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Durham University

Faculty Handbook Archive

Archive Module Description

This page is for the academic year 2021-22. The current handbook year is 2022-23

Department: Physics

PHYS3731: Public Engagement in Physics

Type Open Level 3 Credits 20 Availability Available in 2021/22 Module Cap 20 Location Durham

Prerequisites

  • At least two Level 2 modules in Physics; successful completion of interview (by module co-ordinator(s); member of Science Outreach Team; academic in the Department of Physics).

Corequisites

  • None

Excluded Combination of Modules

  • All other Public Engagement in Science modules: BIOL CHEM COMP GEOL MATH ENGI

Aims

  • This module is designed primarily for students studying Department of Physics or Natural Sciences degree programmes.
  • To provide experience of a research-led public engagement project in Physics.
  • To allow students to make an in-depth study of a particular topic in Physics, to undertake extensive independent research and to write at length on their chosen subject in the context of public engagement.
  • To develop a range of transferable skills in researching a topic in the context of public engagement and making oral and written presentations on their work.
  • To learn to devise and develop Physics projects and public engagement methods appropriate to the chosen topic and relevant audience(s).

Content

  • Project: A research-led public engagement project, set in collaboration with members of staff from the Department, and possibly with an external partner, allowing students to present the results of individual and independent work (note: an original contribution to scientific knowledge is not required or expected).
  • The student will implement and evaluate the project. The student will be required to show that they can analyse a specific public engagement problem and devise and develop an appropriate public engagement approach to address that specific problem.
  • Students will choose from a wide list of broad possible topics. Each student will be assigned a member of staff as supervisor. Students will devise their own approach to researching and communicating their subject with advice from their supervisor. As part of their work they will be expected to address some of the specific aspects of their subject with the agreement of the supervisor. Students will be expected to work independently, to manage the direction of their work and to employ a significant component of self-directed learning.
  • Reflective practice: The student will keep a reflective journal of activity and produce an executive summary of that journal, summarising and communicating their reflective practice in relation to their project.
  • Transferable skills including time-management, presentation, communication, organisation, prioritisation and negotiation skills.

Learning Outcomes

Subject-specific Knowledge:
  • Having studied this module, students:
  • Will have formed a detailed appreciation of the science related to a particular topic.
  • Will be able to assess and devise appropriate ways to communicate a difficult principle or concept.
  • Will have gained a broad understanding of many of the key aspects of public engagement.
Subject-specific Skills:
  • In addition to the acquisition of subject knowledge, students:
  • Will be able to design and develop public engagement activities.
  • Will be able to communicate scientific concepts to a non-specialist audience.
  • Will have the skills to plan and carry out an extended project at an advanced level.
  • Will have demonstrated critical understanding of scientific background and pedagogical theories and practices.
Key Skills:
  • Having studied this module, students:
  • Will be able to manage their time effectively.
  • Will be able to communicate effectively.
  • Will be able to organise, prioritise and negotiate effectively.
  • Will have demonstrated the ability to advance and extend their knowledge through significant independent learning and research.
  • Will have demonstrated the ability to produce a clear and detailed written report with appropriate presentation on their work.
  • Will have demonstrated the ability to engage in reflective practice and produce a clear and detailed piece of reflective writing with appropriate presentation, reflecting on their work.
  • Will have demonstrated the ability to develop and deliver a clear and engaging oral presentation on their work.

Modes of Teaching, Learning and Assessment and how these contribute to the learning outcomes of the module

  • This module includes a series of tutorials and the development and delivery of a project on a topic within Physics in the context of public engagement.
  • An introductory tutorial will cover the structure of the project and will provide general advice on design and development, research methods, methods of presentation, etc.
  • A series of weekly tutorials will focus on key transferable skills and public engagement in Physics, and will provide an opportunity for students to share their experiences and to discuss specific issues in public engagement in science, giving them the chance to develop their theoretical understanding alongside their own skills and ideas. Students will be able to obtain further help in their studies by arranging to meet with the module coordinators at other mutually convenient times.
  • Students will be expected to work in between the tutorials, and to discuss their own work during the tutorials. This work will be guided by the module co-ordinator, but will be organised by the students themselves, thereby enabling them to demonstrate their time management skills.
  • Students will undertake independent research to further their knowledge of the topic and self-directed learning to further their technical and transferable skills.
  • The tutorials also provide opportunities for module co-ordinators to monitor progress and to provide feedback and guidance on the development of ideas for the project, and for students to gauge their progress throughout the duration of the module.
  • Progress is further monitored by two formatively-assessed written documents: a project outline and an executive summary of a pilot journal, both submitted at the end of Term 1, providing further opportunities for feedback and for the students to gauge their progress.
  • Student performance will be summatively assessed through a written report on their project, a written reflective journal and executive summary of that journal, and an oral presentation. The written report will enable students to demonstrate their ability to communicate an advanced scientific topic in the context of public engagement clearly and with appropriate presentation. The written reflective journal and executive summary of that journal will enable the students to demonstrate their ability to engage in reflective practice and communicate that reflection clearly and with appropriate presentation. The oral presentation will enable students to demonstrate their oral communication skills. Both the written report on their special project and the oral presentation assessment components will enable students to demonstrate a detailed appreciation of the science related to a particular topic.

Teaching Methods and Learning Hours

Activity Number Frequency Duration Total/Hours
Tutorials 10 Weekly 1 hour 10
Preparation and reading 190
Total 200

Summative Assessment

Component: Project Report Component Weighting: 50%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Project Report 4000 words 100%
Component: Journal of Activity Component Weighting: 30%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Journal of Activity Journal executive summary 2000 words 100%
Component: Presentation Component Weighting: 20%
Element Length / duration Element Weighting Resit Opportunity
Oral Presentation 20 minutes including 5 minutes for questions 100%

Formative Assessment:

Tutorial discussion of students' ideas and experiences; informal discussions of student progress with module coordinator when necessary; interim feedback on outline design of project and pilot journal executive summary.


Attendance at all activities marked with this symbol will be monitored. Students who fail to attend these activities, or to complete the summative or formative assessment specified above, will be subject to the procedures defined in the University's General Regulation V, and may be required to leave the University