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DRPS : Course Catalogue : Deanery of Biomedical Sciences : Biomedical Sciences

Undergraduate Course: Science Communication (BIME10015)

Course Outline
SchoolDeanery of Biomedical Sciences CollegeCollege of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryIt is becoming increasingly important to engage non-specialist audiences with scientific research in order to maximise the impact and benefits of the research for a diverse range of stakeholders e.g. businesses, public services, the school education system, policy makers and also to engage the media effectively. This course introduces key skills for engaging with non-specialist audiences and explores a range of methodologies to enable this. The course combines theory and practical experience and is delivered by a range of practitioners including the course organisers. The course introduces key science communication principles and skills, and explores the development of science communication as a practice, the relationship between science and the media, public attitudes to science, and the importance of evaluation of engagement practice. The student is supported in the development of key skills through practical experience.
Course description The course is a combination of practice and theory, and in order to obtain some practical experience, students will take part in a one-day Science Communication Task, where they will be placed with a science communication practitioner to assist with e.g. a school science workshop, a public science fair, science writing, etc. Performance in this this task will allow students to put into practice, the science communication skills and knowledge gained in lectures. The performance in the task will not be assessed; however, students will be given feedback and are required to use their experience in the Task as a case study for the essay topic.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Additional Costs None
Information for Visiting Students
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  16
Course Start Semester 1
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 36, External Visit Hours 10, Feedback/Feedforward Hours 2, Formative Assessment Hours 3, Summative Assessment Hours 6, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 139 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) Presentation 40 %, Essay 30%, Sci-comm resource 30%
Feedback Students will receive a mark and written feedback on their performance.
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To gain an appreciation and understanding of the broad scope of science communication through practical experience and theory.
  2. To develop skills in engaging non-specialist audiences with science and to build confidence and the ability in researching, designing and presenting an engaging scientific presentation and resource for a non-specialist audience.
  3. To build confidence and ability in researching, designing and presenting an engaging scientific presentation and a resource for a non-specialist audience and to gain practical experience in science communication
  4. To develop an understanding of the science and media relationship
  5. To develop an understanding of the evaluation process and its role in enhancing quality in science communication.
Reading List
Peer-reviewed science communication journals:
Science Communication (
Public Understanding of Science (
International Journal of Science Education, Part B: Communication and Public Engagement (

Relevant book:
Successful Science Communication, Telling It Like It Is, D.J. Bennett & R.C. Jennings (Eds).Cambridge University Press, 2011 (available as e-book).

Background to the field
Bowater L. & Yeoman, K. (2013). A guide to science communication. In: Science Communication, A Practical Guide for Scientists, pp.1-22. Wiley-Blackwell.

Presenting Science
Bultitude, K. (2010). Presenting Science. In: Introducing Science Communication, pp.128-153, M. Brake & E. Weitkamp (Eds). Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, U.K.

Public attitudes to science
Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (2014). Public Attitudes to Science Main Report 2014, Ipsos MORI Social research Institute.

Wilkinson, C. (2010). Science and the Citizen. In: Introducing Science Communication, pp.52-76, M. Brake & E. Weitkamp (Eds). Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, U.K.

Evaluating science communication practice
Evaluation: Practical Guidelines. A Guide for Evaluating Public Engagement Activities (2011). Research Councils UK and Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills.

A guide to evaluating your Ingenious project (2014). Royal Academy of Engineering.

Useful sources of public engagement examples, guidelines and reports:
The Wellcome Trust: public engagement publications.

National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

British Science Association.
Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Not entered
Course organiserDr Janet Paterson
Course secretaryMiss Kara Young
Tel: (0131 6)50 3160
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