Science, Communication and Society

  • University-of-Kent-CanterburyUniversity-of-Kent-Canterbury

Course Category: Master and Master of Science

Course Description
Course Description
  • Focus of Study

    The MSc in Science, Communication and Society gives critical, professional and practical perspectives on science communication.

    Using the latest scholarship, we enable you to get behind contemporary and historic science to understand how knowledge is created and consumed within society. The programme also features professionals from a range of sectors (medical writing, journalism, industry, policy). These bring real-life case studies that inform your critical perspectives on science communication. Practical and innovative assessments harness your developing knowledge to create a portfolio of skills that are highly valued by employers.

    The MSc in Science, Communication and Society is intended primarily, though not exclusively, for the following:

    • science graduates intending to pursue a career within science but not in the laboratory
    • humanities graduates with an interest in science and technology studies
    • practising scientists wanting a career change into media, education, policy or other communication-based area of science.

    Course Description

    The MSc has been developed by the School of Biosciences, a leading school in teaching, research and science communication, and the School of History, which has a dedicated research centre in the History of the Sciences. It integrates current theory and practice in communicating science with insights from historical and ethical perspectives. Two core modules have a case study-driven approach to science communication, learning from key scientific moments in history and from science communicators who work in a variety of different professions (eg, media, politics, education, journalism).

    Two optional modules allow you to specialise in a particular area relevant to science communication, based on your interests and experience, focusing on either practical/scientific or humanities-based approaches to the study of science communication. An extended research project allows you to take a practical approach to science communication, or to do in-depth research on a historical or contemporary episode in science.

    In some cases, these projects may be undertaken in conjunction with external partners, such as Research Councils, charities and NGOs.

    You can opt to take only the core modules, resulting in a postgraduate certificate, or to take the compulsory plus two optional modules, leading to a postgraduate diploma.

    This programme aims to:

    • equip you to communicate science effectively in a variety of media
    • enable you to understand the social and professional processes by which scientific knowledge is made and communicated
    • give you an understanding of the process of scientific investigation
    • provide a stimulating, research-active environment for teaching and learning in which you are supported and motivated to achieve your academic and personal potential
    • facilitate a learning experience (integration and application of knowledge) through a variety of teaching and assessment methods
    • give you the experience of undertaking an independent research project or dissertation
    • prepare you for further training and employment in science and non-science based careers by developing transferable and cognitive skills
    • develop the qualities needed for employment in situations requiring the exercise of professionalism, independent thought, personal responsibility and decision-making in complex and unpredictable circumstances
    • provide access to as wide a range of students as practicable.

    You will gain knowledge and understanding of:

    • significant episodes in the history of science, technology and medicine, from the scientific revolution to the present
    • the social and cultural mechanisms that have shaped and shape the production of scientific knowledge
    • the role of communicational media in propagating and shaping scientific knowledge
    • scholarly debates surrounding the philosophy of the public understanding of science
    • ethical context of the practice of science and its communication
    • the principles and theories of public engagement from a critical perspective
    • current theoretical perspectives on how to communicate science to the public
    • the impact of science upon a range of professional disciplines
    • how different professions deal with complex scientific information and disseminate this information to their clients and/or audiences
    • career opportunities in science communication
    • the social, political and economic impact of science
    • how research leads to knowledge.
    Intellectual skills
    You develop intellectual skills in:

    • how to understand the range and scope of teaching and assessment methods and study skills relevant to the programme
    • gather, organise and deploy evidence, data and information from a variety of secondary and primary sources
    • the ability to identify, investigate and analyse primary and secondary information
    • how to differentiate between arguments
    • how to present reasoned defensible arguments based on reflection, study and critical judgement
    • how to understand the needs of different modes of communication for different audiences
    • engagement in effective and intelligent discussion with people of varied training and perspectives
    • development of intellectual capacity and skills spanning humanities, sciences and social sciences.

    Subject-specific skills

    You gain subject-specific skills in:

    • how to develop critical faculties to deconstruct and interpret aspects of scientific culture.
    • an awareness of the various techniques and processes used in the production of scientific knowledge, whether for expert or lay audiences
    • an understanding of the nature of science and its socio-cultural role, past and present
    • how to find information on science communication and the history of science from a wide range of information sources (eg journals, books, electronic databases) and maintain an effective information retrieval strategy
    • an understanding and application of scholarly methods and concepts used in the critical study of science, technology and medicine.

    Transferable skills

    You will gain the following transferable skills:

    • the ability to reflect on, and manage, your own learning and seek to make use of constructive feedback from your peers and staff to enhance your own performance and personal skills
    • independence of mind and initiative
    • self-discipline and self-motivation
    • the ability to work in a team and have respect for others’ reasoned views
    • communication: the ability to organise information clearly, create and respond to textual and visual sources (eg images, graphs, tables), present information orally, adapt style for different audiences
    • numeracy: the ability to read graphs and tables, integrate numerical and non-numerical information, understand the limits and potentialities of medical, scientific, legal and ethical disciplines
    • information technology: the ability to evaluate critically and communicate effectively in a number of the following formats: written documents, email, databases, spreadsheets, PowerPoint, web sites, social networking media.