Module Information

Module Identifier
Module Title
Academic Year
Semester 2
Other Staff

Course Delivery

Delivery Type Delivery length / details
Lecture 20 Hours.
Practical 5 Hours.


Assessment Type Assessment length / details Proportion
Semester Assessment 4,000 word assignment  40%
Semester Assessment Verbal defense of poster  20%
Semester Assessment Poster  40%

Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this module students should be able to:

Demonstrate an ability to communicate scientific ideas effectively to the public.

Critically evaluate different techniques for presenting science to the public.

Demonstrate an ability to be able to write and speak persuasively.

Identify and select appropriate material for a poster presentation for science in a public forum.

Brief description

Communicating science to a lay audience can be a challenging activity. In the past scientists have encountered problems with presenting their research to a wider audience - think of the fiasco with cold fusion. In this module, we address some of the basic issues associated with presenting science to the public and consider the value of a range of media - the press, broadcast media, popular science writing, science fiction, museums and discovery centres. In addition, participants develop their own writtten, oral and visual communication skills through a series of workshops, culminating in a public exhibition of posters produced during the module.

Prior to the first assignment, there is a trip to a science museum. There will be a charge for this trip (note: attendance on trip is compulsory, please email lecturer for further details.) The cost in 2011/12 was £15
There may be printing costs incurred in producing the poster for the second assessment.


The module will cover the following topics:

- Why do scientists wish to communicate with the public? Where and how do they engage in such

- The difference between academic scientific writing and coverage in the popular press.

- Science museums and discovery centres, including a field trip.

- Popular science writing: New Scientist; Nature and popular science books.

- Science fiction as a way of communicating science.

- Presentation of science to the public: open exhibition of student posters produced during the course.

Reading List

Recommended Text
DURANT, J (1992) Museums and the public understanding of science. London: Science Museums in association with the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science Primo search GREGORY, J and MILLER, S (1998) Science in public: communication, culture and credibility. Plenum Press Primo search (1997.) Here and now :contemporary science and technology in museums and science centres : proceedings of a conference held at the Science Museum, London, 21-23 November 1996 /edited by Graham Farmelo and Janet Carding. Science Museum Primo search (1994.) Turning the light on science :a review of public understanding of science and technology in Scotland. Scottish Office Primo search Lambourne, Robert. (1990.) Close encounters? :science and science fiction /Robert Lambourne, Michael Shallis, Michael Shortland. Adam Hilger Primo search Peacock, Graham. (1992.) Teaching and understanding science /Graham Peacock and Robin Smith. Hodder & Stoughton Primo search White, Richard T. (1988.) Learning science /Richard T. White. Basil Blackwell Primo search


This module is at CQFW Level 6