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CMST 1A03 Introduction To Communication (C01)

Academic Year: Winter 2019

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Terry Flynn


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 329

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 26977


Office Hours: Tuesday & Wednesday 12:00pm – 2:00pm or by appointment

Course Objectives:

After taking this course, students should be able to:

  • Understand models of communication;
  • Think critically about the role of media in society;
  • Reflect on major social and political implications of media in society;
  • Debate major issues about media production, content, audiences, policy, and technology;
  • Discuss underlying tensions and debates in the field;
  • Consider how communication and media can be part of a toolkit for community engagement; and
  • Sharpen critical thinking, writing and presentation skills.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Required texts: The required textbook for the course is:

Gasher, M., Skinner, D., & Lorimer, R. (2016). Mass Communication in Canada, 8th Edition, Toronto: OUP, available at the bookstore. Any additional readings will be uploaded on Avenue to Learn.

Required Course Materials

We will be using the Top Hat ( classroom response system in class. You will be able to submit answers to in-class questions using Apple or Android smartphones and tablets, laptops, or through text message.

You can visit the Top Hat Overview ( within the Top Hat Success Center which outlines how you will register for a Top Hat account, as well as providing a brief overview to get you up and running on the system.

An email invitation will be sent to you by email, but if don’t receive this email, you can register by simply visiting our course website:

Note: our Course Join Code is 328913

Top Hat will require a paid subscription, and a full breakdown of all subscription options available can be found here:

Should you require assistance with Top Hat at any time, due to the fact that they require specific user information to troubleshoot these issues, please contact their Support Team directly by way of email (, the in app support button, or by calling 1-888-663-5491.

Method of Assessment:

Required Course Assignments:

Tutorial participation:                            Ongoing, weekly

Op-Ed Piece:                                        Week 5

Take-home midterm exam:                   Week 9

Media and Society Analysis:                 Week 11

Final Exam:                                          Scheduled during the April exam session


Breakdown of assignments:

Tutorial participation:                            15 %

Top Hat engagement/attendance         10 %

Mid-Term Quizzes (two):                      25 % (total)

Quiz 1:                                                 12.5 %

Quiz 2:                                                 12.5 %

Op-Ed Piece:                                       10 %

Media and Society Analysis:                20 %

Final Exam:                                          20 %

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignment Submission/Turn It In: All papers/assignments must be typed, dated and titled in 12-point font, stapled, and include page numbers. Heading must include TA’s name and tutorial section. Please use APA or MLA citation style for in-text citation and references/bibliography. Double-sided printing is fine. All assignments are due AT THE BEGINNING OF TUTORIAL. If your assignment is not handed in at the beginning of the tutorial it will be deemed “late” and late penalties will begin. The TA’s and the instructor retain the right to demand submission of all written assignments to Turn It In (on A2L) in cases when plagiarism is suspected. For all assignments, you will find drop boxes on A2L.

Do not attempt to submit your assignment to the CSMM Office, or to the instructor. Emailed assignments will not be accepted. Once your assignment is marked, it should be picked up from your TA during tutorials.

Late Assignments:  ONLY the Op-Ed and the Media Analysis Assignments will be accepted without penalty within 5 days from the official deadline. After the passing of the five-day grace period, your TA’s will not accept late assignments and you will be assigned a grade of zero (0%). Please note, if you choose to use an MSAF for a late assignment, the MSAF is for a maximum period of three days and can only be used for the assignment’s due date, so even if you submit an MSAF, you will not get additional time beyond the five-day grace period.

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Integrity

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity. It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  • plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  • improper collaboration in group work.
  • copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Authenticity / Plagiarism Detection

Some courses may use a web-based service ( to reveal authenticity and ownership of student submitted work. For courses using such software, students will be expected to submit their work electronically either directly to or via Avenue to Learn (A2L) plagiarism detection (a service supported by so it can be checked for academic dishonesty.

Students who do not wish to submit their work through A2L and/or must still submit an electronic and/or hardcopy to the instructor. No penalty will be assigned to a student who does not submit work to or A2L. All submitted work is subject to normal verification that standards of academic integrity have been upheld (e.g., on-line search, other software, etc.). To see the Policy, please go to

Courses with an On-Line Element

Some courses use on-line elements (e.g. e-mail, Avenue to Learn (A2L), LearnLink, web pages, capa, Moodle, ThinkingCap, etc.). Students should be aware that, when they access the electronic components of a course using these elements, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster e-mail accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in a course that uses on-line elements will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure please discuss this with the course instructor.

Online Proctoring

Some courses may use online proctoring software for tests and exams. This software may require students to turn on their video camera, present identification, monitor and record their computer activities, and/or lockdown their browser during tests or exams. This software may be required to be installed before the exam begins.

Conduct Expectations

As a McMaster student, you have the right to experience, and the responsibility to demonstrate, respectful and dignified interactions within all of our living, learning and working communities. These expectations are described in the Code of Student Rights & Responsibilities (the "Code"). All students share the responsibility of maintaining a positive environment for the academic and personal growth of all McMaster community members, whether in person or online.

It is essential that students be mindful of their interactions online, as the Code remains in effect in virtual learning environments. The Code applies to any interactions that adversely affect, disrupt, or interfere with reasonable participation in University activities. Student disruptions or behaviours that interfere with university functions on online platforms (e.g. use of Avenue 2 Learn, WebEx or Zoom for delivery), will be taken very seriously and will be investigated. Outcomes may include restriction or removal of the involved students' access to these platforms.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) at 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. For further information, consult McMaster University’s Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities policy.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

Request for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work
McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar "Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work".

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances (RISO)

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religious, indigenous or spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the RISO policy. Students should submit their request to their Faculty Office normally within 10 working days of the beginning of term in which they anticipate a need for accommodation or to the Registrar's Office prior to their examinations. Students should also contact their instructors as soon as possible to make alternative arrangements for classes, assignments, and tests.

Copyright and Recording

Students are advised that lectures, demonstrations, performances, and any other course material provided by an instructor include copyright protected works. The Copyright Act and copyright law protect every original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including lectures by University instructors.

The recording of lectures, tutorials, or other methods of instruction may occur during a course. Recording may be done by either the instructor for the purpose of authorized distribution, or by a student for the purpose of personal study. Students should be aware that their voice and/or image may be recorded by others during the class. Please speak with the instructor if this is a concern for you.

Extreme Circumstances

The University reserves the right to change the dates and deadlines for any or all courses in extreme circumstances (e.g., severe weather, labour disruptions, etc.). Changes will be communicated through regular McMaster communication channels, such as McMaster Daily News, A2L and/or McMaster email.

Topics and Readings:

Course Schedule






Week 1

Jan 8 &9

Introduction to the Course

Media & Society

Ch 1


Week 2

Jan 15 & 16

Communication: Social and Cultural Forms

Ch 2

Tutorials Begin

Week 3

Jan 22 & 23

Media History and Canadian Context

Ch 3


Week 4

Jan 29 & 30

Media Content and Meaning

Ch 4


Week 5

Feb 5 & 6

Media Audiences

Guest Lectures: Dr. Alex Sevigny


Ch 5


Op-Ed Assignment

(Due in tutorial)

Week 6

Feb 12 & 13

Technology & Communication

Ch 6

Quiz #1 (Chapters 1-5)

The Quiz will be held in Tutorial

Week 7

Reading Week



Week 8

Feb 26 & 27

Formation of Communication Policy

Ch 7


Week 9

Mar 5 & 6

Media Sectors


Ch 8


Week 10

Mar 12 & 13

Political Economy of the Media

Ch 9


Week 11

Mar 19 & 20

Journalism, News & Democracy

Ch 10

Media & Society Analysis (Due in tutorial)

Week 12

Mar 26 & 27

Globalization and International Communication

Ch 11

Quiz #2 (Chapters 6-10)

The Quiz will be held in Tutorial

Week 13

April 2 & 3

Communication in a Digital Age



Ch 12


Week 14

April 9



Final exam remarks


April Exam Period

Final Exam (2 hours)

All chapters from Textbook



Other Course Information:

A Note on Lecture Participation:

Being a student in this course comes with several responsibilities.

  • Please come to class with the readings completed, and ready to discuss readings and engage in class activities.
  • Please be punctual, and stay for the entire session, as you are responsible for any announcements made at the beginning and/or end of class.
  • If you miss class, it is your responsibility to get notes from a classmate, and to be prepared for the next class meeting, with all assignments/readings ready. Lecture notes will not be posted online or emailed.
  • Please also be present—existentially speaking—in class. If you are on your devices (social media, texting, etc.) you are not present, and you are also disturbing the people around you.

Tutorials: Tutorials will begin the week of January 14, 2019. Each student must register for and attend weekly tutorials. Tutorials have two purposes: 1. to help you work through course material and apply the concepts to new situations; 2. to deliver skills-building activities relevant to your university studies. Tutorial is mandatory; attendance will be taken. Participation is required, with the same guidelines outlined for lecture. TAs will assign additional assignments and activities. Evaluation will consist of participation and completion of assignments.

Op-Ed: This assignment will ask students to write an editorial opinion article (Op-Ed) (800-900 words) from a list of topics provided by the instructor. Further description and rubric will be provided. 

Media & Society Analysis: This assignment will ask students to write an analysis (1300-1500 words) on a core debate regarding media and society. A list of possible topics will be provided. Other topics must be cleared with the TA. This assignment may be completed as a written assignment. Further description of each option and rubric will be provided. 

Mid-Term Quizzes: Two (2) 50-question, mid-term quizzes will be conducted during your tutorial groups. You will have the entire tutorial period to complete the quizzes.

Final Exam: Scheduled by the University. The final exam will cover the entire course and will be a mixed format (multiple choice and true/false questions). Comprehensive review and preparation for the final exam will be done both in lectures and tutorials.


Announcements: The instructor reserves the right to make adjustments in the schedule. Regardless of attendance, students are responsible for all announcements made in class, including adjustments to readings and assignments. Students are responsible for regularly checking A2L for any information that may be distributed online.

Class Environment: It is important that this course be an inclusive classroom. The course will involve a high level of interaction, especially in tutorial, and some disagreement about issues is expected. It is important that each individual is free to contribute, so I ask that we respect each voice in the class and build an inclusive classroom. Any online interaction must also follow these guidelines.

Avenue 2 Learn: In this class, we will be using A2L. Students should be aware that when they access the electronic components of this course, private information such as first and last names, user names for the McMaster email accounts, and program affiliation may become apparent to all other students in the same course. The available information is dependent on the technology used. Continuation in this course will be deemed consent to this disclosure. If you have any questions or concerns about such disclosure, please discuss this with the instructor.