Course Title: Science Communication and Learning Skills

Part A: Course Overview

Course Title: Science Communication and Learning Skills

Credit Points: 12.00

Course Coordinator: A/Prof Graeme Allinson

Course Coordinator Phone: +61 3 9925 3561

Course Coordinator Email:

Course Coordinator Location: Bld 3, Level 2, Room 23

Pre-requisite Courses and Assumed Knowledge and Capabilities

You must have completed at least 96 credit points (2 semesters) of your postgraduate Science degree.


MC191 students must have satisfactory completion of ENVI1207, ENVI1210 and ENVI1215 before commencing this course.

Course Description

This course gives you an opportunity to engage in scientific research, while extending your knowledge and practical skills in a particular area of interest. You will undertake a small research project under the supervision of an academic staff member.

Collaboration with an external organisation may occur in some projects.

With the assistance of your supervisor, you will define the problem to be studied, carry out a risk assessment, develop the appropriate experimental methods, carry out research on your project, and finally present a written report and a poster or oral presentation.

This unit offers a challenge to coursework students, and allows innovation by the student with respect to both method and research direction. You are required to make a presentation regarding your project to your peers.

This course includes a Work Integrated Learning (WIL) experience in which your knowledge and skills are applied and assessed in a real or simulated workplace context and where feedback from industry and/or community is integral to your experience.

You will keep a journal indicating your activities at the workplace and reflect on how this experience relates to your coursework experience. You will work safely, ethically and in a manner in keeping of your profession.

Objectives/Learning Outcomes/Capability Development

After successfully completing this course you will be able to:

CLO 1. Carry out a research project in a professional and scientific manner

CLO2   Plan and execute a discipline specific research project

CLO3   Demonstrate an in-depth, project specific, detailed knowledge of instrumentation, procedures and theories associated with the project.

CLO4. Gather, synthesize and critically evaluate information from a range of sources in order to produce a consultancy style report

CLO5  Collect, accurately record, interpret and draw conclusions from scientific data you have collected or sourced from the literature

CLO6  Work effectively, responsibly, ethically and safely in an individual context.

This course is a University elective for most Science Masters by Coursework degrees. It is designed to contribute to the following PLOs at Australian Qualification Framework (AQF) level 8 and above:

  • Understanding science: by demonstrating a coherent understanding of environmental science (aligned with PLOs 1.1, 1.2)
  • Scientific knowledge: by exhibiting depth and breadth of environmental science knowledge (aligned with PLO 2.1)
  • Inquiry and problem solving: by critically analysing and solving problems in environmental science (aligned with PLOs 2.2, 2.3)
  • Communication: by being an effective communicator of environmental sciences (aligned with PLOs 2.4, 2.5)
  • Personal and professional responsibility: by being accountable for individual learning and scientific work in environmental science (aligned with PLOs 3.1, 3.2, 3.3)

Overview of Learning Activities

Individual projects will be different, but each aims to provide you with the opportunities to gain expertise in project design, management and reporting.

Any or all of the following learning activities are involved:

  • Completion of laboratory, library, field or industry project designed to give you further practice in the application of theory and procedures in your field
  • Private study, working through the requirements of the project with the assistance of a supervisor, and gaining practice at solving conceptual and numerical problems.
  • Communication of the results of your project to an appropriate audience

You are expected to develop skills in:

  • Locating and synthesising information available in scientific (and in some cases other) literature in order to establish the need for, and potential scope and context of, the research project;
  • Developing creative ways of solving unfamiliar problems by devising a methodological approach to address the research question being raised;
  • Managing the time allocated to completing specific tasks;
  • Collecting and analysing data (qualitative and/or quantitative) including an assessment of the validity of the research results; and
  • Communicating the results in written form, requiring critical analysis, synthesis and organisation of knowledge, and the construction of a rational and lucid scientific argument.

Depending on the project, you may also find you learn other important skills such as how to work effectively in teams and how to take into consideration ethical issues associated with research.


Total study hours


This activity is expected to consist of at least 120 hours over one semester.

Study time will include at least 4 hours per week for the semester comprising regular workshops with supervisors, and laboratory work. You are also expected to spend approximately 4 hours per week on private research, document and assignment preparation and reporting.

Overview of Learning Resources

This is a ‘learning-by-doing’ course. As such, there is no set textbook or required reading, however information and skills gained in previous courses will be called upon. A range of information and resources will be available on myRMIT Blackboard. You will also need to seek out information e.g. texts, journals and resources relevant to your topic through the RMIT library and other sources as well as information and training sourced from your supervisor.

Overview of Assessment

Assessment will be based on contract between the student and supervisor and will depend on the nature of the project and the discipline stream. Generally the assessment will comprise some literature assessment, some problem solving and some oral and written communication as defined by the course coordinator and supervisor:

Assessment 1: Project Brief (10%) CLOs 1,2, 3

Assessment 2: Risk assessment (5%) CLOs 1,2,3,6

Assessment 3: Presentation (10%) CLOs 3,4,5

Assessment 4: Project report (75%) CLOs 1,2,3,4,5