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Module

Science Communication

Module titleScience Communication
Module codeBIO3082
Academic year2024/5
Credits15
Module staff

Dr Ruth Cooper ()

Duration: Term123
Duration: Weeks

0

11

0

Number students taking module (anticipated)

100

Description - summary of the module content

Module description

This module includes content delivered by a range of science communicators, ranging from senior scientists within Biosciences, to professional press officers and science communicators. Through the module you’ll gain an understanding of how science is shared with the public, for example via consideration of the Royal Society for Biology. We will examine strong and poor strategies for communicating science to various audiences and how science information and misinformation can be used to influence public perception. We will also examine the role of a range of media and, using case studies, consider the approach of the press and their impact on public/government. The module will draw on a range of topical examples, such as public health and environmental issues. This is a highly interactive module in which you will be required to work in groups for a portion of the time to produce an oral presentation (a proportion of the module marks will be assigned to the group), and individually to write a scientific article (assessed to give individual merit). 

Module aims - intentions of the module

This module aims to give you an understanding of how science is disseminated to a range of audiences including the public, governments, politicians and policy makers. We will also consider the role of communication with people of different backgrounds as a way of enhancing scientific investigation. You will examine strong and poor 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 a range of modes and media for science communication. Using case studies, you will look at the approach of the press and the impact on public/government. You will use your reflections on these strategies to write your own article on a current topic 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. Critically evaluate the role of different types of media in the communication of science
  • 3. 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...

  • 4. Effectively communicate complex scientific ideas to a wide range of audiences
  • 5. 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...

  • 6. Effectively communicate arguments, evidence and conclusions using written and oral means in a manner appropriate to the intended audience
  • 7. 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 Science Communication
  • Understanding Audiences
    • Audience analysis
    • Tailoring communication
  • Writing for Science Communication
    • Writing styles and genres
  • Visual communication
  • Science in Parliament and policy
  • Science communication in practice
    • • Guest speakers from the field
  • Ethical and cultural considerations
    • Responsible communication practice
    • Diversity and inclusivity in science communication
  • Applying science communication skills
    • Group project
    • Written assignment
  • Feedback and reflection

Accessibility statement:
This is a highly interactive module that requires students to undertake groupwork for one of the two summative assessments. Several of the in-person teaching sessions also involve interactive activities and informal group work (students are welcome to work alone during these sessions).

 

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 Teaching17Lectures and seminars
Scheduled Learning and Teaching3Film viewing session
Guided Independent Study35General reading and research
Guided Independent Study10Research for and writing of formative assessment
Guided Independent Study35Research for group film
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
Lecturer feedback during contact sessionsAd hoc1, 2-3, 5-7Oral
Q&A after group presentationsAd hoc1, 2-3, 5-6Oral
Headline or social media post50 words1, 2, 5-6Written

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams
10000

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Film405 minutes (group work)4-7Written
Scientific article assignment601500 words4-6Written

Re-assessment

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

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
FilmPodcast on same topic (individual) (40%)4-7August Ref/Def
Scientific articleScientific article (60%)4-6August Ref/Def

Re-assessment notes

Deferral – if you miss an assessment for certificated reasons that are approved by the Mitigation Committee, you will normally be either deferred in the assessment or an extension may be granted. If deferred, the format and timing of the re-assessment for each of the summative assessments is detailed in the table above ('Details of re-assessment'). The mark given for a deferred assessment 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 (i.e. a final overall module mark of less than 40%) and the module cannot be condoned, you will be required to complete a re-assessment for each of the failed components on the module. The format and timing of the re-assessment for each of the summative assessments is detailed in the table above ('Details of re-assessment'). If you pass the module following re-assessment, your module mark 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

  • ELE page - https://ele.exeter.ac.uk/

Module has an active ELE page

Key words search

Science communication, science journalism, scientific reporting, scientific writing

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

29/02/2024