Communication Theory and Practices – COMS 520

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 08/30/2021

Course Description

Intensive study of current theories, research, and trends in communication.

For information regarding prerequisites for this course, please refer to the Academic Course Catalog.


Understanding communication theories is essential to understanding the discipline of communication studies. As Littlejohn states, “Theories provide explanations that help us understand the phenomenon we call communication” (2). This course will provide an overview of communication theories across the major areas within the discipline of communication studies.

Course Assignment

Textbook readings and lecture presentations/notes

Course Requirements Checklist

After reading the Syllabus and Student Expectations, the student will complete the related checklist found in the Course Overview.

Discussions (5)

Students will complete discussions in.  Threads should be at least 600 words and should include references to the textbook or other scholarly sources to substantiate the students’ arguments. Students will reply to their classmates’ threads. All replies should be at least 450 words and should be posted intermittently throughout the week. All posts should follow proper APA style.

Definition of Communication Essay Assignment

Students will submit a 500-word essay describing their personal definitions of communication. Opinions should be supported by rational arguments. This brief essay should be formatted in APA style.

Journal Article Review Assignment

Analyze one communication journal article. Make sure the article is from a communication journal.  In this brief paper, you will choose one article and discuss elements of that article.  The paper should be at least 500 words and follow APA style.

Research Project Assignments

Throughout this course, students will be completing a research project regarding one theory of communication. The final products of this research project will be a 15–20-page research paper and a 10-minute multimedia presentation of the paper. For this project, students need to collect 15 relevant sources, which must be cited in the paper. All portions of this project must be correctly formatted in APA style. This project will be submitted in the following stages:

Title Page

Students will choose one of the theories discussed in the textbook to serve as the topic for the research project. Using the chosen theory as the title of the paper, students should create an APA-formatted title page to submit for approval. If the APA format is incorrect, students will receive comments from the instructor and resubmit a corrected title page. As soon as students receive the instructor’s approval, they should begin research for their project.


Students will use their research to create an introduction paragraph with their thesis statement as the last sentence of the paragraph. These paragraphs may vary in length depending on the complexity of the paper topic; however, all paragraphs should define relevant terms and contextualize the research for the purposes of this project.

Literature Review

Students will submit the body of the paper, which should be a review of the 15 sources found during the research process. This review should be written in paragraph format with appropriate topic sentences for each paragraph. Furthermore, through this literature review, students should compare/contrast, analyze, and apply the scholarly perspectives presented in the research. Since the review will serve as the body of the paper, students should aim to have between 15–20 pages of text.

Paper Submission

Students should submit their final research papers. Final papers should be between 15–20 pages with the additional title page, abstract, works cited page, and appendix (if necessary). At least 15 sources should be listed on the works cited page and all sources should be used within the paper. This final draft of the paper should demonstrate flawless APA format.

Presentation (Discussion) 

Students will create a multimedia presentation of their theory that includes a video. The video should be between 9–10 minutes and uploaded to YouTube for viewing. 

Quizzes (2)

Students will complete an essay midterm exam and an essay final exam. Each exam has a 2-hour and 45-minute time limit and is open-book/open-notes.