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MSc Science Communication / Course details

Year of entry: 2020

Course description

Our MSc Science Communication course is ideal if you are interested in science, technology, medicine, mathematics or engineering and want to work in the field of science communication.

You will develop the skills required to work in a range of sectors, including science and health-related media, science policy and filmmaking; science and health outreach, public relations, museums and science centres, science festivals, and other public engagement fields.

Developed by the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine and Manchester Institute of Innovation Research , the course features masterclasses and project support from leading professionals in a wide range of sectors, together with experienced science communicators from across the University.

You will spend time building up practical communication skills, and thinking about the broad range of challenges that science communicators face. Does science communication matter for society? Whose interests are furthered by science news? What are the ethical issues in the communication of health research? When we talk about public engagement, what kind of public do we mean?

You will consider these and other questions through insights drawn from history, innovation and policy research, media studies, and the first-hand experience of long-serving communicators, and link these to practical skills.

Special features

Real world learning

We bring practitioners into the classroom and enable you to participate in the various forms of science communication that take place in Manchester to complement your academic learning with real life experiences.

Teaching and learning

You will learn through a mixture of lectures, small-group seminars, discussions and practical exercises. Activities will be included in the taught elements for both individual students and groups.

You will engage with primary and secondary academic literatures, professional literatures, and mass media products about science, technology and medicine.

You will also learn at special sites of science communication, such as museums, media institutions, and public events.

We encourage participation and volunteering to help you further your own interests alongside the taught curriculum. All students will meet regularly with a mentor from the Centre's PhD community, with a designated personal tutor from among the staff and, from Semester 2, a research project supervisor.

Applicants may informally request examples of study materials to help you test your ability to engage effectively with the course from the Course Director.

Coursework and assessment

All units are assessed by academic and practical tasks set in parallel. You should expect both written and spoken assessments that use a format appropriate to the relevant professional group or medium.

You may choose your own topic or medium for many of the assessments. Assessed work also includes a piece of original science communication research.

The final assessment is a project created under the supervision of a science communication professional (the mentored project).

Course unit details

The full-time version of the course runs for 12 months. There is also a part-time alternative, covering half the same classes each semester over two years. Part-time study involves a limited number of days' attendance per week and can be combined with part-time employment.

All students take three course units consisting of weekly lectures and discussion seminars:

  • Introduction to Science Communication (30 credits)
  • Communicating ideas in science, technology and medicine (15 credits) 
  • Introduction to Contemporary Science and Medicine (15 credits)

All students also attend a series of specialised courses focusing on science communication practice and science policy, with sessions led by invited contributors including journalists, documentary filmmakers, museum professionals, policy analysts, outreach officers and other relevant experts. You will choose two of the following four units to specialise in for assessed work (although you can sit in on all these units):

  • Science, media and journalism (15 credits)
  • Science museums, science centres and public events (15 credits) 
  • Science, government and policy (15 credits)
  • Health communication (15 credits)

The course is completed by two more open-ended elements allowing you to specialise towards your preferred interests.

The mentored project (30 credits), completed over the summer at the end of the course, involves working with support from a science communication professional on developing and analysing an activity close to professional practice.

Our course teaches the current trends in science communication, so details of our units may vary from year to year to stay up to date. This type of change is covered within the University's disclaimer , but if you are in doubt about a unit of interest, please contact us before accepting your offer of a place.

The science communication research project (60 credits) gives more scope for independent investigation and includes new research on a particular science communication topic.

Course unit list

The course unit details given below are subject to change, and are the latest example of the curriculum available on this course of study.

TitleCodeCredit ratingMandatory/optional
Introduction to Contemporary Science and Medicine HSTM60011 15 Mandatory
Science Communication Research Project HSTM60022 60 Mandatory
Introduction to Science Communication HSTM60561 30 Mandatory
Communicating ideas in STM HSTM60571 15 Mandatory
Science Communication Mentored Project HSTM60622 30 Mandatory
Health Communication HSTM60032 15 Optional
Museums, Science Centres and Public Events HSTM60582 15 Optional
Science, Government & Public Policy HSTM60592 15 Optional
Science, Media and Journalism HSTM60602 15 Optional

What our students say

Read about graduate Amie Peltzer's experience of the course on the Biology, Medicine and Health Student blog .

Facilities

You will have use of a shared office in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine, including networked computer terminals and storage space, and use of a dedicated subject library housed in the PhD office.

You will also be able to access a range of facilities throughout the University.

Disability support

Practical support and advice for current students and applicants is available from the Disability Advisory and Support Service .