exhibits

Create an exciting activity to involve and inspire the public with science, engineering and maths.

Module details

  • Offered to 2nd Years
  • Mondays 16.00-18.00
  • 2-term module worth 5 ECTS
  • Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore
  • Extra Credit or Degree Credit where your department allows
Degree credit module options by departmentHow to enrol

Discover how to empower and inspire people with STEM (science, technology, egineering and maths) through this lively and interactive module where you get the chance to design and deliver an engaging activity for a public audience and take part in one of our public events.

Public engagement is about creating accessible and meaningful experiences and opportunities to share ideas, insights and skills with members of the public. The first half of this module introduces public engagement (PE) and the key concepts to consider when designing PE activities, i.e. your aims, audiences, approaches and evaluation. You will:

  • Discuss why it is important to engage the public with science and research and the benefits it can bring for us and the communities we interact with.
  • Explore many different public engagement formats – from exhibitions, festival activities, arts and performances, discussion groups and online platforms.
  • Gain new ideas and inspiration through case studies, examples, practical workshops and a museum visit.

The second half of the module will build on these foundations as you develop and deliver your own engagement activities in small groups. Work with the Public Engagement team to refine your ideas and put them into action as you become part of one of our exciting events, such as the Imperial Lates or activities at the Invention Rooms in White City.

This practical, reflective and fun module provides opportunities to enhance your communication and team-working, whilst also developing valuable evaluation skills to help you evidence if your activities are successful. There are a wide variety of exciting career paths in public engagement and this module is a fantastic way to learn more about this field, gain experience and develop your skills.

Note: this is a module focusing on face-to-face public engagement activities for a range of non-academic audiences. Whilst it will help to develop communication skills it is not a module about presentation or public relation skills.

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

children watch model volcanoes

By the end of this module, you will:

1. Understand the nature of public engagement in the context of a university

2. Explore the factors which lead to planning and delivering good practice in public engagement more broadly.

3. Demonstrate awareness of the steps you would take to evaluate an engagement activity, such as creating and measuring potential outcomes for audiences, as evidenced through class activities such as group work on evaluation case studies.

4. Discuss in class (with peers and external presenters) a range of effective engagement approaches appropriate to communicate with different audiences (such as school groups, families, community groups, audiences to Imperial Lates, and patients).

5. Reflect on the evolving relationships between STEM research, universities, and society, including societal attitudes towards, and participation in, STEM research.

6. Appreciate the role that public engagement plays in citizenship and its value in understanding different perspectives, experiences and inequalities. 

7. Develop communication skills through communicating with your peers and tutor(s) and to a public audience at an Imperial Lates event (or similar).

8. Demonstrate awareness of future opportunities to get involved in public engagement and understand the personal benefits of getting involved.

Indicative core content

children learn about bubbles through play

The first half of the module provides the background to public engagement and introduces the key concepts to consider when designing engagement activities: aims, outcomes, audiences, approaches and evaluation. A range of engagement formats will be highlighted through case studies, examples and practical workshops. 
The second half of the module will build on these foundations to support students to develop and deliver their own engagement activities. Activities will be delivered at an Imperial Lates event or similar event at the Invention Rooms.  
 
Sessions 1-4. Introduction and context to public engagement. Including what engagement is, why it is important and the benefits of engaging the public. We will consider what the public think about science drawing on international surveys, and will try out two ways in which the public experience science – podcasting and exhibitions. 
 
Sessions 5-7. Audiences and aims of engagement. Learn about key audience groups for engagement through external speakers and interactive activities. Four speakers from engagement teams at Imperial will take part in an Engagement Dragon’s Den, pitching their ideas to the group for activities to engage specific audiences. Consider the aims and potential outcomes of engagement. 
 
Session 8. Presentation in engagement. In this session we will practice identifying key messages, constructing a story and delivering clear and confident presentations. Communication skills are critical in public engagement, enabling positive interactions with diverse audiences. 
 
Sessions 9-10. Engagement in practice: museum visit. Experience engagement first hand through a visit to a South Kensington Museum, and reflect on your trip the following session. 
 
Sessions 11-12. Idea development. Work in small groups to develop an idea for an engagement activity. You will be given information about the target audience and event. Work together and with the course tutor to identify your focus topic, what the outcomes should be, and how you can develop a creative and interactive activity that your audience will enjoy taking part in.
 
Session 13. Class presentations. Present your ideas for your engagement activity to the group to gain feedback. 
 
Sessions 14-17. Project development and delivery. Within your groups and with the support of class tutors and visiting engagement specialists, put your ideas into action. Consider the feedback from your peers after your presentation and develop your ideas into an activity that you can deliver at the Imperial Lates (or similar). You will hear from a range of inspiring case studies from the engagement sector to help guide your thinking. Construct the necessary materials and prepare for the event. 
 
Sessions 18-20. Reflection and summary. Prepare and present back to the group on how your activity went. What did you learn, what worked well and what would you change next time? Reflect on your learning across the course and explore the opportunities to get involved in engagement beyond the module. 

Assessment

  • Oral presentation in class (40%)
  • Practical engagement activity delivery (40%) (taking place outside of class time, replacing session and homework time that week)
  • Class participation (20%) (assessed through a self-reflection written exercise completed by students reporting on their own participation in class activities) 
Please note: To manage workload, where students are required to be involved in the delivery of a practical engagement activity taking place outside of usual class hours (for example at an Imperial Lates event), the 4-6pm teaching slot that week will be cancelled (as well as homework in the adjacent weeks if necessary) and substituted for the equivalent time at the engagement event. 

Key information

  • You are expected to attend all classes and undertake approximately 85 hours of independent study in total during the module. Independent study includes reading and preparation for classes, researching and writing coursework assignments and preparing for other assessments.
  • This module is designed as an undergraduate Level 5 course. See Imperial Horizons level descriptors [pdf]
"Great module! Finally a course that systematically teaches public engagement concepts, ideas and operations."
"Taught me about how public engagement is essential to communicate specialised knowledge to the general public in a creative and fun way."