Module Identifier ED33020  
Academic Year 2004/2005  
Co-ordinator Dr Jan Martin  
Semester Intended for use in future years  
Next year offered N/A  
Next semester offered N/A  
Other staff Dr Malcolm Thomas  
Course delivery Lecture   7 Hours  
  Seminars / Tutorials   3 Hours  
  Practical   5 Hours  
Assessment TypeAssessment Length/DetailsProportion
Semester Assessment 4,000 word assignment  40%
Semester Assessment Poster  40%
Semester Assessment Verbal defense of poster  20%

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.


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 Lists

Preliminary Readings
DURANT, J (1992) Museums and the public understanding of science. London: Science Museums in association with the Committee on the Public Understanding of Science
GREGORY, J and MILLER, S (1998) Science in public: communication, culture and credibility. Plenum Press


This module is at CQFW Level 6