The Graduate Diploma in Communication Studies program provides an intensive introduction to the field of communication and is open to students possessing a bachelor's degree in a field other than communication. The Diploma's main objectives are threefold: 1. an intensive introduction to the communication media field 2. a stepping stone to further graduate studies in a cognate field and 3. professional development at a graduate level.
Graduate Diploma in Communication Studies
Core (required) courses are offered on an annual basis.
COMS 505 Definitions of Media and Technology I
This seminar-lecture course intends to situate media and technology in their historical and cultural contexts, to examine them as extensions of human perception and work, to consider forecast relationships, and to explore the epistemics of communication media.
COMS 506 Definitions of Media and Technology II
This course is a continuation of COMS 505. It is an exploration of media as a symbolic environment or as "containers" of culture. It provides a grounding for the art of media interpretation through an interdisciplinary approach to the interaction of media and culture, technology and human values and cross-cultural communication.
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: Film and Video
This course provides a foundation in the creative, critical and technical aspects of 16mm film and digital video production, including an introduction to nonlinear editing software. Through collaborative assignments, students discover the shared and distinct language of each medium. Lectures and Laboratory: average 6 hours per week. 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 program.
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 pubic 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.
COMS 585 Directed Study in Communication Studies
This course may be repeated as COMS 586.
Students may enroll 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