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SCS: Scientific Narration & Visualization


Admission Requirements

This course is available for master students within the Science Faculty or the Biomedical Sciences program at LUMC. Other students who are interested should contact their own study advisor for permission.
This course is offered in conjunction with the course SCS Fundamentals to students who are following the Science Communication and Society specialisation.

NOTE: This course is also available as an elective for students of the Media Technology master program.


This course focusses on the last part of a scientific project: presenting results and explaining insights. The course deals with unconventional ways of conveying scientific insights, i.e. all forms besides scientific articles and scientific posters. This course is different compared to e.g. data visualization as it deals with conveying understanding instead of data.

Course objective

The main learning goal of this course it to make students aware of the drawbacks and advantages of the various forms of conveying scientific insights, such that they will be able to use the most appropriate form for their cases.

Structure of lessons

Each lesson consists of three parts. In part one we discuss the assignments of the previous week. Starting from lesson IV as only after lesson III the homework assignments start. I will select three works that we will discuss in class. So be prepared to present your assignment. In part two we will discuss the reading material of that week. And in part three, I will present a series of examples that illustrate the reading material of that week.

Course Schedule

Classes will take place on Tuesday mornings during ten weeks from September 3- November 5, 2019. A room schedule will follow.

Mode of Instruction

Lectures, self study


There is a weekly assignment running five times, starting after lesson III. And there is a larger assignment to end this course with. Both assignments count for 50% of the final grade.
The weekly assignment has the following form: select the form that was discussed in class, and combine that form with a scientific topic, in order to explain (part of) that topic. You can use the suggestions from the following table, but you may also try your own topic, as long as it belongs to the natural sciences. I won’t provide reading material for the underlying topics; it is your responsibility to study the topic of your choice.

Reading List

Chapters and articles will be made available to students by the teacher.

Understanding understanding:
Metaphors we live by, G. Lakoff & M. Johnson (1980), p1-55.
Understanding by design, G. Wiggins & J. McTighe (2005), p35-55.
Understanding needs embodiment, K. Niebert, S. Marsch & D. Treagust (2012).

The Oxford book to modern science writing, R. Dawkins (2008), p232-266.
Using narratives and storytelling to communicate science with nonexpert audiences, M. Dahlstrom (2014), PNAS, Sep.16, 2014, Vol. 111, p13614-13620,
Storytelling, M. Krzywinski & A. Cairo (2013), Nature methods, Vol 10, No. 8, p687. Plus comments in the same journal! (Against storytelling & Should scientists tell stories?)
The Role of Narrative in Communicating Science, L. Avraamidoua & J. Osborne (2009), International Journal of Science Education
Vol. 31, No. 12, p1683-1707.

Aristotle’s ladder, Darwin’s tree, J.D. Archibald (2014), p1-21.

Graphs & infographics:
Envisioning information, E.R. Tufte (1990), ch4&6.
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, E.R. Tufte (2001), p40-43.
Trees, Maps & Theorems, J-l Doumont (2009).

Film, play & animation :
Dynamic visualizations and learning, R. Ploetzner et al. (2004), p235-240 & p343-351.
Animation: can it facilitate? B. Tversky & J.B. Morrison (2002).

Experiments & objects:
Experiments in science and science teaching, D. Hodson (1988), Educational philosophy and theory, 20:2, p53-66.
Wandering seminar on scientific objects, S. Vackimes & K. Weltersbach (2007), p19-34 & p129-139.


Application forms can be requested through the SCS department. You will also be asked to enroll through usis.

Contact Information

Dr. Anne Land (program coordinator Science Communication and Society):