Science Museum London

The theory and practice of communicating science to public audiences across a variety of media

Module details

  • Offered to 2nd Years
  • Mondays 16.00-18.00
  • Planned delivery: On campus (South Kensington)
  • Two-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

In this fun, collaborative module, you will learn how to communicate with different audiences. You will produce two pieces of science communication; one written journalistic piece and one short video. We feature at least one guest lecturer who works in the industry and one lecture is spent as a field trip.

The academic components of the module run along two major themes; the first is the philosophical and practical issue of trust. How can science communicators build and maintain trust with their publics in the face of uncertainty and risk? How can we trust that scientific knowledge is reliable? What happens when trust breaks down? The second theme falls more into the academic realm of communication studies, looking at modes and models of communication. How might we best use words and images to make meaning? These themes will run through your practical and academic work. By the end of the module, you will have produced two pieces of science communication which you can add to a portfolio as well as an analytical essay.

Please note: The information on this module description is indicative. The module may undergo minor modifications before the start of next academic year. 

Information blocks

Learning outcomes

Two girls

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.

Written feedback will be provided via the module VLE. While the assessment methods differ, feedback from earlier assessments are designed to be useful for later module assessments.


  • 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.

Key information

  • 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."