Science Communication (IPS*3000)

Code and section: IPS*3000*01

Term: Fall 2022

Instructor: Alex Gezerlis


Course Information


Name Role Email Office
Alex Gezerlis Instructor MACN 219
Carley Miki  TA  

Meeting Times

Type Day Time Location
Lectures Tuesday & Thursday 1:00 pm – 2:20 pm MCKN 226 
Labs Friday 2:30 pm – 5:20 pm MacN 415

Course description

This course focuses on developing the skills required to communicate science for non-specialist audiences. The principles and practices of public speaking and writing will be explored, employing a variety of media. Through multiple oral and written assignments, students will explore tailoring their message for various audience-types.

This is a seminar class, meaning that the works in the Bibliography below (or other reading material provided on Courselink) will not function as course textbooks. The instructor, the TA, and guest speakers will summarize the state of the art or introduce specific tools in the lectures/lab sessions. Even so, the bulk of your learning will take place in preparation for, during the execution of, and in discussion of the tasks mentioned in the section on Assignments.

Course objectives

  • To provide an introduction to the challenges, principles, techniques, and tools of popular science communication.
  • To help students learn how to navigate the research literature in a field outside/beyond their expertise.
  • To provide students with skills on graphical communication, data visualization, and animation.
  • To cultivate students' writing and presentation skills, in the context of both small-scale tasks and a substantial project.


  • Craig Cormick, The Science of Communicating Science: The Ultimate Guide (CSIRO Publishing, 2019).
  • Stephen Few, Show Me the Numbers: Designing Tables and Graphs to Enlighten (2nd ed, Analytics Press, 2012).
  • Stephen Pinker, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century (Penguin, 2015).


Assignment Weight Due Date
Popular summary (writing) 5% of final mark Due date: September 19
Blog post (writing) 15% of final mark Due date: October 3
Blackboard presentation/Q&A (speaking) 20% of final mark Due date: October 6
Data visualization (design + programming) 15% of final mark Due date: October 24
Slides (design + writing) 15% of final mark Due date: November 14
Video/Q&A (design + speaking) 20% of final mark Due date: November 23
Class Engagement 10% of the final mark  

An individual student's engagement during class discussions (reflecting pre-class preparation) will correspond to 10% of the final mark.

We will attempt to organize outreach events in area high schools (whether virtually or face-to-face). Students volunteering for such an activity will get a bonus of 5% toward their final mark (available only once per student).

At the end of the semester, having deepened their understanding of the physics and communication principles involved, students may choose to tweak their blog post (including graphics developed for the slides) in preparation for posting as a Feature on the Physics department website; doing this successfully will provide another bonus 5% toward the final mark.

Course Policies

Privacy, Copyright, and Recordings

Students enrolling in this course may be recorded during class activities (whether virtual or face-to-face). If a student has a specific concern in this connection, they should bring that forward to the instructor at the start of the semester.

Presentations which are made in relation to course work—including lectures—cannot be recorded or copied without the permission of the presenter, whether the instructor, a classmate or guest lecturer. Material recorded with permission is restricted to use for that course unless further permission is granted.

Course materials (including in-class recordings) are copyright protected and remain the intellectual property of their respective author(s). Students may not reproduce or distribute such materials without express written consent from the copyright holder(s).

Email Communication

As per university regulations, all students are required to check their <> e-mail account regularly: e-mail is the official route of communication between the University and its students.

When You Cannot Meet a Course Requirement

When you find yourself unable to meet an in-course requirement because of illness or compassionate reasons, please advise the course instructor (or designated person, such as a teaching assistant) in writing, with your name, id#, and e-mail contact. See the Undergraduate Calendar for information on regulations and procedures for Academic Consideration.


The University promotes the full participation of students who experience disabilities in their academic programs.  To that end, the provision of academic accommodation is a shared responsibility between the University and the student.
When accommodations are needed, the student is required to first register with Student Accessibility Services (SAS).  Documentation to substantiate the existence of a disability is required, however, interim accommodations may be possible while that process is underway.

Accommodations are available for both permanent and temporary disabilities. It should be noted that common illnesses such as a cold or the flu do not constitute a disability.

Use of the SAS Exam Centre requires students to make a booking at least 14 days in advance, and no later than November 1 (fall), March 1 (winter) or July 1 (summer). Similarly, new or changed accommodations for online quizzes, tests and exams must be approved at least a week ahead of time.

More information:

Academic Misconduct

The University of Guelph is committed to upholding the highest standards of academic integrity and it is the responsibility of all members of the University community – faculty, staff, and students – to be aware of what constitutes academic misconduct and to do as much as possible to prevent academic offences from occurring.  University of Guelph students have the responsibility of abiding by the University's policy on academic misconduct regardless of their location of study; faculty, staff and students have the responsibility of supporting an environment that discourages misconduct.  Students need to remain aware that instructors have access to and the right to use electronic and other means of detection.  

Please note: Whether or not a student intended to commit academic misconduct is not relevant for a finding of guilt. Hurried or careless submission of assignments does not excuse students from responsibility for verifying the academic integrity of their work before submitting it. Students who are in any doubt as to whether an action on their part could be construed as an academic offence should consult with a faculty member or faculty advisor.

The Academic Misconduct Policy is outlined in the Undergraduate Calendar.


Please note that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may necessitate a revision of the format of course offerings, changes in classroom protocols, and academic schedules. Any such changes will be announced via Courselink and/or class email. 
This includes on-campus scheduling during the semester, mid-terms and final examination schedules. All University-wide decisions will be posted on the COVID-19 website and circulated by email.


Medical notes will not normally be required for singular instances of academic consideration, although students may be required to provide supporting documentation for multiple missed assessments or when involving a large part of a course (e.g., final exam or major assignment).