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SCOM403 Science and Creative Non-Fiction Writing

A seminar-based paper that examines the academic and theoretical issues associated with creative non-fiction and how science can best be popularised.

This paper nurtures the student's ability to write about science in creative and engaging ways. Different genres are explored and practised, including biography, travel writing and writing for children. Students will write, illustrate and publish an e-book.

Paper title Science and Creative Non-Fiction Writing
Paper code SCOM403
Subject Science Communication
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Semester 2 (On campus)
Domestic Tuition Fees (NZD) $1,442.12
International Tuition Fees Tuition Fees for international students are elsewhere on this website.

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NHFC 403, SCOM 433
Normally available only to postgraduate students.
Teaching staff

Professor Lloyd Davis

Paper Structure
  • Part One (45 min): Weekly Readings and Discussion
    Each class will begin with a discussion of the assigned readings, listening and/or viewing exercises from the week before. (These materials will be made available on the server or, in some cases, emailed as links.) All students are expected to have read, watched, and listened to these materials by the onset of class and to be prepared to engage in critical discussion and detailed in-class analysis of the assigned weekly content. Failure to do so will be obvious.
  • Part Two (60 min): Seminars focus primarily on aspects of writing about nonfiction subjects, especially science, in creative ways that are engaging while still being informative. Guest speakers with relevant expertise and experience in the subject area may occasionally join in during the seminars, depending on timing and availability. Students are expected to contribute when appropriate.
  • Part Three (60 min): In-Class Exercises
    Following the break, students will participate in an in-class exercise (approx 60 min). These exercises will include a variety of illustrative tasks that involve either individual or team effort. Many of these exercises will be related to the production of the e-book (Assignment 6).
Teaching Arrangements

The Distance Learning offering of this paper is taught remotely.

Please note: This a dual mode offering. For students who wish to take this as a Distance Learning paper please enrol in SCOM433.

One 3-hour session per week.


Recommended text:
Forché, C and Gerard, P. [eds]. (2001). Writing Creative Nonfiction: instruction and insights from the teachers of the Associated Writing Programs. Story Press, Cincinnati, Ohio.

Course outline

The course outline will be supplied at the beginning of the semester.

Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Cultural understanding, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  1. Learn the skills necessary to write about science for children
  2. Write and submit an essay to an online magazine (FACTL - The Journal of Factual Literature - or an alternative)
  3. Write and illustrate a travel article suitable for submission to a magazine
  4. Write, illustrate (incorporating multi-media elements) and publish an e-book on an aspect of science
  5. Learn to write biographies

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Semester 2

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system


Stream Days Times Weeks
A1 Thursday 14:00-16:50 28-34, 36-41