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Media and Communication Studies

Professors Edwards, Miller (Chair); Associate Professors Goodman, Woodstock; Assistant Professors Fleeger, Nadler; Lecturer Leppert

Based in the liberal arts, our program focuses on the creation, criticism, and impact of communication in our global society. This program emphasizes the role of media as it intersects with technological and social change and the centrality of communication to identity, social order, and democratic processes.

Drawing upon social scientific and humanistic traditions, students in Media & Communication Studies explore the breadth of the field—from oral and written language, to television, film and digital media. Students may opt to concentrate in one or more of the following areas: (1) journalism, (2) digital media studies, (3) communication and culture, and/or (4) screen studies. The major provides students with experience in media-making, qualitative and quantitative research methods, as well as critical thinking, speaking and writing competencies, which together are vital to professional success and to full membership in our participatory democracy. Students in this major are prepared for graduate study or employment in journalism, film and television industries, public service organizations, public relations and advertising, as well as corporate communications and human resources.

Majors are encouraged to study abroad and to complete an internship as part of their department and college requirements. Only one internship may count toward the MCS major. The College’s proximity to Philadelphia, the nation’s fourth largest media market, offers our students a range of internship opportunities in print, broadcast, cable, film, advertising, public relations and digital media.

Majors are expected to participate actively in and to assume leadership roles with campus organizations associated with the field of communication. These include The Grizzly, the campus newspaper both print and online; WVOU, the campus online radio station; Forensics Society, the campus speech and debate team; and UCTV, the campus cable station.

Requirements for Majors

A major in Media and Communication Studies consists of 40 semester hours of credit, including: MCS-201, MCS-205, and MCS-292W; two courses selected from MCS-207 – MCS-290; two courses selected from MCS-300 - MCS-375; one capstone senior seminar selected from MCS-460W, 462W, or 464W, or completion of an Honors project in 492W; and at least two additional MCS elective courses. Any two Film Studies (FS) courses may count toward the MCS major. Students who wish to focus on screen studies may request permission from the Chair to count additional FS classes toward the major.

Majors are strongly encouraged to complete an internship (MCS-381 or 382); however, only one internship may count toward the MCS major. Up to four credits from MCS-001-016 may count towards the major. Students are encouraged to take MATH/STAT-141Q to fulfill the college mathematics and “Q” requirement. Media and Communication Studies majors can fulfill the college oral presentation and capstone requirements by taking one of the following: MCS-460W, 462W, 464W, or 492W.

Requirements for Minors

A minor in media and communication studies consists of 20 credit hours including MCS-205, two MCS courses between 300-375 and two electives, one of which may be a Film Studies course.

Four MCS Areas of Concentration Within the Major

These four areas of concentration are a guide for students who want to pursue a specific area within the communication field in greater depth based on interest and/or future plans. Students are not required to select concentrations and may fulfill the requirements for the major taking the core requirements and courses from any of the four areas.

1.     Journalism

Courses in this concentration provide students with a foundation in both the theoretical and practical aspects of journalism. Specifically, students develop skills that cross media platforms, and are encouraged to be conscientious and responsible media producers and citizens. Students interested in journalism are strongly recommended to include MCS 207 and a journalism-related internship in their course of study. 

MCS 207, MCS 208, MCS 209, MCS 210, MCS 212, MCS 254, MCS 315, MCS 330, MCS 360, MCS 363,  MCS 366      

2.     Digital Media Studies

Courses in this concentration critically explore the interaction among emerging media technologies’ content, production, diffusion, and consumption across cultures. Whether analyzing social media friend networks, race/class/gender digital divides on the Internet, the impact of television's move to streaming video, or producing and disseminating news and fiction online, students are challenged to ethically and thoughtfully produce content on these platforms while critically analyzing their social, economic, and political impact on audiences.

MCS 208, MCS 220, MCS 225, MCS 318, MCS 321, MCS 355, MCS 348, MCS 366

3.     Communication and Culture

Courses in this concentration explore how communication produces, affirms and transforms culture and expresses the core values of our society. Students examine a broad range of human activities and practices, from how families communicate to advertising and political debates in order to understand how communication can be used to exercise power, to develop and affirm identities, and foster connections with others. Research approaches such as ethnography, discourse and textual analysis, and phenomenology provide a means to understand multiple perspectives on communication.

MCS 209, MCS 307, MCS 340, MCS 348, MCS 330, MCS 331, MCS 350, MCS 358

4.     Screen Studies

Courses in this concentration are designed to help students achieve a critical and historical understanding of film, television and other visual media, as well as gain experience in media production. Students will examine how visual, audio and narrative elements produce meaning, and the relationship between visual studies and culture.

MCS 225, MCS/GWMS 319, MCS 321, MCS 326, MCS 360, MCS 363, FS 101, FS 235, FS 250, FS 251,

FS 252, FS 253, FS 305

Courses

MCS-001-008. Journalism Practicum Faculty

A learning experience in which students assume primary responsibility for editorial positions related to the publication of the print and online versions of The Grizzly. Prerequisites: MCS-207 or permission of the instructor. Graded S/U. One semester hour.

MCS-009-016. Media Practicum Dr. Miller, Dr. Nadler

A learning experience in which students assume primary responsibility for an applied media project. Student project proposals must be approved by the instructor. Prerequisites: any of the following - MCS-209, 210, 212, 220 or 225 or permission of the instructor. Graded S/U. One semester hour.

MCS-100. Topics in Media and Communication Studies Faculty

This course is an introductory seminar exploring theories, principles, and/or practices in the field of media and communication studies. Topics will vary. Enrollment is limited to freshmen and sophomores or permission of instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (May be designated SS or H, D, G or A, depending on topic)

MCS-201. Public Speaking: Speech and Criticism in a Democratic Society Faculty

Students construct, deliver, and critique speeches about significant public issues of the day. The course includes an introduction to rhetorical theory and criticism, as well as an introduction to the fundamentals of speech preparation and presentation. Four hours per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-205. Media and Society Dr. Edwards, Dr. Miller, Dr. Nadler, Dr. Woodstock

This course explores the role and influence of media in shaping social norms, political decision making, and individual beliefs and practices. In addition to a consideration of historical developments, the course engages contemporary issues such as corporate conglomeration, globalization, media convergence, digital culture, audiences as producers and receivers, and consumer culture. Three hours per week. Four hours per week (SS).

MCS-207. Print Journalism Faculty

This course introduces students to the principles of print journalism, including: information gathering, writing, editing and presentation of news under deadline. Students also explore issues related to libel, visual literacy, and changing audience demographics through the critical analysis, interpretation, and evaluation of various media outlets. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-208. Online Journalism Faculty

This course introduces students to the conventions of newswriting and publishing in new media platforms.Prerequisite: MCS-207 or permission of instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS)

MCS/ART-209. Documentary Photography Dr. Miller

This course introduces students to the concepts of visual documentation, social documentary style, photojournalism and ethics in photography as well as an historical perspective on the works of visual social documentarians. Students are required to conduct field work collecting digital still images to create visual narratives on a range of issues. Students enrolled in this course will need access to a digital camera to complete assignments. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (A)

MCS-210. Television Studio Production Dr. Miller, Faculty

An overview of the principles and techniques of studio television production. Emphasis is placed on translation of ideas into a visual format, program conceptualization, preproduction planning, script writing, critical analysis of the visual image, group work and peer review of programs. Program content will focus on non-fiction formats including broadcast journalism, public affairs and public service programming. Three hours of lecture and two hours of lab per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-212. Single Camera Production Dr. Miller, Faculty

An overview of the principles and techniques of single camera, electronic field production. Emphasis is placed on non-fiction program conceptualization, pre-production planning, single-camera script development and post-production techniques including linear and non-linear editing, and audio mixing. Prerequisites: MCS-210 or permission if instructor. Three hours of lecture and two hours of lab per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-220. Introduction to New Media Dr. Nadler

This course explores relationships between social change and emerging media while offering students a chance to create their own digital media projects. Students will learn how to construct and analyze digital media and interactive web-based content. Three hours of lecture, one hour of lab per week. Four semester hours. (A)

MCS-225. Digital Filmmaking Dr. Nadler

Introduces students to all stages of digital video production. Students will learn how to conceptualize, write, and develop a script, design a storyboard and visual treatment, and shoot and edit a digital short film. There will also be weekly readings, viewings, and discussions focused on the history and language of film. Prerequisite: MCS 210 or permission of instructor. Three hours of lecture and two hours of lab per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-254. Writing for the Media Faculty

This course introduces students to specialized forms of media writing, including: literary journalism, press releases, editorial and opinion writing, broadcast scripts and advertising copy basics. Students will adapt their writing for a variety of media formats and will recognize the differences in writing styles required by each medium. Students who took MCS 290 Special Topics- Journalism Genres may not take MCS-254. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.

MCS/IDS-256. Decoding Science Dr. Edwards, Dr. Winegar, Faculty

This course teaches students the art of critically reading primary research articles and translating them into news articles, policy papers and advocacy pieces for non-science audiences. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-275. Topics in Media Production Faculty

This course will focus on specific media production areas not covered in other applied courses in the MCS department. Three hours per week Four semester hours. (May be designated A. depending on topic)

MCS-292W. Communication Theory and Research Dr. Goodman, Dr. Woodstock

An exploration of the concepts and models of communication common to a wide range of communication contexts. Students are introduced to theories, research methods, and writing conventions common to media, rhetoric and interpersonal communication. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-298. Readings in Media and Communication Studies Faculty

Individual student-initiated study within the field on a selected topic culminating in the preparation of a critical bibliography of the works read, or other final product as determined by the faculty member supervising the readings. Prerequisites: MCS-292W, major or minor in media and communication studies, a written project proposal, and permission of a department faculty member to serve as adviser. This course is limited to second and third year majors or minors who want to explore an area of research with the expectation of continuing that research in an upper division independent study. One semester hour.

MCS-305. Dialogue and Community Dr. Goodman

An introduction to the theory and practice of collaborative communication and dialogue. Special attention is given to the role of dialogue in conflicts of ideas in the public domain. Students plan and facilitate a series of small group conversations on the Ursinus campus. Students who have taken MCS 264 may not take MCS 305. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H.)

MCS-307. Conflict and Communication Dr. Goodman

Taking a communication perspective, this course examines the nature of conflict in American society and offers alternatives to unilateral power based strategies of conflict resolution. Students are introduced to theories about the nature and kinds of conflict, as well as differing models for managing conflicts. They learn to map and analyze real life conflict situations in interpersonal, inter-group, and organization contexts and work with skills and models for conflict resolution. Students who have taken MCS 284 may not take MCS 307. Three hours per week Four semester hours. (SS.)

MCS-315. Media Ethics Faculty

This course addresses ethical issues across media platforms in news, entertainment, public relations and advertising. Students think through ethical challenges such as the use of anonymous sources in journalism, editing images in advertising and crisis management. Students will conduct case study analyses of ethical dilemmas in the media. Students who took MCS 290- Special Topics- Media Ethics may not take MCS-315. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H)

MCS-318. Facebook Nation Dr. Edwards

This class focuses on the dynamics between Facebook and culture (U.S. and global), asking 3 questions:  1) How are new communication technologies revolutionary?  2) How are they continuities of traditional media in terms of content, audiences, advertising, and corporate ownership?  3) Do cultural changes determine advancements in communication technologies or do changes in communication technologies determine cultural changes? Students will critically examine the relationship between techno-cultural theory and Facebook use, demonstrating mastery of these concepts in research, writing, class discussions, and presentations. Students who took Facebook Nation previously as MCS-100 or 290 may not take MCS-318. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS)

MCS/GWMS-319. Sex, Race and Comedy Dr. Edwards

Students will learn to critically analyze the subversive power of comedy in exploring issues of race, gender, sexual orientation and class in American media. Students who took MCS 100 or 285 as Sex, Race and Sitcoms may not take MCS-319. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS, D)

MCS-321. Into the Matrix Dr. Edwards

This course explores the cultural myths about race, gender and technology found in science fiction television and film and what they say about our past and our future. Students who took MCS-285 as Into the Matrix may not take MCS-321. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H)

MCS-326. Critical Analyses in Popular Culture Dr. Edwards, Dr Woodstock

An intensive examination of media texts from a variety of critical perspectives, including (but not limited to): auteur, genre, feminist and cultural criticism. Topics will vary. Four hours per week. Four semester hours. (H)

MCS-330. Freedom of Expression Dr. Woodstock

This course examines the theoretical and historical underpinnings of how we think about freedom of expression and its importance to societies organized around the idea of democracy. The course will contrast two intellectual approaches to the role of expression in Western society: the classical liberal and the romantic. We will explore the historical development of these ideas, analyze how they were applied in landmark cases, as well as challenge ourselves to apply these systems of logic to contemporary speech controversies. We will conclude by considering how new media technologies are shaped and challenged by the ideals and practices of free expression. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H.)

MCS/BE-331. Critical Analysis of Organizational Communication Dr. Goodman

This course focuses on the study of talk in and about organizations, including an examination of communication theories of management, organizational codependency, organizational culture, power, and emotional labor. Students will be expected to conduct field research on an organization using a variety of methods. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS.)

MCS-340. Gender, Ethnicity and Communication Dr. Goodman

This course explores theories and research on gender, ethnicity and communication, with a particular focus on African American culture. Students will use two research methods to study the relationship between gender, ethnicity and communication: a discourse analysis and an autoethnography. The reading, writing, and discussions in the course will encourage students to cultivate more reflective communicative practice. Students who have taken MCS 286 may not take MCS 340.  Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (D, SS)

MCS-348. Global Media Dr. Miller

An examination of media within the global community. National media systems are analyzed within the context of the cultural, political and economic environments in which they developed and now operate. Technological advances in communication systems will be explored as the forces behind the recent growth of a global media system. Students will examine the role of transnational media ownership, globalization of culture especially in non-western nations and the vital role of new media technology in the rise of international terrorist organizations. Students who have taken MCS 288 may not take MCS 348. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS, G)

MCS-350. Intercultural Communication Dr. Goodman

An examination of face-to-face communication between people of different cultural backgrounds. Case studies are analyzed to identify differences in expectations, practices, and interpretations. Topics include cross-cultural comparisons of conversational style, power relations, language, and perception in educational, organizational, and social settings. This course may be a particular interest to students preparing to study abroad as well as those planning to work in international business, education, and politics. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (D, G)

MCS-355. Technology and Culture Dr. Edwards, Dr. Woodstock

This class focuses on the dynamics between new communication technologies and culture and asks 3 questions: How are new communication technologies revolutionary? How are they continuities of traditional media in terms of content, audiences, advertising, and corporate ownership? Do cultural changes determine advancements in communication technologies or do changes in communication technologies determine cultural changes? Students who have taken MCS 282 may not take MCS 355. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS.)

MCS-358. Persuasion: The Power of Language and the Visual Image Dr. Nadler

Using classical and contemporary concepts of rhetoric, students examine a number of genres of strategic persuasion, including propaganda, political campaign communication, and advertising. The goal is to discover and evaluate the persuasive resources relied upon. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (H)

MCS-360. News Analysis Dr. Woodstock, Dr. Edwards, Dr. Miller

A critical exploration of news culture. Students work with quantitative and qualitative methodologies to explore issues related (but not limited) to race, gender, class, and nationality in the production and consumption of American news. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS)

MCS-363. Audience Analysis Dr. Edwards

A qualitative and quantitative examination of the “audience” construct in historical and new media contexts. Three hours per week Four semester hours. (SS)

MCS-366. Digital Democracy Dr. Woodstock

This class explores uses of new communication technology in political and social organizing, with particular attention to subgroups within the US population and how issues of race, class, and gender interact with the opportunities and constraints of our digital democracy. The class emphasizes the theoretical and historical role of democracy in US society, and more specifically, of the role of media in fostering and/or inhibiting democratic participation. Three hours per week. Four semester hours. (SS)

MCS-375. Special Topics in Media and Communication Studies Faculty

This course will focus on a specific topic at an advanced theoretical or critical level within media and communication studies not covered in the other courses in the curriculum. Prerequisite: MCS-205 and four additional credit hours in MCS, or permission of the instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-381. Internship Faculty

An off-campus work experience under the supervision of a faculty adviser and an on-site supervisor. Includes periodic meetings with the faculty adviser and completion of an approved research project. Open to juniors and seniors. The term during which the internship work is performed will be noted by one of the following letters, to be added immediately after the internship course number: A (fall), B (winter), C (spring), or D (summer). Internships undertaken abroad will be so indicated by the letter I. The intern must complete a minimum of 120 hours of work. Graded S/U. Prerequisites: major or minor in MCS, three courses completed in the department, and approval of a faculty internship adviser.  Three semester hours. (I.)

MCS-382. Internship Faculty

An off-campus work experience under the supervision of a faculty adviser and an on-site supervisor. Includes periodic meetings with the faculty adviser and completion of an approved research project. Open to juniors and seniors. The term during which the internship work is performed will be noted by one of the following letters, to be added immediately after the internship course number: A (fall), B (winter), C (spring), or D (summer). Internships undertaken abroad will be so indicated by the letter I. The intern must complete a minimum of 160 hours of work. Graded S/U. Prerequisites: major or minor in MCS, three courses completed in the department, and approval of a faculty internship adviser.  Four semester hours. (I.)

MCS-391. Research in Media and Communication Studies Faculty

Independent research under the supervision of a faculty adviser. A final product and an oral presentation to the department on a specific topic in media and communication studies is required. Prerequisites: eight credits of course work (MCS-300-375) in media and communication studies, demonstrated competence in the specific area of a study, a written project proposal, and permission of a department faculty member who will serve as project adviser. Offered in the fall semester. Four semester hours (I.)

MCS-392. Research in Media and Communication Studies Faculty

Content, prerequisites, and requirements are the same as MCS-391. Offered in spring semester. Four semester hours. (I.)

MCS-411. Projects in Media and Communication Studies Faculty

Advanced individual work in media production. Prerequisites: eight credits of course work in media and communication studies between MCS 207-290, demonstrated competence in the specific area of production, a written project proposal, and permission of a department faculty member who will serve as project adviser. Four semester hours. (I.)

MCS-412. Projects in Media and Communication Studies Faculty

Content, prerequisites, and requirements are the same as MCS-411.  Four semester hours (I.)

MCS-460W. Seminar in Communication Criticism Dr.Woodstock

Students study the theories and practices of media criticism, applying them to historical or contemporary texts, such as popular music, films, news reportage, and fictional television. Students engage in research and writing and make an oral presentation of their findings. Prerequisites: MCS-201, MCS-205, MCS-292W, and one 300 level course between 300 and 375. Senior standing or permission of instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-462W. Seminar in Communication and Culture Dr. Goodman

Students work with ethnographic methods as a means to explore the communicative patterns and processes of groups, organizations, and institutions. Students will conduct fieldwork, analyze data, and write a research paper as well as make an oral presentation of their findings. Prerequisites: MCS 201, MCS-205, MCS-292W, and one 300 level course between 300 and 375. Senior standing or permission of instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-464W. Seminar in Media Analysis Dr. Edwards, Dr. Miller

Using quantitative and qualitative research methods, students analyze messages embedded in the entertainment, persuasive and information media. Focus is on the content and effects of television, film, recordings, and the internet. Students complete a research paper and make an oral presentation of their findings. Prerequisites: MCS-201, MCS-205, MCS-292W, and one 300 level course between 300 and 375. Senior standing or permission of instructor. Three hours per week. Four semester hours.

MCS-491. Research/Independent Work Faculty

This course is open to candidates for departmental honors with the permission of the instructor and the departmental chair. Prerequisites: MCS-201, MCS-205, MCS 292W, and one 300 level course between 300 and 375.  Four semester hours. (I.)

MCS-492W. Research/Independent Work Faculty

A continuation of MCS-491. Prerequisite: MCS-491. Four semester hours. (I.)