Postgraduate study

Science Communication and Public Engagement MSc

Awards: MSc

Study modes: Full-time

Funding opportunities

The field of science communication and public engagement with science is currently enjoying unprecedented growth.

This is driven by a greater need to demonstrate the impact of publicly funded research, the need for research to be valued, increased government scrutiny and a desire for a stronger evidence base for policy.

Many career opportunities are emerging at the interface between scientific research and various public groups.

You will experience a variety of science communication and public engagement issues and methodologies. In the process, you will develop critical thinking skills and self-evaluation skills through reflective practice.

The learning gained from one course is transferable to other courses, thus ensuring interconnection across the programme.

This programme is affiliated with the University's Global Academies.

Please note this MSc is not a programme in communication science and does not specialise in marketing, advertising, or corporate communication.

Covid-19 update

We are working to ensure that all of our students can fully engage with our teaching wherever they are in the world. This presents us with an opportunity to review how we deliver content, and we will utilise technology and our experience in teaching online to deliver a hybrid approach to teaching our courses this year.

We must put the health and safety of our students and staff first. This means that we will make changes to how we deliver teaching and learning experiences to ensure that we maintain quality, while implementing any physical distancing measures required to keep our community safe.

Making these changes and ensuring that we continue to teach the core elements of the degree will let us maintain the highest standards. The core aims and objectives of the degree programme will remain the same, and the graduate qualities and attributes the course develops will enable you to achieve the same excellent outcomes.

The specific details of changes to the MSc in Science Communication and Public Engagement programme are as follows:

We anticipate that teaching in Semester 1 will be delivered remotely, using the virtual learning environment Blackboard Learn, together with other tools for seminar discussions, namely, Blackboard Collaborate and Microsoft Teams.

We will utilise synchronous and asynchronous discussion spaces to enhance the delivery of material and ensure that our students can fully engage with the other students in the cohort.

Please be reassured that there will be no changes to the content of the degree programme or to the assessment processes.

For students who are able to travel to Edinburgh for Semester 1, we will arrange some face-to-face sessions to meet the teaching team. For students who can’t make it to Edinburgh for part of the academic year, we will use technology to keep you close to us (socially and intellectually) despite the physical distance until you are able to join us.

Delivery of the programme will be developed in Semester 2, depending on the guidance and regulations in place with respect to Covid-19.

At the current time, it is difficult to confirm how much face-to-face teaching we will be able to deliver on campus until we know what restrictions on movement will remain in place. Staff are working hard to have everything in place to give students the high quality learning experience you expect, accounting for all eventualities.

Key points:

  • The aims and objectives of the programme will not change.
  • The assessments will not change.
  • The mode of teaching will be adapted to deliver a quality experience to students who are studying remotely as well as those who are present in Edinburgh.
  • The nature of dissertations is such that there is minimal impact regardless of the teaching mode.
  • If you are able to travel to Edinburgh, we will be ready to welcome you on campus.
  • If you are unable to join us on campus for part of the academic year, we will use technology to keep you close to us (socially and intellectually) despite the physical distance until you are able to join us.
  • The teaching team look forward to welcoming you to the programme wherever you are studying.

Please contact e.stevenson@ed.ac.uk if you want to discuss these changes or anything else about the University of Edinburgh.

*(Revised 22 May 2020 to include Covid-19 update.)

Programme description

This MSc is a one year programme, divided into three semesters. The final semester consists of a choice of research or practice-based project. Students also complete placements in an organisational setting.

Teaching methods contain a blend of seminars with individual and small-group activities, together with practice-based sessions. Teaching styles will be designed to ‘model’ the practices in science communication and public engagement.

Compulsory courses

Semester 1

  • Principles and Practice in Science Communication and Public Engagement (20 credits)
  • Science, Society and the Media (20 credits)
  • The Role of Social Media in Science Communication and Public Engagement (10 credits)

Semester 2

  • Dialogue for Science Communication and Public Engagement (20 credits)
  • Science Education (10 credits)
  • Science, Policy and Practice (10 credits)
  • Choice of Elective courses (10 credits)

Following semester 2

  • Dissertation (60 credits)

Placements (compulsory courses)

Students will also complete two placements in science communication/public engagement workplaces.

  • Science Communication/Public Engagement Placement (10 credits)
  • Science Communication and Public Engagement Placement 2 (10 credits)

The University of Edinburgh has excellent links with many external organisations and arranges opportunities that can include placements with National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh Science Festival, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, together with placements within research settings in the University of Edinburgh.

*(Revised 30 October 2019 update the list of courses.)

There has been a significant rise in opportunities available for scientists with the specialist knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to pursue roles at the interface between scientific research and the public.

These roles can be found in, for example, higher education institutions, museums, science centres, learned societies and consultancies for democratic decision-making.

Examples of specific roles include Engagement Managers, Information and Education Officers, Policy and Knowledge Brokers.

A UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in a science-related subject.

We will also consider your application if you have a UK 2:1 honours degree, or its international equivalent, in another discipline.

International qualifications

Check whether your international qualifications meet our general entry requirements:

English language requirements

You must demonstrate a level of English language competency at a level that will enable you to succeed in your studies, regardless of your nationality or country of residence.

English language tests

We accept the following English language qualifications at the grades specified*:

  • IELTS Academic: total 7.0 (at least 6.5 in each module)

  • TOEFL-iBT (including Special Home Edition): total 100 (at least 23 in each module)

  • CAE and CPE: total 185 (at least 176 in each module)

  • Trinity ISE: ISE III with a pass in all four components

Your English language qualification must be no more than three and a half years old from the start date of the programme you are applying to study, unless you are using IELTS, TOEFL or Trinity ISE, in which case it must be no more than two years old.

*(Revised 21 April 2020 to include TOEFL-iBT Special Home Edition in 2020 and 2021 entry requirements.)

Degrees taught and assessed in English

We also accept an undergraduate or postgraduate degree that has been taught and assessed in English in a majority English speaking country, as defined by UK Visas and Immigration:

We also accept a degree that has been taught and assessed in English from a university on our list of approved universities in non-majority English speaking countries.

If you are not a national of a majority English speaking country, then your degree must be no more than three and a half years old at the beginning of your programme of study.

Find out more about our language requirements:

You will be responsible for securing funding to cover all your tuition fees, additional fees and living costs for the duration of your studies. For guidelines on living costs see:

UK government postgraduate loans

If you live in the UK, you may be able to apply for a postgraduate loan from one of the UK’s governments. The type and amount of financial support you are eligible for will depend on your programme, the duration of your studies, and your residency status. (Programmes studied on a part-time intermittent basis are not eligible.)

Other funding opportunities

Search for scholarships and funding opportunities:

  • Programme Director, Dr Elizabeth Stevenson
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 3258
  • Contact: e.stevenson@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Medical School, Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG

We encourage you to apply at least one month prior to entry so that we have enough time to process your application. If you are also applying for funding or will require a visa then we strongly recommend you apply as early as possible.

Find out more about the general application process for postgraduate programmes:

Further information

  • Programme Director, Dr Elizabeth Stevenson
  • Phone: +44 (0)131 650 3258
  • Contact: e.stevenson@ed.ac.uk
  • Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences
  • The University of Edinburgh
  • Medical School, Teviot Place
  • Central Campus
  • Edinburgh
  • EH8 9AG