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BMSC110 Communicating Ideas in Science , BMSC201 Communicating Ideas in Science

Unit rationale, description and aim

Effective communication is essential to ensure advancements in science are recognised and impactful. As future science professionals, it is important for students to learn to communicate science to audiences of diverse backgrounds and with varying levels of scientific knowledge. Students will demonstrate their knowledge and ability to convey clear scientific messages via oral, written, and audiovisual means in this unit. Students will be able to apply communication skills acquired in this unit to other contexts, including professional settings, other scholarly disciplines, and in day-to-day life. This unit aims to enable development of knowledge and skills in communicating scientific concepts using a variety of media and to a range of audiences.

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 - Locate, organise and translate scientific information for a variety of communication purposes (GA5, GA8)

LO2 - Identify and apply best-practice principles to designing high quality communication (GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO3 - Effectively communicate science-related information to a variety of audiences, for a variety of purposes, and with sensitivity (GA7, GA8, GA9)

LO4 - Justify the content of communication media by describing the evidence base that supports key messages (GA5)

Graduate attributes

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

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 


Topics will include:

  • Purposes of science communications
  • Using the literature
  • choosing appropriate literature
  • reading critically
  • extracting key messages
  • supporting key messages with evidence
  • Designing and developing media to communicate science
  • designing media for impact
  • using images to convey key messages
  • ensuring design and delivery are appropriate
  • Delivering scientific messages
  • conveying a message
  • targeting the audience

Learning and teaching strategy and rationale

Effective communication is essential to science; underpinning decision making at all levels of society and promoting understanding of the relevance of science. Scientific communication must consider the purpose of communication and the target audience. Communication skills can be learnt via practice and feedback.  

This unit uses interactive activities to engage students in learning to communicate scientific ideas effectively. Students learn about techniques of communicating via different media and to a variety of audiences. Students apply knowledge acquired to implement and practice effective communication skills, guided by peer observation and feedback. This approach strengthens the learning process and provides opportunities for students to draw on their own life experiences.

Further to this, to ensure students are ready to transition from the Diploma and articulate into the second year of undergraduate study, transition pedagogies will be incorporated into the unit as the key point of differentiation from the standard unit. This focuses on an active and engaging approach to learning and teaching practices, and a scaffolded approach to the delivery of curriculum to enhance student learning in a supportive environment. This will ensure that students develop foundation level discipline-based knowledge, skills and attributes, and simultaneously the academic competencies required of students to succeed in this unit.

Assessment strategy and rationale

A range of assessment procedures will be used to meet the unit learning outcomes and develop graduate attributes consistent with University assessment requirements. In order to successfully complete this unit, students need to complete and submit three graded assessment tasks. In addition to this, students must obtain an aggregate mark of greater than 50% over these three assessment tasks. 

Assessments will guide students to progressively develop knowledge and skills in communication of science. Ongoing feedback from fellow students and academics is integral to this process. Assessments are closely aligned with engagement in content, employ a variety of media, and target a range of audiences. 

In the first assessment, students collaborate to design and deliver a presentation on a scientific topic. Feedback on this assessment helps them to identify areas for improvement and refine skills for subsequent assessments. The subsequent assessments are individual and allow students to demonstrate their ability to communicate effectively using a variety of techniques and media. In the second assessment task, students refine and apply skills from the first assessment to show they can communicate a scientific message succinctly and demonstrate their understanding of the communication strategies used. In the final assessment, students integrate and build on their skills to demonstrate an ability to adjust their communication of scientific ideas to different audiences.

Strategies aligned with transition pedagogies will be utilised to facilitate successful completion of the unit assessment tasks. For each assessment, there will be the incorporation of developmentally staged tasks with a focus on a progressive approach to learning. This will be achieved through activities, including regular feedback, particularly early in the unit of study to support their learning; strategies to develop and understand discipline-specific concepts and terminology; in-class practice tasks with integrated feedback; and greater peer-to-peer collaboration.

Overview of assessments

Brief Description of Kind and Purpose of Assessment TasksWeightingLearning OutcomesGraduate Attributes

Group presentation

Students demonstrate their ability to work as a team to communicate scientific ideas effectively.


LO1, LO2, LO3

GA5, GA7, GA9

Communication with images and writing

Students demonstrate skills in written and visual communication, and critical thinking.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA5, GA8, GA9

Individual presentations

Students develop and demonstrate their skills in targeting science communication to different audiences.


LO1, LO2, LO3, LO4

GA5, GA7, GA8, GA9

Representative texts and references

Cormick, C. (2019). The Science of Communicating Science: The ultimate guide. CSIRO publishing.

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.

Lindsay DR. (2020). Scientific Writing = Thinking in Words (2nd ed.). CSIRO Publishing.

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

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