MSc/Postgraduate Diploma Science Communication
This course is open for applications.
Page last updated 4 August 2020
Based in our world-class Science Communication Unit and led by expert staff currently working in this constantly evolving field, this flexible programme is directly informed by current practice to combine theory and practice, and gives you excellent access to our strong industry links.
The Science Communication Unit at UWE Bristol is renowned for its innovative and diverse range of national and international activities designed to engage the public with science. Our MSc Science Communication course is an excellent opportunity to benefit from the Unit's expertise, resources and contacts.
Bristol is a hub for the science communication community. It's home to BBC Bristol, which produces a range of natural history programmes, including Life Story, and the popular science magazine, BBC Focus. Bristol is also home to the award-winning We The Curious, which the Unit has collaborated with over several years.
As well as drawing on the academic and practical experience of staff within the Science Communication Unit, our MSc programme gives you an opportunity to meet a range of visiting lecturers and benefit from their practical experience. This also provides an excellent networking opportunity for students interested in developing contacts among science communication practitioners.
The course combines a solid theoretical background with practical skill development, and has excellent links with the sectors and industries it informs. Visiting specialists also help you understand what they are looking for in future employees.
Introductory modules provide a broad theoretical foundation in issues such as the rationale for public engagement with science, understanding the audience, the role of the media in society, communication theory and models of informal learning.
You'll then have the opportunity to specialise by choosing from modules that cover practical skills related to taking science directly to the public, as well as new approaches to science communication such as digital media. This allows you to hone your practical skills and develop a portfolio that shows your expertise as a science communicator.
In the Final year, you may choose to further develop your portfolio, for example by mounting a practical science communication project, or take on a more theoretical or research-based project, perhaps with an external science communication organisation.
Inspirational and vocational
The weaving together of theory and practice ensures the award is intellectually stimulating while providing the skills employers seek.
Please contact Andy Ridgway at Andy.Ridgway@uwe.ac.uk to discuss your options.
Watch: The learning and teaching experience
The optional modules listed are those that are most likely to be available, but they may be subject to change.
You will study:
- Science and Society - Provides a theoretical perspective on the public understanding of science movement, transitions to public engagement, and formal and informal learning.
- Science, the Public and Media - Explores debates about the role of the media in society and opportunities for science communication, such as in science centres and museums.
Plus, two optional modules from:
- Science on Air and on Screen - Build your radio, TV and digital skills by critically exploring the role of broadcast media in the communication of science. You'll also make an 'as live' radio magazine programme about science and a short film.
- Science in Public Spaces - Develop your own science communication initiative in this hands-on module from developing a creative concept, to seeking funding, and managing and evaluating a project. You'll explore a range of innovative approaches from sci-art, to museums, festivals to theatre.
- Writing Science - Improve your journalistic and other writing styles, including writing for news media, public relations and educational purposes, with a view to developing a portfolio, as well as working on a magazine project.
You then undertake your Science Communication project. This is your opportunity to explore a specific aspect of science communication in depth, independently, but with tutor support. You can apply to carry out your project with an external organisation.
Find out more about past projects by our students.
This structure is for full-time students only. Part-time students study the same modules but the delivery pattern will be different.
The University continually enhances our offer by responding to feedback from our students and other stakeholders, ensuring the curriculum is kept up to date and our graduates are equipped with the knowledge and skills they need for the real world. This may result in changes to the course. If changes to your course are approved, we will inform you.
Learning and Teaching
Unlike most Master's courses in this area, the MSc Science Communication addresses the needs of working students. There are short, intensive teaching blocks of three to five days, and you can expect to attend three teaching sessions for each 30 credit module.
If you study this programme part-time, you'll take two 30 credit modules each for two academic years. It's possible to complete the part-time course in two years by finishing your project during the summer of the second year, or you may prefer to take a third year. Full-time students take four taught modules and complete the project in 14 months.
Group sessions are supplemented by directed and independent study, email discussions, tutorials and mentoring.
See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.
12 - 18 months full-time or 30 - 42 months part-time.
You'll attend three teaching blocks for each 30 credit course module. Teaching blocks are typically three days long, Thursday - Saturday.
The modules are assessed in a variety of ways, to reflect the theoretical concepts, knowledge and practical skills you'll develop. For example, through portfolios, reports and oral presentations all of which you can use to attract prospective employers. The ability to evaluate your own work and others' is critical to success in the workplace, and several assessments are designed to help you acquire these skills.
See our full glossary of assessment terms.
You'll have access to our Science Communication Unit, a centre of excellence in this specialist field.
Learn more about UWE Bristol's facilities and resources.
You are guided throughout this course by the following core staff:
In addition, the team has been fortunate in attracting a very talented range of specialist speakers from the UK and internationally, who provide their perspectives as guest lecturers on modules.
In recent years, speakers visited the course from the British Science Association, the BBC Natural History Unit, the Bristol Natural History Consortium, the Pervasive Media Studio, Nature, and a range of science communication consultancies, universities and research councils, both UK and International.
Some modules offer field trips, recently these have included visits to We The Curious, M Shed and The Wellcome Trust.
"It was fascinating to learn about the cutting-edge of science communication in the UK and throughout the world, from the Sci-Art scene and Café Scientifiques to new ideas around the dialogue with the public. I truly looked forward to every visit to Bristol and my UWE course and left each time incredibly energised to return to the US and share what I had learnt with my museum colleagues." - Sue
Careers / Further study
Science communication skills are in high demand in a wide range of sectors and industries, such as journalism, public relations, science centres and museums, science education, professional consultancy and Research Council/learned institutions.
Throughout the course, we'll encourage you to develop the professional skills to help you secure employment or research positions. Successful employment for our graduates is essential to this course's success.
To help you achieve your career goals we offer the following opportunities:
- Learning Lab placements - Designed in collaboration with our students and host organisations. In recent years, students have been placed with BBC Focus Magazine, MS Research and Science City Bristol.
- External Science Communication project - As part of the project module, you can apply for a project working with an external organisation. In the past students have worked with organisations including Meningitis UK, the British Science Association, the British Geological Survey and the Green Man Festival.
- Dedicated careers sessions - From the outset, you have access to sessions that help you build your skills and experience with specific careers in mind. For example, We The Curious provides a session for you to find out about volunteering with them.
- The Postgraduate Science Communication Student Blackboard - This is a key way we inform you about voluntary, placement and paid job opportunities. After graduation, you can keep in touch with the team and other graduates on our LinkedIn group.
Comments from local employers
"In our wildlife education and engagement projects we have a long history of working with students as volunteers, and it is always great to be able to link up with research projects that complement our work.
"This year we were able to work with an MSc Student from UWE Bristol on a research and development project about our BioBlitz citizen science scheme. Their enthusiasm and efficiency provided some great insights into the paucity of data and provided the bones for us to build a full evaluation programme in future." - Matt Postles, Project Manager, Bristol Natural History Consortium
Applicants normally have an honours degree awarded by a UK institute of higher education of at least lower second status, in a relevant subject.
UWE Bristol's International College
International students who do not meet the academic or English language requirements to study this course can qualify by completing preparatory study at our International College.
English language support
If you meet the academic requirements but require additional support to take your language skills to the required level, you may be able to attend one of our pre-sessional English courses. Students who successfully complete the pre-sessional course can progress onto their chosen degree course without retaking an IELTS or equivalent.
Read more about our Pre-Sessional English Programme.
How to apply
If you would like further information about the course please contact the course leader Andy Ridgway.
For further information
- Email: Admissions@uwe.ac.uk
- Telephone: +44 (0)117 32 83333