MSC 1003H The Rhetoric of Science: Information, Media and Communication Literacy for the Sciences

This course is intended to allow students to explore strategic approaches and media channels to communicating scientific and biological knowledge for effective engagement with target audiences.

Learning Objectives:

At the end of this course students should be able to:

  • Tailor communications to different audiences;
  • Identify key debates that result from conflicting stakeholder views;
  • Communicate complex ideas effectively; and
  • Demonstrate a variety of reflective approaches to writing challenges.

Course Description:

This course introduces issues in scientific communication with a focus on communicating complex concepts to a range of target audiences to accomplish specific outcomes. The course is divided into three main themes: communication strategies, contexts, and channels.

Practice is the best way to improve communication. To this end, students will write a weekly assignment. Each week the nature of the assignment will change slightly and students will be encouraged to experiment with style, delivery, organization and voice. Students will also work together to identify a knowledge translation problem and in collaborative teams will be asked to communicate complex scientific concepts that help positively impact human health of targeted constituents.

Students are expected to use the experience and knowledge they bring to the course to help define their learning objectives, contribute to the course content, and complement their own learning experience and that of their classmates.  Learning requires the active participation of the learners, so while the Course Director(s) provide an outline and structure for the course; present a framework for seminars; define assignments and assign readings; it is ultimately the active participation of learners that will largely define the scope of their learning and assignments in this course.

Students will be engaged in a seminar-style course that will require them to:

  • Produce a sample writing portfolio;
  • Conduct a small-scale collaborative communication project in targeted community/group;
  • Demonstrate effective communication skills via an academic paper, ethics proposal, or another form of substantive individual writing related to practices associated with translational research;


This single term course consists of weekly 3 hour seminars generally structured around:

  • 1-hour topic discussion,
  • 1-hour guest speaker or workshop, and
  • 1-hour group collaborative activity.

Teaching Team:

Sandy Marshall, MSc

Course Instructor



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