Skip to main content
Unit of study_

SCIE4001: Science Communication

Semester 1, 2021 [Normal day] - Remote

"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough". This quote is widely attributed to Albert Einstein, but regardless of its provenance, it suggests that one measure of an expert's knowledge can be found in their ability to translate complex ideas so that they are accessible to anyone. The communication of science to the public is essential for science and society. In order to increase public understanding and appreciation of science, researchers must be able to explain their results, and the wider context of their research, to non-experts. This unit will explore some theoretical foundations of science communications, identify outstanding practitioners and empower students to produce effective science communication in different media. In this unit you will learn the necessary skills and techniques to tell engaging and informative science stories in order to bring complex ideas to life, for non-expert audiences. By undertaking this unit you will develop a greater understanding of the wider context of your honours unit, advance your communication skills and be able to explain your honours research to non-expert audiences such as friends, family or future employers. These transferable skills will equip you for future research - where emphasis is increasingly placed on public communication and/or outreach - or professional pathways - where effective communication of complex ideas is highly valued.

Unit details and rules

Unit code SCIE4001
Academic unit Chemistry Academic Operations
Credit points 6
Prohibitions
? 
None
Prerequisites
? 
144 credit points of units of study and including a minimum of 24 credit points at the 3000- or 4000-level and 18 credit points of 3000- or 4000-level units from Science Table A.
Corequisites
? 
None
Assumed knowledge
? 

Completion of a major in a science discipline. Basic knowledge of other sciences is beneficial. Experience in communication such as delivering oral presentations and producing written reports. An awareness of science in a societal context, e.g., of disciplinary applications.

Available to study abroad and exchange students

Yes

Teaching staff

Coordinator Alice Motion, alice.motion@sydney.edu.au
Type Description Weight Due Length
Participation Seminar/workshop attendance and completion of course notebook
Participation
10% Ongoing ~1000 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO4 LO3 LO2
Assignment Illustrating science
Creative Assessment
15% Week 07 500 words equivalent
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO3 LO5 LO6
Assignment Written article
Written article
25% Week 08 ~500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO3
Presentation Presentation
Presentation
25% Week 09 3 minute
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO6 LO5 LO3
Assignment group assignment Report
Report
25% Week 10 ~1500 words
Outcomes assessed: LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
group assignment = group assignment ?

Assessment summary

  • Course Notebook/Discussion – attend class and complete course notebook/contribute to discussion boards
  • Illustrating science – complete an illustration (e.g. diagram/figure/demonstration/soundscape/animation) to illustrate a scientific topic or concept to a specific allocated audience
  • Written article – communicate, through a written article, a science topic/concept to a specific allocated audience
  • 3 Minute Presentation – communicate, through an oral presentation, a science topic/concept to a specific allocated audience
  • Report –  reflectively and critically evaluate the theoretical basis and methods applied for the communication of science in each of the previous assignments through individual reports that are collated as a group portfolio.

Assessment criteria

Result Name Mark Range Description
HD 85-100 Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an exceptional standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.
D 75-84 Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a very high standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school
C 65-74 Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at a good standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.
P 50-64 Awarded when you demonstrate the learning outcomes for the unit at an acceptable standard, as defined by grade descriptors or exemplars outlined by your faculty or school.
F 0-49 When you don’t meet the learning outcomes of the unit to a satisfactory standard.
AF 0-49 When you haven’t completed all assessment tasks or met the attendance requirements.

For more information see guide to grades.

Late submission

In accordance with University policy, these penalties apply when written work is submitted after 11:59pm on the due date:

  • Deduction of 5% of the maximum mark for each calendar day after the due date.
  • After ten calendar days late, a mark of zero will be awarded.

Academic integrity

The Current Student website  provides information on academic integrity and the resources available to all students. The University expects students and staff to act ethically and honestly and will treat all allegations of academic integrity breaches seriously.  

We use similarity detection software to detect potential instances of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breach. If such matches indicate evidence of plagiarism or other forms of academic integrity breaches, your teacher is required to report your work for further investigation.

You may only use artificial intelligence and writing assistance tools in assessment tasks if you are permitted to by your unit coordinator, and if you do use them, you must also acknowledge this in your work, either in a footnote or an acknowledgement section.

Studiosity is permitted for postgraduate units unless otherwise indicated by the unit coordinator. The use of this service must be acknowledged in your submission.

Simple extensions

If you encounter a problem submitting your work on time, you may be able to apply for an extension of five calendar days through a simple extension.  The application process will be different depending on the type of assessment and extensions cannot be granted for some assessment types like exams.

Special consideration

If exceptional circumstances mean you can’t complete an assessment, you need consideration for a longer period of time, or if you have essential commitments which impact your performance in an assessment, you may be eligible for special consideration or special arrangements.

Special consideration applications will not be affected by a simple extension application.

Using AI responsibly

Co-created with students, AI in Education includes lots of helpful examples of how students use generative AI tools to support their learning. It explains how generative AI works, the different tools available and how to use them responsibly and productively.

WK Topic Learning activity Learning outcomes
Week 02 An Introduction to Science Communication Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
An Introduction to Science Communication Workshop (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 03 Storytelling in Science: Chapter 1 Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Storytelling in Science: Chapter 1 Workshop (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO4
Week 04 Storytelling in Science: Chapter 2 Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Storytelling in Science: Chapter 2 Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 05 Storytelling in Science: Chapter 3 Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Storytelling in Science: Chapter 3 Workshop (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 06 Evaluating Science Communication Lecture (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Evaluating Science Communication Workshop (2 hr) LO1 LO2 LO3 LO4
Week 07 Illustrating Science Stories Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Illustrating Science Stories Workshop (2 hr) LO3 LO4 LO5 LO6
Week 08 Writing Your Story Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO5 LO6
Writing Your Story Workshop (2 hr) LO3 LO5 LO6
Week 09 Telling Your Story Lecture (2 hr) LO3 LO5 LO6
Telling Your Story Workshop (2 hr) LO3 LO5 LO6

Study commitment

Typically, there is a minimum expectation of 1.5-2 hours of student effort per week per credit point for units of study offered over a full semester. For a 6 credit point unit, this equates to roughly 120-150 hours of student effort in total.

Learning outcomes are what students know, understand and are able to do on completion of a unit of study. They are aligned with the University's graduate qualities and are assessed as part of the curriculum.

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. Identify science communication modes, audiences and purposes using digital and other sources of information.
  • LO2. Explain the importance of science communication, both within science and for society.
  • LO3. Translate complex scientific topics, concepts and issues into language appropriate for non-experts using media that is appropriate to different audiences.
  • LO4. Appraise and evaluate science communication exemplars and assess their appropriateness for purpose.
  • LO5. Produce examples of effective science communication that demonstrate depth of disciplinary expertise, inventiveness and influence.
  • LO6. Work in a responsible, professional, culturally competent and ethical manner both independently and collaboratively in teams.

Graduate qualities

The graduate qualities are the qualities and skills that all University of Sydney graduates must demonstrate on successful completion of an award course. As a future Sydney graduate, the set of qualities have been designed to equip you for the contemporary world.

GQ1 Depth of disciplinary expertise

Deep disciplinary expertise is the ability to integrate and rigorously apply knowledge, understanding and skills of a recognised discipline defined by scholarly activity, as well as familiarity with evolving practice of the discipline.

GQ2 Critical thinking and problem solving

Critical thinking and problem solving are the questioning of ideas, evidence and assumptions in order to propose and evaluate hypotheses or alternative arguments before formulating a conclusion or a solution to an identified problem.

GQ3 Oral and written communication

Effective communication, in both oral and written form, is the clear exchange of meaning in a manner that is appropriate to audience and context.

GQ4 Information and digital literacy

Information and digital literacy is the ability to locate, interpret, evaluate, manage, adapt, integrate, create and convey information using appropriate resources, tools and strategies.

GQ5 Inventiveness

Generating novel ideas and solutions.

GQ6 Cultural competence

Cultural Competence is the ability to actively, ethically, respectfully, and successfully engage across and between cultures. In the Australian context, this includes and celebrates Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures, knowledge systems, and a mature understanding of contemporary issues.

GQ7 Interdisciplinary effectiveness

Interdisciplinary effectiveness is the integration and synthesis of multiple viewpoints and practices, working effectively across disciplinary boundaries.

GQ8 Integrated professional, ethical, and personal identity

An integrated professional, ethical and personal identity is understanding the interaction between one’s personal and professional selves in an ethical context.

GQ9 Influence

Engaging others in a process, idea or vision.

Outcome map

Learning outcomes Graduate qualities
GQ1 GQ2 GQ3 GQ4 GQ5 GQ6 GQ7 GQ8 GQ9

This section outlines changes made to this unit following staff and student reviews.

Clearer scaffolding of final assignment from the start of the course and more structured discussion boards.

Disclaimer

The University reserves the right to amend units of study or no longer offer certain units, including where there are low enrolment numbers.

To help you understand common terms that we use at the University, we offer an online glossary.