Credit points


Campus offering

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Unit rationale, description and aim

As future science professionals, students will be required to communicate their work to audiences with varying levels of scientific knowledge and with diverse backgrounds. This unit aims to enable development of student skills in communicating scientific concepts using a variety of media and to a range of audiences. The unit teaches visual, written and oral techniques of communication with lay and scientific audiences. Students demonstrate their knowledge and skills in conveying clear scientific messages via oral, written, and audio-visual presentations. Students will be able to apply scientific communication skills acquired in this unit in other contexts, including professional settings, other scholarly disciplines, and in day-to-day life.

Learning outcomes

To successfully complete this unit you will be able to demonstrate you have achieved the learning outcomes (LO) detailed in the below table.

Each outcome is informed by a number of graduate capabilities (GC) to ensure your work in this, and every unit, is part of a larger goal of graduating from ACU with the attributes of insight, empathy, imagination and impact.

Explore the graduate capabilities.

On successful completion of this unit, students should be able to:

LO1 - Describe the purposes of science communication (GA5) 

LO2 - Identify the best practice principles of communicating science ideas to a range of audiences and for a range of purposes (GA4, GA5, GA6) 

LO3 - Design high quality written and audio visual media to communicate science ideas (GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10) 

LO4 - Communicate science-related information visually and in written and oral formats to a variety of audiences, for a variety of purposes and with sensitivity (GA6, GA8,GA7, GA9, GA10) 

LO5 - Justify the content of communication media by describing the evidence base that supports key messages (GA4, GA5) 

Graduate attributes

GA4 - think critically and reflectively 

GA5 - demonstrate values, knowledge, skills and attitudes appropriate to the discipline and/or profession 

GA6 - solve problems in a variety of settings taking local and international perspectives into account

GA7 - work both autonomously and collaboratively 

GA8 - locate, organise, analyse, synthesise and evaluate information 

GA9 - demonstrate effective communication in oral and written English language and visual media 

GA10 - utilise information and communication and other relevant technologies effectively.


Topics will include: 

  • Purpose of science communications 
  • Critiquing the literature 
  • choosing appropriate literature 
  • reading critically 
  • extracting key messages  
  • supporting key messages with evidence 
  • Design and develop media to communicate science ideas  
  • written media 
  • multimedia 
  • designing media for impact 
  • using images to convey key messages 
  • tailoring delivery for a specific audience 
  • ensuring culturally appropriate delivery 
  • Writing for professional and consumer audiences 
  • Speaking to professional and consumer audiences 

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

This unit uses an active approach with on-campus lectures and workshops that are supported by online activities. Lectures allow teachers to convey necessary information so that students can gain an overall understanding and make connections among unit components. Lectures also provide opportunities for students to check their understanding and ask questions. Workshops will consolidate student learning in a supported environment. In workshops students will work collaboratively and engage in activities such as reading, discussing, presenting and problem-based learning. 

Assessment strategy and rationale

The unit uses assessment tasks to guide students to progressively develop their knowledge of communication of science.

An oral group presentation allows students to apply the concepts of presenting a topic in science while collaborating within a group of students. This assessment has a low weighting and should be low stress for the students. Students are provided with early feedback so that they can seek assistance if required.

For the written assessment each student designs and writes a scientific article. The students are examined and receive feedback on their ability to communicate scientific ideas and critically assess the literature on a specific topic.

The individual presentation has each student deliver an oral presentation in class on a scientific topic targeting an expert audience, and also prepare a digital presentation on the same topic directed at a lay audience. This exercise assesses a student’s ability to adapt their communication skills to their audience.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Group presentation: Enables students to develop and demonstrate their ability to communicate scientific ideas and work collaboratively.


LO1, LO2, LO3 

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA7, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Written assessment: Require students to demonstrate writing and critical thinking skills.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4, LO5 

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Individual presentations: Enables students to develop and demonstrate their skills in communicating ideas in science to a variety of audiences.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4 

GA4, GA5, GA6, GA8, GA9, GA10 

Representative texts and references

Olson, R. (2009) Don't Be Such a Scientist Talking Substance in an Age of Style. USA: Island Press 

Dean, C. (2009) Am I Making Myself Clear? A Scientist's Guide to Talking to the Public, Harvard University Press 

Knight, D. (2011) Public Understanding of Science: A History of Communicating Scientific Ideas, Routledge Studies in the History of Science, Technology and Medicine 

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