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Module

BMS3016 : Science Communication

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Harley Stevenson-Cocks
  • Other Staff: Ms Karen Bidewell, Ms Laura Brown
  • Owning School: Biomedical, Nutritional and Sports Scien
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 1 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0

Aims

•To introduce science communication as a skill 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 catering to 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 write for the web
• Regular practice in producing web-based content
• Science communication and the public
• Science communication in the media
• Science communication and policy
• Science communication within science

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Structured Guided LearningLecture materials31:003:00Non-synchronous online
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion13:003:00Presentations - PIP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching11:001:00Small groups meet with Module Leader to discuss assignments - PIP
Guided Independent StudySkills practice60:303:00Upload blogs/tweets
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:001 x Synchronous online. 2 x PIP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesFieldwork22:004:00External visits to the Great North Museum and Centre for Life (or remote alternatives) - PIP
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery11:001:00Online surgery with module leader to answer queries. Synchronous online
Guided Independent StudyStudent-led group activity81:008:00Blog and practice development, students use ePortfolio to share work and receive peer feedback
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study167:0067:00Independent Study assessment preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesModule talk41:004:00Synchronous online sessions
Total100:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Module talk and lecture materials: The first to introduce the module; the remainder to be delivered by a range of guest speakers working in different roles in science communication. The guest lectures will showcase the range of careers in science communication, and will explain both the nature of each role and the communication techniques required, allowing students to compare and contrast science communication in different 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.

Module talk: A live session with multiple guest speakers from industry will give students the opportunity to discuss and debate science communication across a range of areas.

Workshops: The first will provide guidance on writing a media (press) release, the knowledge from which will be applied throughout the workshop with the end result being the writing of media releases for practice and assessment based on a recent scientific journal article from Newcastle University. The second and third workshops will involve practising good oral presentation skills, and the sessions will cover voice control, body language and good presenting skills. 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.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

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

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M50Students submit two blog posts for assessment with short reflection on what they have learnt about science communication.2x350 words
Written exercise1M25Based on oral presentation above, produce an article for print media in the format of a press release. 450 words
Oral Examination1M25Individual Presentation. 10 minutes PIP
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

Written exercise 1 (750 words): based on a guest lecture and topic of science communication complemented by their own further research, students will individually write 250 word blogs after several of the guest lectures. Blogs must be based on the guest lectures/sessions or on the field of science communication. They will choose two of these for assessment, and will write a further 250 word reflective piece on what they have learned about the skills involved in 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 (450 words): using the same scientific finding, students will develop a short media release as if produced by the University Press Office.

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

Timetable