SCI2015 - Scientific practice and communication (advanced) - 2017

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.




Professor Roslyn Gleadow (Semester One)

Dr Richard Burke (Semester Two)

Unit guides



  • First semester 2017 (Day)
  • Second semester 2017 (Day)


This unit prepares students for scientific research by providing practical and theoretical training in planning, undertaking and documenting scientific research projects. Students will examine the core elements of modern science by looking back at the people, cultures, events and discoveries that allowed science to emerge and contribute to the establishment of key concepts such as empiricism, scepticism and rationalism. This unit will equip students with skills to assess the validity of scientific information, to distinguish between real science, bad science and pseudoscience. The value of science in solving real world issues and improving the human condition are discussed using current examples. Students are exposed to recent advances in current and emerging research areas through journal presentations. Students will complete assignments that will help improve their written and verbal communication to a range of audiences including scientists, politicians, granting agencies, the general public and scientifically literate generalists, and identifies pathways to becoming a scientific researcher. Students are encouraged to submit their scientific literature reviews for publication in Reinvention, a Journal for Undergraduate Research.


On completion of this unit students will be able to:

  1. Carry out a research project to address a research question on an open topic by accessing and critically analysing information sourced from primary scientific literature.
  2. Outline how scientific research is conducted, funded and communicated and identify pathways for becoming a scientific researcher.
  3. Describe the historical origins of science and the progress of the scientific endeavour.
  4. Discuss the purposes of, and methods behind, effective science communication and identify how approaches can be adapted for different audiences.
  5. List the ways in which science is regulated and assess their effectiveness in promoting ethical professional practice.


Examination (2 hours): 30%

Workshop participation and activities: 20%

Project: 50%

Workshop tasks and activities include peer review, group work, quizzes, contributions to a blog and participation in on-line and face-to-face discussions.

The project consists of several parts including a scientific literature review (30%), a conference poster presentation (10%) and other written assignments (10%).

Hurdle requirement: Students must pass the project (i.e. gain a minimum of 50%) to pass the unit.

Workload requirements

Two 1-hour lectures plus one 2-hour tutorial /workshop per week or equivalent

See also Unit timetable information

Chief examiner(s)


Enrolment in Bachelor of Science Advanced (Research). Students in other courses with two semesters of first year university study (48 credit points), with a minimum of a Distinction average (70%) across 24 points of science units, are also eligible to apply.