SCOM 495 Thesis Preparation


This whole programme is hell-bent on one thing: imparting the skills necessary to put science in the public domain in ways that are comprehensible, refreshing and appealing. To that extent, we insist that our students practice what we preach. As a consequence, the "thesis" part of the MSciComm has a strong practical component to it. We don't want to produce dusty volumes that lie unread on some library shelf for eternity; we want to produce cutting edge examples of great communication that actually take science to a public audience.

It's a philosophy that we followed to good effect in the postgraduate diploma that preceded the MSciComm degree: our students' films played to huge audiences at the Regent Theatre (from 1200 to over 1800), on television, and at film festivals where they have consistently taken away major awards.
We've taken a similar approach with the creative nonfiction writing and popularizing science flavours of the degree too.

Of course, this is a university qualification and there has to be an academic component to the thesis as well.

This paper then really involves the preparation of the various components to the thesis that will be executed in the second tear of the programme. Okay, maybe executed is the wrong word, it's not like the thing should be dead, we want it very much to be alive - something that goes out from the course and finds favour with Joe and Jane Public. The practical part (known as the creative component) could be a film, a book, a science display, a website, an installation - practically anything that can be used to impart science in new and nifty ways.

The academic component should relate to the practical part. It could, for example, be a review of a particular genre; a new technique for filming, writing or communicating; or some aspect of understanding science derived from attempts to popularize it. It's often the case that the process of popularizing science informs the actual science on which it is based. Many are the natural history writers or filmmakers who have uncovered aspects of animal behaviour, or whatever, that hitherto had been unknown to science.


  • Develop a proposal for a film, book or some other example of communicating science.
  • Develop a proposal for a related academic component to the thesis.

Examples of practical exercises associated with this paper

  • Research a proposal.
  • Write a proposal.
  • Make preparations for executing the proposal…er…carrying it out.


Available ONLY to students enrolled in a Master of Science Communication (MSciComm) degree.

Next Application Deadlines

Applications for PhD study can be accepted at any time.

New Zealand Resident Applications for second semester study (excluding Science and Natural History Filmmaking) close 2 June

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