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Courses in LSA Communication Studies

The mission of the Department of Communication Studies is to study and teach about the mass media and emerging media: their evolution, their effects, their uses by everyday people, and their regulation and industry practices. We are dedicated to cultivating thorough-going media literacy among our students, and to producing cutting-edge scholarship about the media’s impact on individuals and society.

Upper-Level Writing Requirement (ULWR)

Courses meeting the LSA Upper-Level Writing Requirement in Communication Studies are numbered COMM 350-399. Priority for seats in these courses is given to senior and junior majors.

Students enrolled in these courses must complete all writing assignments, regardless of whether or not they are seeking ULWR credit.

Quantitative Reasoning (QR) Requirement.

COMM 121 and 122 meet the Quantitative Reasoning requirement set by LSA and are required prerequisites to the major.

Undergraduate Internship: COMM 321

Communication Studies declared majors who have reached junior standing may receive some amount of experiential course credit for an internship. Students must have completed all four prerequisite courses (COMM 101, 102, 121, 122), with a 2.7 GPA or greater. Experiential credit is granted for work that takes place outside a university classroom, laboratory, library, or studio and is directly related to an academic discipline. In order to be approved for credit, internships must:

  1. involve systematic learning with demonstrated application of experience to the theory, concepts, or research methods of the field;
  2. be approved in advance by the faculty internship coordinator by the proposal deadline:(Summer - June 12; Fall - September 12; Winter - January 12); and
  3. result in a product (e.g., an analytical paper) that is evaluated as acceptable by the faculty internship coordinator.

Communication Studies majors learn of available internships through the University of Michigan's Career Center. Additional internship and professional career opportunities are provided through the Communication Studies Undergraduate CTools site and weekly e-mails.

Communication Studies (COMM)

In order to ensure that concentrators can enroll in required courses, up to 75% of spaces in many 300- and 400-level Communication Studies courses are reserved for declared concentrators.

All spaces in the Capstone seminars are reserved for declared senior Communication Studies students.

COMMUNICATION STUDIES WAITLIST POLICY

Department policy requires students to attend the first two seminars or lectures of the course. For lecture courses with discussion/lab sections, department policy requires students to attend the first two lectures and first discussion/lab section of the course. Failure to do so may result in the student being dropped from the course.

Waitlist and Permission Policies

For all classes, the department uses the electronic waitlist system once the class fills. Students seeking to enroll in an already full class can put their names on a waitlist through the on-line registration system (Wolverine Access). A waitlist number will appear on the student’s schedule indicating the sequential spot on the electronic waitlist. However, priority on the waitlist is determined, not by sequential order, but by the department policies listed below. Faculty members will apply appropriate departmental policies to determine which, if any, students are accepted into the class once it is full and waitlisted. Due to the reservation restrictions of Communication Studies courses for officially declared students, newly declared Communication Studies students are encouraged to waitlist for any closed Communication Studies courses.

WAITLIST PRIORITIES IN COMM 101, COMM 102 and COMM 121:

  1. Sophomores, including those with Junior class standing due to Advanced Placement credit (54 credits or less after exclusion of AP credit)
  2. Freshmen
  3. Juniors
  4. Seniors

WAITLIST PRIORITIES IN COMM 122

  1. Juniors, including those with Senior class standing due to Advanced Placement credit (84 credits or less after exclusion of AP credit)
  2. Sophomores
  3. Freshmen
  4. Seniors

[COMM 121 is a prerequisite to enroll in COMM 122.]

WAITLIST PRIORITIES IN 200-LEVEL COURSES

  1. Senior declared Communication Studies majors
  2. Junior declared Communication Studies majors
  3. Sophomore declared Communication Studies majors
  4. All other undergraduate students in order of sequence on the waitlist who have fulfilled the appropriate prerequisite

[COMM 101 is a prerequisite to enroll in COMM 251 and 271; COMM 102 is a prerequisite to enroll in COMM 261 and 281.]

WAITLIST PRIORITIES IN 300-LEVEL COURSES

  1. Senior declared Communication Studies majors
  2. Junior declared Communication Studies majors
  3. Sophomore declared Communication Studies majors
  4. All other undergraduate students in order of sequence on the waitlist who have fulfilled the appropriate prerequisite

NOTE: All students enrolled in COMM courses designated as Upper-Level Writing Requirement must complete all writing assignments regardless of whether or not they are seeking ULWR credit.

WAITLIST PRIORITIES IN 400-LEVEL COURSES

  1. Senior declared Communication Studies majors
  2. Junior declared Communication Studies majors
  3. Sophomore declared Communication Studies majors
  4. All other undergraduate students in order of sequence on the waitlist

Permissions and the 2-Class Rule

Department policy requires students to attend the first two seminars or lectures of a course. For courses with discussion/lab sections, students must attend the first two lectures and the first discussion/lab section. Faculty can administratively drop students from a course if they fail to attend according to this policy.

Permission Priorities

Faculty will use the department’s established priorities to grant permissions. Students who are registered in one section of a class, but wish to switch sections, will NOT be given priority over any student on the official waitlist in Wolverine Access.

Permission Procedures

Permissions are approved only by faculty after the term begins. Permissions are issued within 24 business hours of department staff receiving them from the instructor. Students offered permission will receive an e-mail with registration information from Wolverine Access. Permissions will be valid for 3 days and will expire at midnight on the third day (which includes weekends). Failure to use the permission within the 3 day time frame will result in being administratively dropped from the waitlist. After receiving permission, students must add the class via Wolverine Access to become officially enrolled. Also, students will not be able to register for the course (add the course) until permissions are issued and they have dropped from the waitlist. In all cases, it is the student’s responsibility to insure that he or she is properly enrolled in, or dropped from, a course.

New Major Status

Newly declared majors should present the approved, signed Declaration Form to instructors in waitlisted courses to confirm official declaration status. Faculty rely on the signed Declaration Forms to validate a student’s official Communication Studies major status so that appropriate waitlist priority is granted.

COMM 101. The Mass Media
First- and second-year students. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) (4). (SS). May not be repeated for credit.

This course provides an introduction to the history and impact of mass media on American culture through advertising, news, radio, television programming, the Internet, and popular music. It reviews ideological, technological, and regulatory developments that produced our existing media system; and analytical tools and techniques that enhance media literacy. Topics include: media's role in shaping attitudes towards race, gender, sexuality and class; relationship between media and society; and language and skills for critically evaluating media's assumptions and techniques.

COMM 102. Media Processes and Effects
First- and second-year students. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) (4). (SS). May not be repeated for credit.

Americans are immersed in the media like fish in water. The average adult spends two-thirds of his or her waking time consuming media, often more than one type at a time. Many people believe the media have little effect, but research shows they are wrong. This course describes the effects of media on thoughts, feelings, attitudes, and behaviors, and reasons why the media affect us. It includes review and evaluation of media research articles and participation in media research studies.

COMM 121. Evaluating Information and Analyzing Media I
Freshman or sophomore standing. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) (4). (SS). (QR/2). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed COMM 211.

Over two sequential semesters, Evaluating Information and Analyzing Media explores first the basic fundamentals of the development of knowledge, theories, evidence and the collection of data in both social science and analytic media research. The first course explores the tools offered by both traditions for studying media texts.

COMM 122. Evaluating Information and Analyzing Media II
COMM 121 (completed with a minimum grade of C- or better). (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) (4). (SS). (QR/2). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed COMM 211.

The second semester of Evaluating Information and Analyzing Media explores the collection and analysis of data in both social science and analytic media research. This course explores the tools available for those studying media audiences and content production.

COMM 251. Understanding Media Industries
COMM 101 (completed with a minimum grade of C- or better). (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) (4). (SS). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed COMM 351.

Understanding Media Industries examines the influence of media industry organization and practices on society while offering a comprehensive overview of how the industries work, why they work as they do, and the broader theoretical and practical implications of media industry operation.

COMM 261. Views on the News: What Shapes our Media Content
COMM 102 (completed with a minimum grade of C- or better). (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 121 or COMM 211 strongly recommended. (4). (SS). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed COMM 361.

This course examines how various aspects of society shape the news. It is designed to offer a framework for thoughtful understanding of processes involved in the production, dissemination, and reception of mediated news content.

COMM 271. Communication Revolutions
COMM 101 (completed with a minimum grade of C- or better). (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) (4). (HU). May not be repeated for credit.

This course explores the central role of technology in our culture, and the tension between technological devices and human users and developers; the link between communication, politics and power; the role of communications processes and technologies in marking the changing boundaries separating the public and private realms of life; the deep ties between trade, labor, transport, and communication technologies; the role of governmental and corporate institutions in influencing the uses of mediated communication in our society.

COMM 281. Media Psychology
COMM 102 (completed with a minimum grade of C- or better). (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) (4). (SS). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed COMM 381.

We discuss media effects research and theory with an emphasis on the social psychological processes that facilitate or inhibit media effects on individuals' attitudes, beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. We examine topics such as violence, advertising, stereotypes, news and politics, and fan culture, keeping in mind the role individual differences play in selective exposure to and reception of media messages. Outcomes include both positive and negative effects. Throughout, we will focus on the complexities of developing and executing media effects research.

COMM 305. Survey of Media Topics
COMM 101 or COMM 102 completed with a minimum grade of C- or better. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 251, 261, 271 or 281 strongly recommended. (3 - 4). May be repeated for a maximum of 8 credits. May be elected more than once in the same term.

Investigates the theoretical, analytical and historical aspects of media. Topics presented may include introduction and overview of media industries, media and culture, media and identity, media effects and new, emerging media. Topics vary by section.

COMM 315. Critical Approaches to the Internet
COMM 101(completed with a minimum grade of C- or better). (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 121 or COMM 211 strongly recommended. (4). May not be repeated for credit.

This course examines the rise of the Internet from its Cold War origins to contemporary social media practices. We focus on the social, political, cultural, and industrial contexts of networked computing and address key themes such as participation, community, identity, convergence, privacy, and activism.

COMM 317. Designing Persuasive Communication
COMM 261 or COMM 281 strongly recommended. (3). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed COMM 462.

This course investigates the changes in business, technology, and design that are reshaping the words and images, the form and content of persuasive mass communication. It investigates emerging strategies for reaching global and regional audiences, discusses the impact of new technologies and media convergence, and examines the social and ethical issues that underlie persuasive strategies.

COMM 318 / PSYCH 318. Media and Violence
COMM 281 strongly recommended. (4). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to students who have completed COMM/PSYCH 481, Media & Violence (Crse ID #019987).

This course examines the psychological causes of aggressive violent behavior and the theoretical and empirical connections between violence in society and portrayals of violence in the mass media. It surveys the research on the physiological, psychological, and environmental factors implicated in the development of habitual aggressive and violent behavior and examines the theories that explain how exposure to violence in the mass media adds to the effects of these other factors causing aggressive and violent behavior.

COMM 321. Undergraduate Internship
Consent of instructor required. Junior standing, concentration in Communication Studies, and permission of instructor. Internship credit is not retroactive and must be prearranged. (1 - 3). (EXPERIENTIAL). May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. May not be used to satisfy Communication Studies electives in a Communication Studies major. Offered mandatory credit/no credit.

Provides limited credit for appropriate practical work experience. Student evaluation is based on satisfactory completion of the internship and written recommendation of the internship sponsor.

COMM 322. Faculty Directed Undergraduate Research Practicum
Consent of instructor required. (1 - 3). May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. Maximum of 3 credits from COMM 322 and/or COMM 441/442 may be used toward the Communication Studies concentration requirements. A maximum of three credits from COMM 322, 441, or 442 may be counted toward the concentration requirements.

This research practicum offers an opportunity to apply academic knowledge in mass communication or mass media within the context of a research setting. It provides experience and education in research techniques by having students conduct research with a faculty member on the faculty research projects. In the process, students learn the skills needed to conduct research, various research techniques, and the overall experience of analyzing outcomes. This course is intended as an intermediate step in the research educational process prior to students' own independently designed research in COMM 442 or honors research under COMM 491/492.

COMM 325. Media and Globalization
COMM 101 with a minimum grade of C- or better. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 251 strongly recommended. (4). May not be repeated for credit.

This course offers students a framework for exploring the media's role in processes of globalization and how the globalization of media shapes the socio-cultural, political, economic, ethical and moral dimensions of our lives in this world.

COMM 326 / AMCULT 326. American Magazines
(4; 3 in the half-term). (HU). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to students who have completed AMCULT 250.

This class examines past and present magazines in the United States, and explores the way in which they provide a window into American history and the development of communications media. It includes both direct study of magazines themselves and secondary readings.

COMM 327. Media Economics
COMM 251 or COMM 261 strongly recommended. (3). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed COMM 454.

Examines economic theory and its applications to media systems. Focuses on problems in the economics of the information industry, including market structure, concentration of ownership, pricing policies, product differentiation, advertising behavior, and economic performance. Attention given to the interaction of economics, media practices, and technologies.

COMM 329 / POLSCI 329. Mass Media and Political Behavior
(4). May not be repeated for credit.

Focuses on the role and importance of mass media in the political process. Topics include: how news is made; political advertising; relations between Congress, the President and the media; and the role of mass media in political campaigns. These topics are examined through a systematic review of research in both mass communication and political science.

COMM 334 / AMCULT 334 / SAC 334. Race, U.S. Culture and Digital Games
(4; 3 in the half-term). May not be repeated for credit.

This course examines how video games function as a window into U.S. race relations. We will study the history, theory, and practice of video games in the U.S. with particular attention to racial stereotyping, user demographics, diversity of the industry, and racial conflict in shared world and social games.

COMM 335. History of U.S. Broadcasting
Not available to students who have completed COMM 478 (Crse ID #022064), Topic: History of Broadcasting and Television (Topic #10). (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 251 strongly recommended. (4). May not be repeated for credit.

This course traces the history of electronic media from the development of radio, through the rise of television, to the "narrowcasting" achieved by cable and newer digital technologies. The course intertwines historical analysis of programming and institutional elements such as industrial, regulatory, and economic aspects of broadcast history.

COMM 347. Advertising and the New Media Environment
Not available to students who have completed COMM 468 (crse ID #022063), Topic: Advertising and the New Media Environment (Topic ID #10). (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 261 strongly recommended. (3). May not be repeated for credit.

This course addresses an overview of the history, current developments and future scenarios of digital media and marketing. Advertising and marketing are being reinvented as audio, print and video move online and social media and search technologies change the relationship between the audience and the media.

COMM 350. The Rise of Mass Culture
COMM 101 or 102 with minimum grade of C- or better. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 121 or COMM 211 strongly recommended. (4). May not be repeated for credit.

This course explores the ascent of commercial, mass-mediated culture in the United States from the late nineteenth century to the present. It uses a historical approach to trace the development of modern communication forms and technologies and their dynamic relationship to social, cultural, and political struggle and change.

COMM 362. Digital Media Foundations
COMM 101 with a minimum grade of C- or better. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 121 or COMM 211 strongly recommended. (4). May not be repeated for credit.

This class is for those interested in practical skills and critical intellectual foundations relevant to the Internet and new media. Using context of Web-based applications, mobile applications, online multimedia, social media, and gaming, this course covers topics fundamental to understanding digital media forms, including an introduction to operation of the Web, Internet, Web development, search engines, digital formats, online media distribution platforms and networks, online communities, audiences, online advertising and user interfaces.

COMM 365. Visual Culture and Visual Literacy
COMM 101, with a minimum grade of C- or better. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 102 and (COMM 121 or 211) strongly recommended. (4). May not be repeated for credit.

This course examines contemporary media, imaging technologies, and viewing practices through the lens of visual cultural studies. A wide range of media including television, film, photography, graphic design, advertising, video games, and websites are critically analyzed using approaches that draw from semiotics, psychoanalysis, feminist theory, and cultural studies.

COMM 371. Media, Culture, and Society
COMM 101 or 102 with a minimum grade of C- or better. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 121 or COMM 211 strongly recommended. (4). May not be repeated for credit.

This course explores the historical rise of mass media and the impact on modern society and culture. It considers the dynamic impact of radio and television broadcasting on the rise of urban industrial mass society and popular commercial culture through music, print and electronic advertising, consumerism, and emergence of affluent society. The course also studies modern media institutions, politics, and forms and processes of social change and identity formation, such as class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexuality.

COMM 380. Persuasion, Communication and Campaigns
COMM 102 with a minimum grade of C- or better. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 121 or COMM 211 strongly recommended. (4). May not be repeated for credit.

This course covers theories of persuasion, how to evaluate the effects of persuasive communication on individuals and groups, as well as the design and evaluation of persuasive communications. As an ULWR, the course also focuses heavily on developing strong, evidence-based arguments, and communicating those arguments clearly in writing.

COMM 404. Special Topics in Mass Media and Mass Communication
COMM 251 or COMM 271 strongly recommended. (3). May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. May be elected more than once in the same term.

Investigates topics dealing with mass media and mass communication, media and culture, communication processes, media industries and new and emerging media. Topics vary by section.

COMM 405. Seminar in Mass Media and Mass Communication
COMM 251 or COMM 271 strongly recommended. (3). May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. May be elected more than once in the same term.

Investigates topics dealing with mass media and mass communication, media and culture, communication processes, media industries and new and emerging media. Topics vary by section.

COMM 408. Special Topics in Media Effects
COMM 261 or COMM 281 strongly recommended. (3). May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. May be elected more than once in the same term.

Investigates topics relating to research on the effects of mass communication. Topics vary by section.

COMM 409. Seminar in Media Effects
COMM 261 or COMM 281 strongly recommended. (3). May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits. May be elected more than once in the same term.

Investigates advanced topics relating to research on the effects of mass communication. Topics vary by section.

COMM 411 / SOC 411. Mass Communication and Public Opinion
COMM 261 strongly recommended. (3). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to students who have completed COMM 485/SOC 463, Mass Communication and Public Opinion (Crse ID #006247).

This course explores enduring research questions concerning mass communication and public opinion. Emphasis is given to recent research dealing with the impact of the media on public opinion.

COMM 413 / ENVIRON 413. Environmental Communication
COMM 261, COMM 281 or ENVIRON 211 strongly recommended. (3). May not be repeated for credit.

This course serves as an introduction to the theory and practice of environmental and science communication. Topics include media depiction's of environmental issues, the role of the media in influencing public opinion and policy actions, expert environmental communication by scientists and policy-makers, and theories that guide effective strategic environmental communication. We will engage with many of the critical environmental issues of our day, including climate change, fracking, support for renewable energy initiatives, and many more.

COMM 415. Communication, Identity and the Public Sphere
Not available to students who have completed COMM 479; Topic: Communication, Identity and the Public Sphere, (Taken prior to FA13). Short Description (appears on Wolverine Access): No credit in COMM 479;Topic 13. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 371 strongly recommended. (3). May not be repeated for credit.

This course explores how communication constitutes group identity and community, and how publics -- groups formed through communication and around a common goal or identity -- operate in culture and politics. Through an examination of the "public sphere," the course addresses questions of democratic self-government, identity formation and the inclusion/exclusion of minorities.

COMM 418. Designing Web Research
Comm 122 with a minimum grade of C- or better. (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 271 or COMM 315 strongly recommended. (3). May not be repeated for credit.

This course trains you to design research projects that employ web applications and tools to study digitally-mediated social phenomena. We examine adaptations of social research methods to study online phenomena, and the development of new methods and tools that correspond with the particular capacities and characteristics of Internet applications.

COMM 419. Seminar in Research Methods
(COMM 121 and 122) or COMM 211 strongly recommended. (3). May be repeated for a maximum of 6 credits.

Investigates advanced topics in research design, measurement, or analysis. Topics will vary by section and may focus on qualitative and/or quantitative research methods.

COMM 421. Media Law and Policy
COMM 251 strongly recommended. (3). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed COMM 452.

This course covers the basic principles of the First Amendment and how they apply to media policy, practice, and regulation. Topics include First Amendment theory, hate speech, prior restraints and media censorship, defamation, indecency, obscenity, and advertising regulation.

COMM 422. Social Media and Politics
Not available to students who have completed COMM 488; Topic: Social Media & Politics (Taken prior to FA13). (Prerequisites enforced at registration.) COMM 261 or COMM 271 strongly recommended. (3). May not be repeated for credit.

How have new social media changed the political landscape? Are they a democratizing force or a tool for repression? In what ways do they differ from previous media? These questions anchor our exploration of new media both in American politics and for democratic movements abroad.

COMM 423. Computer Mediated Communication
COMM 101, COMM 102, and (COMM 122 or 211) strongly recommended. (3). May not be repeated for credit. No credit granted to those who have completed COMM 463.

This course investigates the role of computer-mediated communication (CMC) in modern life. The course explores various social contexts in which CMC plays a role. In addition, it reviews various branches of social theory that can be applied as lenses for viewing the social implications of CMC in our lives.