Course Description Guide

A Note from Dr. Rose, Department Chair

Greetings! Spring registration is around the corner. Keep reading to see new electives and/or new professors for Spring, but please note that we’re offering electives in all 8 specializations!

NEW for Spring 2019 [See the full course descriptions for attribute and pre-req information]:


NEW Spring 2019 Courses

COM 3290: Top: Performance Ethnography 
Taught by VU Alum Maura Ricci – great for any student interested in performance, ethnography and intercultural communication.

COM 3305: Radio Broadcasting
Taught by VU Alum and KYW radio personality Ian Bush.

COM 3308: Digital Image Production 
A whole new version of this course taught by our new faculty member Prof. James Parente.

COM 3367: Top: Humanitarian Journalism
Taught by former Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Carolyn Davis.

COM 3390: Top: Superhero in Film/TV
A new course taught by Dr. Susan Mackey-Kallis


  • Make sure to sign up for an appointment with your COM advisor during pre-registration—this is the only way to get your PIN!

  • Keep checking NOVASIS for schedule updates, and please don’t rely on anything but the Master Schedule because it is the only accurate site!

  • Scroll through all the electives to read descriptions and identify attributes and/or pre-reqs.

  • Seniors, make sure to read the individual COM 5050 descriptions before registering for a particular section.

  • No override requests will be accepted until all students have registered. At that time, all override requests must go through Mrs. Maria DiStefano in the Communication Department.

Fall 2018 Course Description Guide 

COM 1000-1999

COM 1000-001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006 Survey of Communication Studies

Process of communication; range of perspectives from which communication can be studied (from classical rhetoric to contemporary theory); the functions communication serves; and the forms of communication such as interpersonal, small group, organizational, public address and mass media.

Instructors: Arnold, Bishop, O’Leary

This course is a prerequisite needed to declare COM major.

COM 1100- 001, 002, 003, 004, 005, 006, 007 Public Speaking

Principles of communication related to speech composition and delivery;

finding, analyzing, organizing and presenting material in ways appropriate to and effective with listeners. In this course students will gain an understanding of the rhetorical processes associated with public communication and will develop the skills necessary to present ideas to culturally diverse audiences that will make a difference in their communities, careers, and personal lives.

Instructors: Mackey-Kallis, Weaver, Staff

This course is a prerequisite needed to declare COM major

COM 1101-001, 002, 100, 101 Business & Professional Communication

The goal of this course is to prepare students to understand and develop useful communication strategies and skills to establish and maintain productive relationships in a variety of business and professional settings. This is a hybrid course that combines traditional public speaking, small group and organizational communication and is not intended for Communication department majors.

Instructors: DeMarco, Kelly

COM 1300-001,002, 003 Film Analysis

This course focuses on the analysis of contemporary and historically important films, employing a variety of analytical models. Anyone who is a film buff or wants to learn about how films are constructed would benefit, as would students interested in learning about the societal impact of the cinema. The course promotes the development of visual analysis skills and an awareness of the cultural, economic and social forces of the period in which the film was made.

Instructor: Mackey-Kallis, Quevedo

Attributes: Fine Arts

COM 2000-2999

COM 2200-001 Theories of Rhetoric

This course is an introduction to the central theories of rhetoric, attempts to reflect upon and understand the process by which community is generated and maintained by the strategic use of symbols. In addition to its principal focus on the theories and history of rhetoric, this course serves as an entry point to the culture of critical inquiry and argument that constitutes rhetorical studies.

Instructor: Murray

COM 2240-001 Theories of Performance Studies

Performance is explored as a fundamental component of human communication. Students experience the theories and practice of performance in multiple contexts, including everyday life (e.g., performing a ‘date’, performing whiteness), storytelling (e.g., personal narrative, performance of literature, folklore and oral traditions), theatre and other performance spaces (e.g., performance art), and rhetorical/critical spaces (performance for social change, performance ethnography). Prior performance experience is welcome but not necessary.

Instructor: Rose

Attributes: Fine Arts

COM 2300-001, 002 Theories of Mass Communication

Traces the evolution and structure of core theoretical approaches to understanding mass communication phenomena. Both behavioral and critical approaches and their related research traditions are explored.

Instructors: Xu, Woodard

COM 2340 -100, 101 Theories of Visual Communication & Culture

The course deconstructs what we think we know about what we see to demonstrate that what we see is influenced by the culture in which we live and the meanings we give to our visual universe. Learning and employing the theoretical lenses of semiotics and visual cultural studies, visual rhetoric, and feminist psychoanalysis, we will examine images in media, brands, advertising, and our everyday lives to understand the visual language used, the “commonsensical” meanings given and understood, and what they reveal about our culture.  

Instructor: Coonfield

COM 2400 -001 Theories of Interpersonal Communication

This course focuses on both the major theoretical approaches in interpersonal communication and the application of such theories in various social situations. It explores message production within an individual and between individuals, and relationship development and maintenance in different social contexts. The course aims to help students understand message production embedded in social roles, enhance interpersonal communication competence, and maintain meaningful social relationships.

Instructor: Wang

COM 2440-001 Theories of Organizational Communication

Explores the social construction of human relationships in organizations, both healthy and unhealthy; examines how and why organizations develop policies and procedures that both encourage and yet constrain creativity and autonomy in employees. Examines organizations through the eyes of the researcher who wants to understand, but not control or predict, the dynamics that are unfolding. This will be accomplished through careful, critical reading and synthesizing of some of the voluminous literature on how group life is accomplished in organizations.

Instructor: Way

COM 3000-3999

COM 3203-001 Communication Law & Policy

This course will attempt to cover, through lectures, discussions, exams, papers and mock trials, areas of largely mass communication law. Sections will include basic legal terminology and the legal process, the judicial system, including the Supreme Court, First Amendment rights, issues of libel and slander, invasion of privacy, newsgatherer’s privileges, advertising and matters of obscenity.

Instructor: Arnold

Prerequisites: COM 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3207-001 African American Rhetoric

What does it mean to be black—as an individual and as a member of a community—in the United States? How, historically, has the black experience been rhetorically constructed, and what are the enduring consequences of those constructions, in our present, 21st century context? In this class, we will examine these questions (and some answers to them) through a critical examination of a variety of rhetorical artifacts—including, but not limited to, speakers, television shows, movies, spaces (including the Main Line), music, and social movements (both historical, like the Civil Rights Movement, and contemporary, like #blacklivesmatter). We will focus on how these symbolic representations created (and create) the lived meanings of blackness that continue to impact the lives of black Americans—and, indeed, all Americans. The primary objective of the course is therefore to develop a comprehensive understanding of the symbols used to rhetorically construct and reconstruct the African American identity and community, and how those rhetorical efforts work to both constrain and enable the pursuit of racial justice.

Instructor: Crable

Prerequisites: COM 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440;

prerequisites will be waived for Africana Studies minors/concentrators, for P&J minors/concentrators, and for Writing & Rhetoric minors/concentrators.

Requirements Filled: Diversity 1; Peace and Justice Attribute

COM 3290-100 TOP: Performance Ethnography: An Exploration of “Self” and “Other”

This course will explore ethnographic and auto ethnographic performance as a dynamic research method and a powerful tool to make discoveries about our world. We will use tactics such as interviewing, participant observation fieldwork, and self-reflection to create original performance pieces that explore and challenge our ideas of “self” and “other.” The course will also explore the theory behind performance ethnography and analyze the ethnographic work of other prominent performance artists, such as Anna Deavere Smith. Prior performance experience is encouraged but not required.

Instructor: Ricci

Prerequisites: COM 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

Requirements Filled: Fine Arts

COM 3301-001, 002 Introduction to Film & Video Production

This hands-on workshop will introduce students to the fundamentals of TV production. Students are expected to produce individually and in small groups, broadcast video projects combining all fundamentals learned in class - terminology, script writing, single and multi-camera operation, lighting, audio capture, computer based video editing and effects, and live studio production. The final project will prove how well each student has mastered the above components of video production.

Instructor: Lewis, Quevedo

Prerequisites: COM 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3303 -001 Screenwriting

The purpose of this course is to prepare you to write two short screenplays by introducing you to the building blocks of cinematic storytelling. Students are expected to develop a solid foundation in screenwriting format, three act dramatic structure, character conception and development, the difference between plot and story, and the best way to put all of this information to use in the actual writing of treatments and screenplays. Although the three act model we will use in this class is not the only, or perhaps the best, way to write screenplays, it is standard in the industry and must be mastered by beginning screenwriters. By the end of the semester you will have written two treatments for short films and two screenplays in master scenes form. Part of the goal of this course is to gain an understanding of storytelling that will be applicable to various media. Most class sessions will be a combination of lecture, film viewing, and writing exercises. You are expected to work independently and in collaboration with other students.

Instructor: O’Leary

Requirements Filled: Fine Arts

Prerequisites: 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3321 -001, 002 Interactive Media Design I

Study of the principles of creating effective communication for the World Wide Web. Explores basic web design techniques with emphasis on designing and integrating diverse media elements. Focus on the creation and manipulation of text, graphics, audio and video for the Web

Instructor: Staff

Prerequisites: 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3322-001 Interactive Media Design II

Expands on COM 3321 through advanced techniques in Interactive and Responsive Design; explores VR and AR; develops immersive/360 video projects.

Instructor: Staff

Prerequisites: 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3340 -001 Film History

This course serves as an introduction to the history of world cinema, exposing students to key movements, films, filmmakers, and moments, from cinema’s humble origins at the end of the 19th century, through the rise and fall of the Hollywood studio system, to the present era of media conglomeration and convergence. Industrial, technological, and stylistic developments in film production will be of chief importance, as will the reception of film by various audiences over time. Throughout this course we will learn to develop a historical appreciation of film through aesthetic, industrial, theoretical, technological, social, and cultural lenses.

Instructor: Quevedo

Requirements Filled: Fine Arts

Prerequisites: 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3356- 001 Media Audiences

This course offers an introduction to the study, measurement and analysis of media audiences. We will explore theories of audience behavior, methods for sampling and measuring audiences, and both classic and emerging metrics for capturing user behavior. The course will also explore the ethics of measurement, the audience measurement industry and practical applications for media professionals.

Instructor: Ksiazek

Prerequisites: 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3360-001 Introduction to Journalism

News is an integral part of our daily lives—from the “Eye-witness” reports on Channel 10 and the headlines of the New York Times to Internet news-sites and the tawdry tabloids awaiting us at the supermarket checkout. This course aims to provide a critical understanding of the role of journalism in modern society, combining theoretical perspectives on the making of news with insights from the journalists who produce it. Students will analyze research material on journalism, as well as examine newsmaking across platforms such as television and the Internet. While students will be introduced to foundational journalism practices, this course takes a more theoretical approach to journalism in order to provide the necessary background and context for more in-depth exposure to the practice of journalism in future courses.

Instructor: Bradley

Prerequisites: 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3363-001 Broadcast Journalism

Broadcast Journalism examines the techniques and ethics of newsgathering. Students will be instructed in writing for radio and television and in the editing of video for news programs. Emphasis is on the art of storytelling.

Instructor: Jones

Prerequisite: COM 3360

COM 3366- 001 Multimedia Journalism

Journalism is no longer defined by a single medium. Newspapers have become digital news organizations with print, online and mobile editions. Broadcast journalists have Facebook pages and Twitter accounts. Journalists are writing for digital media, shooting video, blogging, creating podcasts, and using social media to distribute their content and engage users. This course explores journalism across media platforms. Students will learn to write for a variety of media, create integrated news packages, and maintain strong journalistic principles, techniques and ethics within and across these varied platforms.

Instructor: Bradley

Prerequisite: COM 3360

COM 3390- 001 TOP: Studying Media and Religion

This course will explore the relationship between religious communities and the media, and how media contribute to our understanding of religion within popular culture. This will involve studying how religious communities and institutions respond to and utilize different forms of media, as well as how various media present religion and so shape ideas about popular religion.

Instructor: Campbell (Harron Chair)

Prerequisites: 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3442- 001 Teambuilding & Small Group Communication

The purpose of this class is to better understand how individuals communicate within groups, how groups are constituted in and through communication, and how groups communicate with other groups within and across organizations.  One communication scholar argues that the team, or small group, is the primary place to study organizational communication.

In this course, we will use theory, in-class team activities, and case studies to better understand the dynamics of group communication, productivity, and outcomes.  Along the way, you will gain valuable insights into your own strengths – and weaknesses – as a team member and have opportunities to develop valuable teamwork skills including exceptional listening and questioning, project planning, problem-solving, self-awareness, other-centeredness, and flexibility."

Instructor: Mandhana

Prerequisites: 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3460-001, 002 Public Relations

This course provides a foundation for students interested in the field of public relations. It chronicles the development of the profession from its earliest beginnings to its role in modern management. The course also attempts to bridge the gap that exists between theory and practice. It achieves this by emphasizing the fundamental management perspective of the profession and the persuasive intent of message construction while highlighting the four essential skills required for success in the industry - research, writing, planning and problem solving.

Instructor: Flanagan

Prerequisites: COM 2200, COM 2280, COM 2300, COM 2340, COM 2400 or COM 2440

COM 3461-100 Advertising

This introductory course in advertising provides students with an interest in advertising, public relations, organizational communication, and marketing communication, with a thorough understanding of the advertising structure. The course provides students with detailed information concerning the core skills required of advertising executives. Areas of study include the research process in advertising, the creative platform development and execution, the strategy involved in media planning and buying and the process of evaluating advertising effectiveness. Students gain hands-on experience in developing advertising executions and campaigns for a variety of products, services, individuals and ideas.

Instructor: Christopher Murray

Prerequisites: 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440

COM 3462-001, 002 Public Relations Writing

This course offers students the foundation for producing a variety of written public relations materials. The structure includes an overview of the journalistic style of writing along with extensive practice in writing fundamentals. Following the work on enhancing writing skills, students will develop a variety of pieces for their portfolios. Final class products include print news releases, position papers, feature stories, media advisories, media kit, and other related assignments. The course is strongly recommended for students interested in public relations, advertising, marketing, and organizational communication.

Instructor: Cowen, Flanagan

Prerequisites: COM 3460

COM 3464-001 Public Relations Campaigns

This course explores a variety of case studies in the field of public relations including examples in media relations, crisis communication and planning. Following the review of cases, student groups will be created and will spend the remainder of the semester developing a professional campaign for a client. The final project is a presentation of this overall public relations plan.

Instructor: Cowen

Prerequisite: COM 3462

COM 3490-002 TOP: Facilitation

A well-run meeting is a joy to behold—and requires an array of skills, from planning the agenda and setting the tone to managing air time and keeping discussions on track. How do you deal with difficult people, moderate your own reactions, and find common ground? How do you determine whether a meeting is even necessary? This course prepares students to be facilitative leaders in campus and community organizations throughout their undergraduate years and beyond. Whether students hold leadership roles on campus or in the community, serve as members in student or civic organizations, are part of study groups, or would like to expand their general repertoire of leadership skills, this course will help you learn various methods of facilitation, and develop and practice effective facilitation. Among other topics, the course will include the impact of social identities and values in understanding and managing group dynamics that occur within diverse groups; the unique interpersonal skills necessary for effective facilitation including active listening, asking questions, and receiving and giving feedback; the roles of conflict resolution and empathy in facilitative leadership; and techniques for effective management of facilitative groups. This course is not designed with a diversity attribute. However, Students must simultaneously take a 1-credit IGR (COM 5300) course: Please complete the form at  Course is ideal for those in Interpersonal or Organizational specializations, Peace and Justice, or GIS.

 Prerequisites: 2200, 2240, 2280, 2300, 2340, 2400 or 2440 or Permission of Instructor

Instructor: Bowen, Nance

COM 3600-001, 002 Social Justice Documentary

In the early part of the course, students will learn about an important issue through a series of lectures from various experts in the particular field. Simultaneously, they will learn the craft of documentary video production. Students will then go to a chosen client (a non-profit organization dedicated to a particular issue) and work in collaboration with the client to create a video that will explore and help to define the issue and reveal ways that social action can positively affect social circumstances. The end result will be the creation of a short (less than forty minutes) video. The video will also be submitted to appropriate film festivals. Enrollment is limited to eleven new students (and four returning students).

Instructor: Lewis – Section 001 – Diversity 3

Instructors: Marencik McWilliams, O’Leary – Section 002 – Diversity 1

Prerequisites: At least 3 credits of prior courses in relevant COM theory, film or social justice

Attributes: Peace & Justice; Section 001 – Diversity 3; Section 002 – Diversity 1.

Permission from Instructor required


COM 4000-4999

COM 4001-001, 002, 003 Qualitative Research in Communication

Review of basic principles of critical inquiry in the interpretive paradigm. Reading and designing qualitative research in communication through gathering and critically analyzing literature in the field and proposing an original study. Methods include ethnography and rhetorical textual analysis.

Instructors: Crable, MacDonald, Staff

Restricted to COM Majors

COM 4002-001, 002, 003 Quantitative Research in Communication

Reading and designing research in communication through gathering and critically

analyzing literature in the field and introduction of the chief methods used in communication studies, such as surveys, experiments, and content analyses.

Instructors: Ksiazek, Mandhana, Xu

Restricted to COM Majors

COM 5000-5999, Including Senior Project

COM 5050-001 Senior Project:

Communication and Civic Engagement

This section of Senior Project will explore the influential role communication plays in civic engagement, including nurturing democratic practices, recognizing and valuing diversity, and training active, responsible citizens. It will integrate theoretical perspectives on the ways in which communication practitioners and scholars can engage in civic issues, mobilize for social justice, and contribute to participatory democracy. Students will develop civic engagement projects grounded in a variety of perspectives within the discipline of communication studies including rhetoric, organizational communication, public relations, interpersonal communication, performance studies, journalism, and/or media studies.

Instructor: Murray 

Prerequisite: COM 4001 and COM 4002

Required Course for Seniors

COM 5050-002 Senior Project:

This section of Senior Project will explore concepts involved in health communication, such as provider-patient interaction, health information seeking, culture and health information, media health coverage, etc. Students will develop research projects grounded in models of health behavior and health promotion as used by communication scholars. Students can choose from analysis or evaluation of health promotion programs using qualitative or quantitative methods, and/or development of health promotion strategies based on original data collection.

Instructor: Bowen

Prerequisite: COM 4001 and COM 4002

Required Course for Seniors

COM 5050-003 Senior Project:

The Role of the Media in Shaping Attitudes, Beliefs &Values

This section of Senior Project invites students to investigate the nature and context of media experiences. The specific focus of these investigations will center upon the role of the media in shaping attitudes, beliefs, and/or values. Methodological approaches that afford us the opportunity to witness the potential influence of the media will be privileged. Television as the dominant medium of our culture will also be privileged; however, students are welcome to explore other channels of mass communication as their research questions so warrant.

Instructor: Woodard

Prerequisite: COM 4001 and COM 4002

Required Course for Seniors

COM 5050-004 Senior Project:

The scope of research in this section will be about interpersonal communication. Students will choose among a variety of interpersonal communication related topics. Example areas are communication competence (e.g., interviews, workplace, intercultural contexts, etc.), supportive communication (e.g., providing counsel to patients, providing support in difficult life situations, etc.), conflict management (e.g., finding win-win solutions, understanding avoidance, etc.), relational management (friendship, romantic, family relationship, physician-patient, etc.), and role management (e.g., school-leisure balance). Quantitative research methods are preferred, but qualitative methods are welcome too.

Instructor: Qi Wang

Prerequisite:  COM 4001 and COM 4002

Required Course for Seniors

COM 5050-005 Senior Project:

This section invites students to adopt the lens of rhetorical/critical analysis of social media messages and platforms. Projects that adopt a feminist or gender studies perspective are particularly encouraged, however other perspectives are also possible.  Group projects will take the form of the traditional academic essay.

Instructor: Mackey-Kallis

Prerequisite: COM 4001 and COM 4002

Required Course for Seniors

COM 5300 Topics in Intergroup Relations (IGR)

[Also offered in Graduate section 8013-001]

(One-credit courses) – Permission of Chairperson required. Three IGR courses can be used as Free Elective, Diversity 1. They do not have to be taken in the same semester.

COM 5300-100, 101, 102, 103, 104, 106 TOP: IGR: Dialogue

M 6:00-8:00 IGR (Intergroup Relations) are 1-credit courses focusing on creating understanding relationships among people from different social identity groups (e.g., economic, racial and ethnic). This is accomplished by developing the communication skills of dialogic listening, empathy, and intentional engagement. In Fall of 2018, all COM 5300 IGR courses will meet Mondays, 6-8pm

Students must complete application at and attend all classes; Students will be assigned to topical dialogues on gender, racial identity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, and ability.

Instructor: multiple

Attributes: Peace & Justice, Diversity 1

Permission of Director required.

In addition, one advanced course will be offered on a weekend during the second half of the semester:

COM 5300-107 IGR: Dialogue-Advanced Race

Advanced Race will take place on a Friday 6-8:30pm and Saturday 9am-5pm.

All students must complete the form at and attend all classes; Students must have previously taken the Race or Racial Identity IGR course.

Instructor: multiple

Attributes: Peace & Justice, Diversity 1

Class meeting dates:

Permission of Director required.

COM 5600-100 Production Workshop: Interviewing

Interviewing is an art form. In unscripted content creation, the interview is critical in telling a story. This class will give students the tools and confidence necessary to conduct any type of television interview. From the initial research stage to the lighting of the actual interview, this course will cover a wide range of tasks needed to conduct a powerful productive interview. Intimate portraits brought to life on the screen. No matter what screen you are watching it on!

Instructor: staff

Class dates: 9/28 6-9pm, 9/29 9am-5pm