Science Communication

Module titleScience Communication
Module codeBIO3082
Academic year2019/0
Credits15
Module staff

Dr Nicola King (Convenor)

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks

11

Number students taking module (anticipated)

100

Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module includes seminars from freelance science journalists and civil servants from the Parliamentary Office for Science and Technology. Through the module you’ll gain an understanding of how science is disseminated to the public, for example via journalists and documentary makers, and also how science is communicated to governments and policy makers. We will examine good and bad strategies for communicating science to various audiences and how science information and misinformation can be used to change public perception. We will also examine the role of a range of media and using case studies look at the approach of the press and the impact on public/government, eg BSE, MMR, swine flu, climate change, obesity. This is a highly interactive and engaging module, in which you will work in groups to produce both written documents and oral presentations, and individually to write a piece of biological journalism.

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to give you an understanding of how science is disseminated to the public via journalists and documentary makers and also how science is communicated to governments, politicians and policy makers. To this end you will examine good and bad strategies for communicating science to various audiences and how science information and misinformation can be used to change public perception. You will examine the role of written press, TV, radio, www, blogs, web 2.0 etc. and using case studies look at the approach of the press and the impact on public/government e.g. BSE, MMR, swine flu, climate change, obesity. The aim is that you will use their reflections on these strategies to write your own article on a current story in Biosciences.

Intended Learning Outcomes (ILOs)

ILO: Module-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 1. Illustrate and analyse the importance of effective communication of science to the public
  • 2. Identify and apply effective communication strategies to produce an article
  • 3. Critically evaluate the role of different types of media in the communication of science
  • 4. Explain the impact of information and misinformation on the public, governments and policy makers

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 5. Apply the principles of peer review to journalism, critically analysing both scientific journalism in the public domain and within your peer group
  • 6. Effectively communicate complex scientific ideas to a wide range of audiences
  • 7. Apply research-informed acquired knowledge and critical understanding from other biosciences modules

ILO: Personal and key skills

On successfully completing the module you will be able to...

  • 8. Communicate effectively arguments, evidence and conclusions using written and oral means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 9. Devise and sustain, with little guidance, a logical and reasoned argument with sound, convincing conclusions
  • 10. Analyse and evaluate appropriate data with very limited guidance
  • 11. Work in a small team and deal proficiently with the issues that teamwork requires (i.e. communication, motivation, decision-making, awareness, responsibility, and management skills, including setting and working to deadlines)

Syllabus plan

Syllabus plan

Introduction to communication strategies, the importance of effective communication of science for a range of audiences. Role of different media types; video, audio, web 2.0. 10 x student-led seminars. Written media: news and feature articles.

Learning and teaching

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad
201300

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled Learning and Teaching15Lectures and journal clubs
Scheduled Learning and Teaching5Student-led seminars
Guided Independent Study25General reading and research
Guided Independent Study25Research for group POSTNote
Guided Independent Study25Research for group presentation
Guided Independent Study5Research for and writing of the Know your Audience Reflection
Guided Independent Study50Research for and writing of the Scientific Article

Assessment

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Online discussion and support11 x 1 hour1, 3-4, 7-8, 11Written
Q&A after group presentations4 x 1 hour1, 3-4, 7-8Oral

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams
50050

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
POSTnote (short briefing note for the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology outlining a key area of debate)201500 words (group work)1, 3-5, 7-11Written via BART sheet
Film2020 minutes5, 8, 10-11Written, returned via admin office
Scientific article601500 words2, 5-104, 8-10Written via BARTsheet

Re-assessment

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
POSTnotePOSTnote1, 3-5, 7-11August Ref/Def
FilmNot applicableNot applicableNot applicable
Scientific articleScientific article2, 5-104, 8-10August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons judged acceptable by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of deferral will not be capped and will be treated as it would be if it were your first attempt at the assessment.

Referral – if you have failed the module overall (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) you will be required to submit a further assessment. The mark given for a re-assessment taken as a result of referral will count for 100% of the final mark and will be capped at 40%.

Resources

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

  • Reading will be from the scientific literature, press and internet, as directed by the student and module coordinator.

Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Science communication, science journalism

Credit value15
Module ECTS

7.5

Module pre-requisites

BIO2071 Research Skills and Bioethics or NSC2001

Module co-requisites

None

NQF level (module)

6

Available as distance learning?

No

Origin date

24/11/2011

Last revision date

09/03/2018