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Science Communication and Public Engagement (Online Distance Learning) - MSc/PgDip/PgCert

Course content

The fields of science communication and public engagement are currently enjoying unprecedented growth. This is being driven by a greater need to demonstrate the impact of publicly funded research, the need for science to be valued, increased government scrutiny and a desire for a stronger evidence base for policy decisions. Many career opportunities are emerging at the interface between science and various stakeholder groups and ever more creative methodologies for science engagement are being explored.

Our part-time online distance learning programme provides an opportunity to gain a formal qualification in science communication without having to leave your job or move to a different location. You may elect to begin with the Post-Graduate Certificate in the first instance and then decide to study for a Diploma and/or a Master’s degree. You will engage with other students from around the world, from a variety of different academic and professional backgrounds and you will enjoy a rich learning experience while studying on the programme.

You will experience a variety of science communication and public engagement methodologies and issues. In the process, you will develop critical thinking and self-evaluation skills through reflective practice. Your learning in individual courses is transferable, ensuring interconnection across the programme, thus providing opportunities for deeper learning and for the application of key principles in different contexts.

The programme attracts students from across the globe, from a range of academic and professional backgrounds and provides a formal qualification for those working in science communication and public engagement or a conversion route for those interested in moving into this field.

Online learning

Our online learning technology is fully interactive, award-winning and enables you to communicate with our highly qualified teaching staff from the comfort of your own home or workplace.

Our online students not only have access to Edinburgh’s excellent resources, but also become part of a supportive online community, bringing together students and tutors from around the world.

Programme structure

The programme can be studied to PG Certificate, PG Diploma or Masters level – if you are interested, in a formal qualification in science communication then sign up for our Post Graduate Certificate. You can then opt to continue to the Diploma and the Masters degree.

Year 1 (Certificate) - courses currently on offer include:

  • Introduction to Science Communication and Public Engagement
  • Science and Society A
  • Science and Society B
  • Principles and Practice in Public Engagement with Science
  • Science Education
  • The Role of Social Media in Science Communication

Year 2 (Diploma) - courses currently on offer include:

  • Dialogue for Science Communication and Public Engagement
  • Science, Policy and Practice
  • Science and the Media
  • Effective Exhibit and Programme Development
  • Creative Arts in Science Engagement
  • Principles and Practice in Public Engagement with Science

Year 3 (Masters)

Dissertation project.

Career opportunities

To address the need for effective science communication and public engagement with science, there has been a significant rise in opportunities available for professionals with the specialist knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to pursue roles at the interface between scientific research and public.

These roles can be found in, for example, Higher Education Institutions, Research Centres, Museums, Science Centres, Learned Societies and consultancies for democratic decision-making. Examples of specific roles are engagement managers, information and education officers, policy and knowledge brokers, in addition to the traditional science communicator role.


Visit the Science Communication and Public Engagement (Online Distance Learning) - MSc/PgDip/PgCert page on the University of Edinburgh website for more details!

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