Science, Media and Communication (MSc)

An interdisciplinary science communication degree offered jointly with the School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, and the Techniquest science discovery centre.

This course is offered jointly by Cardiff University School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, and Techniquest, a science discovery centre based in Cardiff. 

The course aims to offer knowledge and expertise relating to the organisation and funding of scientific research, the reporting of scientific innovation and controversy, and the role of citizens, experts and the media in decision making.

You will receive practical, hands-on training in presenting science via news media or directly to audiences ranging from school children to the general public.

Distinctive features

This is innovative, interdisciplinary degree based on collaboration between internationally respected academics and a leading science discovery centre.

The programme has strong links to a wide range of media and science organisations including National Museum Wales, Wales Gene Park, local and national media, science communication centres, and policy makers in regional, national and European institutions.

It offers excellent opportunities to develop expertise in an area of increasing importance for policy, industry and scientific communities.

The course offers students the opportunity to take a mixture of research-led and vocationally orientated modules in order to engage with current debates about topics such as: the organisation and funding of scientific research; the reporting of scientific innovation and controversy; and the role of citizens, experts and the media in decision-making about science and technology.

Key facts

Next intakeSeptember 2017
Duration1 year
QualificationMSc
ModeFull-time
Admission Tutor contact(s)

Admissions criteria

Candidates should have an Upper Second Class Honours degree from an approved UK or overseas university or a recognised relevant professional qualification. For applicants without these qualifications, strengths in other areas will be considered, such as for those aged 25 years and over, a minimum of two years’ experience in a position of responsibility relevant to the proposed course of study.

If English is not your first language, we do require an IELTS score of 7.0, with a minimum of 6.5 in writing and 6.0 in all other subsections. The In-sessional team provides ongoing English language and study skills support especially for current international students during their academic studies.

Applications should be made via the online applications service. Please make the best use of the Personal Statement section and state clearly how your background, skills and interests are relevant to the communication of science and the study of social science. Please pay particular attention to outlining what you see as the challenges and importance of science communication and the public understanding of science, with reference to a particular sub-discipline(s) of science and specific areas of public concern.

The deadline for applications to this course for international applicants is August 1st; for other applicants, the deadline for applications in September 1st. The different dates are due to the need to allow sufficient time for visa processing for international applicants.

This is a one-year full-time programme.

The MSc in Science Media and Communication is organised around a sequence of five 20-credit specialist modules, one 20-credit option and one 60-credit supervised dissertation on a relevant topic of your choice.

A 20-credit module comprises 200 hours of study, including about 30 hours of contact time, and the MSc as a whole, 1800 hours of study.

Please be aware that availability of core and optional modules may change from year to year.

Dissertation

You will be asked to produce a 60-credit, 20,000 word dissertation on a science, media and communication topic of your choice.

This dissertation involves a small scale independent piece of research, and enables you to develop your interests in a substantive area related to the programme, and to put into practice the knowledge and skills developed through participation in the taught modules. You will be allocated a personal dissertation supervisor to assist in planning, conducting and writing up the research project.

The University is committed to providing a wide range of module options where possible, but please be aware that whilst every effort is made to offer choice this may be limited in certain circumstances. This is due to the fact that some modules have limited numbers of places available, which are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, while others have minimum student numbers required before they will run, to ensure that an appropriate quality of education can be delivered; some modules require students to have already taken particular subjects, and others are core or required on the programme you are taking. Modules may also be limited due to timetable clashes, and although the University works to minimise disruption to choice, we advise you to seek advice from the relevant School on the module choices available.

How will I be taught?

Modules employ a diverse range of teaching including lectures, seminars, group and individual tutorials, and independent guided study. All modules within the programme make use of Cardiff University’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) Learning Central, on which you will find course materials, links to related materials and information on assessment.

You will be expected to attend lectures, seminars and tutorials as set out in the timetable for MSc students. These sometimes sit outside the regular pattern of university attendance and may include day, evening and weekend study and on occasion may fall outside the standard semester dates. You will also be expected to undertake independent study in preparation for lectures, seminars and assessments. 

The Presenting Science module offered by Techniquest (subject to availability in any given year) has limited places and involves presenting work to live audience including school children and the general public. As a result, there is an audition at the start of each year, at which students will be selected for the module. Those students who are not selected for this module will need to take an alternative module to complete their taught programme.

How will I be supported?

You will be allocated a personal tutor and a nominated supervisor when undertaking your dissertation. Regular contact will be maintained across the duration of the course.

You will also have access to a programme convenor to offer additional subject-specific support.

Feedback

Some assessments are formative and do not count towards the final mark, and others are summative.  Feedback will be provided on all assessments.  Individual written feedback and, as appropriate, other forms of feedback such as oral feedback and generic feedback will be provided on summative assessments. 

Similarly, feedback will be provided on formative assessments, such as oral feedback on a presentation or group seminar discussion. 

How will I be assessed?

Taught modules are assessed in ways that reflect their particular learning outcomes. So, as appropriate to the module, and across the programme as a whole, the following in-course assessments are used:

  • Essay assignments
  • Portfolios
  • Fieldwork reports
  • Oral presentations
  • News reports, documentaries, posters
  • A dissertation or extended project.

What skills will I practise and develop?

You will develop:

  • Academic skills including knowledge of current social science research and theory.
  • Practical experience of research design, data collection and data analysis.
  • Science communication skills including presentation and writing in a range of different genres.

As a graduate of this programme you will be able to:

  • Critically evaluate existing knowledge, scholarship and research, and appreciate competing claims and theoretical perspectives, about the relationships between science, technology and society.
  • Describe, understand and explain the different ways in which citizens may come to understand or engage with science.
  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of knowledge of, and critically evaluate the evidence and methodologies on which, science communication and public participation/engagement initiatives are based.
  • Utilise their knowledge and skills to assess and explain the relationships between the ways in which expert knowledge is produced and disseminated and its subsequent uptake amongst a more general audience.
  • Apply their knowledge and skills and show originality in their thinking by tackling both familiar and unfamiliar problems.
  • Communicate scientific material in an appropriate style and genre to a range of audiences, including the general public.
  • As appropriate, evaluate, synthesise and interpret data, and be able to collect, evaluate, synthesise and interpret data in the form of a project or dissertation.
  • Demonstrate high level academic and personal skills applicable to their own research or scholarship, such as writing, oral presentations, problem solving and group work, and the use and application of information technologies in, for example, literature searches, research methods, and data analysis and presentation.

This course is particularly suitable for those interested in pursuing careers in science communication, and the interface of scientific knowledge and the public domain. These include: policy research; political communication, public relations, government agencies; statutory and voluntary organisations; ‘think tanks’, museums and schools; and the mass media.

Some previous graduates have gone on to study for higher degrees, whilst others are, or have been, employed in museums, schools, advertising agencies, medical research charities, government department, NGOs, television companies and science communication organisations.

Tuition fees

UK and EU students (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Students from outside the EU (2017/18)

Get the latest information on postgraduate fees.

Will I need any specific equipment to study this course/programme?

 No specific equipment required.

You may conduct fieldwork as part of your dissertation study as directed by, and in discussion with, your supervisor.