Concordia University

http://www.concordia.ca/content/concordia/en/academics/graduate/calendar/current/fasc/coms.html

Communication Studies

Doctor of/Doctorate in Philosophy (Communication)

Admission Requirements. Applicants must have a Master of/Magisteriate in Arts in Communication or its equivalent. Applicants are selected on the basis of the excellence of their past academic records. Applicants must include a thoroughly articulated outline of a research project with their application.

Admission Criteria

  • Excellence and pertinence of academic background.
  • Promise as a scholar.
  • Relevance of proposed research to the program.
  • Feasibility of proposed research in terms of material and faculty resources.
  • Ability to understand English and French.
  • Availability of a faculty member to direct the applicant.

While there are no fixed quotas, admission is limited by the availability of the program’s faculty to supervise students.

Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions. The minimum TOEFL iBT score required is 106.

Language Requirements. Applicants should have a level of competence that would allow them to read technical material and follow lectures and discussions in English. Students may participate in discussions, write reports, examinations and theses in English or French, as they choose.

Requirements for the Degree

  1. Credits. A fully qualified candidate entering the program with a master’s/magisteriate degree is required to complete a minimum of 90 credits. These are apportioned as follows: courses and seminars, 18 credits; doctoral examination, 3 credits; thesis proposal, 6 credits; and thesis, 63 credits. Typical progress in the program consists of:

    Year 1
    • Courses: Integrative Seminar: COMS 800 (3 credits), plus three elective courses (9 credits).

    Year 2 
    • Doctoral Examination: COMS 815 (3 credits).
    • Doctoral Pro-Seminar: COMS 835 (3 credits), and one additional elective course from among the program's offerings (3 credits).

    Year 3 
    • Doctoral Thesis Proposal: COMS 890 (6 credits).
    • Doctoral Thesis Research: COMS 896 (63 credits).

  2. Courses. All students must enrol in Integrative Seminar (COMS 800) in the first term of Year 1; the Doctoral Pro-Seminar (COMS 835) (3 credits); and enrol in seminars and courses from among the program’s offerings for a total of 21 credits.Students are required to choose a thesis director before the end of their third term in the program.

  3. Supervision. Students are assigned an academic advisor when they first register. Students are required to choose a thesis director before the end of their third term in the program.

  4. Doctoral Examination. Students must successfully pass an examination based on the student’s research areas and interests. The committee for the examination is composed of three professors, including the student’s supervisor. Under normal circumstances, students enrol in the Doctoral Examination in Year 2 of the program. Normally, the written portion of the examination is defended orally by no later than the end of the Fall Term in Year 2. It is compulsory to finish the examination before registering in the Doctoral Pro-Seminar (COMS 835). It is also compulsory to finish the examinationbefore completing the thesis proposal. Students who fail this examination are permitted to take it a second time in the following term. Students failing a second time are obliged to withdraw from the program. Students should consult the program regarding specific examination procedures and requirements.

  5. Doctoral Pro-Seminar. In order to promote the growth of an intellectual community within the program, students are required to register in the theory and research pro-seminar known as the Doctoral Pro-Seminar. Students registered in this seminar engage in research design by workshopping their thesis proposals through iterative presentations with seminar participants, and through multiple written drafts. Students are then required to present a first draft of their thesis proposal. Students typically register in the Doctoral Pro-Seminar in Year 2 of their studies. It is compulsory to finish the Doctoral Examination (COMS 815) before registering in the Doctoral Pro-Seminar.

  6. Thesis Proposal. In the term following the completion of course work (usually the sixth term) students should submit a thesis proposal to their thesis director. Students must have completed the doctoral examination before registering for the thesis proposal. The thesis proposal should be completed within three years of the student’s first enrolment. The proposal must be defended orally before a committee of three professors appointed by the program. Students must demonstrate the viability of their project and their capacity to undertake doctoral thesis research. The proposal may be accepted, returned for modifications, or rejected. The rejection of a proposal results in the student being withdrawn from the program. A student whose proposal is accepted is admitted to candidacy for the PhD.

  7. Thesis Research. All degree requirements, including the thesis, must be completed within six years of the student’s first enrolment for full-time studies and eight years for part-time studies. The thesis must be based on extensive research in primary sources, make an original contribution to knowledge, and be in an acceptable literary form. For purposes of registration, this work is designated as Doctoral Thesis Research (COMS 896).

    The doctoral thesis is based on extensive primary research; the goal is to make an original contribution to knowledge. The traditional research thesis is ideally no less than 225 pages and no longer than 350 pages. It must be written in an acceptable literary form and represent a contribution to theoretical or empirical knowledge in the field of communication. Students also have the possibility to produce a research–creation thesis which is to meet the same standards of rigour as the traditional research thesis. The research-creation thesis includes a practical component of creation or innovative production in the field of media/communications or digital/computerized communications, as well as a written component of approximately 150 pages demonstrating the contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the field. A digital reproduction of the practical component must be attached to the manuscript at the time of submission.
     

Academic Regulations

  1. Academic Standing. Please refer to the Academic Standing section of the Calendar for a detailed review of the Academic Regulations.

  2. Residence. The minimum period of residence is six terms including two summer terms of full-time study, or its equivalent in part-time study. Of this, three terms must be taken consecutively.

  3. Time Limit. Please refer to the Academic Regulation page for further details regarding the Time Limit requirements.

  4. Graduation Requirement. In order to graduate, students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.
     

Core Courses

COMS 800 Integrative Seminar (3 credits)
This course proposes to engage first-year students in an epistemological conversation concerning different approaches to the conceptualization of communication and to the range of research problematics elaborated in the field and in the program. The expected outcomes include: a broad understanding of the relations between different domains within the discipline; the ability to recognize the links between epistemological assumptions, theory construction, the formation of research problematics and methodological approaches; a familiarization with the main fields of strength within the program; and the development of the ability to engage in dialogue with colleagues in different domains of research.

COMS 835 Doctoral Pro-Seminar (3 credits)
Note: Students who have received credit for COMS 830 may not take this course for credit.

Elective Courses

COMS 805 Research Workshop (3 credits)
This research workshop is supervised by the student’s thesis director and is intended to respond to a particular need unfulfilled by the program. It can take various forms, namely a directed readings program, a specific project within a research group, an elective course (including a masters level course) or a research or creation internship. The research workshop must be defined in a specific agreement between the thesis supervisor and the student, which is approved by the program director and added to the student’s file.
Note: Students who have received credit for this topic under a COMS 805 number may not take this course for credit.

COMS 822 Advanced Seminar in Research Methods I (3 credits)
This course provides an in-depth analysis of methodological problematics. Major contemporary methods of analysis are considered. Possible themes include research design, data-gathering techniques and instruments, and qualitative or quantitative procedures for data analysis. Specific topics may vary from year to year.

COMS 823 Advanced Seminar in Research Methods II (3 credits)
Students who have registered for COMS 822 must register for COMS 823 when taking a second Advanced Seminar in Research Methods course.
* Topics vary and are determined by the Joint Program Committee.

COMS 841 Cultural Industries (3 credits)
This course examines commodification and industrialization processes as well as the dissemination and consumption of culture within contemporary social formations, while focusing on one or more sectors of the cultural industries. The analytical approach considers themes such as characteristics of merchandising cycles, work and market organization, symbolic and cultural specificity of cultural-industries products, and relationships between technological innovation and cultural form.

COMS 842 Media Reception (3 credits)
This course examines media reception. It explores different theoretical and methodological approaches to the study of individual group practices and cultural consumption. The course looks at case-study material drawn from specific media or media genres (e.g. popular music, soap operas, children’s programming). The seminar considers such approaches as media ethnography, focus-group research, audience research, life histories, and other context specific micro-social approaches.

COMS 843 Communication Policy (3 credits)
This course examines the history and development of state intervention and regulation of the media. It may focus on communication policy nationally or internationally. The course considers such issues as the role of public policy in the development of public media and the public sphere, models of regulation and deregulation, the relations between regulatory agencies and interest groups, and the position of communication policies within larger governmental structures.

COMS 844 Uses of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) (3 credits)
Observing usage of information and communication objects and technical devices allows us to understand the effect of technologies within society. This course explores different theoretical and methodological approaches pertinent to analyzing ICT usages. With respect to course discussions and papers, particular attention may be paid to the interaction between user and technical device; articulation between artifact user and creator; usage situation within the organizational context; embedding of political dimensions in technological design; usage micro-situations and macro-sociological issues. Some major research traditions may be introduced, namely, dissemination of artifacts, sociotechnical innovation, common practices and significations, pragmatic approaches, social and socio-political appropriation of usages.

COMS 851 Speech Communication (3 credits)
This course examines discourse as action. Forms of discourse considered may range from interpersonal communication to public address. Possible theoretical approaches include ethnomethodology, conversational analysis, rhetorical theory, and performance studies.

COMS 853 Discourse and Representation (3 credits)
The course examines discourse with respect to representation. It focuses on the structuring of knowledge and identity within sign systems. Emphasis may range from the cognitive and psychological to the social and cultural.

COMS 854 Discourse within Social Formations (3 credits)
This course examines discourse as social mediation. Possible themes include the interrelation of power and knowledge, the organization of culture through signifying practices, and the production of discourse and social institutions.

COMS 861 Organizational Culture (3 credits)
This course examines how cultural analysis can be brought to bear in understanding organizational life. To this end, a range of theoretical approaches are drawn upon, including conversational analysis, ethnography, ethnomethodology, symbolic interactionism, enactment theory, and socio-linguistics. Aspects of organizations such as norms, rituals, folklore, traditions, common ideals, ideologies, shared symbols, core values and interaction are given particular attention.

COMS 864 Communication and Change in Organizations (3 credits)
This course addresses a major question within organizations at both theoretical and practical levels. It focuses on issues of innovation or transformation in an organizational framework using various approaches (functionalist, critical, post-modern, constructivist, interpretative). This perspective is pertinent for analyzing the context and process of change within cultural or development organizations as well as private, public or charitable undertakings.

COMS 873 Identities and Cultural Exchange (3 credits)
Within the context of electronic, information, and market-globalization forces, traditional geopolitical borders have become porous and easily penetrable. This course focuses on the hybrid identities emergent and negotiated from cross-cultural engagements and transnational communication at the beginning of the 21st century. Curricular materials include theoretical readings, case studies, and audiovisual materials focused on bridging cultural and political gaps.

COMS 874 Globalization of Communication (3 credits)
This course examines the emergence of a global communication system. Possible topics include international information flow, the circulation of communication products and communication issues as they are reflected in international accords and debates, and the role of media in issues of cultural development, democratization, and resistance to globalization.

COMS 875 Technology and Organization (3 credits)
This course analyzes and critiques various theoretical approaches which account for the relationship between technology and organization. It also provides the grounds for a communicational reflection on phenomena associated with the presence of information and communication technologies within organizations.

COMS 876 Media Technology as Practice (3 credits)
This course examines relationships between theory and practice in the work of individuals and groups of media practitioners across a range of genres and working contexts. Analysis can focus on the organization of the workplace, the creative process and social forces influencing media praxis.

COMS 877 International Communication and Development (3 credits)
This course traces the history of the different paradigms related to communication and development. It proposes a critical analysis of the theoretical perspectives suggested in both Southern and Northern contexts. The topics considered include Canadian and foreign institutions, policies, and programs, the role of international fora, as well as globalization and development. Case studies may focus on a specific region of the world.

COMS 878 Communication, Conflict and Peace (3 credits)
This course examines the various ways in which discourses of war, conflict, and peace are constructed and relayed through the mass media and other forms of technologically-mediated communication. In particular, how do the inherent properties of different modes of communication intersect with larger discursive formations to reproduce dominant definitions and unquestioned categories of social knowledge related to issues of peace and conflict? What role do the media play in shaping our understanding of war and warfare? How does the internet contribute to promoting both conflict and peace? How is peace represented as an end state that is desirable; for whom is peace being constructed; and what are the kinds of actions being promoted or encouraged in the name of peace?

COMS 879 Human-Computer Interactions (3 credits)
This seminar examines human-computer interaction models and research in various fields of media communication; virtual worlds, e-commerce, distance education, sharing of knowledge and resources, adaptive technologies, systems intelligence and customization. Other topics include principles of interface design and assessment in cognitive ergonomics.

COMS 880 Communication Networks and Organization (3 credits)
This course examines and analyzes communication networks in a constructivist perspective with respect to two main “social-networks” traditions (anthropological and structural). It considers communication networks according to the themes explored by scholars in the field such as diffusion, social support and capital, organizational phenomena, social movements or ICTs. The seminar also includes methodological aspects of the study of communication networks, their emergence, and their transformation.

COMS 882 Communication, Democracy and Power (3 credits)
This course considers the communicative structure and performance of democracy within modern society. Attention is paid to the discursive resources available to perform and affect democracy, the constitution of democratic agents, the role of media in constituting and maintaining a public sphere, communicative strategies, norms of regulation and power, the performance of difference and various aspects of public culture.

COMS 883 History and Historiography of Media and Culture (3 credits)
This course examines the development of communication technologies and the media in comparative and historical perspective. Themes of time, space, place and power and their reconfiguration in relation to media and communication are given particular attention. Class members are encouraged to think about how they might engage in research on the history of media as part of their dissertation projects. To this end, historiographical issues are examined throughout the course, along with methodological consideration given to how one works with documentary and archival records.

COMS 884 Cultural Theory in Communication Studies (3 credits)
This course introduces students to cultural studies and its entwinement with the development of the field of communications. Key readings in Marxist approaches to culture, British Cultural Studies, and its US and Canadian variants are covered in the first half of the course. The remaining weeks expand the national and conceptual specificity of the “cultural studies tradition.” Topics include cultural and representational politics, issues of identity, resistance, hegemony, and ideology.

COMS 885 Popular Culture (3 credits)
This course focuses upon the political dimension of popular culture and the intellectual challenges it poses to scholarship. It concentrates upon the conceptual and historical aspects of the study of popular-cultural forms, their production and consumption, as well as their assessment. The course introduces key ideas and issues in popular-cultural studies, beginning with the rise of interest in mass culture during the late-19th and early-20th centuries. It also encounters modes of examining and understanding popular texts and sites of popular consumption. Issues of subjectivity, community, ideology, cultural hierarchies, and mass society are addressed.

COMS 886 Alternative Media (3 credits)
This course examines the array of alternative communication practices that inform social movements emerging from the margins. It focuses on the conditions of their effectiveness and mechanisms that facilitate or impede their success, such as the external social forces that influence their cooptation, commodification and evacuation of revolutionary potential.

COMS 887 Strategies and Styles in Communication (3 credits)
This course considers the strategies and styles of communication as intentional symbolic activity. Communication is examined as a practice that responds to and transforms situations and contexts. Emphasis is placed on the form, manner, and consequences of such practices, as well as on the major paradigms informing different approaches to the study of discourse and mediated messages.

COMS 888 Discourses of the Body (3 credits)
Critical theorists have identified the body as a site of competing and multiple discourses. The course examines some of the ways in which different bodies have been constructed in the media and how these both constrain and provide latitude for the expression of identities. A central area of inquiry is the context of the historical and contemporary terrain that informs the expression and categorization of these identities.

COMS 889 Theories of Organizational Communication (3 credits)
This course surveys and juxtaposes how some of the main approaches to organizational studies have dealt with issues related to communication. Paradigms considered may include scientific management, human relations, cybernetics, political economy, rational decision making, cultural studies, feminism, and post-modernism. An effort is made to examine how these various approaches emerged historically in relation to shifting patterns of power, inequality, and technological change. Issues such as the nature of bureaucracy, domination and resistance, systematically distorted communication, and public relations/external communication are addressed.

COMS 891 Communication Technologies and Society (3 credits)
This course introduces students to and contextualizes the main paradigms with respect to research on social, economic and cultural aspects of information and communication technologies. Critical analysis focuses on their epistemological assumptions and premises, main categories of analysis, and privileged issues. Attention is paid to the political economy of the information system.

COMS 892 Epistemology and Methodology of Media Creation (3 credits)
This seminar seeks to develop a position of poiesis (production) and to differentiate it from the position of aisthesis (reception). In order to define the multiple aspects of media creation, the following themes are discussed: creationistic accounts and theses; the spectacle as ritual, achievement and imitation of reality; agents, machines and living organisms; functions of transmitting information and storytelling. Operational concepts considered may include granularity, linearity, interactivity, diegesis, spatialization, indexicalization and enunciation.

COMS 893 Advanced Seminar in Special Topics in the PhD in Communication (3 credits)
This seminar permits the in-depth examination of particular special topics in media and communication. Topics vary from year to year.

Examinations and Thesis Work

COMS 815 Doctoral Examination (3 credits)
COMS 890 Doctoral Thesis Proposal (6 credits)
COMS 896 Doctoral Thesis Research (63 credits)

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Master of/Magisteriate in Arts (Media Studies)

Admission Requirements. Normally the candidate must have a bachelor’s degree in communication (or equivalent in a cognate area) with a minimum of 3.00 GPA. Experience in media or a media-related field is an asset. Qualified applicants requiring prerequisite courses may be required to take up to 12 credits in addition to and as part of the regular graduate program. Applicants with deficiencies in their undergraduate preparation will normally be required to take qualifying course(s) as deemed appropriate by the program. Credits allowed for previous graduate work must be determined by the department and the university prior to entry to the program.

Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions. The minimum TOEFL iBT score required is 106 (or 623 for TOEFL PBT).

Requirements for the Degree

  1. Credits. Fully-qualified candidates are required to complete a minimum of 45 credits, including the three core program courses.

  2. Courses. COMS 600 Communication Theory (3 credits) is required for all students in the first year of the program. Students may enter one of the four options I, II, III or IV outlined below. Students elect an option after their first term of study with permission of the program director. The project option III is restricted to students with adequate and appropriate media experience. The program does not provide media training.

Academic Regulations 

  1. Academic Standing. Please refer to the Academic Standing section of the Calendar for a detailed review of the Academic Regulations.

  2. Residence. The minimum residence requirement is one year (3 terms) of full-time study, or the equivalent in part-time study.

  3. Time Limit. Please refer to the Academic Regulation page for further details regarding the Time Limit requirements.

  4. Graduation Requirement. In order to graduate, students must have completed all program requirements and attained a cumulative GPA of at least 3.00.

Master of/Magisteriate in Arts with Thesis (Option I)

Candidates are required to take the following:

  1. 9 credits: COMS 600 - Communication Theory; COMS 605 - Media Research Methods I; COMS 694 - Thesis/Research Creation Project Proposal;
  2. 3 credits: COMS 610 - Media Studies Seminar;
  3. 12 credits, chosen in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor and approved by the department’s graduate studies committee. If approved by the department’s graduate studies committee, and with the permission of the department concerned, up to 3 of these credits may be taken in cognate graduate courses offered by other departments in the university;
  4. 21 credits, COMS 695 - Thesis.

Master of/Magisteriate in Arts with Courses (Option II)

Candidates are required to take the following:

  1. 6 credits: COMS 600 - Communication Theory; COMS 605 - Media Research Methods I;
  2. 3 credits: COMS 610 - Media Studies Seminar;
  3. 36 credits, chosen in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor and approved by the department’s graduate studies committee. If approved by the department’s graduate studies committee, and with the permission of the department concerned, up to 9 of these credits may be taken in cognate graduate courses offered by other departments in the university.

Master of/Magisteriate in Arts with Project (Option III)

Candidates are required to take the following:

  1. 9 credits: COMS 600 - Communication Theory; COMS 605 - Media Research Methods I; COMS 694 - Thesis/Research Creation Project Proposal;
  2. 3 credits: COMS 610 - Media Studies Seminar;
  3. 12 credits, chosen in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor and approved by the department’s graduate studies committee. If approved by the department’s graduate studies committee, and with the permission of the department concerned, up to 3 of these credits may be taken in cognate graduate courses offered by other departments in the university;
  4. 21 credits, COMS 697 - Project.

Master of/Magisteriate in Arts with Major Research Paper (Option IV)

Candidates are required to take the following:

  1. 6 credits: COMS 600 - Communication Theory; COMS 605 - Media Research Methods I;
  2. 3 credits: COMS 610 - Media Studies Seminar;
  3. 24 credits, chosen in consultation with the student’s faculty advisor and approved by the department’s graduate studies committee. If approved by the department’s graduate studies committee, and with the permission of the department concerned, up to 9 of these credits may be taken in cognate graduate courses offered by other departments in the university;
  4. 12 credits, COMS 696 - Major Research Paper.

Courses

All courses are worth 3 credits unless otherwise noted.

COMS 600 Communication Theory
This seminar studies and evaluates the major historical and contemporary approaches to communication theory. The following approaches are covered: Processes and Effects, Functionalism; Symbolism and Cultural Studies; Institutional Studies and Political Economy.

COMS 605 Media Research Methods I
Prerequisite: COMS 600 previously or concurrently.
This seminar prepares students to critique literature from any of the major research traditions; to make basic connections between epistemology and problems of basic communication research; to be able to identify the research method most appropriate to personal areas of interest; to design a basic research project.

COMS 606 Media Research Practicum
Prerequisite: COMS 605 and permission of the Graduate Program Director.
This course is an individual research practicum offered on a tutorial basis under faculty supervision. It may be used to develop advanced skills in a particular media research methodology. For students enrolled in the thesis or project options, this course is used to develop the analytic or creative research program necessary to accomplish the thesis or project.

COMS 608 History of Media
Prerequisite: COMS 600 previously or concurrently.
This seminar examines the development of communications technology and the media in a comparative and historical perspective. Topics include the transition from orality to literacy, the print revolution, the rise of new image technologies and the mass press in the nineteenth century, electronic media and the modern nation-state, global information, and the emergence of a world media system.

COMS 610 Media Studies Seminar
This full-year course meets monthly to introduce students to issues of professionalization, careers in Media Studies research and practice, applying for funding, publication and dissemination of research, and presentations of ongoing faculty research and research-creation. An annual December colloquium for the presentation of second-year thesis and research-creation work is held. Required for first-year students, and recommended for continuing students.

COMS 614 News and Public Affairs
This seminar examines the principles and discourses of news and public affairs media. The truth-value of news and public affairs programming is considered in the light of selectivity of reporting, changes in news formats, and the emergence of “infotainment.” Topics may include institutional structures, organizational routines, ideologies, and norms of representation that influence the construction of the news.
Note: Students who have received credit for COMS 611, 612 or 655 may not take this course for credit.

COMS 622 Media Law
This seminar examines legislation relevant to the creation and distribution of media products. Topics may include copyright, libel, freedom of expression and censorship, privacy and contracts.

COMS 624 Media Management
The course is designed to provide participants with a practical and theoretical understanding of such aspects of management in the media enterprise as: leadership styles; goal setting; strategic planning; labour relations; ethics; budget control; communications consulting; and effectiveness evaluation. During the course, participants will examine various practices and problems in media management. The course begins with an analysis of management theory and relates to media institutions organizations. In addition, the program provides for advanced study of the social and cultural implications of communications and informations media, and of the analysis of the theory and professional practices of mass media institutions.

COMS 627 Political Economy of Communication
This seminar focuses on issues and problems related to media and cultural industries. Special attention is given to the production and distribution of cultural commodities. Topics for examination include the question of media ownership, the role of state agencies in media systems, and the economics of media institutions.
Note: Students who have received credit for COMS 626 may not take this course for credit.

COMS 628 Organizational Communication
This seminar considers major approaches to organizational communication, particularly as they relate to media enterprises. Various paradigms are considered both as theoretical frames and as forms of social practice that have emerged in relation to shifting patterns of power, inequality, and technological change. Topics may include communication networks, organizational culture, the nature of bureaucracy, systematically distorted communication, gendered communication, the impact of new communication technologies, and patterns of organizational domination and resistance.

COMS 630 Communication, Development, and Colonialism
This seminar focuses on theoretical, and political issues related to interpersonal and mediated communication in developing areas. Topics may include: the forms of colonialism (neo- and post-) cultural domination, participatory development, women and minority constituency groups, sustainable development, and globalization.

COMS 632 Media and Contemporary Culture
This seminar investigates the influence of contemporary media systems on cultural values. Special attention is given to the question of consumption of popular culture and to recent developments in cultural theory. Topics may include: media constructions of nation and identity, media consumption patterns, political culture, popular and entertainment culture.

COMS 634 International Communication
This course explores the manner in which culture, ethnicity and other factors interact and are transformed through the international flow of information, images, and technologies. The international relationship between media, communication institutions, and constituency groups is considered. Topics may include: the analysis of genres and images, issues of cultural and media imperialism, the global information infrastructure; national sovereignty perspectives, and international broadcasting.

COMS 635 Feminist Theory and Media
This seminar examines concepts and principles from feminist theory in relation to the study of media and communication. Topics may include: theories of gender, sex and sexuality, psychoanalytic theory, materialist cultures, bodies and geographies, technologies, and visual cultures.
Note: Students who have received credit for COMS 642A may not take this course for credit.

COMS 636 Ethics and Media
This seminar examines concepts and principles from ethical theory in relation to the study of media and communication. Possible topics include the ethical implications of media practices, the responsibility of media producers and audiences, the relationship of ethics to the pragmatics of communication, ethics and ethos, and the ethical implications of technology.
Note: Students who have received credit for COMS 620 may not take this course for credit.

COMS 640 Directed Study
Students may enrol in a directed study under faculty supervision in order to undertake a specialized study of theoretical or research-related topics. Permission of the Graduate Program Director is required.

COMS 642 Special Topics in Media Studies
This seminar permits the in-depth examination of particular special topics in media and communication. Topics will vary from year to year.

COMS 644 Media Policy
This seminar studies particular sectors of media policy and regulation in Canada. The policy sector under discussion may change from year to year and both historical and contemporary issues will be examined. Topics may include: broadcasting, film, satellite and cable distribution, multiculturalism, northern and remote access, telecommunications, and the internet.

COMS 646 Alternative Media
This seminar explores various alternative and resistant practices to mainstream media, including community radio and television, artists and community video, independent film, underground/pirate media, the internet, and other emergent cultural forms. Topics may include: practices and theories of the alternative, methods of critical analysis, media monopolies, democracy and resistance, cultural imperialism, culture jamming, and the possibilities of new technology-based forms.

COMS 652 The Canadian Documentary
This course examines non-fiction film, television and other media in Canada. Materials considered may include the documentary work of the National Film Board, independent film and video, and television docu-drama. These are examined from a variety of perspectives such as history, form and textuality, institutional analysis, and culture.

COMS 656 Forms and Genres in Communication
This seminar examines specific patterns in cultural forms and texts. Attention is paid to the production, consumption, and textual attributes of genres. Topics vary from year to year, and may include a focus on advertising, public advocacy, documentary, popular music, situation comedy, or feminist feature film.

COMS 660 Definitions and Futures of Media and Technology
This seminar explores the social, cultural, and psychological aspects of media and technology. Media are considered as both containers and expressions of culture. In addition, this seminar focuses on the impacts of new technologies and media. Topics may include the interaction of media and culture, the role of technology in the development of human consciousness and values, and the future of media in the light of emergent technologies and practices.
Note: Students who have received credit for COMS 643 or COMS 658 may not take this course for credit.

COMS 662 Theories of Representation and Interpretation in Communication
This course examines discourse and media texts as forms of representation. Representation is considered in terms of both figure and argument. The course also presents theoretically-informed approaches to the interpretation and criticism of discourses and media texts. Possible theoretical approaches include rhetoric, semiotics, hermeneutics, and speech-act theory.

COMS 670 Directed Study
Students may enrol in a directed study under faculty supervision in order to undertake a specialized study of theoretical or research-related topics. Permission of the Graduate Program Director is required.

COMS 680 Aesthetics and Media
This seminar examines concepts and principles from aesthetic theory in relation to the study of media and communication. In addition to considering general aesthetic principles, the course may focus on particular aural or visual media. Topics may include the relationship of medium to aesthetic form, aesthetics and reception theory, aesthetics and ideology, the mass reproduction and distribution of aesthetic objects, and the aesthetics of new media.

COMS 684 Media Research Laboratory
This production-based seminar explores the intersections of analog, electronic and digital media with a special emphasis on their convergence. Topics may include digital imaging, multimedia information design and programming, three dimensional media, virtual reality, world-wide-web, hypertext and hypermedia publishing.

COMS 694 Thesis/Research-Creation Project Proposal
Prerequisite: COMS 600, COMS 605, COMS 610, plus 12 elective credits.
Under the direction of a supervisor, the thesis or research-creation project topic and research plan are put into a formal proposal and submitted to a proposal committee and the Graduate Program Director for approval. Proposals must be defended by the end of the third term for students to continue in either the Thesis or Research-Creation Project option.

COMS 695 Thesis (21 credits)
Prerequisite: COMS 694.
The thesis is researched and written in the Fall and Winter of the second year of study. It is submitted in written form and is between 20,000 and 25,000 words in length. All theses are submitted no later than the last day of classes of the Winter term (for Fall convocation). The thesis format must be commensurate with Graduate Studies regulations and in a format stipulated by the rules of the Thesis Office. The thesis is defended in an oral examination.

COMS 696 Major Research Paper (12 credits)
Prerequisite: COMS 600, COMS 605, COMS 610, plus 24 elective credits.
The Major Research Paper is an extended essay/project equivalent to 10,000 words on a topic chosen in consultation with a full-time faculty member. The Major Research Paper may commence from topics and materials from previous courses, it may involve a sustained literature review of a specific issue or problem, or it may be a thematic investigation of a topic pertaining to media or communication studies. With permission of the supervisor and the Graduate Program Director, the Major Research Paper may include a research-creation component. This course is available only to those registered in Option IV, is normally taken in term five, and may not be taken concurrently with other courses.

COMS 697 Research-Creation Project (21 credits)
Prerequisite: COMS 694.
Specifically designed for students with significant media production experience. During the Fall and Winter of the second year of study, students choosing Option III will undertake a Research-Creation Project that deploys one or more media forms. The Research-Creation Project is comprised of an original media production or prototype in any genre, and a 10,000 word document comprising a literature and media review, a theoretical and methodological contextualization, a critical reflection on the project and its outcomes, and other areas of analysis as deemed necessary by the student and the student’s Project Committee. The Research Creation Project is submitted no later than the last day of classes of the Winter term (for Fall convocation), and is defended in an oral examination.
Note: Students who have received credit for COMS 696 may not take this course for credit.

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Diploma in Communication Studies

Admission Requirements. Entry into the program is based on a careful assessment of the individual backgrounds and goals of applicants who possess a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) with high standing from a recognized institution in a field other than communication. Applicants are required to submit a letter of intent of no more than 600 words outlining their background, academic and work experience, and career goals.  

Proficiency in English. Applicants whose primary language is not English must demonstrate that their knowledge of English is sufficient to pursue graduate studies in their chosen field. Please refer to the Graduate Admission page for further information on the Language Proficiency requirements and exemptions. The minimum TOEFL iBT score required is 106 (or 623 for TOEFL PBT).

Requirements for the Diploma

  1. Credits. Fully-qualified candidates are required to complete a minimum of 30 credits.

  2. Courses. All candidates are required to take 18 credits in core courses, and 12 credits in elective courses chosen in consultation with the Diploma Program Director. Core courses are COMS 505, COMS 506, COMS 510, COMS 562, COMS 569, and COMS 570.

Academic Regulations

  1. Academic Standing. Please refer to the Academic Standing section of the Calendar for a detailed review of the Academic Regulations.

  2. Time Limit. All work for the Diploma program must be completed within 6 terms (2 years) from the time of initial registration in the program.

  3. Graduation Requirement. In order to graduate, students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.70.

Courses

All courses are 3-credit, one-term courses unless otherwise stated.

Core Courses (Group A)

COMS 505 Introduction to Communication Theory and History
This seminar offers an introduction to communication theory, by situating media theories and technology in their historical and cultural contexts. Through lectures, discussions, and selected readings from the works of key theorists, this course explores and evaluates major historical and contemporary approaches to communication theories.

COMS 506 In the Field: Methods in Communication Studies and Practice
Prerequisite: COMS 505.
This course offers an introduction to communication research methods and provides an interdisciplinary approach to the interaction of media, technology, culture, and society.

COMS 510 Graduate Diploma Seminar
This full-year course meets bi-weekly to introduce students to the following topics: communication organizations and their public identities, internships and professional development opportunities, emerging trends in communications research methods and practice. Representatives from industry and faculty are invited to discuss their work and future trends in media studies and practice. This course is graded on a pass/fail basis.

COMS 562 Media Production: Sound
This course is designed to provide the student with a basic working knowledge of audio systems, both natural and electronic, to understand the various affective and psychological qualities of sound, and how sound may be structured into imaginative aural form. Lectures and Laboratory: average 6 hours per week.

COMS 569 Media Production: Moving Images
This course provides a foundation in the creative, critical and technical aspects of moving images, including an introduction to non-linear editing software.
Note: Students who have received credit for COMS 567 (Television) or COMS 568 (Film) may not take this course for credit.

COMS 570 Media Production: Intermedia
This course provides an introduction to new and developing digital technologies (primarily computer-based media) through historical, theoretical, and critical perspectives on media, culture, and society and includes basic concepts in software operating systems, communication design and digital media creation. Lectures and Laboratory: average 6 hours per week.

Elective Courses (Group B)

A selection from the following courses will be offered. Information about the particular offerings in a given year is available from the Department.

COMS 507 Advanced Scriptwriting for Media
Prerequisite: Submission of a sample of creative writing by June 30 and subsequent approval by the instructor.
This course provides an in-depth approach to writing for specific media. Emphasis is placed upon structure, story-telling, research, and the interplay of character and action. Different paradigms for both fiction and non-fiction are considered.

COMS 512 Discourses of Dissent
This course examines the forms and tactics of public discourses directed toward social change. Forms of public discourse that may be considered include speech, images, audiovisual works, as well as web-based sites or forms of communication. Emphasis is placed upon political protest, conflict and controversy, and mobilization. Themes explored include the development of speaking positions, the use of unconventional tactics, and the appropriation or rejection of received values.

COMS 513 Cultures of Production
Drawing on a range of recent field studies exploring the creative workplace (e.g. television production, the fashion industry, ad agencies, graphic design companies, the music business), this course frames commercial cultural production as a site of active agency, negotiation, and constraint through readings, discussion, and the design and execution of field research projects.

COMS 514 Production Administration
This course focuses on the language, skills and strategies necessary for producing media projects and events. Administration, organization, permits and permissions, fundraising, liability and contracts, team building, distribution and writing are just a few of the areas that are examined as students learn the skills necessary to be a producer.

COMS 516 Advanced Topics in Documentary Film and Video
This course provides an in-depth study of selected film and video documentary genres. Specific topics for this course will be stated in the Class Schedule.

COMS 518 Cultures of Globalization
This course examines the significance of communication technologies to the process of globalization, which has increased and accelerated the movement of people and commodities across the world. The resulting transnational networks of cultural, economic, political, and social linkages and alliances are considered, as is the role of media in engendering new forms of community and identity.

COMS 519 Communications and Indigenous Peoples
Focusing on Canadian First Peoples territories in the North and South, as well as selected circumpolar regions, such as parts of Australia and other areas of the world inhabited by indigenous peoples, this course examines from a global perspective the historical, theoretical, and cross-cultural content and contexts of aboriginal media and financing, audience research, product development, distribution issues, and policy formation. Broadcasting, print, and digital media case studies and materials are central components.

COMS 521 Communication Technologies and Gender
Feminist theories of communication technologies are used to critique the impact and meanings of these technologies in various spheres of cultural activity. Topics include the mass media, technological mediations in organizations and institutions, and the re-articulation of domestic and public spaces, such as the Internet and the World Wide Web. Special attention is paid to these electronic and digital technologies - or new media - and the communicational and representational possibilities they enable or foreclose. The class is conducted as an intensive seminar. Completion of a prior course in women’s studies or gender studies at the university level is recommended.

COMS 522 Perspectives on the Information Society
This course critically examines the political, social, and ethical dimensions of the information society within Canada and throughout the world. The development of the information society is placed in a socio-historical context. The significance of information and communication technologies is considered and the role of global information and communication policies is examined.

COMS 523 Media Art and Aesthetics
This course examines the aesthetic principles pertinent to the analysis and creation of works within communication media. Topics may include the field of perception, the role of cognition, the elements of composition, and the interplay of form and meaning. Both the static and dynamic aspects of visual and aural elements are considered.

COMS 524 Alternative Media
This course examines various alternatives to mainstream media. These alternatives may include community radio and video, independent film, the internet, and other emergent cultural forms such as the pastiche and parody of “culture jamming”. The concepts of mainstream and alternative are explored and the relationship between alternative media and social practices is considered.

COMS 525 Media Forecast
This course examines trends in film, sound, television, and other media for future applications. The course includes theory of media effects. Representatives from industry and government are invited to discuss future trends in media utilization. The course demands a theoretical and practical model for original or novel use of a medium or media mix.

COMS 532 Communication, Culture and Popular Art
This course offers an advanced examination of popular culture. With attention to such phenomena as hit films and television shows, stars, fans and pop art, this course focuses on the formation of hierarchies of value in cultural forms. This course examines how some cultural products come to be celebrated while others are dismissed. It also considers social and political consequences of divisions of high and low culture.

COMS 533 Semiotics
This course provides a detailed introduction to the semiotics of communication. The course considers the formal characteristics of signs and codes and examines how signs or texts produce meaning. Central to this course is the notion that sign-systems are fundamental to the production of knowledge and ideology. The course proceeds through lectures, an analytical reading of assigned texts, and student discussion and presentations.

COMS 534 Advanced Topics in Film Studies
Note:
Students who have received credit for this topic under COMS 517 may not take this course for credit.

COMS 535 Communications, Development and Colonialism
This course discusses the role media can play in indigenous and international development. The concept of development communications is examined in the context of debates within neo-colonial and post-colonial theories.

COMS 537 Race, Ethnicity and Media
This course addresses practical and theoretical issues of race and ethnicity that have become focal points for current debates in public cultural expression and media studies. The following themes are discussed: cultural/racial difference and its implications for media studies; the (mis)representation of multicultural and multiracial minorities in mainstream and alternative media; questions of access to arts and other cultural funding sources; implications of employment equity legislation in light of media budget cuts; and cross-cultural awareness programs vs. anti-racist training for media professionals. Theoretical readings which frame issues of cultural and racial representation are an integral part of this course.

COMS 538 Organizational Communication
This course considers major approaches to organizational communication in relation to shifting patterns of power, inequality and technological change. Topics include communication networks, organization culture, bureaucracy, systematically distorted communication, gendered communication, the impact of new communication technologies, and patterns of organizational dominance and resistance. Case studies of particular organizations are examined.

COMS 539 Political Communication
The relationships between forms of communication and political structures and processes are examined. Topics include freedom of expression, the role of communication in mediating conflict, the place of deliberation and debate in democracy, political campaigns and advertising, and the relationship between styles of communication and models of governance.

COMS 540 Acoustic Communication and Design
This course investigates contemporary theories of acoustic communication and design, such as Attali’s concept of noise, Schaeffer’s theory of the sound object, Schafer’s concept of soundscape, Chion’s cinema for the ear, and Augoyard’s repertoire of sound effects. Students engage in critical analysis of selected sound texts from various media.

COMS 541 Sexuality and Public Discourse
This course analyzes and explores the ways sexuality circulates in, and as, public discourses. Through a variety of conceptual formations and critical conceptualizations of ‘the public’ and ‘sexuality’, this course analyzes conceptually and critically how sexuality and the notion of the public are mutually constitutive. The seminar is interdisciplinary and draws upon works in feminist studies, queer theory, political philosophy, history, cultural studies and communication theory.

COMS 542 Advanced Topics in the Photographic Image
This course explores the themes and concerns associated with particular photographic practices. Through class discussion, visual materials, readings and writing projects, students develop a critical understanding of the history, language and aesthetics of the photographic image.

COMS 543 Film Criticism
This course provides an introduction to the assumptions, methodologies, and vocabularies implicit in important schools of popular and academic film criticism.

COMS 544 Reception Studies
This course examines recent theory and research trends in the area of media reception studies and audience agency. Topics may include discursive, institutional, observational and ethnographic approaches through readings, discussion, and the design and execution of field research projects.

COMS 545 Television Studies
This course examines recent research focusing on television. Topics may include technological and industrial changes, audience activity, new genres, and representational conventions.

COMS 546 Rhetoric and Communication
This course focuses upon communication as persuasive or as producing identification. Emphasis is placed upon the role of communication in civic affairs. Classical and contemporary approaches to rhetorical theory and criticism are examined.
Note: Students who have received credit for this topic under a COMS 530 number may not take this course for credit.

COMS 547 International Communication
This course explores historical and current parameters of international communications within the context of current global shifts in power/knowledge relations. Discussion topics are selected from among the following: key development and neo-colonial theories, cultural/media imperialism, globalization, the UN infrastructure, the Right to Communicate debates, national sovereignty issues, international broadcasting, cross-cultural audience reception research and effects theories, telediplomacy, the World Wide Web and the Internet, women as an international constituency group, and others.

COMS 548 Media Policy in Canada
This course acquaints the student with the historical development of media policy in Canada. It examines the government regulation of media as well as the strategies that have been put in place to foster and guide the development of media and cultural industries. It also considers the present state of broadcasting, telecommunications and internet policies in Canada, focusing on current problems and exploring alternative solutions.

COMS 553 Communication Ethics
This course allows students to confront issues of creative responsibility and ethical dilemmas in media practice. Emphasis is placed upon the relationship between production and theory at the level of ethical responsibility. Specific issues include ethical theories as applied to media, communication and information; the relationship of human values and technologies of information reproduction; the possibilities of critical media practice; identification of challenges emerging from experience in Communication Studies.

COMS 561 Communicative Performances and Interventions
This course examines how media can be used in order to intervene in social and cultural issues. Emphasis is placed on the performative character of interventions: they occur at a particular time and in a particular place, they are addressed to and seek to move particular audiences. Topics may include the history of performance strategies, the social and political character of aesthetic interventions, and the forms of such performances in relation to various media of communication.

COMS 580 Selected Topics in Communication Studies

COMS 583 Internship in Communication Studies
This course makes it possible for students to observe, study and work in the communications media field of their choice under the supervision of a Communication Studies faculty member and a media professional in the field. Permission of the Graduate Program Director is required.
Note: There is no remuneration for students participating in internships, which involve 120 hours on site.

COMS 585 Directed Study in Communication Studies
This course may be repeated as COMS 586.
Students may enrol in a directed study under faculty supervision in order to undertake a specialized study of research-related topics. Permission of the Graduate Program Director is required.

COMS 586 Directed Study in Communication Studies
Prerequisite: COMS 585.
Students may enrol in a directed study under faculty supervision in order to undertake a specialized study of research-related topics. Permission of the Graduate Program Director is required.

COMS 598 Advanced Topics in Communication Studies

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