Class Descriptions

Classes are offered in the semesters indicated. Please see the current schedule of classes for the most current information and faculty assignments. If you have further questions about scheduling and class requirements, contact your advisor.


Core Classes (required)

200 Principles of Mass Communication (4) / Fall, Spring
An introduction to the history of mass communication, the mechanics of the mass communication industries, and theories of mass communication as a social, cultural, and political phenomenon.

202 Methods of Media Criticism (4) / Fall, Spring
A survey of ways to analyze mediated texts, with a focus on film, television, magazines, music, news, and advertising. Methods and concepts include semiotics, structuralism, ideology, psychoanalysis, feminism, and postmodernism.

301 Mass Communication Theory and Research (4) / Fall, Spring
Intermediate-level study of the key research events that contributed to the development of communication theories, government policy, and the emergence of communication as an academic discipline. Cross-listed as SOCI 331. Prerequisites: COMS 200, 202, and Junior-level standing. Cross-listed as SOCI 331.

302 Media Ethics (4) / Fall, Spring
Students analyze real-life ethical issues that media professionals face on TV, radio, newspapers, the internet, in public relations, and in the music and entertainment industries. Classroom exercises involve discussion, debate, critical thinking and reasoning, and practical application of ethical principles. Prerequisites: COMS 200 and 202 and COMS majors with junior-level standing

402 Senior Seminar(4) / Fall, Spring
Students will share at least one critical analysis of a specific media message and complete a senior-level project/portfolio/study, which is the culmination of their major experience. Seniors only. Cannot be repeated for credit.

499 Media Internship (1-4) / Fall, Spring, Summer
This class provides students with an opportunity to discover how to make an effective transition from the classroom to the workplace. For a semester, individuals work in a media firm, business, newspaper, radio or TV station. On the job, students learn networking and negotiating skills. Assignments for class include: a resume; workplace lingo; self-evaluation; profile of supervisor; and album with photos and text that describe the experience. Consent of instructor, internship agreement form, and department contracts required. Can only be taken for up to 4 units at a time. Seniors only.


Sequence Descriptions

201 Story Telling Via Video (4) / Fall
A course for beginning video students. Assignments include: creation of skits and music videos; and conducting interviews using DV camcorders. Students also do a final creative project of their own. COMS 201 must be taken before COMS 325, though exceptions are allowed with approval of instructor.
316 Advanced Film Making(4) / Spring
Intensive production for filmmakers. In fall semester, students work on biography, news, and multi-camera talk shows. In spring, students work on screenplays, scenes with actors, and images for songs. Beginning students use DV camcorders and I-Movie2. Advanced students use 3-chip cameras and edit on Final Cut or Avid. Prerequisite: COMS 201  

210 Writing for the Media (4) / Fall 
Introduction to a wide range of writing styles and formats, from hard news and features to press releases. Students learn to write for newspapers, magazines, television, radio, and the internet, as well as for public relations.
318 Advanced Media Writing(4) / Spring
Writing for different media, including Blogs, magazines, radio, websites, newspapers, and investigative reporting. Emphasis on development of sources, proposals, pitches, working in teams, writing in-depth features and columns on issues, trends and complex ongoing stories. Prerequisite COMS 210, a semester at THE STAR, or equivalent experience writing in the professional world.  

265 Introduction to Radio Broadcasting (4) / Fall
History of broadcasting; evolution of broadcast technology; introduction to basic theories and techniques of radio broadcasting. Overview of radio station organization, programming, and operation. Experience in radio program development and production techniques.
317 Advanced Radio Broadcasting (4) / Spring
This course encourages students in their individual interests in radio/sound recording. Students will learn more about the application of sound to all aspects of the media world, from the producing or hosting of live radio shows to the use of sound in promotions and DVD production. Prerequisite: COMS 265  

240 Introduction to Public Relations (4) / Fall
An overview of the history, structure, and organization of public relations. Students also learn the basic public relations tactics of writing, presentation, event organization, and web communication.
340 Advanced Public Relations (4) / Fall/Spring
A hands-on class for students who are planning to work in the field of public relations. Students work as consultants with clients to develop plans for public relations campaigns. Prerequisite: COMS 240 or an introductory public relations course. May be repeated once for credit.

Elective Descriptions

320 Selected Topics in Communication Studies (4) / Fall, Spring
Intensive study of various topics and trends in the mass media, including advertising, propaganda and persuasion, children and the media, technical and scriptwriting, environmental and international communication, and film. May be repeated for additional credit with new subject matter.

322 Broadcast Journalism(4) / Fall
Indroductory class on the art and craft of Journalism, print, video, and radio, by career professionals. Designed to give students taste of real world media experience.

326 Advanced Presentation Techniques(4)
Course involves intensive self-evaluation of both verbal and non-verbal elements of presentation. Interview, group communications and presenting with multi-media are covered. Theories of communication are discussed as they relate to presentation styles. Junior standing required.

328 America at the Movies (4)
An examination of the sociopolitical meanings and significance of American film from the silent era to the present. To better understand how films can potentially reflect and affect society, students read about American history and analyze dozens of films in their particular historical contexts.

329 "Reality" TV and Film (4)
How is "reality" mediated in film and television? In this course students examine the truthfulness, ethics, and sociopolitical implications of such forms and genres as the documentary, neorealism, Dogme 95, tabloid talk shows, voyeurism/confession shows, crime shows, freak shows, and contest/game shows.

332 Screening Violence (4)
Violence in media and popular culture has been the subject of great concern and voluminous research for many years. In this course students examine the history, meaning, and real-world implications and effects of media violence, with a focus on film, television, literature, news, sports, comics, toys, and video games. Junior standing required.

333 Communication, Power, and Social Change (4)
How does power operate through communication to delay or to advance social progress? Analyze history, film, documentary, news, corporate PR, government propaganda, and cultural myth. Craft short messages from comic books to posters to radio or video spots. Design and get feedback for messages students create on issues of choice.

368 Newspaper Writing/Editing (STAR) (4)
The faculty advisor offers a comprehensive evaluation—oral and written—of the most recent edition of the campus newspaper, the STAR. Instruction is provided on a wide variety of journalism topics, from editing and reporting to ethics and law. Students are required to read the Star and the written evaluation by the advisor. May be repeated for up to 12 units.

369 SSU-TV (4)
This is an essential class for students who will work in the broadcasting industry. Students will learn about the history, structure, and operations of local broadcasting. Students will be expected to work in a specific department of SSU-TV during the semester. May be repeated for credit up to 12 units.

385 Media Lab: Radio (KSUN) (4)
A media lab to develop a range of skills in the production of radio programs. Work focuses on the production of live and prerecorded pieces for KSUN, SSU's internet radio station. The lab also serves as the staff meeting of the radio station. May be repeated for up to 12 units.

435 Seminar: Mass Media (4) / Spring
Seminar provides an opportunity to gain new insights into social problems through an intensive analysis of the role and impact of mass communication in contemporary society. Emphasis is on exploring, through a major research project, social issues that should be, but are not, fully covered by the mass media. Prerequisite: COMS 301 or SOCI 300 or SOCI 331 or consent of instructor. Cross-listed as SOCI 435.

460 Teaching Assistant in Communication Studies (1-4) / Fall, Spring
Intended to give students experience assisting instructors. Teaching assistants help teach, do research, and tutor students in classes. Consent of instructor and department contract required.

470 Research Assistant in Communication Studies (1-4) / Fall, Spring
Intended to give selected students experience in the construction and implementation of a professor's research project. Consent of instructor and department contract required.