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MSc History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Year of entry: 2020

Course unit details:
Communicating ideas in STM

Unit code HSTM60571
Credit rating 15
Unit level FHEQ level 7 – master's degree or fourth year of an integrated master's degree
Teaching period(s) Semester 1
Offered by Centre for History of Science, Technology & Medicine (L5)
Available as a free choice unit? No

Overview

This assessed unit has two main roles: to provide guidance and experience in writing and oral presentation (supplementing the more basic coverage provided on zerocredit skills units), and to introduce students to a variety of approaches to research. The unit is required on both the MSc History of Science, Technology and Medicine (including Medical Humanities pathway) and MSc Science Communication programmes, and the case coverage will be drawn from across the disciplinary approaches covered by these programmes, with an emphasis on the shared themes of expertise and communication in science and medicine. The research skills element will draw on the experience and current work of local staff and research students, with sessions focusing on the application of theoretical approaches (for instance, reading for gender; the user/patient turn in history of technology/medicine; the heritage validity debate and its relevance to public presentation) and research practices (such as oral history interviewing and working in archives). The communication element will focus particularly on writing and preparing talks/presentations as a developmental and iterative process, and on the need to consider and engage with multiple audiences with different priorities and preconceptions. The exact content of the course will vary from year to year, but is likely to include some or all of the following:

Research methods

  • Framing a research question
  • Investigating sources and evidence
  • Working in an archive
  • Using visual sources
  • Working with popular and fictional media
  • Oral history
  • Gender, identity and authority
  • Geographies of knowledge
  • Research ethics

Communication skills

  • Writing and editing as an iterative process
  • Writing for specific audiences and formats
  • Preparing and delivering an oral presentation
  • Engaging with audiences

Aims

The unit aims to:

  • introduce students to key research methodologies relating to history, policy and communication in science, technology and medicine
  • enable students to analyse critically key methods and techniques used by researchers
  • provide students with practical insights into research and writing, through the experience of current researchers
  • build awareness and skill in adapting writing and oral presentation style and technique to different audiences and formats
  • develop skills in drafting and editing of texts
  • develop skills in oral presentation.

Syllabus

This assessed unit has two main roles: to provide guidance and experience in writing and oral presentation, and to introduce students to a variety of approaches to research. The unit is required on both the MSc History of Science, Technology and Medicine (including Medical Humanities pathway) and MSc Science Communication programmes, and the case coverage will be drawn from across the disciplinary approaches covered by these programmes, with an emphasis on the shared themes of expertise and communication in science and medicine. The research skills element will draw on the experience and current work of local staff and research students, with sessions focusing on the application of theoretical approaches (for instance, reading for gender; the user/patient turn in history of technology/medicine; the heritage validity debate and its relevance to public presentation) and research practices (such as oral history interviewing and working in archives). The communication element will focus particularly on writing and preparing talks/presentations as a developmental and iterative process, and on the need to consider and engage with multiple audiences with different priorities and preconceptions. The exact content of the course will vary from year to year, but is likely to include some or all of the following:

Research methods

  • Framing a research question
  • Investigating sources and evidence
  • Working in an archive
  • Using visual sources
  • Working with popular and fictional media
  • Oral history
  • Gender, identity and authority
  • Geographies of knowledge
  • Research ethics

Communication skill

  • Writing and editing as an iterative process
  • Writing for specific audiences and formats
  • Preparing and delivering an oral presentation
  • Engaging with audiences

 

Teaching and learning methods

The formal contact time will consist of a mixture of lecture-style presentations (incorporating some group discussion around case studies) with seminar-format group discussion sessions. One session towards the end of the course will consist of students giving prepared oral presentations and taking questions from fellow students: this session will also be attended by staff and local research students, who will give general feedback in class. Readings and other support materials are delivered via Blackboard, which is also used for essay upload. Students are encouraged to raise questions about the course in class or via email, and the group email list is sometimes used to continue general discussion on course themes.

Knowledge and understanding

  • Understand key research methodologies relating to history, policy and communication in science, technology and medicine.

Intellectual skills

  • Critically and comparatively appraise source texts
  • Identify and analyse critically a variety of different methodological approaches to research and argument
  • Select and apply appropriate approaches to particular research questions.

Practical skills

  • Understand and begin to apply the practical skills required in professional research, from question formulation to publication.
  • Read for research, including skim-reading, source prioritisation, and following up references.
  • Compose and edit texts presenting the same content for different audiences, and reflect critically on the editing process and audience engagement.
  • Give an oral presentation based on a specific case study, and respond to questions or comments from others.

Transferable skills and personal qualities

  • Summarise and critically interpret the results of research.
  • Contribute to group discussion.
  • Present findings orally in a group session.

Assessment methods

One coursework assignment based on a research finding relevant to the student’s core programme/pathway:

  • Two summaries of the same material prepared for different audiences (1500 - 2000 words).Weighting: 50%
  • One oral presentation on a potential research theme ( 8 minutes, plus 2 mins approx for questions).Weighting : 50%

Feedback methods

Coursework assignment: General comments on standard programme feedback sheet; specific notes via GradeMark; standard turnaround time applies.

Oral presentation: Tailored feedback sheet. Standard turnaround time applies.

Recommended reading

  • William Kelleher Storey, Writing History: a Guide for Students. Second edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.
  • William Cronon et al, "Learning to do historical research", online at [www.williamcronon.net/researching/].
  • Wayne C Booth et al, The Craft of Research. Third edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
  • Howard S Becker, Tricks of the Trade: How to Think about your Research while you’re Doing It. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998.
  • Sylvan Barnet et al, A Short Guide to College Writing. Fifth edition. New York: Pearson Longman, 2013.

Study hours

Independent study hours
Independent study 150

Teaching staff

Staff member Role
Elizabeth Toon Unit coordinator

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