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Graduate Courses

We offer six courses each year. CS600 and CS601 are required courses. You must also register for CS695 or CS699 while working on your MRP or thesis.

You are allowed to take up to 1.0 credit from other graduate programs with approval from the graduate coordinator. In the past, Communication Studies master's students have taken graduate courses in programs such as Cultural Analysis and Social Theory, English and Film Studies, and Political Science.

2022/23 Course Offerings

Fall 2022

CS600A Graduate Seminar in Communication Studies

This team-taught course introduces students to the core concerns, theoretical concepts and research approaches in communication studies. Particular attention will be paid to the areas of research specialization of faculty. This mandatory course is designed to enable students to do the preparatory work necessary to their research projects.

CS601A Communication Studies Research Methods

This course will provide students with advanced training in the methods of research employed in the field of communication studies. Students study reactive or interactive research methods (participant observation, experimental designs, surveys and interviewing) and unobtrusive or non-reactive methodological designs (discourse analysis, semiotics, content analysis, and rhetorical and historical approaches). Students are encouraged to develop their major research paper or thesis research proposal as the final assignment for this course.

CS640q The Masses

The idea of “the masses” or a “mass audience” for anything was a new idea at the turn of the 19th/20th centuries and attracted the attention of scholars across a number of disciplines. This course examines some of this nascent and foundational (i.e. old) communication studies research, which wasn’t even called that because “communication studies” did not yet exist.  What we see when we do this is not just the emergence of communications studies as a field of inquiry but also the crystallization, and early repeated treatment, of certain questions, including the relationship of the then-newly-emergent “mass media” to individuals, communities and to society at large. Key terms in these early considerations are “leisure” – itself a concept understood in a new way in the early 20th century – “mass culture,” “influence,” and “taste.”  With these signposts guiding us, we proceed from this proto-communication studies research to the public and intellectual battle of the 1950s and early ‘60s known as the “mass culture debates,” leading us to some more recent considerations of these century-old questions, in the contemporary context.

Winter 2023

CS617 Risk, Media and Science

This course is an exploration of a number of critical approaches to risk communication, framed by a number of case studies. It examines the ways that risk messages are created, the influence they have on public understandings of science, and the effect these understandings have on attitudes and ideas regarding risk. Looking first to the ways that risk may be theorized, constructed and codified, this course then explores the role of media in evaluating and disseminating risk messages. The role played by news media in risk communication, and a look to risk communication by government, non-governmental organizations (such as Greenpeace and the AIDS Committee of Toronto), and other risk stakeholders (such as the pharmaceutical and insurance industries) is explored.T

CS640m Free Speech and Moral Panics

 Are white American children being taught to hate themselves? Are American teachers indoctrinating children to ‘hate America’? Are campus ‘snowflakes’ running amok over conservative students? Are professors indoctrinating students in ‘cultural Marxism’? Is ‘free speech’ on campus in danger of disappearing? Are the ‘moral panics’ around ‘Critical Race Theory’™ and ‘Free Speech’™ manufactured by a network of well-funded right-wing organisations, provocateurs and media?

This course begins with a brief focus on the origins of the present ‘moral panics’ and ‘free speech crises’ in the debates around ‘political correctness’ in the 1980s and 1990s before examining contemporary manifestations. It examines the organisational, structural and institutional supports for manufacturing ‘free speech crises’ on campuses and other contemporary moral panics, such as the ‘anti-CRT’ movement in the USA, and the ways in which some organisations and individuals have responded. It will also focus on both the (social) media tactics and the ways in which arguments are articulated and their rhetorical appeals to the public as well as others’ attempts at countering these kinds of tactics. We will also examine how legacy journalism reports on ‘moral panics’. Key concepts include ‘free speech’, ‘freedom of expression’, ‘hate speech’, ‘moral panic’ and ‘academic freedom’.

CS640n Self-tracking: Quantification, Embodiment and Fitness

This course addresses historical and contemporary practices of self-tracking from weight scales and height tables to wearable and ingestible self-tracking technologies. There is an extensive body of academic research on self-tracking technologies and practices, the bulk of which emphasizes medical uses (such as blood monitoring for diabetes).  By contrast, we will focus on self-tracking through a more critical / cultural lens and as it relates to larger conceptions of fitness and wellness, such as the promotion of FitBits, Apple and Garmin watches and the many related apps through which we track everything from what we put into our bodies to what we perform with our bodies.

The course is framed around the intersection of quantification and embodiment. What does it mean and what is at stake in quantifying an increasing array of our day-to-day activities? How do our practices of self-tracking intersect with our lived, embodied experiences?  Who has access to our self-tracked data and to what ends? What, if anything, is new about contemporary self-tracking practices?  To address these and related questions, we will supplement course readings with an exploration of our own practices of self-tracking.

Additional Courses

CS690 Directed Studies

A selected research project supervised by an individual faculty member.

CS695 Major Research Paper

A major research project to be undertaken on an approved topic and in accordance with the guidelines of the department.

CS699 Thesis

An independent thesis project to be undertaken on an approved topic based upon research connected with the discipline of communication studies and in accordance with the guidelines of the department.