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'I am really pleased to see the positive response from students and the impact the scheme has on their development. Well done for organising such a successful course.'

Daniela Bultoc, Skills Development Programme Manager at University College London

The charity that publishes BioNews, the Progress Educational Trust (PET), runs a writing scheme with University College London (UCL) and Queen Mary University of London (QMUL) whereby Life Sciences, Biomedical Sciences and Law postgraduates can gain practical news writing experience under expert supervision.

Under  this scheme, the editors at BioNews select two UCL graduate students and one QMUL student per term, and train them in the art of news writing. The scheme is of particular relevance to students interested in science communication and legal, ethical and policy issues arising from developments in biomedicine. To date all BioNews interns have completed it, and provided positive feedback.

The course lasts for a total of five days, spread over a nine-week period. After the initial induction period, the intern is expected each subsequent week to research and write a draft BioNews story for editing by BioNews staff before publication. By the end of the course, the students will have acquired the following experience/skills:

  • critical reading and evaluation of media coverage of genetics, assisted conception and embryo/stem cell research, and related ethical, legal and policy issues;

  • an understanding of the contrasting values of scientists and journalists, and the pressures faced by both in relation to science news coverage;

  • researching stories and checking accuracy by referring to press releases, original research papers, policy documents and reports;

  • summarising this information and prioritising key points;

  • how to write an effective news story;

  • writing for a non-specialist audience, avoiding specialist jargon;

  • proofreading and editing skills;

  • writing copy to a weekly deadline;

If you would like to apply for a place on the next available course, please see the Skills Development Programme section of the UCL website (if you are a graduate studying at UCL) or email Sarah Norcross at (if you are a graduate studying at QMUL).