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Filmmaking for Scientists

“Ask a scientist about Hollywood, and you’ll probably get eye rolls. But ask someone in Hollywood about science, and they’ll see dollar signs: moviemakers know that science can be the source of great stories, with all the drama and action that blockbusters require” 
– Randy Olson
We, scientists, have great stories, and we can learn to be “scientists-as-filmmakers”! In this course you will learn about camera, audio, lighting equipment, and how to use film editing software, together with how to write, design and carry out the basics of making a documentary. 
During the course students will learn the basics of filmmaking theory (Storytelling, Storyboarding, Script-writing),  of filmmaking practice (work with camera, light, sound)and of film analysis. Students will be able to prepare their own films.


Individual Performance and Assessment: In order to obtain the ECTS point, you are required to actively participate in the theory and practice during the course days, including filming a documentary. 


1 ECTS (30 learning hours)

Biannually (last fall 2021, next fall 2023)
Lecturer:  Dr. Samer Angelone (University of Basel)


Managing your Publication Workflow and your Open Data

The course includes 2 face-to-face workshop days and one day for homework. PhD students will learn specifically to deal with the whole publication process and to establish a publication workflow: How to manage your open data from the very beginning of a research project, how to plan an open access strategy from choosing journals strategically, to submission, to publication. This includes also guidelines for open data, data sharing agreements and data plans, as well as rich data publications and post-publishing marketing strategies. 

Individual Performance and Assessment: In order to obtain the ECTS point, each participant is required to actively participate in the case-study work, discussions, and presentations during the course days. In addition and as part of the homework of day 2, participants are expected to:

  1. Draft a Data Management Plan for their projects (to be accomplished on Day 2)
  2. Find and explore three open-access journals appropriate for publishing their research. They choose journals not included in their list of six target journals 
    (to be accomplished on Day 2).
  3. Analyse six journals appropriate for publishing their research. Participants study the journal websites and various online resources. They bring detailed information to the workshop about: (1) open access options, (2) publication fees (or article processing charges), (3) copyright policies: which rights remain with the authors? (4) speed (decision times, publication times), (5) rejection rates, and others 
    (to be accomplished on Day 2).

1 ECTS (30 learning hours)
Annually (Spring semester)
Lecturer:  Dr. Philipp Mayer (, André Hoffman, M.A. (Open Access, Hauptbibliothek, UZH), Stefanie Strebel, Data Services & Open Access, University of Zurich, Dr. Melanie Paschke (Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center)

Project Management for Research

Every project has high scientific and organisational demands. Not only your project work but also other activities, such as organising workshops and meetings, require good planning and management and are the focus of this course. With the help of internationally standardised project management and its tools, the project internal communication as well as the monitoring of results can be simplified. And the experience has shown: project management boosts the performance of researchers and is at the same time a promising basis for the successful collaboration between industry and academia. This course should motivate researchers to develop further their personal leadership qualities and to initiate and coordinate in the near future their own projects.

Individual Performance and Assessment: The students are expected to attend both course days and participate actively during the workshop. Additionally, they are expected to submit the planning of a fictional or real project containing the main models discussed in class.

1 ECTS (30 learning hours)
Biannually (next spring 2022)
Dr. Andrea Degen, eurelations AG

Ethics and Scientific Integrity for Doctoral Students (701-5001-00L)

Course Content

This course raises awareness of doctoral students to ethical issues that may arise during their doctorate. After an introduction to ethics and good scientific practice, students use resources that can assist them with ethical decision-making. Students are given the opportunity to apply their knowledge and train their newly acquired skills in an interactive, discipline specific context.


Learning Objectives

  • Doctoral students learn how to identify, analyze and address ethical issues in their own scientific research. Furthermore, they are encouraged to reflect on their professional role as scientific researchers.
  • A special focus is on practising and applying the process of ethical inquiry/moral reasoning as a tool to analyze ethical issues and reach a well-reflected decision in ethical ambiguous situations.


Prior Knowledge: none


Number of Participants

10 places for students of UZH and University of Basel that are registered in the PhD Programs of PSC or in LSZGS. All ETH doctoral students: Please register via myStudies. Only for doctoral students.


Individual Performance and Assessment

You will need to hand in a group case study journal and individual case study journal that will be individually assessed by the lecturers. A group presentation of the respective case study is also part of the overall assessment.

1 ECTS (10 hours of work)
Annually (Spring semester)
Prof. Nina Buchmann, ETH Zurich, Dr. Melanie Paschke, Zurich-Basel Plant Science Center
► This course addresses PhD and Master's students

Scientific Communication Practice (also part of Science & Policy)

Scientists are under pressure to communicate with the public about their research. This pressure comes from funding bodies such as the EU, the SNF, the taxpayers, recruiting agencies and policy makers. Improved public and media communication is essential if the public is to better understand who scientists are and what they do. Also, communicating is a source of personal satisfaction. For scientists, it's worth learning the basics of communication early in their careers. This course provides a guide to effective science communication, in theory and practice.

Individual Performance and Assessment: Attendance and active participation during the two course days (16 hours). In the weeks between the two workshop days you should plan for available time for group work and individual work of min. 30-40 hours.

2 ECTS (60 learning hours)
Biannually (last 2021)
Lecturer:  Dr. Jacopo Pasotti

Scientific Presentation Practice

The participants of the course are going to 

a) learn and practice effective scientific presentations with seven simple elements which will be introduced by the lecturer; 

b) communicate in a stress-free, clear and individual way to various audiences (e.g. at conferences, seminars, job interviews); and 

c) they will learn how to prepare a logic structure and be an authentic presenter with a strong delivery.

Course Program

  • Conceptualization and planning of a presentation
  • Key elements of a clear and logic structure
  • Adding soft elements and authenticity
  • De-stressing before and during a presentation
  • Be convincing and clear (by language, by voice, by argumentation strings)
  • Non-verbal elements supporting the presentation
  • Leading the discussion: principles and advice

Individual Performance and Assessment: Interest in developing further, being self-reflective, giving and receiving substantial feedback.
You’ll need to prepare a scientific presentation of 10 min length in English between the first and second day.

1 ECTS (30 learning hours)
Annually (Spring term)
Lecturer:  Dr. Barbara Hellermann

Scientific Writing 1

This course is a foundation course in scientific writing skills. It offers writers practice in expressing themselves precisely, concisely and, above all, clearly when writing English for scientific purposes. Particular attention is paid to Organisation, Flow and Style. Participants will receive feedback on their writing and will have the opportunity to edit and improve texts written in English. The course serves as preparation for a second course, “Scientific Writing Practice 2: Writing Up Research in English”, which accompanies scientific writers as they produce the individual chapters of a research article in English.

Individual Performance and Assessment: Attendance and active participation during day 1 and day 2 (16 hours). In order to complete the course and gain their credit point, students will be required to complete a writing task between Day 1 and Day 2 of the course and submit it to the course instructor for evaluation (preparation work of 14 hours).

1 ECTS (30 learning hours)
Annually (Fall semester)
Lecturer:  Dr. Patrick Turko, USZ

Scientific Writing 2

This course is tailored for PhD students working in life sciences, who wish to improve their writing skills in English. The course emphasizes the importance of simplicity, clarity, and brevity to communicate science in an effective manner. During the course, participants will develop a critical approach towards the recognition of elements that make written communication weaker or stronger. Participants will improve their self-confidence towards the writing of scientific manuscripts and the communication of science as a whole.

The course covers the following topics: 1) Grammar and syntax. Where to position different types of words (nouns, adverbs, etc.) within a sentence. The importance of punctuation, and its use in scientific writing to avoid ambiguity. Breaking up long sentences. The use of active and passive voices. Removing redundancy. How to connect sentences. 2) Avoid ambiguity and vagueness. The use of “which, who, that”. The use of “a, one, the”. Latin words and numbers.; 3) The structure of a paragraph. Where to put new and old information. Breaking up long paragraphs. Readability tests and the use of spell checkers.; 4) Sections of a scientific manuscript. The importance of figures to draw a story-line. The title. The abstract. How Hollywood movie industry can help scientists writing better abstracts. How to structure the introduction, methods, results, and discussion. Hedging and criticism.

Individual Performance and Assessment: Practical activities will be carried out during the course. Students will be requested to complete the assigned homework. Homework include grammar exercises, the writing of a short essay (e.g. in the style of a Nature commentary on a recent scientific discovery, or the Working Life column of Science), and the writing of a mini-paper. Successful achievement of the credit point is based on course attendance and completion of assigned work.

1 ECTS (30 learning hours)
Annually (Spring semester)
Dr. Jacopo Marino, Paul Scherrer Institute (PSI)

Teaching science at the University

The first teaching experience should be effective, enjoyable, and personally beneficial. This course gives the basic knowledge, tools, and practice to have such an experience. Participants will learn to make scientific expertise accessible to students and build a repertoire of evidence-​based strategies for teaching abstract science topics to students and making them active and successful learners. We will show how to communicate science to novices as well as advanced students in science. 

Individual Performance and Assessment: The assignment must be completed to obtain 2 ECTS..

1 ECTS (30 learning hours)
Annually (Spring semester)
Sarah Petchey, UZH

Writing a Post-doctoral Grant

Research needs funding from third parties, mainly public funding providers. Postdocs are supposed to write research proposals to acquire funding for their research ideas and their team. But to successfully obtain these third-party funds it is essential to have an all-around convincing project proposal, which exposes the own research idea in a keen manner. 

In this training, participants will step-by-step learn to design a research project and write specific parts of a research proposal: the research plan, the impact chapter, the implementation, the career plan, the budget, the ethics, the gender aspects and other parts requested by the funding agencies the participants intend to address. They will furthermore discuss communication issues and how our messages are transported effectively to evaluation committees, including the presentation of the research group and CVs. To distinguish proposal writing from scientific (paper) writing is of key importance and therefore, elements in common and differences will be elaborated. 

Because the proposal writing process and the acquisition of funding remains a permanent task of university research staff, we will show how to streamline the creativity process and the proposal writing within the scientific workflow. We help you to make proposal writing an integrated, valuable, and pleasant activity! 

Target Group: Researchers, having a first project idea and a target funding instrument in mind 

Individual Performance and Assessment: ungraded semester performance. Course attendance and active participation: 16 hours. Preparation work and home work: 14 hours.

1 ECTS (30 learning hours)
Annually (Fall semester)
Lecturer:  Dr. Andrea Degen, eurelations AG, Dr. Melanie Paschke


Open Data Basics

by UZH School for Transdisciplinary Studies

course details

This introductory course familiarizes students with important topics related to research data; they learn about relevant components of research data management, including finding and reusing data (with licenses) and using data repositories. Data sharing and data publication, including aspects of data protection and personal data sharing, are also covered in this course. The course takes place as a one-day face-to-face event with blended learning components before and after the course.

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