Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in Health & Life Sciences: Science Communication

Bring research to life
The master specialization Science Communication:

• Is designed for students who have a broad interest in current events, societal issues and the public debate on the position of the natural sciences in society
• Prepares you for careers on the intersection of science, technology and society; professions for which you need a critical, academic attitude and the skills to support a fruitful dialogue between science and society
• Is part of a two-year master education programme: you first follow the regular master programme of your choice (60 EC) to deepen your expert knowledge, after which you follow the Science Communication specialization year (60 EC) at the Athena Institute at VU Amsterdam.

Do you see yourself working in the future as a science journalist at a newspaper or at a popular science magazine? Or do you aspire to be a communication advisor at a biomedical company, a content manager at a science museum or a PR-manager at an environmental organization? With the Science Communication master specialization you can combine your interest in the natural sciences with gaining knowledge and skills within the field of science communication.

Overview Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in Health and Life Sciences: Science Communication




1 year



1 August


1 September




Science Communication is a one-year track embedded in the Master's programmes: Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Earth Sciences and Management, Policy Analysis & Entrepeneurship in the Health and Life Sciences.


Behavioural and Social Sciences
Health and Movement
Natural Sciences
Language and Communication

Science Communication is a master specialisation track of 60 EC (one year). It is open to students from all two-year master programmes at the UvA Faculty of Science (with the exception of Brain and Cognitive Science, Logic and Forensic Science) and most master programmes at the VU (please contact your master coordinator for more information).

Science Communication has welcomed students from MSc programmes such as:

• Biomedical sciences
• Earth sciences
• Physics & astronomy
• Biology
• Chemistry
• Management, Policy Analysis and Entrepreneurship in the Health and Life Sciences.

This list is not exhaustive. Since science communication is an interdisciplinary field, students from many different science master programmes at VU and UvA are invited to join. To make sure your master programme offers this specialization, please contact your master coordinator.

To subscribe for the science communication specialization, please take the following steps:

1. If you are not a student at the VU yet, please subscribe as a ‘bijvakstudent’ at the VU first. Subscribe at least six weeks before the semester starts. Go to the register form and select ‘bijvakregistratie’. For more information, see the Dutch or English information page.
2. Subscribe for each of your courses individually on VUnet using the course codes in the study programme. Subscribe at least four weeks before the semester starts.

After completing the specialization year, you earn a regular Master of Science (MSc) degree in your field. During the specialization year, you remain within the responsibility of your original master coordinator and exam committee.

Practical information
• It is recommended to take all science communication courses in one year, as programme schedules across MSc programmes are not always compatible.
• The Science Journalism course is an optional course for the master specialization.
• Would you like to follow only one or two courses from the science communication specialization rather than attend the whole programme? Each of the science communication courses can be followed individually as an elective. Contact the corresponding course coordinator(s) to ask for admission and subscribe for the course on VUnet.

Science Communication is a master specialization track of 60 EC (one year). It consists of two compulsory courses (12 EC in total), three out of four electives (18 EC in total) and an internship (30 EC).
Compulsory courses (12 EC in total)

Research methods for analyzing complex problems (6 EC)   
Periode 1     

Science and Communication (6 EC)                                       
Periode 1         
Elective courses (18 EC in total)
Students choose three out of the following electives:

Communication, Organization and Management (6 EC)
Periode 2 

Science in Dialogue (6 EC)
Periode 2

Science Journalism (6 EC)
Periode 2

Science Museology (6 EC)
Periode 3 

Internship (30 EC)
A five-month internship (30 EC) concludes the science communication specialization. Students can choose between two types of internship: a research internship or a reflective practice internship.

Science is everywhere. It impacts our lives in many different ways. It contributes to solving societal challenges such as climate change, and public health. At the same time, science and technology are more controversial than ever. Findings are easily contested in public. New innovations like synthetic biology or nanotechnology give rise to risks, concerns, and fundamental questions about our lives and ourselves.

Communication plays an increasingly large role in the lives of scientists. To make sure scientists find practical, but also desirable and acceptable solutions for real-world problems, they are often encouraged to bridge scientific disciplines, collaborate with industry and interact with users, consumers, citizens. To maintain a fruitful role in society, they are expected to take part in debates in public and politics.

Science communicators help to support these interactions. They work at the interface between science, technology and society. Examples of professions include: social researchers, science writers, content managers in museums, communication consultants and change facilitators.

Science communication is a one-year specialization that can be studied as a part of two-year science masters at the VU and the UvA.
Science communicators are intermediaries who support the exchange of scientific knowledge, translate science to a more broadly accessible language and facilitate the societal discussion of new science and technology.

Their added value is that they understand both worlds and know how to communicate effectively in order to increase mutual understanding and find new solutions and ideas.

Science communicators work at places as diverse as universities and other knowledge institutions, the editorial boards of newspapers, magazines and websites, science centers and museums and communication consultancies.

Five possible careers in science communication
1. The science writer works at science institutions, newspapers or magazines. Makes scientific knowledge accessible to a diversity of audiences. Translates scientific work into attractive, lucid and meaningful stories. Aims at increasing the awareness and understanding of science.
2. The content manager works at science museums, science centers or event agencies. Develops exhibitions. Translates scientific content into images, installations and displays. Aims at increasing the awareness and understanding of science.
3. The academic researcher works at science institutions. Studies the communicative aspects of the interaction between science and society. Aims at the development of both knowledge and solutions for society.
4. The change facilitator works at science institutions, government, societal organizations or consultancies. Brings scientific and nonscientific parties together. Helps them to understand, learn and innovate jointly. Aims at science-based social change.
5. The communication consultant works at societal organizations or consultancies. Advises on communication goals, means and strategies. Aims at the improvement of life science-based communication processes.

A five-month internship (30 EC) concludes the science communication specialization. Students can choose between two types of internship: a research internship or a reflective practice internship.

Research internship
In a research internship, the student designs and performs his or her own research project and studies any kind of science-society interaction (e.g. performs a media content analysis or studies a science-society dialogue).

Reflective practice internship
In a reflective practice internship, the student gains experience in the field at science desks, museums or communication companies, and reflects on how science is communicated in these practices.

To view current internship vacancies, please enroll in the blackboard community (login with your VUnet-id on blackboard and search for the organization ‘wetenschapscommunicatie’).

Internship examples

Science writer: Eric de Kruijk - Labyrint
The Dutch TV program Labyrint focuses on public understanding of science and technology. During his internship, Eric worked behind the screen on the Labyrint website. At Labyrint, Eric learned how to write short and comprehensive articles for the general public. There was a good match between Eric and Labyrint’s editorial office: Eric is asked to make a new documentary in January 2012!

Content manager:Jeroen Klaphake - Northernlight
Triggered by the course Science Museology, Jeroen wanted to work in the field of exhibition development. At the design company Northernlight, Jeroen learned how to translate desires of clients into exhibition content that appeals to visitors in both China and the Netherlands. Among others, he discovered cultural differences in how people look at science around the world. The building process of ‘his’ exhibition in China will start soon.

Academic researcher:Janne Polman - KNAW
Janne did her internship at the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences. She used surveys and interviews to study the diversity of stakeholder views on the assessment of the societal relevance of scientific research. The Academy was extra thankful because Janne improved the existing online assessment tool based on the outcomes of her research, and enhanced the understanding of many urgent communication questions.

Change facilitator:Lisanne Hogemaa - BJAA
Lisanne evaluated the organizational change process at the Amsterdam Youth Care Service. Among others, she studied the communication between family workers, team managers and behavioural experts during casuistry meetings. She concluded this communication could be improved by professionalizing the family workers. Integrating a continuous learning process could enrich and speed up the organizational change.

Communication consultant:Birk Frankvoort - Science Alliance
During his internship, Birk worked on various projects for Science Alliance. For example, he worked on a platform that connects researchers to patients with very rare types of illness. Researchers make video clips about their projects, and answer questions of patients with regard to their illness. At Science Alliance, Birk especially enjoyed to function in commercial project teams.


For further information about the programme you can contact the master specialization coordinator Frank Kupper:

Dr. Frank Kupper
De Boelelaan 1085, room S-552
1081 HV Amsterdam
T 020-59 86161

General information about the Athena institute
The Science Communication specialization is organized by the Athena institute, a research department at VU Amsterdam. The institute offers several masters, master specializations and a minor in the field of health, innovation and communication. All programmes combine life with social sciences, and integrate theory with practice.