Module Catalogue

BMS3016 : Science Communication

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Available for Study Abroad and Exchange students, subject to proof of pre-requisite knowledge.
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Beth Lawry
  • Lecturer: Dr Christina Elliott
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0
European Credit Transfer System


•To highlight the importance of science communication in the dissemination of information and the public understanding of science
•To explore science communication in various contexts both as a skillset and as a career choice.
•To explore a range of careers in communication and understand the relationship of these careers to bioscience.
•To examine and compare the principles and techniques of science communication in different media and when developing content for different audiences.
•To develop students’ communication, teamworking and overall employability skills by creating a short portfolio of work showcasing their skills in science communication.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module will include:

• How to develop web-based content with regular practice.
• Science communication and public engagement
• Science communication in the media
• Science communication and policy/legal/regulatory affairs
• Science communication within science

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture61:006:00In person including at least 4 guest lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion18:008:00Presentation and completion of coursework, including related reading and writing
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00In person - small groups drop in sessions with Module Leader to discuss assignments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching13:003:00In person - Oral presentations
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion60:303:00Non-sync online. Participation in online discussion board throughout module
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops42:008:00In person x 4 workshops to develop key skills, also relating to module assessments
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork22:004:00In person - External visits for example the Great North Museum and Centre for Life (or alternatives including remote).
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity81:008:00Blog & practice development online to share work/receive peer feedback.
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study156:0056:00Writing lecture notes, reading and engaging with associate module material
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk31:003:00Synchronous online sessions led by external speakers from industry
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Module talks and lectures: The first to introduce the module; the remainder to be delivered with a range of guest speakers working in different roles in science communication. The guest lectures will showcase the breadth of careers in science communication, and will explain both the nature of each role and the communication techniques required. This will allow students to compare science communication in different professional contexts. Students will have the opportunity to pose questions to the guest lecturers to broaden their understanding of science communication.

Portfolio development: During personal study time, students will work individually to structure and write posts pitched for a university student blog. The posts should be inspired by the guest speakers and what they have learned about their career, or a topic of interest related to their degree programme. This will require the students to engage fully with each guest speaker in the lecture; reinforce the learning from the lectures; and allow students to develop their written communication skills whilst producing a portfolio of their work. Peer feedback on these blogs will enable students to critically reflect on content and communication, enabling students to make an informed decision regarding which blogs to submit for assessment.

Fieldwork: Optional visits to local museums will provide students with a greater understanding of the challenges facing communicating science to the public and give a behind-the-scenes look at how public spaces are designed to maximise engagement with science.

Workshops: Will provide guidance on creating a graphical abstract for practice and assessment based on a scientific journal article from Newcastle University. The second and third workshops will involve presentation skills, and the sessions will cover voice control, body language and good presenting skills, with ample opportunity for students to practice. Additional and optional further sessions will also be promoted within the module. New skills can then be applied in the oral presentations at the end of the course.

Small group teaching: Sessions with the module leader will allow for the discussion of ideas and assessments to take place and answering of queries through a drop-in surgery.

Structured non-synchronous discussion: An online discussion board will be available throughout the module for students to interact with one another and the module leader, to discuss key module concepts and the general subject area.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M40Students submit two blog posts for assessment 2 x 300 words.
Written exercise1M30Graphical abstract created from the same paper used for individual oral presentation.
Oral Examination1M30Individual Presentation based on scientific paper. 10 minutes PIP.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Written exercise 1 (600 words): based on a guest lecture and science piece, students will individually write 300 word blogs after several of the guest lectures. Blogs must be based on the guest lectures/sessions or on the field of science communication.

Oral presentation (10 minutes): students will identify and explain key scientific findings from a recent Newcastle University journal publication to a lay audience.

Written exercise 2: Students will create a graphical abstract for the same scientific journal publication that they are using for their oral presentation.

By focusing on the same issue in bioscience, the presentation and second written exercise will test the students’ practical understanding of the communication techniques required when working in different media, and when preparing information for different audiences.

Reading Lists