Free course

Assessing contemporary science

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Effective communication is essential in science, but do you ever wonder whether articles written about science in the news are thorough, unambiguous and objective? Rigorous assessment is at the heart of good science. This free course, Assessing contemporary science, will introduce methods of examining reports and reaching the ‘science behind the news’.

It will explore the ways in which scientific knowledge develops, undergoes peer review and is communicated. The second half of the course will focus more closely on a specific scientific topic – plastics – and give you a chance to practise these skills by considering the topic's social impact, building a glossary of unfamiliar terms, and evaluating relevant information sources.

Course learning outcomes

After studying this course, you should be able to:

  • critically evaluate statements, different viewpoints and data to reach informed judgements based on scientific evidence
  • understand key aspects of areas of scientific knowledge that have personal relevance
  • understand some of the wider implications associated with any scientific investigation
  • have an appreciation of current thinking on uncertainty, ambiguities and the limits of scientific knowledge
  • deploy transferable skills in assessing contemporary science.

First Published: 16/11/2017

Updated: 18/07/2019

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