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Major Science Communication

The major Science Communication (SC) is a transdisciplinary programme that gives you insights in the fundamentals of science, communication and science communication. You develop an in-depth understanding of communication processes between scientists of different disciplines, between different sciences and their stakeholders, and between science and citizens. The major (60 EC) is open to students of most two-year masters at the Faculties of Science of VU and UvA.

In addition to a theoretical part, we cover various practical forms of science communication. Examples include designing a science exhibit (Science Museology), creating a scientific background article, news article or documentary (Science Journalism) and organising public events to facilitate dialogue and map perspectives of new, controversial developments, like DNA manipulation and cultured meat (Science in Dialogue). In this, you will collaborate with students from different disciplines, practitioners from the field and stakeholders or (specific groups of) citizens. The major is concluded with an internship, in which you apply the acquired science communication knowledge and skills.

Through this major, you will become a reflective science communication practitioner. This means that you become a practitioner who is aware about own perspectives, principles and theories underlying the own practice. You know who you are, your values and world views, how these shape your professional thinking and behaviour, and how to continuously improve or adjust those for sake of bettering the science-society relationship. 

Our alumni currently work, for instance, as science journalists for newspapers or magazines, content designers for science or technology museums, trainers or teachers in science or science communication, change makers, dialogue facilitators or consultants, but also as science or technology policy-makers, science communication researchers or social scientists.

Curriculum

  • 1st semester: courses

    Mandatory courses
    September - October:

    • Research Methods for Analysing Complex Problems (6 EC)
    • Science and Communication (6 EC)

    Elective courses
    November - December:

    • Science Journalism (6 EC) 
    • Science Museology (6 EC)

    January:

    • Science in Dialogue (6 EC)

    You need to follow at least two of the three SC elective courses (see above) plus an SC internship to officially complete the major. The other 6 EC course can be another elective of your own Master or the MPA programme, where this major is part of, or the third from the SC elective course list, as long as it fits your schedule.

    In the study guide you will find a detailed description of each course.

  • 2nd semester: internship

    The SC internship (30 EC) is preparatory for your work at the interface of science, technology and society. You will learn how to independently conduct scientific research, generate evidence‐based knowledge and report on that in writing and via seminars. You will learn how to collaborate with researchers and practitioners of various disciplines and about potential career opportunities. Some students even find their first job via the internship. 

    You can choose between a research internship and a reflective practice placement internship:

    Science communication research internship
    During a research internship you will conduct research into a science communication related topic, such as framing or sensemaking, (tools for) public engagement, and event or exhibit evaluation (30 EC). You can conduct the research in Athena Institute or in another organization.

    Reflective practice placement internship
    During a reflective practice placement internship you will gain more practical experiences by spending 4 days a week on practical work for your internship organisation (21 EC). The internship organisation should be active in science communication, for example dialogue facilitation, multi-stakeholder co-creation, science communication design, science popularisation, or science education. Next to the practical work, you will dedicate 1 day per week (9 EC) on ethnographic research into the organisation and its professionals. How do they, including you as intern, practice science communication in the light of science communication theories? In this, you will be guided by researchers of the Athena Institute.

    Topic
    The content of your internship can vary. For example, you can investigate citizens' or stakeholder perspectives regarding a specific science or technology-related topic, evaluate a process or a programme, or assess a tool or a method. All students present their internship during a seminar at the end of the academic year.

    Organisations
    Internships can be done at research institutes, biotech companies, (governmental) policy institutes and many other organisations. For inspiration, view this list of previous internship organisations.

    Internships in this major are linked to the Athena Science Shop, which supports non-profit organisations, civil society organisations and communities in many locations across the globe by facilitating and collaboratively conducting scientific research on subjects requested by them. The Athena Institute also offers internships internally, or through their network. These will be posted on Canvas.

    It is possible to conduct your internship abroad. In general, this requires more (academic) independence and organisation.

    Period
    The internship period is February-June. The first weeks are reserved for setting up the research, the last weeks for reporting and presentations.

Admission

  • Entry requirements

    This major is open to students of most two-year Master's programmes at the Faculties of Science of UvA and VU. Science Communication has welcomed students from MSc programmes such as Biomedical sciences, Health and Life Sciences, Physics & Astronomy, Biomedical Technology and Physics, Biology, Chemistry, DDS and many more.

    This major can also be followed as a specialisation (120 EC) in the Master programme Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in Health & Life Sciences. Visit the MPA webpage for more information. 

  • Subscription

     To subscribe, please take the following steps:

    1. If you are not a student at the VU yet, please subscribe as a ‘bijvakstudent’ at the VU first. Subscribe at least 6 weeks before the semester starts. Go to the registration form and select ‘bijvakregistratie’. 
    2. Subscribe for each of your courses individually on vu.nl using the course codes in the study programme. Subscribe at least 4 weeks before the semester starts.

    There is no official application form to register for the full major, except subscription for the corresponding courses as instructed above. Nevertheless, we do appreciate it if you email us when intending to follow the SC major. Please note that the examination board of your own master may need to approve your programme. 

    UvA students can find information on the corresponding UvA webpage.

    Master MPA students can find more information on the MPA webpage.

Contact us

SC coordinator Marjoleine van der Meij

All programme coordinators: mpa.m.falw@vu.nl

Consult the VU Study Guide for the specific course coordinators