Communication Studies Major, B.A.

Department of Communication

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115 Bingham Hall, CB# 3285

(919) 962-2311

Patricia Parker, Chair

Sarah Dempsey, Director of Undergraduate Studies

sedempse@email.unc.edu

The study of communication is essential for participating in an increasingly complex and mediated global environment. The Department of Communication's mission is to advance communication for the public good. Through its teaching, research, and service, the department addresses the many ways communication functions to create, sustain, and transform personal life, social relations, political institutions, economic organizations, and cultural and aesthetic conventions in society; promotes competencies required for various modes of mediated and non-mediated communication; and develops skills for analyzing, interpreting, and critiquing communication problems and questions. The curriculum is designed to enable students to develop the capacities to be knowledgeable and responsible producers and consumers of communication through engagement, critique, and creativity. The programs of study offered by the department support a vision of citizen-scholars building a better North Carolina and world.

Department Programs

Majors

Minor

Graduate Programs

Student Learning Outcomes

  • An understanding of the major theories that define the field of communication and the relevance of these theories to sub-areas of the field. To demonstrate accomplishment of this objective, students should be able to
    • identify and apply major theories of communication
    • discuss the implications of selected communication theories for practice
    • describe the relevance of appropriate communication theories to the students’ chosen areas of focus and show how theories can be applied productively to those areas
  • An understanding of appropriate research methods in the field of communication and the relevance of these methods to their sub-areas of the field. Specifically, students should demonstrate that they can
    • describe the fundamental procedures of research methods in communication
    • critically assess research procedures used in communication research
    • make a research argument
    • utilize research skills, including finding library and electronic sources, citing and documenting research materials, synthesizing and drawing conclusions from research, and organizing and presenting original research
    • describe how communication research methods may be used to answer research questions in the students’ chosen areas of specialization.
  • A critical approach to the consumption and creation of communication in a communication rich and democratic environment. Specifically, students should demonstrate that they can
    • analyze and evaluate the use and meaning of visual, audio, and other sensory information and the way it conveys information to a viewer, reader, listener
    • exhibit competence in oral, verbal, and written communication skills
    • critique and engage in performative and mediated forms of communication in “real world” contexts
    • demonstrate knowledge of how communication practices may be used to transform and redefine specific communication situations (e.g., the use of communication strategies to resolve conflict in interpersonal, group, and organizational contexts).

Requirements 

In addition to the program requirements, students must

  • attain a final cumulative GPA of at least 2.0
  • complete a minimum of 45 academic credit hours earned from UNC–Chapel Hill courses
  • take at least half of their major course requirements (courses and credit hours) at UNC–Chapel Hill
  • earn a minimum of 18 hours of C or better in the major core requirements (some majors require 21 hours).

For more information, please consult the degree requirements section of the catalog.

Core Requirements
Three courses from the following with a grade of C or better in each:9
Introduction to Interpersonal and Organizational Communication H
Introduction to Media History, Theory, and Criticism H
Introduction to Performance Studies H
Rhetoric and Public Issues
Four COMM courses in a concentration (see descriptions below)12
Three COMM electives9
A minimum of 10 COMM courses, except for those students pursuing the new media option in the media and technology studies and production concentration described below
Three COMM courses must be numbered 400 or higher.
Total Hours30
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

A maximum of 15 COMM courses (45 hours) may be applied toward the B.A. degree.

Students are invited to work closely with faculty members in courses and through independent study, cocurricular programs, and research projects. Many courses are also open to nonmajors whose personal and professional goals require an understanding of human communication (consult course descriptions for restrictions).

Communication Studies (COMM) course descriptions.

Students should select one of the following concentrations and take a minimum of four courses within that concentration. Core courses do not count as one of the four required courses within the selected concentration. Additional courses that are not listed under any concentration may be used to meet major requirements.

Interpersonal and Organizational Communication

COMM 120/MNGT 120 is a prerequisite for most of the interpersonal and organizational communication courses; consult course descriptions.

COMM 312Persuasion3
COMM 390Special Topics in Communication Study (based on topic)3
COMM 411Critical Perspectives3
COMM 422Family Communication H3
COMM 423Critical Perspectives on Work, Labor, and Professional Life3
COMM 490Special Topics in Communication Studies (based on topic)3
COMM 521Communication and Social Memory3
COMM 523Communication and Leadership3
COMM 525Organizational Communication3
COMM 526Critical-Cultural Approaches to Organizational Communication3
COMM 527Organizational Ethics3
COMM 610Reading Quantitative Research in Communication Studies3
COMM 620Theories of Interpersonal Communication3
COMM 624Hate Speech3
COMM 625Communication and Nonprofits in the Global Context3
COMM 690Advanced Topics in Communication Studies (based on topic) H3
COMM/MNGT 223Small Group Communication3
COMM/MNGT 325Introduction to Organizational Communication H3
COMM/WGST 224Introduction to Gender and Communication H3
COMM/WGST 524Gender, Communication, and Culture H3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Media and Technology Studies and Production

COMM 140 is a prerequisite for most of the media studies courses; consult course descriptions.

COMM 130Introduction to Media Production3
COMM 142Popular Music3
COMM 150Introduction to New Media3
COMM 230Audio/Video/Film Production and Writing3
COMM 249Introduction to Communication Technology, Culture, and Society3
COMM 251Introduction to American Film and Culture, 1965-Present3
COMM 330Introduction to Writing for Film and Television3
COMM 390Special Topics in Communication Study (based on topic)3
COMM 411Critical Perspectives3
COMM 412Critical Theory3
COMM 413Freud3
COMM 431Advanced Audio Production3
COMM 432Visual Culture3
COMM 450Media and Popular Culture3
COMM 452Film Noir3
COMM 453The History of New Media Technology in Everyday Life3
COMM 454Media and Activism3
COMM 490Special Topics in Communication Studies (based on topic)3
COMM 534Aesthetic and Technical Considerations in Making Short Videos3
COMM 545Pornography and Culture3
COMM 546History of Film I, 1895 to 19453
COMM 547History of Film II, 1945 to Present3
COMM 548Humor and Culture3
COMM 549Sexuality and Visual Culture3
COMM 550American Independent Cinema3
COMM 551Hitchcock and the Sign3
COMM 635Documentary Production3
COMM 636Interactive Media3
COMM 638Game Design3
COMM 645The Documentary Idea3
COMM 646Introduction to the Art and Mechanics of Two-Dimensional Digital Animation3
COMM 647Advanced Projects in Media Production3
COMM 650Cultural Politics of Global Media Culture3
COMM 652Media and Difference3
COMM 653Experimental Video3
COMM 654Motion Graphics, Special Effects, and Compositing3
COMM 655Television Culture3
COMM 681Contemporary Film Theory3
COMM 682History of the Moving Image: Pasts, Presents, Futures3
COMM 683Moving-Image Avant-Gardes and Experimentalism3
COMM 690Advanced Topics in Communication Studies (based on topic) H3
COMM/WGST 345Women in Film3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Please note that enrollment in advanced media and technology production classes is limited, and many production classes have prerequisites.

New Media

Students wishing to pursue the new media option in the media and technology studies and production concentration should consult the departmental advisor.

In addition to the preliminary core requirements (including COMM 140) above, students must take:

COMM 431Advanced Audio Production3
COMM 490Special Topics in Communication Studies (based on topic, prior approval required)3
COMM 636Interactive Media3
COMM 638Game Design3
COMM 646Introduction to the Art and Mechanics of Two-Dimensional Digital Animation3
COMM 650Cultural Politics of Global Media Culture3
COMM 654Motion Graphics, Special Effects, and Compositing3
COMM 690Advanced Topics in Communication Studies (based on topic, prior approval required) H3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Recommended cross-disciplinary classes include:

COMP 180Enabling Technologies H3
COMP 185Serious Games H3
INLS 151Retrieving and Analyzing Information3
INLS 161Tools for Information Literacy3
INLS 201Foundations of Information Science3
INLS 318Human Computer Interaction3
INLS 560Programming for Information Science3
INLS 572Web Development I1.5
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Performance Studies

COMM 160 is a prerequisite for most of the performance studies courses; consult course descriptions.

COMM 260Introduction to Performance and Social Change3
COMM 262Introduction to the Performance of Culture H3
COMM 263Performing Literature H3
COMM 364Production Practices3
COMM 365The Constructed Actor: Masks and Objects in Performance3
COMM 390Special Topics in Communication Study (based on topic)3
COMM 411Critical Perspectives3
COMM 435Memory Acts H3
COMM 437United States Black Culture and Performance3
COMM 463Creating the Solo Performance3
COMM 464Collaborative Performance H3
COMM 466Advanced Study in Performing Literature3
COMM 490Special Topics in Communication Studies (based on topic)3
COMM 532Performing the Screenplay3
COMM 563Performance of Children's Literature3
COMM 564Performance and Popular Culture3
COMM 568Adapting and Directing for the Stage3
COMM 636Interactive Media3
COMM 660Advanced Projects in Performance Studies3
COMM 661Race and Ethnicity3
COMM 662Black/African Diaspora Performance3
COMM 664Paranoia in Performance3
COMM 665Performing Consumer Culture3
COMM 667Performance Activism3
COMM 668The Ethnographic Return to Performance and Community H3
COMM 690Advanced Topics in Communication Studies (based on topic) H3
COMM 695Field Methods3
COMM/ASIA/RELI 386Dance and Embodied Knowledge in the Indian Context3
COMM/DRAM 666Media in Performance3
COMM 362/FOLK 565Ritual, Theatre, and Performance Art3
COMM/FOLK/HIST/WGST 562Oral History and Performance H3
COMM/WGST 561Performance of Women of Color H3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Rhetorical Studies

COMM 170 is a prerequisite for most of the rhetorical studies courses; consult course descriptions.

COMM 171Argumentation and Debate3
COMM 312Persuasion3
COMM 371Argumentation3
COMM 372The Rhetoric of Social Movements3
COMM 374The Southern Experience in Rhetoric3
COMM 390Special Topics in Communication Study (based on topic)3
COMM 470Political Communication and the Public Sphere3
COMM 471Rhetorics of Public Memory3
COMM 472Rhetorical Criticism3
COMM 490Special Topics in Communication Studies (based on topic)3
COMM 500Visual and Material Rhetoric3
COMM 571Rhetorical Theory and Practice3
COMM 572Public Policy Argument H3
COMM 573The American Experience in Rhetoric3
COMM 575Presidential Rhetoric3
COMM 576Making and Manipulating "Race" in the United States3
COMM 577Rhetoric and Black Culture3
COMM 690Advanced Topics in Communication Studies (based on topic) H3
COMM/ENEC 375Environmental Advocacy3
COMM/PWAD 355Terrorism and Political Violence3
COMM/PWAD 376The Rhetoric of War and Peace3
COMM/PWAD 574War and Culture3
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Specialized Concentration in Communication Studies

Students may create their own concentrations by selecting at least four courses that constitute a coherent program of study. The courses selected in this concentration must be justified by the student and must be approved by the director of undergraduate studies.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans can be used as a guide to identify the courses required to complete the major and other requirements needed for degree completion within the expected eight semesters. The actual degree plan may differ depending on the course of study selected (second major, minor, etc.). Students should meet with their academic advisor to create a degree plan that is specific and unique to their interests. The sample plans represented in this catalog are intended for first-year students entering UNC–Chapel Hill in the fall term. Some courses may not be offered every term.

Rhetorical Studies Concentration

Plan of Study Grid
First YearHours
COMM 120 Introduction to Interpersonal and Organizational Communication (core course #1) H 3
COMM 170 Rhetoric and Public Issues (core course #2) 3
Hours 6
Sophomore Year
COMM 160 Introduction to Performance Studies (core course #3) H 3
COMM 171 Argumentation and Debate (concentration course #1) 3
COMM 312 Persuasion (concentration course #2) 3
Hours 9
Junior Year
COMM 470 Political Communication and the Public Sphere (concentration course #3) 1 3
COMM 573 The American Experience in Rhetoric (concentration course #4) 1 3
COMM 435 Memory Acts (elective course #1) 1, H 3
Hours 9
Senior Year
COMM 454 Media and Activism (elective course #2) 1 3
COMM 624 Hate Speech (elective course #3) 1 3
Hours 6
Total Hours 30
H

Honors version available. An honors course fulfills the same requirements as the nonhonors version of that course. Enrollment and GPA restrictions may apply.

Special Opportunities in Communication

Honors in Communication Studies

The department participates in the University’s Honors Program. Students eligible for the program (see University requirements) may consult with the departmental honors advisor about enrolling in COMM 693H and COMM 694H, or COMM 691H and COMM 692H for honors students in cultural studies. These courses can be used for elective credit in the major but not for satisfying core course or concentration requirements. Additional information can be found on the department Web site.

Independent Study

The opportunity for independent study is available through enrollment in COMM 396 or COMM 596. Interested students should consult a faculty advisor in the department. Please see the department Web site for details.

Internships

The department has an extensive internship program in media-related industries, business, public service, and other organizations. Internships allow students to explore the relationship between communication theory and its practice in everyday life. Credit can be obtained through consultation with the internship advisor and enrollment in COMM 393. More than 100 organizations have participated in the program. The department also offers the Hollywood Internship Program, a summer study and work opportunity for selected students interested in pursuing careers in the film industry. Note: Internship credit counts as elective hours and does not count toward the 30 credit hours required for the major.

WUNC Radio and WUNC-TV

Limited opportunities exist for internships and employment with the public radio and television stations in Chapel Hill and in the Research Triangle Park.

Performance Opportunities

Students are involved in adapting scripts, directing, and staging productions for the public. Additionally, students often appear in regular performances sponsored by graduate students in the Department of Communication and in productions directed by faculty members.

Student Television (STV)

STV is a student-run video production operation that provides hands-on opportunities in a variety of programming assignments.

Study Abroad

Students may take coursework toward the major through the University’s study abroad program. Departmental approval for major credit is required. The department also offers a London-based summer internship in media production and performance studies for qualified students.

Undergraduate Awards

The department offers a number of awards for leadership and contributions to the field, in all areas of specialization. Awards are presented at a department ceremony in the spring semester.