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University of Otago
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Master of Science Communication (MSciComm)

This course is available


Level of Study

Master's Degree


2 years

Next start date

Expected Jul 2023


University of Otago


Dunedin is a UNESCO City of Literature, supports an International Science Festival, and is the wildlife capital of New Zealand, with colonies of seals, albatross and penguins in the city's boundaries. It is perhaps no accident, therefore, that it has also become a hub for natural history filmmaking. The outstanding natural environment and dynamic cultural environment provide an excellent setting for the University of Otago’s Centre for Science Communication, the home of story-telling and science.


SCOM 402 The Craft of Storytelling

SCOM 409 Introduction to Science Communication

SCOM 411 The Techniques of Natural History and Science Filmmaking 1

SCOM 495 Thesis Preparation and Proposal

and two of SCOM 403 Science and Creative Non-Fiction Writing

SCOM 406 Science Exhibitions and Interpretation

SCOM 412 The Techniques of Natural History and Science Filmmaking 2

Up to two other papers at 400-level may be substituted with approval from the Director of the Centre for Science Communication) SCOM 411 is prerequisite for SCOM 412.

Thesis: SCOM 5A (60 points) and SCOM 5B (60 points) (in most cases, including a significant creative component)

Note: SCOM 432, 433 and 439 may be substituted for SCOM 402, 403, 404 and 409 as Distance options.

Structure of the Programme

  • A candidate may be exempted from some or all of the prescribed papers on the basis of previous study.
  • A candidate shall, before commencing the investigation to be described in the thesis, secure the approval of the Director of the Centre for Science Communication for the topic, the supervisor(s), and the proposed course of the investigation.
  • A candidate may not present a thesis or other material which has previously been accepted for another degree.
  • For the thesis, the research should be of a kind that a diligent and competent student should complete within one year of full-time study.
  • A candidate whose qualification for possible to the programme is the degree of Bachelor of Science with Honours or the Postgraduate Diploma in Science Communication or equivalent may achieve the degree in a minimum of one year of further study, normally by completing a thesis.

Entry criteria

Admission to the programme shall be subject to the approval of the Pro-Vice Chancellor (Sciences), on the advice of the Head of the Department of Science Communication.

Every applicant must either

  • be a graduate and have achieved an average grade of at least B in the relevant 300 level papers.
  • have equivalent qualifications or experience acceptable to the Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Sciences).

In considering an applicant’s qualifications, regard will be had to the detail of the course of study followed to gain the qualification, as well as the applicant’s performance in the programme.

An applicant seeking admission to the thesis-only option of the programme (see 2 (c) below) on the basis of the Degree of Bachelor of Sciences with Honours or the Postgraduate Diploma in Science Communication or equivalent, must have a B+ average within the papers required for that degree.

English language requirements

  • IELTS Academic - Score of 6.5 in the academic module (with no individual band below 6.0). IELTS Online is also accepted.
  • Internet-based TOEFL - Score of 90 with a minimum writing score of 21
  • Paper-based TOEFL - score of 587 (TWE 4.5)
  • Cambridge Certificate in Advanced English (CAE) & Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) - Minimum of 176
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic - Overall score of 58 with no communicative skills score below 50.
  • LanguageCert - International ESOL: C1 Expert (LRWS) with a high pass overall and no less than a pass in each skill OR C2 Mastery (LRWS) with a pass overall and no less than a pass in each skill
  • NZCEL - NZCEL 5 Academic endorsement
  • University of Otago Language Centre ‘English for Otago’, English for Postgraduate Academic Purposes (EPAP) - Grade C or higher

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