BIO4600 - Science Writing
Schedule, syllabus and examination date
Writing is an essential part of scientific work. Scientists are required to write dissertations, reports, essays, articles and grant applications. In addition, the communication of scientific ideas to a non-scientific audience is an important skill often neglected by scientists. Much scientific writing is verbose and incorrect, and we, as scientists, often take it for granted that difficult ideas must be expressed in obscure and complicated language. However, the best scientists are able to express complicated ideas in crystal-clear language. The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the principles of good writing in general, with a focus on science writing. While the course will be taught in English, and the texts and exercises will be in English, the emphasis will be on good writing habits, which apply to any language. The course is not a course on technical writing, but rather will aim to develop good writing, editing, and journalistic skills.
The course will be in the form of 2-hour workshops. The following topics will be covered: Drafts, revisions, the structure of specific types of writing (scientific articles, essays, summaries) and writing for non-scientist readers. The course will discuss general points of style, sentence construction, voice and tense.
By means of workshops, writing exercises, and mutual feedback, students will practice different types of science writing. Students will learn to edit and shorten long texts without losing content, to write a brief article on any given scientific topic, to write scientific pieces for a non-scientific readership, and to express scientific ideas clearly and concisely.
Students who are admitted to study programmes at UiO must each semester register which courses and exams they wish to sign up for in Studentweb.
If you are not already enrolled as a student at UiO, please see our information about admission requirements and procedures.
PhD-students must register for BIO9600 - Science Writing Please contact the student administration office.
The courses BIO4600 and BIO9600 have common admission. Applicants are ranked by the following criteria:
1. PhD students and master students at the MN faculty who have the course as part of the approved curriculum.
2. Other PhD students and visiting PhD students.
3. Students with admission to single courses on master’s level and exchange students
4. Applicants are ranked by credits in each group; all applicants within 1st rank before applicants in 2nd etc. If admission is limited to a fixed number of participants, admission will be decided by drawing lots for students who are ranked equally
Formal prerequisite knowledge
No obligatory prerequisites beyond the minimum requirements for entrance to higher education in Norway.
5 credits overlap with BIO9600 - Science Writing
The course will be taught in the form of 2-hour workshops every day for one week. The workshops are mandatory, and the students are expected to work fulltime with this course for the whole week. The first hour will consist of a lecture and discussion of a topic, while the second hour will be devoted to discussion of the students’ own writing. Each week the students will mark and discuss the work of two or three other students, so at the end of the course each student will have substantial feedback from their peers for his/her work. The short exercises will be done during the course, and the final assignment of 1500 words after the completion of the course.
The assessment will be based on the completion of 3 short pieces (500 words) during the course, and one longer, final, assignment (1500 words).
Students will be expected to complete ALL writing assignments on time, and attendanceevery day will be required.
Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.
Explanations and appeals
Resit an examination
This course offers both postponed and resit of examination. Read more:
Special examination arrangements
Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.
The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.