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School of Communication Simon Fraser University Calendar | Spring 2018

Communication

Master of Arts

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 requires a bachelor’s degree in communication (with at least a good second-class standing) or an equivalent degree in an interdisciplinary or humanities program, in one of the social sciences, or in socially oriented information systems, or biological sciences. However, qualified students will be accepted only if the communication graduate studies committee finds a suitable senior supervisor. Besides applications from communication students, the school encourages applications from those with experience in the humanities, social or biological sciences, and interdisciplinary studies.

All applications should be directed to the graduate studies committee and, in addition to general university requirements, will include the following.

  • an online application along with the application fee
  • all official post-secondary transcripts in sealed envelopes
  • a three to five page succinct statement of interests and goals, including an account of relevant academic and personal background, and a curriculum vitae
  • two samples of scholarly and/or other written work relevant to the applicant’s objectives and any tapes, films, etc. the applicant considers relevant
  • three references, at least two of whom should be familiar with the applicant’s academic work, submitted online.

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

As a condition of program entry, students with undergraduate degrees in disciplines other than communication may be required to complete up to two additional courses to complete their MA. These conditions, if applicable, will be specified in the letter of offer, as determined by the admissions committee, on an individual basis.

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

Each new student is assigned an interim advisor upon program admission. The student selects a senior supervisor and, in consultation with this faculty member, selects one or two other faculty members to serve on their supervisory committee by the beginning of the student’s third term. Although the graduate studies committee (GSC) will endeavor to provide interim advisors with expertise in the student’s stated area of research interest, there is no obligation to select the interim advisor as 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

Extended Essay, Project, or Thesis

The program may be completed through an extended essay, a project, or a thesis. Each is equivalent. Each requires the completion of the same number of courses, is research based and is subject to external examination. Students determine which option is suitable for their research in consultation with their senior supervisor and supervisory committee.

The thesis option represents a longer form of research and is normally between 80 to 100 pages, inclusive of all bibliographies and appendices.

The extended essays option requires completion of two essays of not more than 40 pages each, which may be on related fields, but which may not substantively duplicate papers presented in course work.

In the project option, a student may present an alternative format such as a website, video or audio documentary, on-line software development, or other technologically based formats. All projects also need to be documented in a written form, not to exceed 40 pages, and that will be determined in consultation with the senior supervisor. This documentation should include the rationale behind the project, a description of the research undertaken, as well as a description and evaluation of the project itself.

All thesis and essay options will be deposited in the University library. Project options may be deposited at the discretion of the graduate studies committee.

A supervisory committee will be approved by the graduate studies committee at the beginning of the third term.

Students have an annual formal review of their academic progress by the graduate studies committee, in accordance with graduate general regulation 1.8.1.

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 Thesis, Project, or Extended Essays

This course group refers to the course designations for work on theses, projects, or extended essays.

Course Requirements

At least four graduate courses (normally completed before beginning a thesis, a project, or two extended essays) are required, which must include the following, unless otherwise stipulated as a condition for admission.

Students complete one course 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

Students are also required to complete two additional courses, at least one of which is selected from within the school. No more than one course may be completed with the same instructor, except by permission of the graduate studies committee.

Co-operative Education

The co-operative education program combines professional work experience with academic studies. After the first two terms of the program, students may alternate work and academic terms. All work positions are in paid study related jobs and may lead to the communications project or extended essay in lieu of a master’s thesis. Application for the co-op program is made through the school’s co-op co-ordinator and the co-operative education office.

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.