• Class Number 3583
  • 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

This course examines the roles and relationships between science, the media and society. Topics covered include:

  • The style in which science is reported in the media, and how this is influenced by external, contextual factors
  • How to effectively communicate science using the media
  • An in–depth research project on a chosen topic of interest that analyses the coverage and treatment of science in the media and society.

This is a skills-based course, the aim of which is to train 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. The major research project is a combination of individual and group work, with the option of submitting the final work to a professional, peer reviewed journal for consideration for publication.

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. 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 & 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 (Research proposal) 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 student presentations – no lecture or tutorial for postgraduate students

Tutorial Registration

There are no separately timetabled tutorials for SCOM6016, 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 20 % 11/03/2024 25/03/2024 1,2,4,5
Research Proposal 10 % 28/03/2024 11/04/2024 1,2,3,4,5
Promotion Assignment 30 % 06/05/2024 20/05/2024 1,2,3,4,5
Research Report 40 % 06/06/2024 20/06/2024 1,3,4,5

* 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: 20 %
Due Date: 11/03/2024
Return of Assessment: 25/03/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,4,5

Writing Assignment

In this assignment you must choose one recent research paper (published within the last 12 months) published in any science, technology, engineering, maths or medicine related journal, and turn it into a hard news story, appropriate for publication in The Canberra Times*, of approximately 250-350 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?


*You may choose an alternate newspaper, but this must be specified on your submission.  


Marking Criteria:

  • Choosing a suitable topic: Is the paper you have chosen recent and the findings interesting to a general reader? How do you know it is interesting (hint – what makes it news)? (2 marks)
  • Effective explanation: You need to identify the substance of the research and explain the science clearly, presenting it accurately. (5 marks)
  • Appropriate style (upside down triangle): This is your opportunity to demonstrate your understanding of the news style. You need to include the relevant items (who, what, where, when, why and how). (5 marks)
  • 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. (4 marks)
  • Attribution: Identifying the journal and/or the researchers (so the reader can track down the source). Any quotes are appropriately attributed to the speaker and/or the source of the quote. (2 marks)
  • Short and catchy pull out: Taken straight from the text of the news article, it ‘grabs’ the reader. (2 marks)


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

Value: Total of 20 marks to the overall grade

Presentation requirements: 

News article length: 350 words 


BYLINE: Your name


PULL OUT: (This is a phrase or sentence reprinted somewhere on the page, taken directly from the text)

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

Research Proposal

General details of the two research project tasks:

In groups of not more than four, or individually, students will conduct research on an agreed topic analysing an agreed topic of science, the media and public perception. This can be developed as a peer-reviewed journal article for potential publication. This is voluntary and you will have the opportunity to change your mind about publication. The decision to work individually or in a group must be made before submission of the research proposal (see below).  

The Topic

You may choose any media aspect of a scientific topic that interests you. You could examine the framing of the stories, the sources used, compare the coverage of issues in the mainstream media with what aspects are being discussed in social media (i.e. Twitter) or ‘non-mainstream’ media (i.e. New Matilda, The Conversation) or some variation of these. This can be discussed at length in class and/or as required. Examples are provided on Wattle of published papers that take some of these approaches. There is also further information on Wattle about what I am looking for and what each section should ‘do’ and include.  

The proposal should be a literature review of your chosen topic area to establish what has been investigated previously and any important gap that you would like to address in this body of knowledge. You must also justify your methodological decisions. Approval to proceed to part two must be obtained by the course convenor following the submission and review of this proposal. 

Length – 10 pages maximum (including references) plus ethics proposal for those groups (or individuals but this is not encouraged) wishing to pursue a publication. If you can do it in fewer pages without large gaps or inconsistencies then this is encouraged…and appreciated.

Marking criteria:

  • Well written, easy to read, minimal jargon and excellent spelling, punctuation, grammar. (two marks)
  • Comprehensive literature review drawing from relevant examples, especially those published in peer-reviewed publications. (five marks)
  • Appropriate, well justified research approach and method. (three marks)


Word limit (where applicable): 10 pages maximum.

Value: Total of 10 marks to the overall grade

Due: Thursday, 28 March

Estimated return date: Within two weeks after submission  

Assessment Task 3

Value: 30 %
Due Date: 06/05/2024
Return of Assessment: 20/05/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,2,3,4,5

Promotion Assignment

For this assessment task you will be asked to 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 merchandise and strategies you see fit, so long as you have clearly identified the resources required in your communication plan. You must clearly identify which media channels you are using. Stating ‘newspapers’ as an outlet is not acceptable and you will be marked down accordingly.

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 so 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

Marking 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. This includes the level of detail required for such a plan. (ten marks) 
  • Appropriateness of promotional materials for identified purpose and target audience. Your target audience must be reflected in your chosen channels for communication (i.e. media outlets). Are you using appropriate media for your target audience? (ten marks)
  • Clarity of key message and how effectively this is reinforced through materials. (five marks)
  • Quality of press release writing. Aspects considered will be: 
  • newsworthiness of release 
  • writing style (active voice, inverted pyramid structure, use of quotes, clarity)
  • correct press release layout. (five marks)


Value: Total of 30 marks to the overall grade

Presentation requirements: See guidance above

Estimated return date: Within two weeks after submission  

Assessment Task 4

Value: 40 %
Due Date: 06/06/2024
Return of Assessment: 20/06/2024
Learning Outcomes: 1,3,4,5

Research Report

Length – 20 pages (10 from proposal, including any revisions required, and 10 to write up results, discussion and conclusion). This 20-page total includes references.


You are expected to have collected data or conducted some form of original research for this section of the report. This may consist of a content analysis of a particular media or outlet, public opinion survey, or some combination. Your chosen method should have been justified in your proposal.

For those working in groups the expectation is that your report will represent the work of four complete individuals, not of four people who have done a quarter of the work. You are expected to combine your research to form a larger data set. For example, an individual conducting a survey on a particular topic might have a sample size of 50. A group of four conducting a similar survey would be expected to have a sample size of about 200. 


There is absolutely no need for an individual report to resemble a sub thesis! Please check the size and scope of your project with Matt prior to submitting your proposal if you are unsure. 


The final report should clearly present your research findings and discuss/interpret your findings based on the literature. You are expected to compare your findings with the relevant available literature and draw implications and recommendations for future research. You are encouraged to “think internationally” in writing your results. You may have chosen an Australian topic, so consider what the relevance of your research may be to an international audience. What elements could apply in their own cultural context? What aspects of your topic could be adopted, adapted or explored in other countries? 

Marking Criteria

  • Well written, easy to read, minimal jargon, with excellent spelling, punctuation, grammar. (ten marks)
  • Results are presented clearly and appropriately and tables and graphs, if used, are labelled correctly. (five marks)
  • Discussion is clear and incisive, effectively drawing upon the existing literature to support findings or refute existing state of knowledge, including any limitations. (ten marks)
  • Significance of results to the wider media/scientific/academic/science communication field. (five marks)
  • Recommendations for future research. (five marks)
  • Consistent and accurate referencing throughout paper. (five marks)


For those planning to try to get their work published, they are strongly encouraged to identify a potential journal and present their final report according to their chosen journal’s author guidelines which include directions on formatting and which referencing style should be used.  


Presentation requirements: In clear, consistent formatting appropriate for a journal manuscript (irrespective of whether you are aiming to publish or not). 

Due: Thursday, 6 June  

Estimated return date: Within two weeks after submission  

Value: Total of 40 marks to the overall grade

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