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This brand new programme will take you through the essentials of science communication for creating high quality online videos. The first two sessions are open to all researchers. Participants will then have the opportunity to apply to become an Oxford Sparks Ambassador.

Two figures are seen in silhouette against the bright background of a large aquarium tank © Fiona Suttle

Do you want to share your research with the wider public? Want to try making online videos but not sure where to start?   

Online videos are a great way of showing what science research is, who does it and why it matters, and has the potential to reach audiences around the world. 

Oxford Sparks, the University’s digital science engagement programme has been crafting high quality science communication since 2012. 

We are inviting science* researchers (regardless of the Division you are based in) to take part in a new online masterclass to learn the essential elements of high quality science communication.  

What’s more, those who attend the masterclass will be eligible to apply for the Oxford Sparks Ambassadors scheme that will provide hands-on training and support to create your own online videos that will be shared from Oxford Sparks.   

This is a fantastic opportunity for those with little to no experience to develop understanding, skills and confidence of what makes high quality science communication that reaches, appeals to and is accessible to public audiences. 

By taking part you will develop your communication and creativity knowledge and skills, network with likeminded peers, and if you proceed to become a Sparks Ambassador you will create high quality science communication videos that you can use as part of your communication and engagement efforts, build your profile and as something to demonstrate your skills in this area e.g., on your CV. 

 And best of all, it's free to take part in.

* By science we mean all science, engineering, maths and medicine disciplines regardless of which division you are based in, including e.g., archaeology, anthropology and geography. For these purposes we consider science as part of society and culture; including history and philosophy of science, engineering, maths and medicine, and the ethics and implications of technologies, for example. 

 

Academy Programme 

The Oxford Sparks Science Communication Academy is split into two parts:

An online science communication masterclass over two sessions online, open to 30 participants, that distils the essential elements of science communication using case studies and examples plus a range of exercises for you to apply what you’ve learnt.  

An in-depth course for ‘Sparks Ambassadors’, up to 8 participants. Over four sessions (in person) you will build on and apply what you’ve learnt from the science communication masterclass by being taken through each step of creating high quality videos to share online.

The Ambassador cohort will be chosen through an application process.  

You will work with Oxford Sparks to create (and optionally present) at least one video that will be published on our channels through to the end of the 2021-22 academic year.

Full details about the Ambassador Scheme will be provided to participants of the masterclass sessions.  

Note: you will not be expected to film and edit videos as there will be technical support from our research video producer, however awareness of this is useful for developing ideas and scripts. 

 

  

Date & time  

Session  

Science Communication Masterclass for up to 30 participants  

18 Nov 2021  

0930-1230  

Science communication essentials 

ONLINE 

In this session you will be introduced to core tools in the science communication arsenal and basic good practice 

24 Nov 2021  

0930-1230  

Science communication essentials II 

ONLINE 

In this session you will be introduced to advanced ideas in science communication with a focus on understanding audiences. 

Oxford Sparks Ambassador scheme training - up to 8 participants

Jan - Feb 2022

A further four sessions for those selected to become ambassadors covering: 

- Idea development and pre-production: scripting, storyboarding and planning

- On-screen presence

- A basic introduction to the filming and editing process to build awareness (you won't be expected to do your own filming and editing)

- Getting your content out there

  

How to Register  

Click here to register for the masterclass

Deadline to register is 5pm 12 Nov.

Please note that registering for this course confirms your participation in both of the science communication masterclass sessions.

There will be a separate application process for attendees of these sessions to go onto the following ‘Sparks Ambassadors’ sessions.  

  

To be eligible to register for the masterclass you must: 

  • Be a DPhil student or researcher at any career stage at the University of Oxford (registration requires SSO); 

  • Be able to attend the dates and times of the sessions;

  • Be a science researcher – by science we mean all science, engineering, maths and medicine disciplines, including e.g., archaeology, anthropology and geography. For these purposes we consider science as part of society and culture; including history and philosophy of science, engineering, maths and medicine, and the ethics and implications of technologies, for example.

If you have any questions, see FAQs below or contact Michaela Livingstone-Banks 

Someone on a stunt scooter is in the air, on a skate park. They are being filmed by someone.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Click to skip to:

 

What is Oxford Sparks?

Oxford Sparks is the University's digital science engagement programme. It was established in 2012 with the goal of sharing science research with the public. We are based in the MPLS Division and work closely with the Medical Sciences and other Divisions to offer the opportunity for science and science-related researchers to create appealing and engaging online videos and podcasts for the wider-public. We have re-shaped our strategy recently to move away from creating animations to creating live-action videos. We have a team of two dedicated to creating and sharing content. We specifically target our content to adults who aren't already 'science fans'. Our aims are to provide these audiences with relatable, trustworthy science communication that ultimately they have a positive experience engaging with. Click here to find out more about Oxford Sparks.

How much does it cost?

This programme is entirely free for you to participate in, funded by the MPLS Division. The estimated value per participant in the programme is at least £290.

I’m really keen to work with Oxford Sparks but I’ve done loads of science communication, can I take part in this programme? 

This programme is probably not for you – though if you’re keen to develop your science communication skills further we’d be happy to advise, you could attend the other training we have available, or you could look at external training courses. You might even be ready for a Famelab or other science communication competition that will come with training and support anyway, so why not give that a go? Equally, if you have an idea for a video you would like to make, let us know. 

Will these sessions be recorded? 

These courses will not be recorded because they involve a substantial element of participation – to make sure our participants are as comfortable as possible we won’t record sessions to share.  

I can’t make the dates in the programme, can I still sign up? 

If you can’t make any of the dates then sorry, no. But we hope to run this course in the future. Alternatively if it’s only one session you can’t make then sign up and let us know. 

Where will the training take place? 

The first two masterclass sessions will be online using Zoom. The four Oxford Sparks Ambassador scheme sessions are hoped to take place in person at a venue in the city centre or science area, yet to be confirmed. However, this will be assessed according to e.g., covid-19 risks and restrictions and adapted to online delivery if need be. 

I’d like to be an Oxford Sparks ambassador but I don’t want to attend the training, how do I apply? 

Great! But sorry, the Ambassador scheme is specifically designed to help support those with little to no experience and so training and support is a key element of that. If you’d like to work with Oxford Sparks but don’t need or want the training you can submit an idea via our expression of interest form. We're happy to discuss ways you can work with Oxford Sparks in an on-going fashion and to signpost to other opportunities you might be interested in.

What do you mean by a ‘science researcher’? 

By science we mean all science, engineering, maths and medicine disciplines, including e.g., archaeology, anthropology and geography. For these purposes we consider science as part of society and culture; including history and philosophy of science, engineering, maths and medicine, and the ethics and implications of technologies, for example. If in doubt, please ask if you qualify as a 'science researcher'. 

By researcher, a substantial proportion of your time will be spent undertaking research activities. This includes DPhil students and researchers at any career stage. This programme isn’t open to undergraduate or masters students. 

If you fit within these categories, then it does not matter which Division you are based in.

I’m not a researcher, can I take part? 

Sorry no. This programme is designed specifically for researchers, so isn’t appropriate for those supporting researchers. If you would like guidance on supporting researchers then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team. 

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