Issue date: 26 June 2003

ISSUE DATE: 26/06/03

Unique collaboration between UWE, University of Bristol and at-Bristol

A unique collaboration to provide a world class qualification in science communication is being launched by Bristol’s two universities and the award winning science attraction at-Bristol. This exciting award is being launched as a stepping stone giving those who graduate a razor sharp competitive edge in work areas as diverse as journalism, public relations, science centres, educational liaison, publishing and multi-media.

Students on this two year part-time MSc course will benefit from the expertise of those in the science communication industry and academic leaders working in all three organisations. The first cohort will begin in January 2004.

Professor Frank Burnet and Dr Emma Weitkamp at the University of the West of England will comprise the core team.

Professor Burnet said, “By joining all three organisations we believe that we have created the ultimate ‘combo’ for success in the field of science communication taught by leaders in the field. All three organisations already work in partnership and we have decided to pool our expertise, resources and contacts to deliver a masters programme offering unrivalled professional development opportunities for those already working as science communicators or aiming to move into the field. The part time masters in Science Communication is designed for students who want to develop their skills and benefit from input from the best in the business.”

The Graphic Science team, which is led by Frank Burnet, at the University of the West of England has initiated projects across the globe, including a recent science on the buses’ campaign timed to coincide with European Science and Engineering Week putting science on the buses in all EU capitals.

The University of Bristol’s Schools of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences have longstanding links with the BBC, particularly its Natural History Unit. Programmes on which staff have acted as advisers include Walking with Dinosaurs and Life of Mammals.

At-Bristol staff have hands-on experience of developing science communications initiatives. At-Bristol is an award winning science centre that has built a strong reputation for its exhibit originality and innovative outreach and educational programmes.

Students on this award will develop the practical and professional skills needed to become a successful science communicator. The weaving together of theory and practice will ensure that the award provides the skills employers want as well as being intellectually stimulating.

In the first year of the MSc students explore two key areas: Science and the Public and Science and the Media. In the second year students specialise either in taking science directly to the public – as in science centres and science festivals; or they specialise in Science and the Media where they learn the broadcasting and writing skills required by the media and PR industries. Students also complete a project or dissertation.


Editor’s notes

The core team:

Professor Frank Burnet is Director of the Graphic Science Unit at UWE which specialises in innovative ways of taking science to targeted audiences. He was awarded the MBE in the 2000 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for his innovative science communication activities and in 2002 became the first Professor of Science Communication in the UK.

Dr Emma Weitkamp has worked in scientific and medical publishing; and in public relations in healthcare and science. Her research interests include engaging the public with science and triggers and barriers to participation. She is also interested whether science needs better public understanding or better public relations.

Course tutors include:

Professor Kathy Sykes; Professor of Public Engagement in Science and Technology at the University of Bristol and UWE visiting fellow. Previously Head of Science at Explore at-Bristol, Kathy currently combines TV work with directing the Cheltenham Festival of Science.

Professor John Durant, Chief Executive of at-Bristol and UWE Visiting Professor, previously Deputy Director of the Science Museum and Professor of Public Understanding of Science at Imperial College where he established the first Masters in Science Communication to run in the UK.

Dr Melanie Quin, Chief Executive of ECTSITE UK, the organisation that represents the interests of all UK Science Centres and Museums. Previously Director with responsibility for special projects at Techniquest, Cardiff and scheme leader of the University of Glamorgan/Techniquest Masters programme in science communication.

Malcolm Love, freelance producer and trainer, formerly ran the BBC’s producer training programme. Designs and delivers specialist media training programmes and also contributes substantial amounts to the Birkbeck Diploma in Science Communication.

Toby Murcott, most recently Channel Head for Einstein TV. Experienced editor, broadcaster and award winning producer. Formerly at the BBC Radio Science Unit. Member of the Executive committee of the Association of British Science writers.

Dr Ilan Chabay, Founder and President of the New Curiosity shop a US based company that has designed and developed innovative learning environments and hands-on science exhibits for over 230 institutions worldwide. His work has been featured in science centres, children’s museums, retail business, a cruise ship and corporate visitor attractions.

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