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Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine

Science Communication MSc

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Our MSc in Science Communication combines professional practice, policy studies and cross-disciplinary theory and skills, to offer an academically stimulating experience and a solid grounding for a career.

Developed by academic staff from The University of Manchester's Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine and Manchester Institute of Innovation Research, the programme features masterclasses and project support from leading professionals in print, broadcast and online journalism, museums and science centres, public policy and advocacy, specialist public relations and editorial services, project and event management, together with experienced science communicators from across the University.

Programme aims

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Science communication deals with the communication of scientific ideas, practices and issues to diverse publics. As a student on this programme you will spend time building up practical communication skills, and thinking about the broad range of challenges that science communicators face. Does science communication matter for society? Whose interests are furthered by science news? What are the ethical issues in the communication of health research? When we talk about public engagement, what kind of public do we mean?

The course considers these questions through insights drawn from history, innovation and policy research, media studies, and the first-hand experience of long-serving communicators, and feeds the discussion back into its approach to practical skills.

 

Course structure

The full-time version of the programme covers 12 months from September. There is also a part-time alternative, covering half the same classes each semester over two years. Part-time study involves a limited number of days' attendance per week and can be combined with part-time employment.

All students take three course units consisting of weekly lectures and discussion seminars:

All students also attend a series of one-day intensive training schools on science communication policy and practice, with sessions led by invited contributors including journalists, science centre communicators, policy analysts, and other relevant experts. Students then choose two of the following four options to specialise in for assessed work:

The programme is completed by two more open-ended elements allowing students to specialise towards their preferred interests.

The mentored project (30 credits) involves working with support from a science communication professional on developing and analysing an activity close to professional practice.

The research dissertation (60 credits), completed over the summer at the end of the programme, gives more scope for independent investigation, and can include original creative work or new research on a particular science communication technique.

Careers

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This programme is intended for students seeking to work in journalism, science-media relations, science policy research, science publishing, museums or science centres, or other public engagement fields. It also provides an appropriate grounding for PhD-level research in science communication studies.

The new 2015 version of the programme includes a larger professional practice element than our previous Science Communication pathway (which operated within the History of Science, Technology and Medicine programme). Past graduates of our programmes have gone on to a wide range of relevant posts, including:

  • Public Engagement Officer, Centre for Life, Newcastle
  • Senior Policy Analyst, Department of Energy and Climate Change
  • Director, Scientia Scripta (science-focused copywriting agency)
  • Assistant Curator of Technology and Engineering, Science Museum
  • Education Assistant, Catalyst Science Centre, Widnes
  • Junior Consultant, Six Degrees PR
  • Technical Author, Calrec Audio
  • Researcher, Pioneer Productions (TV)

Recommended reading

The following books are used on the course and provide a good introduction to the world of science communication studies:

  • Jane Gregory and Steve Miller, Science in Public: Communication, Culture and Credibility. New York: Basic, 2000.
  • James Wilsdon and Rebecca Willis, See-through Science. London: Demos, 2004.
  • Stuart Allan, Media, Risk and Science. Buckingham: Open University Press, 2002.
  • Caroline S Wagner, The New Invisible College: Science for Development. New York: Brookings Institution, 2007.

Entry requirements

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This MSc is appropriate for students from a range of backgrounds. It functions both as an advanced study course for experienced practitioners, and as a conversion route from other backgrounds such as undergraduate science, social policy, and non-science public engagement roles.

Official entry requirements are not yet confirmed, but we expect to require an Upper Second (2:1) honours degree in the United Kingdom, or the overseas equivalent, in an appropriate discipline. An applicant may also be exceptionally accepted based on evidence of alternative study, research or professional experience, provided this meets the University's central requirements.

Fees and funding

The fees for September 2017 admission will be:

  • Home/EU students: £9000 (full-time) or £4500 (part-time, first year)
  • International students: £17 000 (full-time) or £8500 (part-time, first year)

Students planning careers in science communication may be eligible for a Professional and Career Development Loan.

A limited range of grants and studentships is available, mainly for students aiming to go on to full-time research. For full details, see the postgraduate taught funding page.

How to apply

Formal applications for MSc Science Communication are now open: see the How to apply page for more details. For further advice, or if you have any questions about the content or approach, please contact the programme director, Dr David Kirby.

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