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Degree Requirements for MA in Communication and New Media

M. A. Degree

Admission to the program will be on a fulltime basis only, starting in September of the academic year.

Admission to the M.A. degree program will normally require an Honours Bachelor’s degree (four-year degree) in a Communication Studies and/or Multimedia program, or its equivalent with a minimum grade point average of B+ (equivalent to a McMaster 9 GPA out of 12) in the last 10 one‐term courses relevant to studies in communication and digital media.

Students holding Honours Bachelor’s degrees (fouryear degrees) from other disciplines in the humanities, the fine arts and the social sciences may also be considered, if they can demonstrate sufficient training in Communication Studies and Multimedia to undertake studies at the graduate level.

Degree Requirements

The M.A. in Communication and New Media will be typically completed within twelve months. Students will complete six 3unit courses and the yearlong pro seminar, in addition to a major research project (either a 40page research paper/project or a digital media project supported by a shorter paper).

Course Requirements

Course requirements consist of required core courses in methodologies relevant to communication studies and new media (CMST&MM *700, CMST&MM *712 and CMST&MM 799; see Course List) and four elective courses from the Course List.  Students  may take one course from another graduate program, subject to departmental approval, in lieu of an elective course from the Course List.  Students must achieve a grade of at least a B- in all courses they take for credit in order to qualify for the degree.

Major Research Project

In addition to the course requirements, students will complete a major research project under the supervision of a core faculty member. The major research project will be evaluated on a Pass/Fail basis by the project supervisor and second reader.

There are two options for the major research project:

  1. A paper (approximately 40 pages) based on original research.
    The paper will provide an opportunity to apply methodological skills acquired in the research methods courses (CSMM 700, 712) to theoretical and substantive issues taken up in other courses.
  2. A digital media project (e.g., a work of art, performance, or installation; methodological tool; a software application; an educational application, or a digital game) together with a shorter paper (approximately 1520 pages) explaining the conception and development of the project.The digital media project may reflect expertise and knowledge acquired during course work.

Program Timetable

Students will normally take three courses in Term 1 and three courses in Term II, in addition to the pro seminar, which runs through terms I and II. Preparation for the major research project will normally begin in Term II. Between May and July, students are expected to meet regularly with their faculty supervisor and make steady progress on their research and writing. A first complete draft of the project is due to the supervisor no later than 1 July, a final draft is due to the second reader by 15 August, and the approved version of the project must be submitted to the department no later than 31 August.

Students are expected to complete all program requirements within 12 months of entry.

Required Courses

All students are required to take CSMM 700, CSMM 712, and CSMM 799. CSMM 700 and CSMM 712 are half-year courses, both of which are offered in Term I. CSMM 799 is a full-year course.

700 / Communication Research Methods
This course provides an overview of research methodology relevant to the study of human communication. Topics include formulation of a research problem and research questions, appropriate methods of data gathering (questionnaires, focus groups, interviewing, ethnography, digitalized document collection), and data analysis (quantitative and qualitative approaches).

712 / New Media Methods
This course provides a broad overview of the methods and processes of making new media works in a collaborative studio setting.  Students will develop or expand competency in a medium of their choice, realizing a project through the following research-creation stages: conceptualization, planning, analysis of source materials, composition, revision, enhancement, presentation/exhibition, and documentation/archiving.

799 / ProSeminar
This graduate proseminar provides a broad examination of theories and practices in the areas of Communication Studies and New Media.  There will be no assignments but attendance is mandatory and a Pass/Fail grade will be assigned based on attendance.

Elective Courses

All students are required to take four elective courses from the list below. Offerings will vary from year to year depending on student and faculty interest. All courses listed below run for one term.

702 / Media and Social Issues
An analysis of relationships between mass media and modern society. Topics may include ideology and agendasetting in the news, representations of social problems (e.g., homelessness, violence), moral panics, media scandals, media and violence, media and racism, media and religion, media and social activism, etc.

703 / New Media Studio
This course examines the impact of new media technologies, ranging from cell phones to websites and interactive installations, on communication and culture from the perspective of both commercial and artistic applications.

704 / Media, Discourse and Reality
This course will investigate different forms of communication using the methods of discourse analysis. Cognitive and social theories of discourse will be examined from the perspectives of social theory, the philosophy of mind and hermeneutics. Questions of perspectivalism, reality, truth, rhetoric, power and persuasion will be explored. As well, the epistemological and ontological underpinnings of research design will be discussed, with specific application in a major case study assignment.

705 / Digital Media and Cultural Exchange
This course investigates the social, cultural, and political impacts of participation in the production and exchange of digital information and culture.  It will consider a broad range of digital media practices and their effects within the context of neoliberalism.  Topics may include: theories of interactivity and participatory culture, user-generated content, immaterial labour, free labour, the neoliberal condition, and information technology and capitalism.

706 / Technologies of Communication
This course will examine technological dimensions of communication practices from various perspectives (e.g., actor-network theory, media ecology, science studies, material cultural studies, and policy formation). Topics may include: the debate over technological determinism; feminist critiques of technology; bio‐technology as a communicative medium; technology and democracy; and media technologies in historical and cross‐cultural perspective.

707 / Theoretical Issues in Media, Culture and Communication
This course examines selected theories and theoretical issues in communication (e.g. the history of communication as object and field of study, critical approaches to the study of communication, and socio-cultural approaches to the study of communication). The main focus will be to advance understanding of normative frameworks of media and communication . Specific topics may vary from year to year.

708 / Selected Topics in Communication and New Media
This course consists of an examination of different aspects of communication and new media as determined by the course instructor.

709 / Independent Study
Students will undertake an indepth examination of a particular topic of their choice under the supervision of a faculty member. This course may be taken no more than once. Departmental permission required.

710 / International Communication
This graduate course in international communication and diaspora is intended to provide greater understanding of transnational/international communication concepts and debates, such as globalization, imperialism, dependency and modernization theory, diaspora, hybridity, and cosmopolitanism. Each concept will be examined and debated in some depth, in the context of contemporary examples.

711 / Sound as Art and Research
This course explores sound both practically and theoretically, with an emphasis on creative work in various forms of audio production. Studio, field recording and interactive techniques are comprehensively introduced, refined and then examined from the point of view of diverse methodologies, including phenomenology, spectromorphology, psychoacoustics and action research.

713 / Media Effects and Society
This course explores the relationships between the mass media (traditional, digital, owned and emerging) and society through an analysis of media effects theory and research. Particular attention will be given to: understanding the media’s influence on social and political agendas; determining how the media cultivate audiences and frame social actors; assessing the economic, political and social influences on individual media creators (journalists); and, investigating the growing impact of social media on traditional media effects theory building.

714 / Feminism, Technology and Science
 This course investigates contemporary academic scholarship, and art and media practices, residing in the interstices of feminism, technology and sciences studies with particular focus on cultural practices. It employs the resources of FemTechNet, a network of scholars and artists producing video dialogues and other curriculum in an innovative model of open source pedagogical delivery termed the DOCC (distributed, open, collaborative, course). The course invites a range of critical interventions (textual, media and art informed practices) that interrogate the productive intersections of these thematics. Course content will address how feminism emboldens and articulates emerging cultural concepts and issues, including queer and transgender representations, mobile, locative and wearable media practices, data informatics and politics.

715 / Cultural Memory, the Media and “Us”
 In this class, students will examine how society is affected by the pervasive pasts – historical, national, cultural, personal – propagated through a range of media and media forms. Moving beyond questions of “historical accuracy”, students will consider how scholars have theorized these pasts and their mediation through several much-debated concepts, including collective memory, the archive, and nostalgia. Students will attend throughout the course to how mediated accounts of the past help shape normative concepts of group and individual identity, as well as to how these concepts may be challenged, making space for other stories and, even, for other futures. Students will engage with these debates through live and virtual discussion and the completion of a final research paper.

716 / Critical Perspectives on Documentary
This course explores documentary film/video practices through theoretical writings and film/video screenings. Course readings will include historical and contemporary texts, particularly those that interrogate forms, concepts, and approaches to documentary. Close analysis of films screened will inform our discussions, with a focus on artistic interventions and subversions of traditional modes of documentary.

717 / Youth, New Media, and Culture
This course explores the relationship between youth and new media and from critical media studies, critical political economy, and feminist studies perspectives. The course considers how childhood and youth are constructed and experienced via the production and reproduction of social, cultural, political and individual lives via new media. Questions around the power of self-expression, self-representation, and youth social activism will be investigated alongside investigations of social phenomenon involving new media. How media represent youth and technology will also be addressed. Attention will be paid to how gender, race/ethnicity, sexuality, class, abledness, and other positionalities structure youth’s engagement with new media technology.  The class will engage in debates around digital literacy and digital youth/childhood.

718 / Critical Approaches to Communication Policy & Law
This course provides an introduction to communication policy and law, focusing on critical analysis.  Examining both private and public forms of regulation, topics may include internet regulation, privacy, broadcasting, telecommunications regulation, and intellectual property, drawing on critical political economy, feminist, critical race theory, postcolonial theory, governmentality, and other critical approaches.

719/ Media and Mimesis: Installation and Performance Media
Computational creative media may be used by artists to enhance the scale, scope, and resolution of artistic re-presentation of nature and culture. This studio course explores acts of imitation through artistic production at the nexus of body, space and digital media. Working individually or in groups, participants will create interactive digital media artworks involving performance and/or installation that investigate and address, for example, fakery, illusions, deception, stereotypes, appropriation, artificial agents, virtual worlds, and altered states. The use of ephemeral media, such as lighting, sensor feeds, virtual and augmented reality, and audio-visual projection, will be emphasized. Prerequisite: 712/New Media Methods.

720 / Data Cultures
In this course, students will examine the ways in which contemporary life and the environments we inhabit are captured as data and mediated through data-driven technologies. Students will consider how data shape and are shaped by the entities, instruments, practices, contexts and knowledges used to collect, interpret, share, monetize and store data. Attention will be paid to the epistemological, ethical, material, political and economic dimensions of data, with a focus on interrogating contemporary data paradigms in relation to positionalities, such as race, ethnicity, gender, class, sexuality. Students will engage in these debates through class discussions and presentations, self-reflexive writing, and the completion of a research project.

Cross-Listed Courses

GSFR 703 / CSMM 701 Media, Gender, and Performance

This course examines how gendered identities are performed and/or constructed in complex social, historical, and cultural processes and conditions. Particular attention is paid to the impact of the media and mediation upon gender performance. Topics may include fashion, popular music, and queer genders.

BUSINESS P371 / CSMM 731 Crisis Management and Communication

This course provides students with conceptual tools to successfully manage complex organizational crisis scenarios. Topics include managing issues and media, dealing with special interest groups, addressing social media risks and facilitating legislative and regulatory communications. Class time will be comprised primarily of lectures, discussions, case studies, guest speakers and in-class simulations. Evaluation components include class participation, written case analysis, publishing of a reflective crisis blog and final exam.