Science in Society
This is New Zealand's first dedicated University-based course in Science in Society and one of only a few in the world that covers science communication in such a comprehensive fashion.
During this unique two-year MSciComm, or the shorter MAppSc degree, you'll do the following:

  • Produce an original work of science communication - from audio or video media, educational resources, museum installations, to primary research... and more!
  • Research the background and theory behind your piece of work and write a Masters thesis.
  • Learn elements of design and how to craft stories.
  • Develop an understanding of what makes written and visual communication effective.
  • Learn how to communicate creatively in the digital realm.
  • Facilitate dialogue/debate, popularization and/or contextualization of scientific issues.
  • Explore the interface between science and society by researching public attitudes to science or different forms of communication.

We live in a world dominated by science and technology. Science grows ever more specialized, yet, if we are to understand the changes we see in the world's environment and be part of the drive for a more sustainable future, science must speak in a language that is understandable, compelling and inclusive. That's what Science in Society is all about: Seeking better ways.

Course Structure

The University of Otago's MSciComm is a two-year full-time programme. This course in Science Communication is endorsed in the general area of Science in Society (i.e. as compared to the specialized areas of filmmaking or writing). In it, you may write, and you may make videos, but you definitely will explore a bit of all worlds and maybe some new ones along the way. Science in Society is an embodiment of crossovers between the arts and sciences. It is also possible to do a MAppSc degree in Science in Society over a 12-18 month period as there is no thesis requirement for that.

First Year of the Programme

The first year of the programme consists of six papers, which are the same for the MSciComm and MAppSc degrees. Like the other flavours of the degrees, the primary focus is on storytelling. But this is really a course that is looking to the future: The traditional means of communicating (through print, film, video and the like) are evolving fast; possibilities of the digital world are endless. But old media are also in resurgence. So the canvas of this course is big and explores new methods and perspectives in science communication.

The required papers are:

  • SCOM 402 The craft of storytelling
  • SCOM 406 Science Exhibitions and Interpretation
  • SCOM 409 Introduction to Science Communication
  • SCOM 413 Digital Production for Communicating Science

Two papers are required from:

  • SCOM 403 Science and Creative Non-Fiction Writing
  • SCOM 404 Science Communication Internship
  • SCOM 419 Special Topic

Second Year of the Programme

It's crucial that we are not simply observers of communication practice - we must be practitioners too, exploring new methods for communicating science. We must query best practice. We must be as inventive as…well…scientists. And, in the process, we expect you to come up with some marvellous new ways of engaging people with science. It could be a website, a neon display, an interactive game, a Second Life, a fourth dimension: the possibilities are only limited by your imagination - which is what this course aims to set free. And if you do a MSciComm, you’ll also write a thesis and get kudos for really being a master of science in society.
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