Banner

Science communicators play a vital role in society. They share significant research findings with the world through the media, they run incredible events to inspire the public, and they help individuals get the advice and information they need in healthcare, technology and many other contexts. Our MSc Science Communication is designed to give talented science graduates the extra skills they need to inform, educate and entertain people without the same specialist knowledge.

The course is based in the University of Sheffield's Faculty of Science – one of the largest science faculties in the UK, with world-class expertise across biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics and psychology. It is taught in partnership with Sheffield's Department of Journalism Studies, which is widely considered one of the UK's top journalism schools. This collaboration was created to give you expert insights into how scientists communicate their research, and how the media industry informs the public about the latest scientific developments.

Full-time or part-time?

You can do this course as a full-time student in one year, or as a part-time student over two years.

Applying

To apply for this course, complete the University of Sheffield's postgraduate online application form. When asked to select a department, choose Department of Animal and Plant Sciences.

Postgraduate online application form

You can find more information about the application process on the University's postgraduate webpages.

How to apply: applying essentials

Contact

Course Director: Dr Nate Adams

If you would like to know anything else about this course, email: sciencecommunication@sheffield.ac.uk.

You can also visit us throughout the year:
Postgraduate open days, visit afternoons and online chats

About the course

What I like most about my course is the opportunity to be creative without limitations.

It is the chance to tell people more about science through newspapers, magazines, radio and TV shows, workshops or exhibitions.

Marija Popova, MSc Science communication

This course is designed to develop your science communication skills through a combination academic study and practical training. Throughout your course, you will have the opportunity to produce a portfolio of high quality science communication work, spanning science journalism, public engagement activities, and event organisation. This can give you a range of project and practical experience to include on your CV, as you consider the relationship between science, the media, and the wider public, and the role that science communication plays in society.

You will learn through tutorials, workshops, practical exercises and lectures, and by producing written assignments, spoken presentations, print materials and digital content. Training sessions can cover writing skills, how to record and edit packages for film and television, graphic design and event management. Regular small group tutorials give you the time to debate and discuss topics, and practice key communication skills. Your final project dissertation can be based around a print, broadcast or digital portfolio, an event you've organised or a work placement you've completed. Previous students have based their dissertation around work they've completed at organisations ranging from Magna Science Adventure Centre here in South Yorkshire to the CERN research institute in Switzerland.

Teaching is led by expert scientists who have lots of experience of sharing their work with the public, and professional journalists with backgrounds in print, broadcast and online journalism, from Fleet Street to the BBC. You'll be able to gain first-hand insights from industry professionals through our course seminar series – past speakers have included staff from national newspapers, film production companies, and the BBC. You'll also meet regularly with your designated personal tutor and your project dissertation supervisor.

Learn more about the MSc Science Communication course and hear from current students and Course Director, Dr Nate Adams in this video.

Entry requirements

For this course, we usually ask for a first class or upper second class (2:1) BSc honours degree, or equivalent, in biology, chemistry, physics, psychology, mathematics, engineering or another science-related subject.

We can also accept qualifications from other countries. You can find out which qualifications we accept from your country on the University's webpages for international students.

Prospective international students: Your country

International students

If you don't meet our entry requirements, our International College offers a Pre-Masters in Science and Engineering. The programme is designed to develop your academic level in your chosen subject, introduce you to the study skills that will be vital to success and help with language if you need it.

Pre-Masters at the University of Sheffield International College


English Language Requirements

If you have not already studied in a country where English is the majority language, it is likely that you will need to have an English language qualification. We usually ask for:

  • International English Language Testing Service (IELTS): Overall grade of 7.0 with 6.5 in each component

You can find out whether you need to have an english language qualification, and which other English language qualifications we accept, on the University's webpages for international students.

English language requirements

The English Language Teaching Centre offers English language courses for students who are preparing to study at the University of Sheffield.

English Language Teaching Centre

Fees and funding

Up-to-date fees and funding opportunities can be found on the University of Sheffield's webpages for postgraduate students. These may include scholarships for home and international students and a 10% discount for University of Sheffield graduates.

Postgraduate taught course fees and funding

Current modules

The modules listed below are examples from the current academic year for full-time students. There may be some changes before you start your course.

The content of our courses is reviewed annually to make sure it's up-to-date and relevant. Individual modules are occasionally updated or withdrawn. This is in response to discoveries through our world-leading research, funding changes, professional accreditation requirements, student or employer feedback, outcomes of reviews, and variations in staff or student numbers.

Full academic year:

Developing Communication Skills

Module leader: Dr Nate Adams

This module will equip students with the skills required for an online-focused fast-paced social-media world. Primarily workshop and tutorial based, candidates will be introduced to film, audio and online publishing production, including editing skills. Candidates will also study the ethics of science communication, career structures and progression and how to present themselves to an audience. Learning will be assessed by the creation of a portfolio of work.

Language and Communication: A Data-driven Approach

Module leader: Dr Nate Adams

This module introduces students to the use of large text archives which have become the main source of data across a range of disciplines.

Researchers and practitioners in any field that rely on textual data need to handle large text/media collections to answer a variety of research questions: How do we communicate facts? What characterises fake news? How do the sources present an event or a person? What is typical of modern media (Twitter, Facebook etc.) reports? Quantitative methods help content-analytic work by making accessing and processing large amounts of data efficient.

Project Dissertation

Module leader: Dr Nate Adams

The dissertation exercise provides the student with a choice of three pathways to undertake a piece of scholarly research work in the area of Science Communication. These include critical analysis of the literature, developing experimental methods to test a hypothesis, or a practice based approach (which may include an optional work-placement).

Semester one:

Research Methods

Module leader: Dr Petar Milin

The Research Methods module is designed as an introduction to social scientific research methods as applied in the communications, media and journalism fields. The module provides an overview of key research methods, and the different ways in which research can be conducted.

Topics covered in detail include content analysis and discourse analysis, but students are also given brief introductions to other available methods such as surveys, questionnaire design, focus groups, interviewing, and different aspects research design, project management and academic writing.

Ethics and Regulation

Module leader: Tony Harcup

This module concerns the study of ethics with particular reference to British media. But it also explores media ethics from a historical and international perspective, and discusses the moral responsibilities of all journalists. There will also be study of truth-telling, story-telling, media representation of vulnerable groups and study of journalists' relationship with their sources. Students will explore how ethical behaviour is encouraged in journalism, and consider how the industry codes seek to achieve this.

Topical Science

Module leader: Dr Nate Adams

What are the ‘hot’ topics in science? Why are these important? This module delivers a series of short lectures on important topics in contemporary science spanning the general areas of science in chemistry, physics and biology.

The aim is the strengthen individuals all-round knowledge of these important areas of science, enhancing the other non-specialist areas of a science based graduate. At the same time students will learn how to use the many tools available to communicate science, including written work, web-based materials and broadcasting techniques.

Semester two:

Communicating with the Media

Module leader: Professor Marie Kinsey

This module will provide you with knowledge and skills necessary to communicate messages through the media. Case studies and practical workshops will help you learn about the practice of media communication. You will learn how the media operates and how to communicate messages through interviews, and news releases.

Topics covered in the module will include the development of communication strategies, the understanding of news values and news cycles, and strategies for successful and ethical communication.

Public Engagement

Module leader: Claire Wilkinson

This group project works towards the planning, organisation and delivery of a public event/ Festival in Science. This will run in parallel with British Science week (usually in March).

The delivery of this group project will be by the students, under supervision of the module co-ordinator. The group will develop and use their communication skills to liaise and engage with the public and prepare the materials and resources required to stage an effective event.