KE7033 - Communicating Geoscience

What will I learn on this module?

In this module you will learn how cutting edge research into the geosciences is communicated. You will explore many ways in which geoscientific knowledge is produced, disseminated and debated. The fundamental importance of peer-review in the production and dissemination of scientific research will be discussed and you will learn to recognise contemporary scientific challenges. A key skill set that will be introduced is how to summarise and disseminate your understanding to a wide variety of audiences from the expert to the non-expert.

You will develop skills to confidently communicate (orally, graphically and textually) and debate the limitations of current scientific knowledge in specific areas of geoscience with leading researchers.

The skills that you learn will be useful throughout your professional life where understanding how to tailor your presentation style to an audience is of paramount importance.

How will I learn on this module?

You will learn through a combination of seminars and tutorials. You will develop and practice communication skills for expert audiences by preparing a poster about your dissertation research (KE7016). During tutorial sessions you will be guided towards developing your own presentation style with feedback from peers and tutors.
To develop and practice the effective dissemination of information to non-experts you will prepare a portfolio of documents including press releases, popular science articles and tweets summarising the scientific content and issues presented in the departmental research seminars or recent papers. This portfolio will allow you to develop a clear writing style. It will be discussed during tutorials with feedback from peers and tutors.
To learn about peer review and the critical evaluation of research papers you will study: (i) open-access journals where reviewer and peer comments are published alongside articles and accessing leading journals, (e.g. The Cryosphere), (ii) journals that include commentary articles on high profile papers (e.g. Nature), and (iii) via student- and researcher-led discussion sessions and lectures. Through departmental seminars you will engage with state-of-the-art research in key areas of physical and environmental geoscience delivered by leading internal and external researchers. You will be expected to prepare for the seminars by reviewing and synthesising key journal articles that are recommended prior to the seminar. Specific scientific content of the seminars will vary year on year, depending on availability of speakers.

How will I be supported academically on this module?

Support will include feedback from interactions with tutors and student-led discussion groups in scheduled tutorials. Tutors will respond to questions via the module’s discussion board on the University’s eLearning Portal so that the whole group can benefit. Formative feedback from both tutors and peers in the initial stages of the assessed components will guide the student towards improving the quality of the final submitted work. Formal discussion sessions (both student-led and tutor-led) taking place after departmental seminars will support the development of debating skills. Key writing skills will be developed though the written portfolio with feedback from tutors and peers. Peer-reviewed journal articles will provide the main source of information for seminar preparation and post-seminar discussion sessions. These will be recommended by the module tutor and the seminar speaker. The learners will also be directed towards online and printed non-peer reviewed media to contrast styles of dissemination of scientific information to lay audiences and to also highlight good and bad practice in these forms of scientific communication. Teaching staff operate an ‘open door’ policy for students meaning you can approach them anytime during normal office hours, or via email, to answer questions, receive feedback and support your learning on the module.

What will I be expected to read on this module?

All modules at Northumbria include a range of reading materials that students are expected to engage with. The reading list for this module can be found at:
(Reading List service online guide for academic staff this containing contact details for the Reading List team –

What will I be expected to achieve?

Knowledge & Understanding:
• MLO 1: Critically discuss and evaluate scientific arguments and opposing perspectives in selected sub-disciplines at the frontier of geoscience research.

Intellectual / Professional skills & abilities:
• MLO 2: Communicate effectively and creatively in written, graphical and oral forms to both expert and non-expert audiences.
• MLO 3: Demonstrate intellectual flexibility by engaging with experts and their research, spanning a varied subject base.

Personal Values Attributes (Global / Cultural awareness, Ethics, Curiosity) (PVA):

• MLO 4: Exhibit assertiveness and develop confidence in scientific debating environments.

How will I be assessed?

100% coursework comprising one assessment.

1) Individual assessment: You will present a poster (A0 size) to be delivered in a conference-style environment. The poster will present a summary of your dissertation project proposal. Assessment will be on (i) the content, clarity and scientific content of the poster and (ii) the clarity and correctness of the response to questions posed by staff and PhD students on the poster content. (100%) (MLOs 1,2,3,4).

Assessment of written and verbal topic summaries presented during small group tutorials is provided by your peers. This takes place during a 5 minute feedback session at the end of a topic discussion. This formative assessment develops your skills both as an independent lifelong learner and will improve your awareness and support skills of your peers. Staff will provide formative feedback from both tutors and peers in the preliminary stages of the assessed components which will guide you towards improving the quality of your final submitted work.





Module abstract

Accurate, informative communication of science to stakeholders and the general public is critical to enhance the impact of research and ultimately aid implementation of evidence-based policy to improve the environment around us. “Communicating Geoscience” is designed to equip you with advanced research, communication and debating skills required in academia and transferable to careers in industry, media and education.

This module is underpinned by a strong research-rich component comprising of interaction and debate with leading researchers across many disciplines in the geosciences. This exposes the learner to current frontiers of geographical research and facilitates networking with scientists and institutions outside of Northumbria.

Course info

Credits 20

Level of Study Postgraduate

Mode of Study 1 year Full Time

Department Geography and Environmental Sciences

Location City Campus, Northumbria University

City Newcastle

Start September 2024

Fee Information

Module Information

All information is accurate at the time of sharing. 

Full time Courses are primarily delivered via on-campus face to face learning but could include elements of online learning. Most courses run as planned and as promoted on our website and via our marketing materials, but if there are any substantial changes (as determined by the Competition and Markets Authority) to a course or there is the potential that course may be withdrawn, we will notify all affected applicants as soon as possible with advice and guidance regarding their options. It is also important to be aware that optional modules listed on course pages may be subject to change depending on uptake numbers each year.  

Contact time is subject to increase or decrease in line with possible restrictions imposed by the government or the University in the interest of maintaining the health and safety and wellbeing of students, staff, and visitors if this is deemed necessary in future.


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