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Course descriptions

To see the full undergraduate course map, please view the Communication and Digital Media Studies Academic Calendar.

Year 1

  • COMM 1100U Introduction to Communication Studies

    This course introduces students to communication studies with an overview of key topics in the field as defined by the various courses included in this degree. It will examine how knowledge of communication theory, communication processes and communication skills can be applied to successful communication practices.

  • COMM 1320U Public Speaking

    This course covers the fundamentals of public speaking and teaches students how to present their ideas effectively and professionally. The lecture component of the course focuses on the principles of public speaking while the tutorials allow students to practise public speaking.

  • COMM 1420U Living Digitally

    This course introduces the study of digital media and society. It explores how the shift from analog to digital is changing the way we live, learn, work, shop, play and vote, and surveys debates about the present and future impacts of digital media technologies in society.

  • SSCI 1910U Writing for the Social Sciences

    This course is intended to help students develop and/or enhance writing skills that will increase their likelihood of success within the social sciences. Students will learn how to research academic papers, how to critically assess and use resources, and how to write different styles of papers. Throughout, emphasis will be on improving writing through such mechanisms as outlining, drafting and critically assessing their own work.


Year 2

  • COMM 2110U Communication Theory: Keyworks

    How do some of the world’s most important philosophers and big thinkers conceptualize communication technology and digital media? This course helps students learn to stand on the shoulders of the giants of North American, European and non-Western communication and media theory. Keyworks in the field will be introduced and applied through case studies of 21st-century communications, cultural and digital media practices.

  • COMM 2210U Researching Communication and Digital Culture

    This course introduces students to the major research approaches in communication, cultural and digital media studies, and acquaints them with a variety of field-specific qualitative and quantitative methods. Students learn to formulate research questions, evaluate and select appropriate methods, design a research project and interpret and report research findings to peers.

  • COMM 2220U The Media in Canada

    This course examines the history, economics and policies of the media in Canada. What is 'Canadian' about the media? How do media goods represent Canada? What policies protect and promote the 'Canadian' media industry, and how and why do they do this? These questions are addressed through a survey of Canadian publishing, film, radio, television, games and digital media.

  • COMM 2310U Writing and Publishing in the Digital Age
    This course introduces students to the theory and practice of professional writing, editing, distributing and exhibiting content through the web using digital publishing software.
  • COMM 2410U History of Communication Technology

    This course focuses on the history of communication technologies. Students learn about the development and impact of tablets, the printing press, the telegraph, telephone, phonograph, radio, TV, satellites, cybernetics, personal computers, artificial intelligence and smartphones.

  • COMM 2411U Media and Information Policy

    This course introduces students to media and information policy, focusing on key topics and debates in the field. How do law, policy and regulation encourage and discourage the creation, storage, flow, access and use of media and information? What are the contexts, normative foundations, history, structure, principles, standards, technological challenges, politics and economic pressures of media and information policy? By exploring how leading scholars, industry practitioners and policy-makers answer these questions, students become critical thinkers and informed professionals with the ability to understand and analyze media and information policy.

  • COMM 2530U Advertising and Society

    Why are ads so effective at persuading people to buy things? What makes the brands of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Coca-Cola so pervasive and popular? How does advertising drive developments in communications, entertainment and digital media? What theories, debates and controversies surround advertising? Students address these and related questions by exploring the economic, political, cultural, semiotic, ecological and ethical dimensions of advertising in a global consumer society.

  • COMM 2620U Interpersonal Communication
    This course considers the nature and function of interpersonal and small-group communication. It is designed to foster an understanding of language, culture and human behaviour that will contribute to improved communication skills in the students’ personal and professional lives. Workshop exercises are designed to improve the interpersonal skills necessary for effective communication, management, listening, conflict resolution, negotiation, selling and persuading.

Year 2 electives

  • COMM 2230U Screen Studies

    This course will utilize core critical concepts from film theory (psychoanalysis and feminism to contemporary Continental philosophy) and cultural criticism to analyze films, videos, mobile communication devices and gaming cultures, with reference to key thinkers, movements and contexts.

  • COMM 2240U Television

    In this course, students learn to think critically about television’s history, business, politics, genres, viewers and effects in society.

  • COMM 2270U Entertainment Goes Global

    This course examines the globalization of entertainment media. Students learn about the entertainment industry, the policies governments use to support it, the production of entertainment by workers around the world, globally popular blockbuster films and TV formats, and the ways entertainment may influence viewers and cultures while moving across borders.

  • COMM 2310U Advanced Professional Writing and Editing

    This course will build upon the first professional writing course to develop skills in efficient research, organization, composition and the development of persuasive, logical arguments. A series of writing projects will help students develop a rhetorically grounded approach for analyzing communication situations and then designing and writing for various professional situations and media platforms, from print to new media technologies. A portion of course time will be given to developing and practising editing skills.


Year 3

  • COMM 3110U Communication Ethics

    This course examines ethical issues as they arise in interpersonal communication, mass communication media (TV, newspapers, Internet, etc.), and in the formation of public policy and law. The dominant moral theories and approaches to moral decision-making will be analyzed and put to use to help students understand and evaluate concrete examples and case studies. The course will include topics such as objectivity, freedom of expression, representations of sex, violence and other human behaviour, privacy, confidentiality and obligations to the public.

  • COMM 3250U Pop Culture

    This course surveys and applies competing theories of popular culture in society through case studies of ads, films, TV shows, video games, comic books, music, celebrities and more. The course helps students to understand, contextualize and critically analyze pop culture.

  • COMM 3410U Digital Media Storytelling

    This course explores the theory, aesthetics and practice of digital storytelling. In the age of media convergence, one story’s plot, tropes and set of characters increasingly spread across many novels, comic books, films, TV shows, websites, social media platforms and video games. Students examine how writing, structuring, telling, reading, selling and experiencing stories is changing to hone their knowledge and understanding of the economic drivers, design and cultural resonance of trans-media digital storytelling.

  • COMM 3510U Work in the Information Age

    What is work? What is it like to work in the 21st-century information age? In this course, students learn about and self-reflexively research the conditions and experiences of work in the North American and global information technology, creative and cultural industries. Topics explored include:

    • automation
    • capitalism 2.0
    • creation, valuation and exchange of informational goods
    • creative industries
    • crowdsourcing
    • entrepreneurialism
    • e-waste
    • global 24/7 networked production
    • immaterial labour
    • internships
    • outsourcing
    • precarious, freelance and 'flexible' work
    • telework and virtual work
  • COMM 3610U Persuasion

    The concept of rhetoric-as-persuasion is associated with the power of language to liberate, emancipate, control and deceive the public. In this advanced course, students explore topics in the areas of the production of public knowledge, public argument, public action, public response, and public critique. To better understand the relationship between rhetoric, policy and ethics, learners will examine the consequences of particular rhetorical strategies in complex situations of everyday life, the workplace, and as part of the global public sphere.

  • COMM 3710U Intercultural Communication

    How does "culture" shape the way people communicate? What are the best practices for communicating within and across cultures? In multicultural societies, citizens from many cultural and linguistic backgrounds communicate at work, play and in politics, but much is often lost in translation, even when they speak the same language. This course examines the theories and practices of intercultural communication. Students will self-reflexively examine how culture shapes communication, hone their cultural sensitivity, and learn how to communicate effectively within many cultural contexts. 


Year 3 electives

  • COMM 3310U Communication, Communities and Social Change

    This course explores the theory, method and practice of 'communication for social change.' It presents a global survey of the ways in which communications media (traditional, electronic and digital) are used to bring about equitable and sustainable social changes within marginalized communities. The course will cover topics such as:

    • The history of communication for social change in development studies.
    • Tensions between 'top-down' models of development communication as modernization and 'bottom-up' models of participatory communication.
    • Communications media as support for the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
    • Political, economic and institutional barriers to social change.
  • COMM 3720U Communicating Identities

    What is identity? How are our identities shaped by ethnicity, gender, religion, education, class and the media? This course examines identities through the lense of communication theory and as they relate to sensitive social issues, such as stereotyping and oppression. Students will investigate how people construct, differentiate and perform their identities in relation to others. They will also interrogate how and why the media may represent, underrepresent, and misrepresent identities in society. Students will subsequently understand how communications shapes identities and reinforces and challenges power relations in society.

  • COMM 3740U - From Pong to Pokémon GO: Digital Games Studies

    Video games are an increasingly prominent part of everyday experience. Games and gaming are becoming a core component of how we communicate, learn, relax, socialize and engage with the world around us. In this course, students will explore the cultural impact, meanings and uses of video games and become immersed in the emerging field of game studies. Core issues in game studies, such as play and pleasure, storytelling and genre, and representation and production will be introduced as part of a broader emphasis on games’ cultural and critical contexts. By the end of the course, students will have a critical understanding of how video games shape and are shaped by the cultures in which they exist.


Year 4

  • COMM 4261U Tweet, Friend and Follow Me: Understanding Social Media

    This course is an advanced examination of the theory, practice and effects of social media technologies including Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter. It examines how different individuals, groups and organizations interact with different publics via social media to achieve their goals, and highlights ethical issues surrounding the economics, politics and cultures of social media.

  • COMM 4420U Digital Media, Politics and Democracy

    Digital media technologies weigh heavily on the quality of our lives as citizens and on the quality of our political environment. Do social media promote political expression? Do mobile devices contribute to civic engagement? Are virtual gaming environments arenas for political discourse? Can big data contribute to digital activism? Students who take this course will address these and similar questions about the relationship between digital media technologies and the future of our political system.

  • COMM 4510U Public Relations

    This course examines the theory, strategies and ethics of public relations (PR) in society with reference to historical and current examples. This course explores ways of conceptualizing the public, including the public sphere, media publics and counter-publics, PR, public opinion and publicity. It also attends to:

    • The historical development of the PR industry.
    • Critical debates concerning PR and democracy.
    • The relationship between PR firms and the news media.
    • Organizational PR (crisis communications and reputation/brand management).
    • The PR strategies employed by states, businesses and front groups (i.e. think-tanks and lobbies).
    • Old and new PR media (print, radio, TV, the Internet).
  • COMM 4610U Communication and Conflict Resolution

    This course allows for students to explore communication and conflict resolution at a variety of levels including intrapersonal, interpersonal, group, organizational and global conflict. Students are exposed to issues such as:

    • Personal conflict relating to beliefs, attitudes, values, and worldviews.
    • How communication can help (or hinder) interpersonal relationships.
    • Communication and conflict in groups such as tribes, gangs, or social collectives.
    • How communication strategies are meaningful in conflict amongst organizational systems such as business/economic institutions, including schools, health care and governments.

    The course also considers communication and conflict on a broader level by examining political relationships between nations, and peoples’ relationships with the natural world. Students are exposed to practical strategies for using communication to resolve conflict and build understanding at both the personal and global levels.

  • COMM 4710U International Communication

    This course examines communications and media in the context of international relations. What roles do communications technologies and old and new media play in global politics? How do they intersect with and shape international relations between states, economies, and cultures?  To answer these and related questions, students examine theories, topics and problems in the study and practice of international communication.

  • COMM 4120U Contemporary Issues in Communication

    This course’s topics will change regularly to follow current development and problems related to communication. By focusing on timely, relevant and important issues in communication studies, the students will gain an understanding of new areas of research.


Year 4 Electives

  • COMM 4140U Visual Rhetoric

    This course introduces students to the theoretical foundations of the field of visual rhetoric. By learning a vocabulary of visual meaning-making based on gestalt theory, visual semiotics, discourse analysis and visual culture, students explore how visual texts can be rhetorical or persuasive across a multitude of visual genres. Analysis will range across print-based texts, moving images and digital content.

  • COMM 4210U Special Topics

    In this course students will undertake in-depth explorations of selected topics in communication, culture and information technology. Topics will vary from year to year based on faculty interests and availability of visiting scholars.

  • COMM 4530U Research within Communities: Alternative Methods for Social Sciences

    This course will provide an understanding of participatory modes of research for social change by drawing upon traditions such as action research, co-research, participatory theatre, militant ethnography, and institutional analysis. This course is designed for students interested in social activism.


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