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MSc Science, Media & Communication

This is a course based on an innovative collaboration between the Cardiff School of Social Sciences, the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies and Techniquest, an internationally renowned science discovery centre based in Cardiff.

By drawing on teaching, research and practical expertise in Journalism and Media Studies, the Public Understanding of Science and Science Communication the course offers students a unique blend of the practical and theoretical skills needed to understand the relationships between science, society and the media.

This MSc course is administered by the Cardiff School of Social Sciences.

The course is particularly suitable for those interested in pursuing careers located at the interface of scientific knowledge and the public domain. This includes those working in political communication and parties, government agencies and bodies, statutory and voluntary organisations, museums, the mass media and other locations where skills in Science Communication are increasingly being recognised as important.

Offers Knowledge and Expertise

The course draws on the expertise of academic staff in media research and the study of science and technology as well as the practical expertise of Techniquest.

Academics at Cardiff are at the cutting edge of theoretical and empirical work in these fields and the course will offer students the opportunity to engage with current debates about topics including the organisation and funding of scientific research, the reporting of scientific innovation and controversy within different media, and the role of citizens, experts and the media in decision-making where science and technology are contested.

In addition, students will also receive practical, hands-on training in the production of ‘feature stories’ for use in print, radio or TV and, if they choose the modules provided by Techniquest, in the presentation of science to diverse audiences ranging from school children to the general public.

Course Description

The course is offered as a series of modules taught by staff based in the university and Techniquest. Students take a pair of ‘foundation’ modules that introduce students to the key ideas about science, technology and society that underpin the course and the research methods needed for the dissertation. In addition, students will take three ‘core’ modules in which the main elements of the scheme — Science in the Media; Visitor Studies and Reporting Science — are developed.

Students are able to pursue their own specialist interests by choosing from a selection of optional modules, including a highly participatory and practical module on ‘Presenting Science’ based in Techniquest, and through their dissertation research. Assessment is by a combination of coursework, presentations and other assignments.

Study Areas

The course is based around three areas of research in which Cardiff University and Techniquest have particular expertise and which provide the focus of the foundation and core modules. These modules provide students with access to the latest research and thinking in the following areas:

  • the nature of scientific research and knowledge — how is science organised, how are scientific controversies resolved, what is the role of citizens, experts, government and the media in these controversies?
  • the analysis of media processes and outputs — how do journalists and their publics understand science, how do we decide if predictions about scientific developments are ‘authoritative’ or ‘reasonable’, when is risk reporting ‘balanced’ or ‘fair’ and when is it ‘sensationalist’?
  • the practical skills needed to report science — what do scientists do, how can journalists report this when they may have little direct experience of the science itself, how can trust and confidence between scientists and journalists be developed and maintained?
  • the needs and interests of audiences for science communication — who are the audiences that science communicators might address, what do they want to know about science, how do visitors to science museums and other events experience exhibits, what do they learn from them, how can these experiences be evaluated and used to improve science communication?

Optional modules will include topics such as presenting science, public relations, political communication, health care or advanced research methods.

Special Features of this Course

The course offers an innovative collaboration between two internationally respected academic Schools and a leading science discovery centre. Students will have access to a wide range of academic staff, facilities and research networks.

Staff in the Schools and at Techniquest have close contacts with a wide range of media and science organisations including the Wales Gene Park, local and national media industries, science communication centres, and policy makers in regional, national and European institutions. Students on the scheme thus have access to a wide range of expertise and a diverse selection of potential research topics.

Please note that this MSc Science, Media & Communication degree is administered by the Cardiff School of Social Sciences. They can be contacted at:

Cardiff School of Social Sciences - Graduate Secretary
Phone: +44 (0)29 208 70284 or +44 (0)29 208 75178

Students should apply for their course using the Online Application Service.