to explore topics including communicating science in the law and in public health, through pop culture and science fiction, and hijacking science communication, as in the case of the tobacco wars. 

Course assessment emphasises reflection on the integral role of science communication in modern science and its global history, as well as developing science communication research skills.

Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Map the development of science communication through time, place and culture.
  2. Describe and evaluate competing influences shaping science communication.
  3. Identify and describe links between science communication and science practice.
  4. Apply a historical view of science communication institutions, ideologies and practices to reflect on scientific activity.

Indicative Assessment

  1. Lead tutorial discussion and reflection (group work) (30) [LO 1,2,4]
  2. Historical research paper plan (20) [LO 1,2]
  3. Historical research paper requiring original research, analysis and development of an argument  (50) [LO 1,2,3,4]

The ANU uses Turnitin to enhance student citation and referencing techniques, and to assess assignment submissions as a component of the University's approach to managing Academic Integrity. While the use of Turnitin is not mandatory, the ANU highly recommends Turnitin is used by both teaching staff and students. For additional information regarding Turnitin please visit the ANU Online website.


The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:

  • Face-to face component which may consist of 1x1-hour lecture and 1x1-hour tutorial per week.
  • Approximately 106 hours of self-directed study which will include preparation for lectures, tutorials and other assessment tasks.

Inherent Requirements

No specific inherent requirements have been identified for this course.

Requisite and Incompatibility

Students must have completed 18 units of 2000 level courses or have the permission of the convener. Incompatible with SCOM6032.

Prescribed Texts

There are no prescribed texts. Links to all required readings will be provided through the Wattle site.


Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.  

Commonwealth Support (CSP) Students
If you have been offered a Commonwealth supported place, your fees are set by the Australian Government for each course. At ANU 1 EFTSL is 48 units (normally 8 x 6-unit courses). More information about your student contribution amount for each course at Fees

Student Contribution Band:
Unit value:
6 units

If you are a domestic graduate coursework student with a Domestic Tuition Fee (DTF) place or international student you will be required to pay course tuition fees (see below). Course tuition fees are indexed annually. Further information for domestic and international students about tuition and other fees can be found at Fees.

Where there is a unit range displayed for this course, not all unit options below may be available.

6.00 0.12500
Domestic fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $4440
International fee paying students
Year Fee
2024 $6360
Note: Please note that fee information is for current year only.

Offerings, Dates and Class Summary Links

ANU utilises MyTimetable to enable students to view the timetable for their enrolled courses, browse, then self-allocate to small teaching activities / tutorials so they can better plan their time. Find out more on the Timetable webpage.

The list of offerings for future years is indicative only.
Class summaries, if available, can be accessed by clicking on the View link for the relevant class number.

Second Semester

Class number Class start date Last day to enrol Census date Class end date Mode Of Delivery Class Summary
9029 22 Jul 2024 29 Jul 2024 31 Aug 2024 25 Oct 2024 In Person View

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