Science Communication

Subject SCIE90012 (2016)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2016.

Credit Points: 12.5
Level: 9 (Graduate/Postgraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2016:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period 25-Jul-2016 to 23-Oct-2016
Assessment Period End 18-Nov-2016
Last date to Self-Enrol 30-Jun-2016
Census Date 31-Aug-2016
Last date to Withdraw without fail 23-Sep-2016

An enrolment quota of 70 students applies to this subject.

For detailed information on the quota subject application process, enrolment deadlines and selection preferences, refer to the Faculty of Science website:

Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: 36 (one 2-hour seminar plus one 1-hour tutorial per week)
Total Time Commitment:

170 hours





Recommended Background Knowledge:


Non Allowed Subjects:
Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering request for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Student Support and Engagement Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Overview, Learning Outcomes, Assessment and Generic Skills sections of this entry.

It is University policy to take all reasonable steps to minimise the impact of disability upon academic study, and reasonable adjustments will be made to enhance a student's participation in the University's programs. Students who feel their disability may impact on meeting the requirements of this subject are encouraged to discuss this matter with a Faculty Student Adviser and Student Equity and Disability Support:


Dr Jenny Martin


Subject Overview:

Why is it essential that scientists learn to communicate effectively to a variety of audiences? What makes for engaging communication when it comes to science? How does the style of communication need to change for different audiences? What are the nuts and bolts of good science writing? What are the characteristics of effective public speaking?

Weekly seminars and tutorials will consider the important role science and technology plays in twenty-first century society and explore why it is vital that scientists learn to articulate their ideas to a variety of audiences in an effective and engaging manner. These audiences may include school students, agencies that fund research, the media, government, industry, and the broader public. Other topics include the philosophy of science communication, talking about science on the radio, effective public speaking, writing press releases and science feature articles, science performance, communicating science on the web and how science is reported in the media.

Students will develop skills in evaluating examples of science and technology communication to identify those that are most effective and engaging. Students will also be given multiple opportunities to receive feedback and improve their own written and oral communication skills.

Students will work in small teams on team projects to further the communication skills developed during the seminar programme. These projects will focus on communicating a given scientific topic to a particular audience using spoken, visual, written or web-based communication.

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this subject students should be able to:

  • Articulate the range of purposes of communicating about science
  • Identify the common features of effective communication in written, oral and other forms of communication
  • Understand the nature of different audiences for scientific information
  • Communicate science effectively to different audiences, using a variety of different techniques and media
  • Provide constructive feedback to other students on their communication skills (both written and oral)

  • One written assignment “Writing for different audiences” (1500 words, plus 500 words of peer review). Satisfactory participation in peer review of other students’ written assignments is a hurdle requirement. Initial submission for peer review will occur in week 4, final submission in week 8; 20%
  • Individual 5-minute oral presentation Week 7; 10%
  • Online science blog (minimum of 2000 words during semester) Students must post to the blog at least once a fortnight during semester and also respond to the posts of other students; 20%
  • Written project proposal for group project Due week 5; 10%
  • Group project (approximately 60 hours of contribution to group work). The product of the projects will be project-specific. However each group will give a 10-minute oral presentation in the last week of semester. 40%
Prescribed Texts:


Breadth Options:

This subject is not available as a breadth subject.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:

On the completion of this subject, students should be able to:

  • Communicate effectively in both written and oral forms
  • Demonstrate awareness of and ability to use appropriate communication technology
  • Provide constructive feedback on other students’ work
  • Work as part of a multi-disciplinary team on a major project
  • Plan work, use time effectively and manage a project
  • Reflect on their own communication skills
Related Course(s): Graduate Diploma in Agricultural Sciences
Master of Agricultural Science
Master of Animal Science
Master of Biomedical Science
Master of Geoscience
Master of Operations Research and Management Science
Master of Science (BioSciences)
Master of Science (Botany)
Master of Science (Chemistry)
Master of Science (Computer Science)
Master of Science (Earth Sciences)
Master of Science (Ecosystem Science)
Master of Science (Epidemiology)
Master of Science (Geography)
Master of Science (Information Systems)
Master of Science (Physics)
Master of Science (Zoology)
Master of Urban Horticulture
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: 100 Point (B) Master of Agricultural Sciences
150 Point Master of Agricultural Sciences
200 Point Master of Agricultural Sciences
Education and Social Change
Environmental Science
Environmental Science
Governance, Policy and Communication
Governance, Policy and Markets
Tailored Specialisation

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