MSc/Postgraduate Diploma Science Communication

Entry year
2023/24
Course code
P90012
Application
University
Level
Postgraduate
Department
Applied Sciences
Campus
Frenchay
Duration
Full-time 18 months; Part-time 30 months
Delivery
Full-time; part-time; starts September
Programme leader
Dr Amanda Webber

This course is open for applications

Page last updated 20 January 2023

Introduction

Based in our world-class Science Communication Unit, this flexible Master's is led by expert staff from this ever-evolving field. The course provides students with a contemporary knowledge of science communication practice underpinned by cutting-edge research, combined with extensive industry links.

The Science Communication Unit (SCU) at UWE Bristol is recognised for internationally leading research, creative approaches to practice and outstanding teaching. Our MSc Science Communication is an excellent opportunity to benefit from the Unit's international expertise, resources and contacts. It provides those new to the field with a knowledge of research and practice that is in demand by employers. The course also offers those with some experience an opportunity to develop new innovative approaches to their work.

Why study this course?

The Science Communication Unit is well known and widely respected in the industry, as is our MSc in Science Communication. The Unit's staff have extensive experience of science communication practice. Our research seeks to bring science and society closer together, as well as being societally relevant. It's developed in conjunction with those who practice science communication, with the aim of advancing the field.

Bristol is a hub for science communication. It's home to BBC Studios, which produces a range of natural history programmes, including Frozen Planet, and the popular science magazine, BBC Science Focus. Bristol is also home to the award-winning science centre, We The Curious, which the Unit has collaborated with for over 15 years.

As well as drawing on the academic and practical experience of staff within the Science Communication Unit, our MSc course gives you an opportunity to meet a range of visiting lecturers. Many of these work in the industry and you can benefit from their real-world practical experience. This also provides an excellent networking opportunity for students interested in developing contacts among science communication practitioners.

The course is structured in a way that enables those working to study with us. It 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 areas 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 specialise by choosing from optional modules in science writing, video and audio production for podcasts and vodcasts and face-to-face public engagement. Within these modules, you'll develop skills informed by the latest trends in science communication. You'll be provided with opportunities to hone your practical skills and develop a portfolio of work that showcases your expertise as a science communicator.

A final project draws together your interests, by allowing you to focus in depth on one area. You may choose to explore an area of research or take a more practical approach, such as evaluating a science communication activity. We offer a number of projects hosted by external organisations, which gives you the opportunity to tackle a real-world problem.

Inspirational and vocational

The weaving together of theory and practice ensures our MSc course is intellectually stimulating while also providing the skills employers seek. Visit the Science Communication Unit Blog to find out more about our ongoing projects, as well as where some of our graduates are now working after the course.

Please contact the Programme Leader if you would like more information.

Comments from former students

"When deciding where to study a master's degree, employability was a huge factor for me. I was keen to study somewhere that would teach me how to get stuck straight into the world of science communication. From day one in the Science Communication Unit, we were treated like professionals and encouraged to present ourselves as so to the rest of the sci-comm community." Siobhan, former MSc Science Communication student

"My advice: if you're thinking about science communication, give it a go. Attend a taster, attend the Masterclass. It will be rigorous and challenging, but you'll walk away with skills and confidence to go after anything. I know I did. Then join me at NASA." Kassie, former MSc Science Communication student

Watch: The learning and teaching experience

Structure

Content

The optional modules listed are those that are most likely to be available, but they may be subject to change. 

You'll 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 - Focuses on the organisational context for science communication projects and introduces settings as diverse as science centres and museums, games and new technologies as well as digital media.

Plus, two optional modules from:

  • Science on Air and on Screen - Learn the practical skills associated with making a podcast or radio programme including techniques for interviews, scriptwriting, sound recording and pre and post-production. You'll  also learn the skills associated with creating a vodcast or TV segment, including camera techniques and production and exploring the strengths and weaknesses of different audio and video formats.
  • Science in Public Spaces - Develop your own science communication initiative in this hands-on module that explores all areas of project development from formulating an idea through to implementation, as well as 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 to become confident in writing clear, engaging material that grabs your readers' attention while staying true to the science. You'll develop skills in writing news stories and long-form feature articles, writing opinion-based articles and blogs as well as techniques for writing online. You'll  create a portfolio of writing as well as an online magazine.

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'll inform you.

Learning and Teaching

Unlike most master's courses in this area, the MSc Science Communication addresses the needs of working students, as well as those with caring commitments. There are short, intensive teaching blocks of three to five days, and you can expect to attend three teaching blocks for each 30-credit module. These teaching blocks also work well for students who want to study our Master's without moving to Bristol.

Full-time students take four taught modules in their first academic year, as well as starting their science communication project, completing the course in 18 months.

If you study this course part-time, you'll take two 30-credit modules in your first academic year and two in your second year. You'll also start your science communication project in your second academic year which you'll finish towards the start of a third academic year, completing the course in 30 months. As a part-time student, you can also decide to delay the start of your science communication project until the third year.

Lectures, workshops, and seminars are supplemented by directed and independent study, online discussions, tutorials and mentoring. For each module you'll also find curated online content, including electronic reading lists that'll be available to you through a student Blackboard site.

See our full glossary of learning and teaching terms.

Study time

18 months full-time or 30 months part-time.

You'll attend three teaching blocks for each 30-credit module.

You'll be provided with a teaching block timetable well in advance of the course to assist in planning your activities, including when you'll need to be in Bristol.

Assessment

The modules are assessed in a variety of ways, to reflect the theoretical concepts, knowledge and practical skills you'll develop. This includes 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.

Learn more about assessments.

Features

Study facilities

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.

 

Staff Expertise

You are guided throughout this course by the following core staff:

In addition, the team has been fortunate in attracting a 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 Natural History Consortium, the Pervasive Media Studio, Nature, and a range of science communication consultancies, universities and research councils, both in the UK and overseas. 

Field Trips

Some modules offer field trips. Recently these have included visits to Aerospace Bristol, Bristol Museum and Art Gallery, M Shed and We the Curious.

Careers

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, policy, professional consultancy and Research Council/learned institutions.

Throughout the course, we'll encourage you to develop the professional skills that'll  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 Science Focus Magazine, TV production company Films@59 and Select Science.
  • 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, 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 - Through this virtual learning environment we inform you about voluntary, placement and paid job opportunities. Employers contact us to advertise job opportunities with our students. After graduation, you can keep in touch with the team and other graduates as well as learning about job opportunities through on our LinkedIn group.

Comments from local employers

"We've been partnering with the MSc in Science Communication for many years. We love sharing our Natural History Consortium programmes with the students, and each year offer a supervised project with our environment charity. These have ranged from audience development projects to developing content for national stakeholders working with UWE Bristol students always brings new thinking into our organisation so it really is win-win. We like to welcome students to volunteer or connect with our work throughout the year as we know that the opportunities for practical experience are one of the best things about the course. We regularly run into former students right across the industry and sector it's truly impressive to watch where they end up." Savita Willmott, Chief Executive, The Natural History Consortium.

Fees

Supplementary fee information

See our funding pages for more information.

Entry

Entry requirements

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 Programme Leaders.

Read more about postgraduate applications

For further information