Fall 2023 - CMNS 202 D100

Design and Method in Qualitative Communication Research (4)

Class Number: 1057

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 6 – Dec 5, 2023: Mon, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

    Oct 10, 2023: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    Nine CMNS units with a minimum grade of C-.



An introduction to interpretive approaches in communication inquiry. Topics include ethics, paradigms, conceptualizing the research process, documentary research, historical methods, discourse or textual analysis, ethnographic research, and performative research. Students with credit for CMNS 262 may not take CMNS 202 for further credit.


This course introduces several of the main methodological currents in the critical study of communication. Recognizing the socially constructed nature of communication, students will be presented with the tools to critically analyze, interpret, and intervene in the communicative world that surrounds them. As such, students will be introduced to a range of methods including documentary research, interviews, participatory action research, and discourse analysis. Students will be guided through the research process including selecting theoretical orientations, defining research problems and formulating research questions, selecting methods and developing research procedures, and, finally, gathering data, interpreting results, and reporting findings.

Students will be challenged to consider the research process in relation to the power dynamics of contemporary communication. In doing so, they will confront popular notions and ideologies with the tools of critical inquiry, ultimately in order to use these tools to contribute to scholarly and political debates about the world of communication. Furthermore, students will leave this class with a nuanced understanding of the history, power relations, and ethics of social research as well as their responsibilities as researchers.


  • Tutorial/Lab Attendance and Participation 10%
  • Weekly Lab Exercises 10%
  • Method Application Assignments (3 x 20%) 60%
  • In-Lecture Quizzes (2 x 10%) 20%


Course Format:


Course lectures will be held in person in AQ 3150. Please plan to arrive on time and having read all assigned materials for the week.


The instructor will hold office hours from 1:0 to 2:00 each Monday in K8661. These are drop in sessions, so no need to book ahead of time. If you need to meet outside of these times, please e-mail the instructor to book an appointment. Your TA will provide their office hours to you in tutorial.


In-person labs/tutorials will begin in Week 2.  Labs serve as the applied component of CMNS 202; each week will include a graded activity, often one that prepares you for other class assignments. Come prepared having read all assigned materials.

Course Policies:


Your tutorial or your TA’s office hours are the best time to deal with questions and requests, especially in cases where you would like to engage in discussion of the course material, get help with understanding the readings, feedback on your assignments, etc. Please email your teaching assistant before emailing the instructor, as your teaching assistant will have a better idea of what your specific situation is since they are in regular contact with you. When you email your teaching assistant or the instructor, please allow 48 hours for a response, and please do not expect a response over the weekend. When you email, please identify yourself as a CMNS 202 student by including “CMNS 202” in the subject line of the email.


Lab assignments will be due at the end of the lab session unless otherwise instructed. Unless otherwise instructed, all other assignments will be submitted on Canvas by 11:59pm on the day indicated on the syllabus. Late submissions will be penalized 10% per calendar day. Assignments will not be accepted after 2 weeks past the due date. If you need an extension on an assignment, consult with your TA at least a week before the original due date. Extensions will be granted on a case by case basis. Tutorial participation and lab exercises cannot be made up.


You are expected to complete all graded assignments in CMNS 202. Failure to complete any of the following components, or consistent absence will result in an incomplete (N) grade for the course. You must complete each of the following:

  • All 3 Method Application Assignments
  • Both Quizzes
Additionally, missing more than 5 tutorials or 5 labs will also result in an N grade.



All readings will be available digitally in the ‘files’ section on Canvas.


Your personalized Course Material list, including digital and physical textbooks, are available through the SFU Bookstore website by simply entering your Computing ID at: shop.sfu.ca/course-materials/my-personalized-course-materials.

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the semester are encouraged to assess their needs as soon as possible and review the Multifaith religious accommodations website. The page outlines ways they begin working toward an accommodation and ensure solutions can be reached in a timely fashion.