In the autumn term, students take two core academic modules and the core practical module. Each module lasts for the full term. At the end of term, additional sessions introduce students to the video editing equipment in preparation for the next term's practical work.
Science and its social contexts
In this module we study some of the contemporary debates surrounding science and its place in the world. By examining historical and recent work in the humanities and the social sciences, you will learn to question common-sense assumptions about science and its social contexts. The module divides into two parts. In the first part, we scrutinise work by historians, philosophers and sociologists who have written about the nature of science and its relation to other disciplines and the broader culture. In the second half of the module these themes are explored further as we consider how scientific expertise in the public domain becomes controversial and contested, as seen in the issues of mad cow disease, immunisation and GM crops. In this part of the module we will also look at the way 'the public understanding of science' movement has evolved into ideas about 'public engagement'. The module ends by considering how this change intersects with the ambitions and claims of 'Web 2.0' in the communication of expertise in post-modern society.
Introduction to film form
This module introduces students to different models of film form and narrative. It focuses on national 'art' cinema movements over the last century paying particular attention to how these different cinemas interpret and exploit conventions of realism in contrast to the classic Hollywood film. This emphasis on aspects of 'the real' provides a foundation for further theoretical and practical investigations into documentary film in the second term. The course begins with foundational ideas of film theory (that film is a language, for example) and takes a chronological approach, feeding in new concepts, for example Russian formalism, psychoanalysis, post-colonialism etc., as the case demands.
Core practical: interviewing and reporting
Much of this introduction to the practice of communication is devoted to broadcast media. Students experiment with communicating science through various genres. In a series of practical exercises, students develop technical skills in directing, vision mixing and camera operating and they reflect on the use of television as a medium for communicating science. The exercises include adapting the BBC's Question Time programme to the genre of the scientific studio discussion and experimenting with other televisual forms such as the game show, sketch show and pastiche.
Note: the modules listed here are those offered in 2013-14. The programme is substantially the same from year to year but there may be some changes.