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Study Science Communication at Otago

The science of stories. The stories of science.

Being a scientist today means not just navigating the world of research, but also integrating with the community, sharing knowledge and informing policy.

Don’t settle for a standard science degree – gain workplace-ready skills by taking the new Science Communication minor alongside any science, applied science, arts and science, and humanities major. You’ll develop creative flair and practical tools to inspire wonder, nurture greater understanding of the natural world and empower meaningful action to address society’s greatest challenges.

Apply for the Master of Science Communication (MSciComm) through the Dunedin campus in 2022

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Apply for the Master of Science Communication (MSciComm) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Postgraduate Certificate in Science Communication (PGCertSciComm) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Apply for the Postgraduate Diploma in Science Communication (PGDipSciComm) through the Dunedin campus in 2023

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Why study Science Communication?

Science communication is rapidly expanding as an academic field, with endless opportunities for meaningful careers connecting society with advances in the understanding and application of science and technology, as well as nurturing creativity and enjoyment of science.

The minor in Science Communication introduces students to the theory and practice of effective science communication, including the tools to be a creative and powerful communicator in the modern world. It is designed to complement an existing major in either the humanities or the natural sciences and is composed of five papers – four compulsory and one elective.

Background required

There are no prerequisites for enrolling in the minor. We welcome students interested in any aspect of science communication, whether that’s creative writing, public speaking, film making, organising public events, engaging young people in science, informing government policy or anything else.

Take the minor alongside any major subject, and gain work-place ready skills that will place you a step ahead in any career.

What will I learn in the minor?

The four compulsory papers provide a background to communication theory, an understanding of the societal context within which science and science communication operate, as well as a whole host of practical skills such as film making, hosting public events and creative nonfiction writing.

An additional elective paper allows you to pursue more specialised interests, from the philosophy of science, to journalistic writing, to public health promotions.

Details of the papers in the minor

Further study in Science Communication

Our department offers exciting opportunities for further study at Otago, with an extensive postgraduate degree programme. We teach creative thinkers how to use stories to communicate the science they are most passionate about.

In addition to an academic thesis, our students produce creative works that go into the public domain – be it a film, podcast, book, website, exhibition or any other creative endeavour involving the communication of scientific information. Our graduates are well-connected with industry professionals and leave equipped with an advanced job-ready skillset as well as a deep theoretical understanding of our field.

Career opportunities

Graduates of our programme are employed in a huge range of empowering careers, including regional and city councils, non-profit organisations, Crown Research Institutes, science and natural history magazines, video game development, commercial television, government ministries and museums.

Qualifications

Explore your study options further. Refer to enrolment information found on the following qualification pages.

Programme requirements

Postgraduate Certificate in Science Communication (PGCertSciComm) 

Papers

Three of SCOM 402, SCOM 403, SCOM 404, SCOM 406 or SCOM 409.

One other paper at 400-level may be substituted for one of the prescribed papers, with approval from the Head of the Department of Science Communication.

SCOM 432, SCOM 433, SCOM 434, SCOM 439 may be substituted for SCOM 402, SCOM 403 and SCOM 409 as Distance options.

Postgraduate Diploma in Science Communication (PGDipSciComm) 

Papers

SCOM 402, SCOM 403, SCOM 406, SCOM 409, SCOM 411, and either SCOM 404 or SCOM 412.

One paper at 400-level may be substituted for a prescribed paper, with approval of the Director of the Centre for Science Communication.

SCOM 411 is prerequisite for SCOM 412.

SCOM 432, SCOM 433, SCOM 434 and SCOM 439 may be substituted for SCOM 402, SCOM 403, SCOM 404 and SCOM 409 as Distance options.

Master of Applied Science (MAppSc) in Science Communication

Papers

Notes:
This programme requires three semesters of study.
SCOM 411 is prerequisite for SCOM 412.
With approval, SCOM 5A may replace APPS 596, APPS 597 or APPS 598, and one 400-level paper.
Up to two of the prescribed papers may be replaced with other 400-level papers with approval from the Director of the Centre for Science Communication.
SCOM 432, SCOM 433, SCOM 434 and SCOM 439 may be substituted for SCOM 402, SCOM 403 and SCOM 409 as Distance options.

Master of Science Communication (MSciComm) 

Papers Points

SCOM 402, SCOM 409, SCOM 411, SCOM 495 and two of SCOM 403, SCOM 406 and SCOM 412.

(Up to two other papers at 400-level may be substituted with approval from the Director of the Centre for Science Communication)

SCOM 411 is prerequisite for SCOM 412.

Thesis: SCOM 5A (60 points) and SCOM 5B (60 points) (in most cases, including a significant creative component)

Note: SCOM 432, 433 and 439 may be substituted for SCOM 402, 403, 404 and 409 as Distance options.

120

 
 

 

120

Minor subject requirements

Science Communication as a minor subject for a BA, MusB, BPA, BTheol, BSc, BAppSc, BCom, BHealSc, BACom, BASc or BComSc degree

Available as a minor subject for a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Bachelor of Music (MusB), Bachelor of Performing Arts (BPA), Bachelor of Theology (BTheol), Bachelor of Science (BSc), Bachelor of Applied Science (BAppSc), Bachelor of Commerce (BCom), Bachelor of Health Science (BHealSc), Bachelor of Arts and Commerce (BACom), Bachelor of Arts and Science (BASc) or Bachelor of Commerce and Science (BComSc) degree

Level Papers Points
100-level

MFCO 103  Introduction to Communication Studies

SCOM 109  Communicating Science: an Introduction

18

18

Above 100-level

MFCO 222 Science, Technology, and Society

SCOM 301 Science and the Public

One of MFCO 220, MFCO 223, MFCO 321, ECOL 212, ENGL 228, ENGL 327, HIST 229, HIST 306, PHIL 225, PHIL 235, POLS 207, PUBH 202, PUBH 203, RELS 217, RELS 317, SOCI 208, TOUR 306

18

18

18

Total   90

Papers

Paper code Year Title Points Teaching period
SCOM109 2023 Communicating Science: an Introduction 18 points Semester 2
SCOM301 2023 Engaging the Public with Science 18 points Semester 2
SCOM402 2023 The Craft of Storytelling 20 points Semester 1
SCOM403 2023 Science and Creative Non-Fiction Writing 20 points Semester 2
SCOM404 2023 Science Communication Internship 20 points Semester 1, Semester 2, Full Year
SCOM406 2023 Science Communication Strategies and Resources 20 points Semester 2
SCOM409 2023 Introduction to Science Communication 20 points Semester 1
SCOM411 2023 The Techniques of Natural History and Science Filmmaking 1 20 points Semester 1
SCOM412 2023 The Techniques of Natural History and Science Filmmaking 2 20 points Semester 2
SCOM419 2023 Special Topic 20 points Not offered in 2023
SCOM432 2023 The Craft of Storytelling 20 points Semester 1
SCOM433 2023 Science and Creative Non-Fiction Writing 20 points Semester 2
SCOM434 2023 Science Communication Internship 20 points Semester 1, Semester 2, Full Year
SCOM439 2023 Introduction to Science Communication 20 points Semester 1
SCOM495 2023 Thesis Preparation and Proposal 20 points Semester 1, Semester 2

Key information for students

Contact us

Email fabien.medvecky@otago.ac.nz

Website otago.ac.nz/science-communication