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IL926-20 Public Engagement

Institute for Advanced Teaching and Learning
Taught Postgraduate Level
Module leader
Naomi Kay
Credit value
Module duration
4 weeks
100% coursework
Study locations
  • University of Warwick main campus, Coventry Primary
  • Distance or Online Delivery
Introductory description

Public engagement is about connecting the work of universities with wider society. It takes many forms - from public facing events, blogs, or social media accounts, to collaborative research and empowering citizen researchers to lead projects. Through it both we and our audiences gain valuable insights through interaction and dialogue.

This module will introduce you to the concept and context of engagement. You'll be given the tools to effectively plan and evaluate public engagement, coming away with a range of practical and highly transferable engagement skills that will support you whether you go on to a career in academia, or outside it.

Module aims

This interdisciplinary module aims to give you both a theoretical and practical introduction to public engagement so that you can better understand the complex challenges involved in sharing ideas with audiences and communities beyond the university and feel confident in developing your own engagement initiatives in future.

We will do this by:

  • Introducing you to the concept of engagement and the methods used for engagement with an interdisciplinary lens
  • Examining the role of a university and the wider public engagement sector in our society
  • Giving you necessary tools to plan, carry out, and evaluate high quality public engagement interventions
  • Supporting you to develop presentation, project management, verbal and written communication, and active listening skills that enable high quality engagement
  • Engaging you with innovative and active learning. Ensuring you have the chance to put the theoretical concepts discussed to use through the design and delivery of your own public engagement event.
Outline syllabus

This is an indicative module outline only to give an indication of the sort of topics that may be covered. Actual sessions held may differ.

Part 1 Introducing the concept and context of engagement (Background)

  1. What is engagement? Interdisciplinary panel discussion on what engagement is, why it’s important and what skills can be developed from it including improving general research communication. Students will also complete a reading/ research task to explore public engagement in your own discipline and share with the group
  2. What is the role of a university? Debate about the wider context of engagement and our role as a Civic University
  3. The engagement sector. Exploring what careers exist in engagement including museums/ galleries, outreach/ teaching, sci-com, engagement in academia, and support roles. How is engagement funded currently? What role will REF/ KEF have on this in future? Policy engagement
    Part 2 Practical engagement skills
  4. Audiences and Collaborators. Who are our audiences for engagement? What makes an audience and what makes a collaborator? How do we tailor activities for them? How do we reach these partners? How can we tailor research communication for audiences of our peers vs external or non expert audiences.
  5. Online engagement – Exploring digital engagement methods and skills. Producing a public engagement output for online use (e.g. social media posts)
  6. Effective presentations – the role of Storytelling and emotion in connecting with our audiences
  7. Co-production/ co-creation and collaborative projects – How can we work with communities, artists, museums etc. to make engagement happen? Lessons from Design Thinking on collaborative practice, co-creation and co-produced research
    Part 3 Planning events
  8. Planning engagement. Structure for planning an engagement event, the role of People, Purpose, Process, Evaluation
  9. Evaluation. Planning effective evaluation. Sharing outputs from evaluation (publishing engagement outcomes).
  10. Designing your public engagement activity – Workshopping session to put together your public engagement project and give each other feedback on the concepts you produce. Bringing together lessons on planning for engagement and evaluation as part of your design.
Learning outcomes

By the end of the module, students should be able to:

  • 1. Synthesise transdisciplinary perspectives of public engagement into an interdisciplinary understanding of public engagement techniques and approaches
  • 2. Demonstrate a thorough understanding of the multiple roles of a university and the part public engagement plays within this
  • 3. Produce digital engagement pieces that demonstrate an ability to communicate complex ideas and topics to a lay audience
  • 4. Meaningfully engage with a series of tools and techniques for planning and evaluating effective engagement to develop your own engagement activity
  • 5. Reflect on their own engagement practice to identify strengths and weaknesses, and how to capitalise on/ mitigate for these in future engagement activities.
  • 6. Demonstrate relevant engagement skills in the delivery of a high-quality, two-way engagement activity.
Indicative reading list

General wider, recommended reading

1 - What is engagement?
NCCPE Webpage:
Warwick Institute of Engagement Webpage:
1 paper from Research for All relating to an engagement example from your own discipline

2: What is the role of a university?
From homework club to social justice: Critical reflections on student volunteering through the examination of a school–university partnership

Community-University Engagement : a process for building democratic communities

Wellcome Trust report on the state of PE in 2015

Monitoring and Evaluation of City of Culture inc. interim reports on Coventry 2021 and methodology

3: The engagement sector
Knowledge exchange or research impact – what is the difference between REF and KEF? (blog)

NCCPE - working with museums and libraries

4: Audiences
WIE guide on audiences:

Developing resources for schools - look up the section relating to your own subject:

5: Effective presentations

6: Online engagement

7: Co-production and collaborative projects -
Book: Co-producing research: A community development approach, Banks, Hart, Pahl, Ward
E-BOOK: Citizen science : innovation in open science, society and policy / edited by Susanne Hecker, Muki Haklay, Anne Bowser, Zen Makuch, Johannes Vogel & Aletta Bonn Https://

Developing a methodology for public engagement with critical research

8: Planning engagement
NCCPE - Planning for engagement

9: Evaluation
What is theory of change?

WIE Evaluation guide:

The Development and Use of a Theory of Change to Align Programs and Evaluation in a Complex, National Initiative

City of Culture Evaluation strategy -

10: N/A


This module will invite students to work with peers from a range of departments and explore the interdisciplinary picture of what public engagement is and what it means to different subject areas.

The production of a final activity will be an interdisciplinary undertaking with students working to develop a cohesive and well structured public engagement activity that also showcases their own work to the best of their ability. The module will provide students with an understanding of the different methods of public engagement favoured by different disciplines and encourage students to learn from these and what lessons could be applied to their own work.


This module will include references to how public engagement might look in other countries and sectors - as well as the varying terminology used around the international landscape.

Subject specific skills

Understanding of public engagement as a concept and a sector
Understanding of audiences
Understanding of evaluation methods

Transferable skills

Project management
Presentation/ storytelling skills
Online engagement via social media
Team work
Co-production and collaboration

Teaching split

Provider Weighting
School of Modern Languages and Cultures 100%
Classics & Ancient History 0%

Study time

Type Required
Seminars 10 sessions of 3 hours (15%)
Online learning (independent) 10 sessions of 1 hour (5%)
Private study 30 hours (15%)
Assessment 130 hours (65%)
Total 200 hours
Private study description

Our module will be taught intensively over 2 weeks. We'll run 2 hour seminars each morning, set tasks to be completed as private study before coming back together for a final hours seminar time.


Category Description Funded by Cost to student
  • Delivery of a public engagement event
Department $0.00

You must pass all assessment components to pass the module.

Assessment group A
Weighting Study time
Engage with a public audience 50% 70 hours

Students should develop a public engagement activity to engage an external audience of their choosing with a topic of their choosing. This should be an opportunity to showcase how they have taken on board the knowledge developed during the course and are able to apply it to live engagement activities.

Students can collaborate in groups to produce events where they have a shared audience in mind. A small budget will be available from WIE to cover the costs of activities.

Potential activities students could explore

  • Deliver a public engagement talk, stand or interactive activity (for example as part of the WIE organised Pint of Science, in a school, or as part of another public event)
  • Run workshops or meetings with community groups or partners to explore how they could collaborate on future projects/ ideas (these projects could be used for future summer engagement projects)
  • Produce a digital engagement campaign and demonstrate how you've worked to build an audience and interaction with this
Produce a reflective journal 25% 30 hours

Keep a journal about the process of planning, delivering, and evaluating a public engagement activity. This should be a reflection of your learning about transdisciplinary public engagement and it's role in society, as well as the process of putting together an activity and your experiences of this. Along with reflections of how you're engaging with the publics involved and finally your event evaluation showing what you've learnt and would change next time.

Digital engagement pieces 25% 30 hours

Produce a series of at least 5 digital engagement pieces aimed at a lay audience. We will accept submissions in the form of social media posts/ videos/ images, vlogs or audio podcasts as well as written blogs. We'd expect for each engagement piece to see something that would take between 3-7 minutes for the reader to digest - however the student may choose to do a longer series of social media posts/ videos if they feel short form engagement works best for their audience.

Engagement piece 1 - What is public engagement and why should you get involved? This should be targeted at university staff or students

Other engagement pieces - Produce a series of digital engagement pieces which engage an audience of your choice, with a subject of your choosing. As a minimum we'd expect to see 4 different engagement pieces, however if you want to choose a short form medium (e.g. TikTok videos) you should do more pieces to compensate for this. (As a guide we'd expect 15-25 minutes of total video/ audio content or around 1,000 words for each written contribution). You can choose to submit assignments in a variety of mediums - e.g. one podcast, one blog, one video, or all the same - e.g. three blog posts.

Feedback on assessment

Written feedback given on all work


This module is Core optional for:

  • Year 1 of TLFS-J7N2 Postgraduate Medical Biotechnology and Business Management
  • Year 1 of THRA-D4A1 Postgraduate Taught Environmental Bioscience in a Changing Climate
  • Year 1 of THRA-D4A3 Postgraduate Taught Food Security

This module is Optional for:

  • Year 1 of TBSS-C5N2 Postgraduate Taught Biotechnology, Bioprocessing and Business Management