Communication and Media Studies 600

COMS 600: Communication Theory

Prerequisites: Graduate standing

Credit Hours: (3)

An overview of the history and theory of the discipline of communication, including epistemological, ontological, and axiological positions driving theoretic models. This course provides background and foundation for the study of corporate and professional communication.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

  • Defining communication
  • History of the discipline
    • Historical roots
    • Contributions from other disciplines
    • Current status of the discipline
  • The process of inquiry
    • What is inquiry?
    • Types of scholarship
  • Philosophical Issues
    • Epistemological issues
    • Ontological issues
    • Axiological issues
  • Evaluation of Theory
    • Standards for evaluation of humanistic theory
    • Standards for evaluation of scientific theory
  • Types of theories
    • System theory
    • Theories of signs and language
    • Theories of discourse
    • Theories of message production
    • Theories of message reception and processing
    • Theories of symbolic interaction, dramatis, and narrative
    • Theories of social and cultural reality
    • Theories of experience and interpretation
    • Critical Theories
  • The uses and limitations of theory


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

The course will primarily be conducted in the manner of lecture/seminar. Students will be expected to provide seminar reports on various theories and complete papers on the history of the discipline and on philosophical issues related to communication theory.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

As the course description indicates, the course will provide background and a foundation for the study of communication. Students will be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of the historical roots of the discipline.
  • demonstrate and understanding of the philosophical issues related to the study of communication
  • demonstrate an understanding of a variety of objective/scientific and interpretive/humanistic communication theories.
  • demonstrate an understanding of the criteria used to evaluate both scientific and interpretive theories
  • demonstrate an understanding of the application of theory to applied communication contexts.


Assessment Measures

Assessment measures may include: evaluation of seminar reports, examinations, and seminar papers.


Other course materials


Review and Approval

March 1999 approval