Contact a Humanities Office or Academic unit.
Find your course outlines.

CMST 1A03 Introduction To Communication (C01)

Academic Year: Fall 2019

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Lyndsey Beutin


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 309

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 25211

Office Hours: Tues & Weds 4:30-5:30pm

Course Objectives:

By the end of the 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;
  • Apply concepts from class within written and creative media production;
  • Sharpen critical thinking and writing skills and improve their ability to express ideas verbally.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

Gasher, M. Skinner, D., & Lorimer, R. (2016). Mass Communication in Canada. 8th ed. Don Mills, ON: Oxford University Press.

Textbook is available at the McMaster University Campus Store. 

Method of Assessment:

Course Requirements:

Participation 15% (note: tutorials begin week of September 9, 2019)

Op-Ed 15% due in tutorials, week of September 23, 2019

Midterm Exam 20% taken in tutorials, week of October 21, 2019

Commz Fix-It Ad Campaign 25% due in tutorials, week of November 18, 2019

Final exam (cumulative) 25% during the scheduled exam period, Dec. 6-19

Note: Omitting to submit any of the above assignments will result in automatic failure.

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 citation style for in-text citation and bibliography. Double-sided printing is fine. All assignments are due AT THE BEGINNING OF TUTORIAL. The TAs and the instructor retain the right to require submission of written assignments to Turn It In (on Avenue to Learn) in certain cases. In such cases, you will find drop boxes on Avenue to Learn (A2L).

Do not attempt to submit your assignment to the CSMM Office, or to the instructor. E-mailed assignments will not be accepted. Once your assignment is marked, it should be picked up from your TA during tutorials. Late assignments will be penalized one letter grade for each day after the deadline (e.g. an A grade becomes an A-, a C- becomes a D, and so on). For your own protection, always keep a copy of any assignment you hand in.

You must submit your own original work, completed independently. Work that has been submitted elsewhere, uses unattributed passages from the work of others, or that has been borrowed from another source, is considered plagiarism and the consequences may be severe. Please see below for further information regarding McMaster’s policy on academic integrity.

Participation: Students are expected to attend lectures and tutorials regularly and on time. The exams will cover material from the lectures as well as the readings. Students will be responsible for catching up on any material missed. The participation mark will be derived mainly from tutorial participation (e.g. contribution to discussion, answering questions and completing in-class exercises), although students are also encouraged to participate in lecture where possible. Disruptive behaviour (e.g. talking/texting during class) will negatively affect the participation mark.

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. Do not expect the instructor or the TAs to provide notes or to recap the material for you.
  • Participation means that you are fully present. If you are on your devices, social media, etc., you are not present and you are also disturbing the people around you.

Tutorials: Tutorials will begin the week of September 9, 2019. Each student must register for and attend weekly tutorials.

  • Tutorials have several purposes: 1. To practice applying the concepts covered in lecture in order to better understand them; 2. To review and clarify material covered in the textbook and in the lectures; 3. To develop study skills and other academic skills applicable to your university career.
  • Tutorial is mandatory; attendance will be taken. Participation is required. TAs will assign additional assignments and activities. Evaluation will consist of participation and completion of assignments.

Op-Ed: Students will submit an 800-900 word Op-Ed to their teaching assistants on a specific topic. Suggested topics will be provided in class and further details about writing an effective Op-Ed will be provided in class and on Avenue to Learn. Op-Eds should express an opinion about the assigned topic, should draw upon details from the course content, and should follow the proper format for an Op-Ed. The Op-Ed is due in tutorials during the week of September 23, 2019.

Midterm Exam: Students will take a mid-term exam in tutorials during the week of October 21, 2019. In order to complete the exam successfully, you must provide answers that incorporate content from readings and lectures. Exam format will be multiple choice and true/false.

Commz Fix-It Commercial: Working in groups of three, students will select a “problem” in communication that we have covered and develop a product to “fix” it. The products can be as practical or as creative, futuristic, and conceptual as you see fit (i.e. a TV screen adaptor that filters out news bias or a spray cologne that makes you invisible to surveillance). Groups will produce a 2-3 minute radio or TV commercial that describes the problem, why it needs to be fixed, how the product works to fix it, and where and how to purchase the product, making sure the commercial appeals to the target audience. Commercials will be aired/presented in tutorials the week of Nov. 18th. Each member of the group will also submit an individually authored 300-500 word written reflection on the goals and outcomes of the project. Further details will be provided on A2L.

Final exam: The exam will take place during the scheduled exam period. Students are expected to answer all of the questions using key concepts learned from course readings and lecture material over the course of the semester. The format will be multiple choice.

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

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.

Missed Classes: 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. Do not expect the instructor or the TAs to provide notes or to recap the material for you.

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 and it is our collective responsibility to build trust, respect, and inclusion in the classroom. Any online interaction must also follow these guidelines.

Avenue To 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.

Late Assignments: All assignments are due AT THE BEGINNING OF TUTORIAL. Do not attempt to submit your assignment to the CSMM Office or to the instructor. E-mailed assignments will not be accepted unless otherwise noted. ONLY the op-ed will be accepted without penalty within 5 days from the official deadline. After the passing of the five-day gratis period, your TAs will not accept late assignments. If you choose to use the five-day gratis period for submission of your op-ed, you are not allowed to use MSAF in pursuit of further extensions. For your own protection, always keep a copy of any assignment you hand in.

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:


September 3 & 4: Introduction: Does media control us? Do we control media?


September 10 & 11: What is Communication?

Readings: Chapter 1

September 17 & 18: What do we mean by “culture”? What do we mean by “politics”?

Readings: Chapter 2

September 24 & 25: Representation: How do ads get us?

Readings: Chapter 4

**Op-Ed due in tutorial**

October 1 & 2: Audiences & Surveillance: Who is talking to whom? Who else is listening?

Readings: Chapter 5

October 8 & 9: Communication Technologies: Can an algorithm be racist?

Readings: Chapter 6

October 16 & 18: Mid-term Recess – no class!


October 22 & 23: Canadian Broadcasting Policy: What influences policymaking?

Readings: Chapter 7

**Mid-term Exam in tutorials (Ch.1-2 & 4-6)**

October 29 & 30: Convergence & Cultural Sovereignty

Readings: Chapter 8

November 5 & 6: Media Political Economy: Capitalism or Democracy?

Readings: Chapter 9

November 12 &13: Journalism: What, exactly, is “fake” about fake news?

Readings: Chapter 10


November 19 & 20: Globalization, Imperialism, and Resistance

Readings: Chapter 11

**Screening of Fix-it Commercials in Tutorials**

November 26 & 27: Will Facebook take over the world? (Did it already?)

Readings: Chapter 12

December 3 & 4: Review

Exam will be scheduled during the examination period, December 6-19

Other Course Information:

TA Contact Info: TBA