Fall 2020 - CMNS 259 D100

Listening, Culture and Society (3)

Class Number: 6852

Delivery Method: Remote


  • Course Times + Location:

    Tu 10:30 AM – 12:20 PM



An introduction to sound as a communications medium and listening as a cultural as well as perpetual practice. Designed to develop the student's perception and understanding of sound and its behaviour in the interpersonal, social, environmental, media and creative fields. Explores a variety of cultural themes related to sound and listening with special reference to acoustic design and sonic environments. Breadth-Humanities/Social Sciences.


This course is an introduction to sound as a communicative medium and the practice of listening as a cultural as well as a perceptual practice. The course is designed to develop students’ perception and understanding of sound and its behaviour in the interpersonal, social, environmental, and technologically mediated spheres of cultural life. We’ll explore a variety of themes related to: sound and ways of knowing in the anthropocene; acoustics and architecture; voice; soundscape monitoring and analysis; acoustic ecology; community noise research; sonic art; and urban design from an aural perspective. Student work will consist of three substantial soundscape projects, short listening journals, a terminology quiz, in-class participation and general engagement in the course content, including via dedicated channels on social media. Assignments will be judged according to imagination, technical and creative competence, scholarly quality of written reports, command of terminology, and familiarity and engagement with the weekly readings.


  • Soundscape Analysis Project 20%
  • Sound Journals ( 2x 10% each) 20%
  • Quiz 10%
  • Final Project 30%
  • In-Class Work and Participation 20%


The school expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. In addition, the School will follow Policy S10.01 with respect to Academic Integrity, and Policies S10.02, S10.03 and S10.04 as regards Student Discipline.  [Note: as of May 1, 2009, the previous T10 series of policies covering Intellectual Honesty (T10.02), and Academic Discipline (T10.03) have been replaced with the new S10 series of policies.]  

Late assignments are subject to a 5%/day late penalty. This course has a zero-tolerance policy for academic dishonesty or plagiarism. Please familiarize yourselves ahead of time with SFU’s policies and how to avoid it, and check with us if you’re unsure how to use or cite materials: http://www.lib.sfu.ca/help/academic-integrity/plagiarism.

Please note that you are expected to engage in professional behaviour and communication. Your academic standing is your responsibility. Take care to plan your term well and ask for help where needed ahead of time. There are a multitude of resources available to you in the library’s Learning Commons, e.g. writing help, tutoring, and referencing help. In the case of technological failure, the onus is on you to ensure the (right) assignment has been successfully submitted (online).



Schafer, R. Murray, Our Sonic Environment and the Soundscape: The Tuning of the World. (reprint) Destiny Books, 1993. ISBN-13: 978-0892814558.
ISBN: ISBN-13: 978-0892814


Other required readings will be made available to students on Canvas.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).