“Science communication: An introduction to theory, best practice and practical skills”.


The South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA), a business unit of the National Research Foundation, promotes the development of science communication skills in scientists. Among its initiatives are the Young Science Communicators competition and FameLab, which aim to encourage young scientists under the age of 35 to develop communication skills and communicate their work through various modes of communication. To further support the development of science communication skills, SAASTA will be paying the registration fees of up to ten participants of the most recent round of the Young Science Communication competition and FameLab in 2018 to attend the online science communication course run by Stellenbosch University.

About The Course

Stellenbosch University (South Africa) is once again offering its popular online short course in science communication. This year, the course will be presented over a period of six weeks from 3 May to 16 June 2019, followed by a practical assignment (due 16 July 2019).

This course offers a flexible study opportunity for people who are interested to advance their knowledge, skills and networks in the field of public science communication and engagement. All students and scientists who are interested in communicating science to the general public and who want to know more about the theory, research and best practice of the field should benefit from this course. This course is specifically designed for people who are already working in the field of science communication, or want to move into these careers (i.e. as communication professionals at universities, science councils, museums, science centres, NGOs, etc).

The course explores the histories and futures of science communication as a field of practice and research, including the challenging of creating effective and meaningful linkages between practitioners and scholars. The content and interactive discussions are designed to encourage critical reflection on best practice in terms of ethical and responsible science communication. In addition to learning from global trends and leading scholars in the field of science communication, the course content emphasises science engagement challenges in the developing world. The course content is divided into the following six themes:
• An introduction to science communication theory
• Science communication role players and platforms
• Science and the media
• Creative approached to sharing science
• Science communication as a field of research
• Practical skills for science communicators
• Joint practical science communication research project

This course is presented by the Centre for Research on Evaluation, Science and Technology (CREST), the home of a DST-NRF Research Chair in Science Communication, at Stellenbosch University. The course is co-presented by Dr Marina Joubert and Dr Lars Guenther.

The course will be presented through the web-based learning management system of Stellenbosch University. All course materials are 100% online (i.e. there is no need to travel to Stellenbosch) and participants may access course materials and work on the weekly assignments when it is convenient for them. Participants must have access to a reliable and reasonably fast and stable internet connection, in order to be able to download the multimedia components of the class and participate in online forums. Upon successful completion of the course students will receive a certificate from Stellenbosch University.

Each week of this online course is roughly equivalent to 2 – 3 hours of teaching time. In addition, participants should allow at least another 2 – 3 hours for reading through materials and watching short videos or video talks. All course materials are in English. Participants should plan to spend at least another 10 – 15 hours on the final practical assignment.

Eligible applicants

Participants in the Young Science Communicators competition and FameLab in 2018 will be eligible to apply. Applicants must reside in South Africa, have access to internet and be able to complete the 6 week course. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the entry to the course –a recognised university bachelor’s (or higher) degree or relevant tertiary diploma.

Obligations of participants

The participants will be required to produce the following:

  • Copy of certificate of completion of course
  • Copy of final project submitted in course
  • Write two articles for the SAASTA-produced newsletter or similar platform, or produce two pieces using other communication modes (audio/video/etc.), without remuneration. Topics and communication piece will be agreed between participant and SAASTA.
  • Attend two SAASTA-organised events or media-related initiatives as speakers/role-models/mentors, as appropriate, without remuneration (any travel costs will be covered by SAASTA).
  • Failure to complete the course will require the participants to refund the registration fees to SAASTA.

Application and Selection Process

  • Applications will only be accepted from participants in the 2018 Young Science Communicators and FameLab competitions.
  • The application should be submitted via the online system. Click HERE to submit your application.
  • A motivation for selection is required. Participants will be selected to ensure national and organisational representation, and based on experience in science communication, and their motivation.
  • The deadline for application is 29 March 2019.
  • Successful candidates will be informed by 15 April 2019.


Joanne Riley

+27 (0)12 392 9349