The theory and practice of communicating science to public audiences across a variety of media
- Offered to 2nd Years
- Mondays 16.00-18.00
- Planned delivery: On campus (South Kensington)
- 2-term module worth 5 ECTS
- Available to eligible students as part of I-Explore
- Extra Credit, or Degree Credit where your department allows
This module provides a thorough grounding in both practical and theoretical aspects of science communication. You will learn about models of science communication and how these interact with public trust, risk, and social responsibility. We will cover persuasive communication, narrative and interactive communication as well as news journalism from both a practical and an academic viewpoint. You will learn how to produce high quality written and video science communications for a non-specialist audience.
Science Communication is an increasingly important competency for scientists and engineers. Many funding agencies now stipulate public engagement as an outcome of grant awards. Understanding how science interacts with society is vital to becoming an engaged and reflective individual, capable of taking a positive role in intellectual life.
Communicating science is not just about putting across "the facts": the contexts which shape scientific information, and indeed "make meaning", are what make the study of science communication important and interesting.
On successful completion of this module, you will be able to:
- Apply important models of science communication analytically and creatively
- Apply knowledge of news media to explain complex scientific concepts in a specified genre.
- Develop a historically informed understanding on current thinking in science communication and public engagement with science.
- Creatively apply communication theory to produce digital content suitable to a specific audience and purpose.
Indicative core content
- In this module you will learn about key models of science communication and public engagement with science including the broad categories of the interactive and the deficit model as well as more specific communication theory such as semiotics and risk communication.
- You will critically engage with the sociology and philosophies of science and explain how these influence communications.
- You will critically evaluate science communication in a variety of genres including but not limited to; museums and exhibitions, documentary videos, news media, podcasts and political communications.
- You will creatively apply theory to your own science communications, both in class and in your assignments.
Learning and teaching approach
Learning and teaching on this module are interactive, collaborative, and discussion based. You will complete group tasks in class to explore concepts and will be given either a reading, a short task or something to listen to/ watch before each lecture as preparation. At least one class may involve a museum visit during class time. Assessments are designed to give a variety of skills and experiences from various aspects of science communication.
- Coursework: Journalistic writing - 700 words (20%)
- Coursework: Digital communication assignment - 4 minute video (30%)
- Coursework: Analytical essay - 2000 words (40%)
- Practical: Course performance (10%)*
*Active contribution to all activities on the 20 week module assessed in three core areas:
- contribution to written homework tasks (provision and analysis of relevant examples),
- contribution to class and group discussions and tasks (analytical and creative application of theory),
- peer reviews of the video assignment (application of communications theory). Grade is weighted towards the two of these categories students do best in.
- Requirements: 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 module. For an explanation of levels, view the Imperial Horizons Level Descriptors page.
"The best module! Extremely interesting, thought-provoking and discussion stimulating. I recommend it to everyone"
"What a brilliant course! The content has been excellent, up-to-date and relevant. The course itself is very well structured, and provides an marvellous insight into science that perhaps a scientific degree would not."
"Very interesting course providing lots of insight into how science is portrayed in the media, and how the public interacts with it."