Summer 2024 - CMNS 202 D100

Design and Method in Qualitative Communication Research (4)

Class Number: 1004

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2024: Mon, 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 approaches to qualitative communication research. Qualitative methodology questions the very nature of media and social phenomena which are often taken to be “natural” and “common sense” in our everyday life. Recognizing the social construction of reality, students are expected to deconstruct these phenomena with a wide range of qualitative methods including documentary research, interviews, discourse analysis, participant action research, and, etc. In detail, students will learn how to choose a theoretical orientation, how to define research problems and formulate research questions, how to select research methods and design research procedures, and finally, how to gather data, interpret results and report findings. In addition to this, students will engage in critical and reflective discussions of research ethics and their responsibilities as researchers.

Throughout the semester, students will be challenged to consider the research process in relation to the power dynamics of contemporary academia and knowledge production. This will enable students, as researchers, to understand the relationship between knowledge and power and how various methods enact power in distinct ways, thereby shaping differences in their respective processes of knowledge production. Instead of carrying out extensive library research, students will be required to conduct research assignments, confronting real-life issues with the tools of critical inquiry, and ultimately contribute to scholarly and political debates about the world around them.


1. Understand the relationship of knowledge to power.
2. Understand your own role as a researcher.
3. Differentiate between qualitative and quantitative methodologies.
4. Basic applications of qualitative methods and key considerations when choosing to work with them.
5. Understand the ethics and politics of doing research.
6. Critically examine what appears as ‘common sense’ and ‘natural’ in everyday life.


  • Tutorial Attendance and Participation 10%
  • Weekly Lab Exercises 10%
  • Method Application Assignments (3 x 20%) 60%
  • In-Lecture Quizzes (2 x 10%) 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). For further information see:



All the readings will be provided through 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:

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website 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.


Students with a faith background who may need accommodations during the term 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.