A Quick List of Must-Take Communication Courses

May 27, 2023

By Isabella Cheung

As the 2022/2023 school year heads to its conclusion, degree-planning and class selection looms ahead. Whether you’re starting your first year in SFU’s School of Communication or preparing to wrap up your degree, here’s a brief list of communications[KT1]  courses I’d recommend, as well as some advice as to how to make the most of them.

CMNS 201: Empirical Communications Methods

One of the mandatory 200-level courses in the School of Communication is CMNS 201. This course serves as an introduction to working with surveys and statistical data collection. As a ‘disliker’ of most things number-and-math related, I was surprised at how much I loved this course. CMNS 201 significantly helped my understanding of the way that statistics work in a quantitative study environment. I highly recommend taking this course with Chris Jeschelnik. He is super understanding and very thorough with his teaching of the data analysis software, SPSS. My one piece of advice for this course would be to try to attend all your labs because those are where the bulk of your learning takes place.

CMNS 202: Design and Method in Qualitative Communication Research

This probably isn’t as helpful, seeing as most of the courses that I’ve recommended are mandatory courses, but both CMNS 201 and 202 are so valuable when it comes to learning hands-on media research approaches. CMNS 202 allows you to conduct your own interviews, discourse analyses, and autoethnographic research assignments. Lab sections are used to learn NVivo, software that can be used to conduct in-depth textual analyses. The interview portions were my favourite part of this course, as the experience that we had with organizing them was something that I hadn’t learned anywhere else.

CMNS 348: Globalization and Media

CMNS 348 places emphasis on the interconnectivity of the world. I am currently taking CMNS 348 with Professor Byron Hauck. Although the material in the first few weeks is a little dense, it lays important groundwork for understanding how media becomes globalized and to what degree this occurs. Lectures are three hours and are split into three (relatively) even sections. The first hour is spent watching student presentations and dissecting the readings, the second hour is devoted to lecture material, and the last hour is filled with discussions around key themes and concepts touched on with each week’s course materials.

CMNS 353: Topics in Technology and Society - Tech and Social Justice

CMNS 353 is one of many courses that change depending on the semester. These can vary from topics on AI and algorithms, to disruptive tech and blockchain. I took this course with Professor Stephanie Dick, who lectured about technology and social justice throughout history. Because of the historical element, earlier parts of the course were a little dense, but gaining an understanding of these concepts allowed for lots of flexibility with papers and projects. Professor Dick was also very passionate about what she taught and engaged the class with lengthy discussions.

CMNS 386/387/388: Special Topics in Communication [Black TV Studies]

While I’m not sure if Professor Victoria Thomas will be teaching this specific topic again, I recommend taking a ‘special topics’ course. Learning about a specific topic within the field of communication, such as Black TV studies or Indigenous media, helps to narrow down fields of interest within the School of Communication. Black TV studies introduced me to film studies with topics of race and sexuality in mind.

There are lots of options for courses and all of them are guaranteed to positively impact your learning process. These were five of the courses that stuck with me the most throughout the duration of my degree.