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School of Communication | Faculty of Communication, Art and Technology Simon Fraser University Calendar | Spring 2018

Communication

Doctor of Philosophy

The School of Communication draws on a variety of perspectives, but it is most readily distinguished by the fact that it treats communication as a humanistic social science, with both theoretical and applied dimensions. Students explore communication theory and practice, and are encouraged to apply research and theory to issues and problems in contemporary societies and cultures.

Admission Requirements

Admission requirements will normally include a master’s degree or an exceptional record of undergraduate and/or graduate work in a relevant area of study. Enrollment is strictly limited.

For general university admission requirements, see Graduate General Regulations. In addition, applicants will provide

  • an online application along with the application fee
  • all official transcripts in sealed envelopes
  • a two to three page succinct account of their past academic experience, which would include scholarly work, research accomplished or in progress, relevant teaching experience and degree of responsibility for course content
  • samples of scholarly writing, research reports, or other material that is relevant to the applicant's research objectives
  • three references (at least two of whom should be familiar with the applicant’s academic work) submitted online.
  • a brief outline of the applicant’s research objectives, with representative bibliographical references and other source material, where applicable, including a statement of interest with an explanation or account of how they see their research objectives fitting in with the School of Communication and potential supervisors
  • a curriculum vitae

The application deadline is January 15. The committee announces its decisions before the last week of April. Students enter in the fall term.

Fields of Study and Research

Faculty resources support graduate studies in a range of areas of expertise that can be generally summarized by the following thematic clusters.

  • Media and culture: media analysis; media education; media and democracy; advocacy; cultural forms and genres; media production and design; memory and post-colonial studies.

  • Politics and political economy: media governance; cultural policy; intellectual property; media industries and markets; communication and social movements; media systems and institutions; knowledge systems.

  • Science, technology and society: history of communication technology; surveillance and citizenship; health informatics; philosophy of technology; technological innovation and social change; crisis and emergency communication; information society and economy.

  • Other themes of research and study cut across all of these thematic clusters, and are foundational to all research and training in the school, among them: globalization, policy, and identity studies. All clusters consider theory, history, and methodology.

Advising and Supervision

Students are advised to read section 6 of the General Regulations and the school’s Guidelines for Supervisory Committees.

Upon admission, students are assigned an interim advisor. The student selects a senior supervisor and, in consultation with their senior supervisor, selects two or three other faculty members for a supervisory committee by the beginning of the third term. Although the graduate studies committee endeavors to select interim advisors with expertise in the student’s research area, there is no obligation to choose the interim advisor to be senior supervisor.

Students have the right to discuss their programs and status with the graduate program chair, to ask for a review of any recommendation or grade, and to appeal committee, supervisor or faculty decisions.

Program Requirements

Doctoral candidates complete course work, comprehensive exams, a dissertation proposal, and submit a dissertation which demonstrates an original contribution to the field of communication.

Course Groups

Graduate courses are divided into six groups.

Group 1 Surveys of History and Theory

This course group contains survey courses that define and map the field and expose students to faculty interests and research programs.

CMNS 800 - Contemporary Approaches in Communication Studies (5)

This course surveys current interdisciplinary perspectives in communication studies and theory. It is normally offered in the fall term, and expected in the first year of graduate study.

CMNS 802 - History of Communication Theory (5)

A survey of classic works, issues and debates in communication theory.

Group 2 Research Design and Methods

This course group contains research methods and methodology courses that help with research projects.

CMNS 801 - Design and Methodology in Communication Research (5)

A survey course which examines the problems, methods and theoretical assumptions in communication research using case studies of research design and methods. Students may design a research project and conduct a small pilot study in a selected area. Normally offered in the spring term and expected in the first year of graduate study.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G200 Frederik Lesage
Tu 11:30 AM – 3:20 PM
SSCK 8652, Burnaby

Group 3 Research Area Courses

This course group contains the school’s various research area and selected topics courses.

CMNS 815 - Social Construction of Communication Technologies (5)

A study of the social theory of information technologies, examining issues affecting computer-mediated communication.

CMNS 830 - Media & Cultural Studies (5)

Examines current debates in media and cultural studies, including hegemony, biopower, affect, subjectivity, cultures of capitalism and cultures of resistance.

CMNS 840 - Political Economy of Communications (5)

A study of the political, economic and social process that produces the structure and policies of mass media, and of telecommunication agencies in their historical setting.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Dal Yong JIN
Th 1:30 PM – 5:20 PM
HCC 1525, Vancouver
CMNS 855 - Selected Topics in Communication Studies (5)

Specialized one-time graduate course offerings on topics related to the current research of school faculty of visiting professors.

CMNS 856 - Graduate Seminar (5)

Advanced work in an area of specialization. Review and evaluation of research in progress.

CMNS 857 - Selected Topics in Communication Studies (5)

Specialized graduate course offering on a topic related to the current research of school faculty or visiting professor.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G100 Davina Bhandar
Mo 10:30 AM – 2:20 PM
HCC 2290, Vancouver
CMNS 858 - Selected Topics in Communication Studies (5)

Specialized graduate course offering on a topic related to the current research of school faculty or visiting professor.

CMNS 859 - Acoustic Dimensions of Communications (5)

Special topics in sound and communication studies with emphasis on specific problems in psycho-acoustics, theories of sound cognition and information processing, soundscape studies, acoustic design, community noise surveys, media analysis and related technology. Students will gain experience in designing and conducting research projects in one of these areas. Prerequisite: CMNS 359 or equivalent.

Group 4 Research Internship and Fieldwork

This course group contains courses, in which students complete field work, or work and study in a professional setting.

CMNS 881 - Research Internship (5)

Work and study in an approved professional setting.

CMNS 882 - Research Field Work (5)

External research beyond regular contact with the University.

Group 5 Directed Readings and Studies

This course group contains courses, in which students perform research and/or reading under faculty member supervision.

CMNS 850 - Directed Readings and Research (5)

Pursuance of particular areas of interest related to a student's program.

CMNS 851 - Directed Studies (5)

Pursuance of interest in specific areas, including field studies related to the student's program. May include work and study in supervised professional settings.

CMNS 880 - Directed Readings and Research (5)

Supervised enquiry in concentrated areas of specialization.

Group 6 Colloquia and Theses

This course group refers to the course designations for work on dissertations in process, and for comprehensive examinations.

CMNS 895 - Comprehensive Examination (6)

Examination of three areas of which one must be on the theoretical or methodological framework/procedures indicated by the proposed dissertation. S/U standing only. The exam may be retaken once in the event of unsatisfactory performance.

Course Requirements

Candidates normally satisfy the following requirements.

Students complete a minimum of nine graduate courses for those only with a bachelor’s degree, or five graduate courses for those with a master’s degree.

The graduate studies committee may require additional courses depending on the student’s background and dissertation project. These courses are normally completed before completing the comprehensive examinations, or beginning a dissertation.

Students complete two courses from Group 1 Surveys of History and Theory as follows.

CMNS 800 - Contemporary Approaches in Communication Studies (5)

This course surveys current interdisciplinary perspectives in communication studies and theory. It is normally offered in the fall term, and expected in the first year of graduate study.

CMNS 802 - History of Communication Theory (5)

A survey of classic works, issues and debates in communication theory.

As well students are required to complete one course from Group 2 Research Design and Methods as follows.

CMNS 801 - Design and Methodology in Communication Research (5)

A survey course which examines the problems, methods and theoretical assumptions in communication research using case studies of research design and methods. Students may design a research project and conduct a small pilot study in a selected area. Normally offered in the spring term and expected in the first year of graduate study.

Section Instructor Day/Time Location
G200 Frederik Lesage
Tu 11:30 AM – 3:20 PM
SSCK 8652, Burnaby

For those entering with a master’s degree, students complete a minimum of two additional five-unit courses, at least one of which is selected from within the school, and may include other courses from Group 1 Surveys of History and Theory and Group 2 Research Design and Methods (see above).

For those entering without a master's degree, a minimum of six additional courses is required. A minimum of four of these must be completed from the school’s course offerings.

For all students, a maximum of two courses may be completed from Group 4 Research Internship and Fieldwork and Group 5 Directed Readings and Studies, but no more than two of Group 4 or Group 5 may be completed with the same instructor, except with graduate studies committee permission.

Language Requirement

Students will be required by the communication graduate studies committee to demonstrate adequate command of any language that is essential to the completion of their dissertations.

Comprehensive Examinations

In consultation with their supervisory committee, students must apply to complete the comprehensive examination, following completion of required course work, and normally no later than their sixth term. Upon passing, the student is admitted to full degree candidacy. The examinations may be retaken once.

To prepare for the comprehensive exams, students select and design two comprehensive fields which may be related to the dissertation topic itself or carve out an area of potential teaching competence. At least one examination shall survey a range of theoretical or methodological frameworks within the study of communication to meet a breadth requirement.

The student submits definition papers, including bibliographies, on each of the fields in preparation for both written and oral examinations.

Dissertation Proposal

Students enroll in CMNS 899 in the term immediately following completion of the comprehensive exams, and will present a full dissertation proposal to their supervisory committee. Specific comprehensive examinations and dissertation proposal guidelines are available from the graduate program co-ordinator.

Original Dissertation

PhD students complete a doctoral dissertation that demonstrates an ability to make an original contribution to the field of communication.

Academic Requirements within the Graduate General Regulations

All graduate students must satisfy the academic requirements that are specified in the Graduate General Regulations, as well as the specific requirements for the program in which they are enrolled.