Communication Courses

Courses in Communication Studies


COMM 1000: Public Speaking (3)
This course helps students develop the basic skills necessary for speechmaking.  Special emphasis is placed on learning how to organize, research, and support arguments; developing critical listening skills; and developing increased confidence and competence in oral presentations.


COM 2050: Introduction to Rhetorical Studies (3)
This course is designed to help students identify, comprehend and use core principles of rhetoric by introducing them to key concepts, including: an overview of the origins of rhetoric, audience, situation, persuasion, organization and style. The course provides a foundational connection between rhetorical theory and connects those theories to contemporary issues and messages relevant to students’ lives: public speaking, political discourse and online communication.

COM 2100: Introduction to Journalism and Media Writing (3)
Provides course participants with a solid understanding of how to gather factual material from a wide range of sources and combine it into a clear, coherent, and complete news article. Students learn to report and write hard news stories and several variations thereof. Topics include backgrounding, interviewing, inverted pyramid style, lead construction, headline construction, style and stylebooks, beat reporting, media law, media ethics, and introductory publication design. In addition, students explore differences between print, online, and broadcast journalism and conduct an introductory investigation into nonjournalistic forms of media writing for radio, television, and film.

COM 2200: Media Studies (3)
An introductory investigation into the history, values, processes, and effects of American mass media, with particular emphasis on film and television offerings and their relationships to print and online media forms. Course participants explore, from a cultural studies perspective, phenomena associated with the production, dissemination, and reception of media messages and their impact on individuals, institutions, and cultures. Film and television screenings comprise an essential component of this course.

COM 2300: Introduction to Interpersonal Communication (3)
This course provides students with a theory-based examination of one-on-one communication starting with the impact of self-concept and perception through communication in various relationships.


COM 3110: Advanced Print Journalism (3)
Prerequisite: COM 2100 or permission of instructor
Advanced training in reporting and writing for print media with primary emphases on feature writing, opinion writing, copyediting, and fact-checking for magazines and newspapers. Topics include basic and advanced techniques of feature writing, in-depth personality profiles, essay writing, travel writing, opinion and editorial writing, and advanced reviewing techniques. Course participants also receive advanced training in publication editing and design and conduct a thorough investigation of influences on various types of journalistic message content.

COM 3120: Advanced Writing for Radio-Television-Film (3)
Prerequisite: COM 3100 or permission of instructor
Advanced training in writing journalistic, documentary, and dramatic creations for radio, television, and film. Early meetings enable course participants to prepare a range of news and nonfiction offerings for radio and television. Later meetings teach students to write a feature-length dramatic screenplay for television or film, from concept generation to step outline, treatment, and their own individual acts. Course participants receive feedback on their efforts from the instructor and their peers at every step along the way. They learn the importance of rewriting, achieve critical understanding of devices used regularly by media professionals, and explore social and ethical responsibilities associated with broadcast media writing in the (post)modern age.

COM 3210: Introduction to Film Analysis (3)
This course provides a study of film and its connections to aesthetics, ideology, literature, culture, and the arts. The interdisciplinary nature of film will be particularly explored in its narrative, visual, psychological, and sociological dimensions.

COM 3220: Film and Video Production Techniques (3)
This course provides course participants with advanced study of the uses of video as an artistic medium and advanced experience in the preparation, shooting, and editing of video field projects in film style form. Emphasis is placed on effective incorporation and application of technical and theoretical principles, relevant aesthetic and narrative approaches, and traditional storytelling techniques.

COM 3270: Topics in Film History (3)
A study of selected topics pertaining to the historical development of film in the United States and around the world. Specific content will vary by semester and may include History of American Film, History of World Film, and/or History of Silent Cinema, among other topics.

COM 3400: Business and Professional Communication (3)
Explores techniques of effective written and verbal communication as they pertain to business and professional settings. Working independently and in groups, students will learn to construct informative and persuasive business messages, including written messages (e.g., résumés, letters, press-releases) and oral messages (e.g. interviews and formal presentations).

COM 3450 Technical Writing (3)
Prerequisite: ENGL 1020 or 1030H
This course provides training in effective writing for business and professional settings. In addition to grammar, style, and editing, students will discuss and practice technical writing forms including (but not limited to) procedural reports, problem analyses, recommendation reports and business proposals.

COM 3500: Communication Theory (3)
Prerequisite: COM 2300 or permission of instructor
This course provides students with a detailed examination of the theories and rules that govern communication interactions. The course will cover the dominant paradigms that govern the development of communication theory and the most prominent theories in communication research.

COM 3700: Quantitative Research Methods (3)
Prerequisites: MTH 1180 or AJU/PSY/SOC 3025
This course is designed to introduce students to the study of communication as a social science. After successfully completing the course, a student should understand the process of using systematic scientific inquiry to address questions and issues in communication. Students should have a working knowledge of how to interpret basic statistics before entering this course. The course will serve as the basis for understanding the primary research studies utilized in other communication courses.

COM 3750: Qualitative Research Methods (3)
This course familiarizes students with the major methodological approaches to qualitative research (post-positivistic, interpretive, critical) as well as ethical considerations regarding social research. Methods include: interview, oral history collection, ethnography, content analysis, case study and mixed methods approaches.

COM 3810: Introduction to Public Relations (3)
This course introduces student to the nature and practices of public relations. We will examine the role of public relations, relevant public relations theories and concepts, specific activities of public relations professionals and the ethics of public relations and professional development of public relations professionals.

COM 3850: Principles of Advertising (3)
This course introduces students to the fundamentals of advertising. We will examine the role of advertising within an integrated marketing communication (IMC) environment, relevant advertising theories and concepts, specific activities of advertising professionals and the ethics of advertising.

COM 3870, 3880: Cooperative Education Project I (1-6)
Supervised field experience in journalism, broadcasting, public relations, or advertising. Ordinarily taken in the junior year.

COM 3960: Special Topics in Communication (3-6)


COM 4000: Persuasion (3)
This course provides students with an advanced examination of the components of effective persuasion. This writing intensive course will examine persuasion in historical, mass media, and interpersonal contexts.

COM 4010: Introduction to Sociolinguistics (3)
Students will be able to become familiar with major themes, issues, key concepts, and terminology in this course and be able to apply those in the major; identify the ways in which language influences and is influenced by social identify, social structure, and social interaction; apply an understanding of the power of language in your personal and social life; communicate this understanding to an audience in writing and orally; and to gain experience in designing and conducting qualitative research.

COM 4015: Dialects of the Appalachian Region (3)
Tradition, community, and pride are fundamental aspects of the history of Appalachia, and the dialects of the region are living testament to its rich linguistic heritage. Despite unflattering stereotypes and cultural discrimination associated with varieties of Appalachian Englishes, Appalachians continue to speak complex dialects peppered with words, phrases and pronunciations unique to the area and its people. This course examines these distinctive speech varieties, specifically: historical influences, their uses for empowerment and solidarity, intersections with educational standards, and influences in literature. The course emphasizes ways in which the dialects express local history and illustrate shared identities.

COM 4100: Practicum in Applied Communication (1)
Supervised practical experience in print or online journalism for The Highland Cavalier, television production work for the campus television station, radio production work for WVTF, or business communication in a service-learning capacity. Students receive grades based on the quantity and quality of their contributions to these publications as well as their ability to consistently meet deadlines.

COM 4250: Newsreal (3)
Prerequisite: ENG 1020
The objective of the course is to encourage and enable students to consider and analyze the television news media critically and to clearly articulate those considerations and analyses in discussions about the idea of an ‘informed citizenry’ or ‘informed democracy.’ The course examines a variety of ways by which news media may be understood, defined, and analyzed. Concurrently those tools are applied to the analysis of news stories as well as the larger fundamental question of whether or not the news media serve to inform our democracy well or not, and why.

COM 4300: Nonverbal Communication (3)
This course provides students with an in-depth examination of the study nonverbal communication. From evidence based on systematic study, the course covers the variables involved in nonverbal communication ranging from gestures and facial expression to aesthetics.

COM 4310: Family Communication (3)
This course provides an in-depth analysis of the multiple roles communication plays in families. This reading-intensive course focuses on the role of communication from a developmental and systemic perspective in traditional and alternate family forms.

COM 4400: Organizational Communication (3)
This application-oriented course provides students with an advanced understanding of the theories, practices, and problems of communication in an organizational environment.

COM 4500: Rhetorical Criticism (3)
Prerequisite: Junior status
In order to critically evaluate messages (written, oral, or visual), it is essential to have theoretical tools. This course provides students with the theoretical perspectives most utilized in the field of communication including: Classical (ancient rhetoric–Aristotle), New Rhetoric (Stephen Toulmin, Chaim Perelman), the Narrative Paradigm (Walter Fisher), Burkeian theory, ideological approaches, feminist approaches, postmodern approaches, and semantics in visual communication. Students will also be given numerous written and oral opportunities to apply the perspectives learned.

COM 4941: Internship in Communication (1-6)
This course offers students a supervised field experience in an area of interest in the field of communication.

COM 4960: Special Topics in Communication (3-6)

COM 4991: Senior Research Seminar (2)
Students will demonstrate the research, critical thinking, writing, and presentation skills they have developed in their major. Students will work with a faculty mentor to develop topic for original communication research for which they will write a research proposal and orally defend the proposal.

COM 4992: Senior Capstone (3)
Prerequisite: COM 4991
Students review the major areas of communication taught in the major. Students will examine the factors that link the very diverse field of communication by applying different theories within communication to a common text. In addition, students will either conduct the study proposed in COM 4991 or take a comprehensive essay exam. Both options will conclude with a written and oral presentation of the final product.