Communication Theory and Practices – COMS 520

CG • Section 8WK • 11/08/2019 to 04/16/2020 • Modified 09/05/2023

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)

Discussions are collaborative learning experiences. Therefore, the student will complete five Discussions. Discussion threads should be at least 600 words and should include two scholarly citations outside the course textbook to substantiate the student's arguments. The student will reply to their classmates’ threads. All replies should be at least 450 words, contain two scholarly citations, and 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

The student will analyze one communication journal article. The student must ensure the article is from a communication journal.  In this brief paper, the student 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 (5)

Throughout this course, the student will be completing a research project regarding one theory of communication. The final product of this research project will be a 15–20-page research paper and a 10-minute multimedia presentation of the paper. For this project, the student needs 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

The student 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, the student should create an APA-formatted title page to submit for approval. If the APA format is incorrect, the student will receive comments from the instructor and resubmit a corrected title page. As soon as the student receives the instructor’s approval, they should begin research for their project.


The student 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

The student 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, the student should compare/contrast, analyze, and apply the scholarly perspectives presented in the research. Since the review will serve as the body of the paper, the student should aim to have between 15–20 pages of text.

Paper Submission

The student should submit their final research paper. The final paper 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) 

The student 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 quiz will cover the Learn material for the assigned modules. Each quiz will be open-book/open-notes, contain 9 essay questions, and have a 2 hour and 45 minute time limit.