How to Give a Scientific Seminar

Course Number: 
MCB 512
Course Type: 
Career Development
Currently Offered: 
Meeting Time: 
T TH 1:30 - 3:00 pm
Instructor (MCB Faculty): 
Bai, Jihong
Instructor (MCB Faculty): 
Biggins, Sue
Class Size: 
Course Description: 

A crucial part of a scientific career is the ability to effectively deliver a research seminar. This course will focus on all aspects of giving a seminar and teach students how to introduce the research topic, how to make clear and effective slides, and how to explain methods, data and conclusions in a clear manner. Students will prepare their own research seminar throughout the course. Each week they will practice a part of it and receive feedback from other students and the instructors.  By the end of the course, students will have an entire seminar about their thesis project prepared and will be videotaped. The course will also give examples of good and bad seminars and help students learn how to communicate with non-scientists about their research.

Learning Objectives: 
  • Learn the overall strategies of delivering an effective seminar
  • Provide an opportunity for students to practice each section of their talk and obtain feedback
  • Learn how to effectively evaluate other student’s presentations
  • Learn how to answer questions at the end of the talk
  • Learn how to prepare effective slides
Course requirements, examinations and grading: 

Assignments (100%)

  1. Presentation of introduction (25%)
  2. Presentation of methods and data (50%)
  3. Presentation of conclusion and questions (25%)

Sample Schedule:

Week 1: Introduction to giving a research seminar, how to talk to non-scientists about their research (lecture, discussion, assignment)

Week 2: The seminar introduction - preparation of background material (discussion, assignment)

Weeks 3 and 4: How to deliver methods and data (discussion, assignment)

Week 5: How to conclude a lecture and answer questions (discussion, assignment)