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Course content

Many of the most pressing issues facing New Zealand and the world today—climate change, the loss of biodiversity, and how to respond to new technologies—can't be solved using traditional scientific approaches.

In the age of social media, clickbait headlines and 'fake news', new means of communicating science and engaging different groups and communities are required.

The 180-point Master of Science in Society is a cross-disciplinary programme that combines taught courses, research projects and your choice of final project to give you a practical understanding of the role of science in society.

You'll learn how to engage New Zealanders in conversations about the science that impacts their lives so they can make informed decisions. Find out how you can influence policy change and research priorities.

Broad perspectives

Develop your understanding of contemporary scientific issues, and draw from a range of diverse fields such as philosophy, history and the creative arts to gain a broader and more nuanced perspective on science.

Gain an insight into the range of perspectives different communities have on scientific and environmental issues, and explore the important role of mātauranga Māori and other indigenous knowledge in science decision-making.

The Master of Science in Society is suited to students who are interested in science but don't want to pursue a traditional postgraduate science research programme. If you're interested in more effective public engagement around key scientific issues like conservation and pest eradication, or you're keen to pursue a career in science policy or advocacy, this degree is a good choice for you.

Learn from the best

Learn from award-winning academics and professionals who are leaders in the field of science communication, public engagement with science, natural and social science, the humanities and the arts. You'll also be exposed to a wide range of expertise from across the university and from visiting experts.

How you’ll study

The Master of Science in Society has two parts. The first part takes place in Trimester One, is based on-campus and is compulsory for all students.

In Part 1, you'll focus on developing your critical thinking and communication skills in four taught courses. Look at the theory and practice of science communication, and gain a grounding in contemporary scientific issues and theories. Explore perspectives on science from different cultures and from across the humanities and social sciences.

You'll choose from three of four core 400-level courses, and complete an additional approved course worth 15 points.

The field component of SCIS 589, the Science Communication Project, also takes place during Trimester One.

You'll go on to put your learning into practice in Part 2 by completing your science communication project and a research essay. You'll also choose to do a work placement or a research project, or choose other relevant courses from another discipline of your choice, such as Māori Studies, Public Policy or Conservation Biology.

While working on your final projects you'll be supervised by subject experts from within and outside of the university, and will continue to meet regularly with your fellow students in tutorials or seminar sessions.

Study off-campus

You can complete Part 2 of your Master's remotely if your placement or research project takes place outside Wellington. You'll need to have sufficient internet access to take part in online seminars, lectures and workshops.

Duration and workload

The Master of Science in Society will take you three trimesters (one year) of full-time study, or up to three years if you are studying part time.

If you are studying full time, you can expect a workload of 40–45 hours a week for much of the year.

If you're a part-time student, you can estimate your workload by adding up the number of points you'll be doing. One point is roughly equal to 10–12 hours work.




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Recipient: Victoria University of Wellington

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