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SCOM419 Special Topic

Further development of skills associated with science and natural history filmmaking.

In SCOM 419, you will develop skills in effectively communicating science to address society’s greatest challenges, by connecting state-of-the-art scientific evidence with action via policy, the media, and public perceptions. You will learn techniques in writing, audio, news media and social media to capture the attention of a particular audience and promote positive change. Students will be taught by a range of experts in the professional field of science communication, involving Government Ministries and NGOs, and will emerge with skills to empower action in areas ranging from climate change to food security.  

Paper title Special Topic
Paper code SCOM419
Subject Science Communication
EFTS 0.1667
Points 20 points
Teaching period Not offered in 2023 (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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Limited to
PGCertSciComm, PGDipSciComm, MAppSc
(i) May be taken by students enrolled for Science and Natural History Filmmaking options. (ii) Admission is subject to approval from the Head of Department.

Cathy Cole (

Teaching staff

Dr Cathy Cole

Paper Structure

This paper will meet for one three-hour session each week, split into 3 parts: 1) weekly readings and discussion; 2) a seminar, regularly featuring a guest speaker working professionally in the topic of the week; 3) an exercise to practice skills in communication for a target audience across a range of media over the semester.  

Teaching Arrangements

One 3-hour session per week.

None required.
Graduate Attributes Emphasised
Global perspective, Interdisciplinary perspective, Lifelong learning, Scholarship, Communication, Critical thinking, Cultural understanding, Ethics, Environmental literacy, Information literacy, Research, Self-motivation, Teamwork.
View more information about Otago's graduate attributes.
Learning Outcomes
  • Understand the major scientific challenges facing society, and strategies for addressing these through science communication;
  • Develop job-ready skills in science communication for various platforms of change, including policy and media;
  • Develop enhanced writing and media skills to communicate with impact;
  • Demonstrate an ability to distill complex scientific information into accessible formats relevant to a particular audience/client, maintaining accuracy.

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Not offered in 2023

Teaching method
This paper is taught On Campus
Learning management system