Why study with us?
Applying for a Masters course is a big step, and an important decision. To help you decide whether the Imperial science communication programme is right for you, here are some points about our course that we think make us unusual.
Our curriculum is a balance of the practical and the theoretical
Obviously a science communicator must have practical skills. If you come on our courses you will have the time and the advice that will let you discover for yourself your particular aptitude. You may find it is radio that grabs your attention, or TV, or museums. Or you may decide that your future lies in print, or in web design. Our task is to help you find what skills suit you best.
But you cannot be a good communicator if you have nothing to say. The standard science education, even at undergraduate level - perhaps especially at undergraduate level – does not encourage discussion about science. Yet there is much to talk about. Who should pay for science? Who should decide what science is worth pursuing? Can a scientist ever be sure she has found the truth? What is the relation between science and art? What role do scientists have in science communication? And when there is national debate over a scientific issue, for example climate change, or nuclear power, what can we expect from our media?
Our aim is to get you thinking fluently and intelligently about issues like this. We will help you communicate clearly the facts of science. And we will help you interpret the complex nature of science in society. Together with the continuous practical experience you acquire over the year, you will gain a serious skill set, which will stand you well in the job market.
Our teaching is ‘in house’
Many masters courses are taught by cobbling together a suite of lecturers from different departments. This can produce a fragmented and unsatisfactory experience for students. With the Science Communication Group almost all our teaching is in-house. There are five members of staff permanently attached to the MSc. Their rooms are next to the main teaching zone, and you will have constant contact with them.
This is important because you will not find that science communication is one more set of facts to be learnt. In moving from science, to science communication, your way of thinking will change. It is this change that will make you a good communicator (and, if you go back into science itself, a better scientist). To make the transition you need steady and careful tuition by people who know you.
Of course we have outside tuition too. Five staff cannot cover all the skills. But our outside teachers are part of the Group, and we find they stay with us for extended periods of time. We much appreciate their expertise. And through our seminar series, you will meet on a weekly basis practitioners from the industry.
Again, it is a matter of balance. Just as we are careful about the balance of practical and theoretical, so we are careful about the balance between in-house tuition and outside expertise.
You learn from each other
Each year we take on a fresh cohort of between 45 and 50 students. Some have come fresh from undergraduate science; some have had a few years away from academia; some have masters degrees already. We have students from abroad, and from all over the UK. We are quite a diverse – and a friendly – community.
On the whole we don’t teach by lecture. Practical work must be hands-on. But even if you are studying philosophy of science, or narrative, or film theory, you will spend a good portion of the time in groups discussing ideas, thinking about readings we’ve set you, and articulating ideas between yourselves. And so from the first day you will learn a great deal from each other. This is the key to our course, the aspect that makes us unusual. You won’t simply be learning a set of skills. Through tuition and through your peers you will discover in yourself what it is that makes you a good communicator.
If you would like to talk informally about our MSc courses and/or PhD study, please contact our administrator Liam Watson at +44 (0) 20 7594 8753 or firstname.lastname@example.org