Saint-Louis University - Bruxelles

POLS1110 - Communication science

Credits : 5

Lecturer :
Teaching assistant :
Mode of delivery :
Face-to-face , first term, 30 hours of theory.

Timetable :
First term
Tuesday from 15:45 to 17:45 at 43 Botanique 1

Language of instruction :

Learning outcomes :
1. Developing the students' media literacy, which is defined as “a set of competences that characterizes the individual who is able to move in a critical and creative, autonomous and socialized way in contemporary media environment” (FASTREZ, 2010, p.36, our translation).
2. Familiarizing the students with the main theoretical approaches that have contributed to the development of media and communication studies.
3. Relating media and communication studies to other disciplines in the human and social sciences, both in terms of specificity and continuity.
4. Supporting the students in developing the competences required for their « job » as a university student.

Prerequisites :

Co-requisites :

Course contents :
What is information? What is communication? How do media influence our understanding of the world? How does a message produce meaning? What are the mechanisms of propaganda? Do political communication campaigns have an impact? What does it mean to interpret a message? In what ways is media reception a political and ideological struggle?

These questions, and many others, will be addressed through a series of different approaches that help to elaborate them in a scientific way and provide elements of response. Each approach sheds a certain light on “information” and “communication” phenomena. The approaches addressed in the course are:
- behaviourism;
- the critical theory of the Frankfurt School;
- the functionalist theories on media and communication;
- the mathematical theory of information;
- the structural approaches to communication (structural linguistics, semiology);
- cultural studies and reception studies.

Planned learning activities and teaching methods :
The teaching unit consists in lectures and practical work.

Regarding lectures, the professor explains the content of the course in a concise way, using visual presentations. Each lecture allows for interactions with/among the students, for instance through online quizzes (via Wooclap) with live responses by the students (who use their smartphone or any other device), followed by an evaluation of the responses by the professor. The objective of those interactive moments is twofold: first, to go in-depth into the subject matter of the course, second, to help the students figuring out what kind of learning is required from them. During the last lecture, there will be a moment dedicated to the students' questions on the course content and to the presentation of the guidelines for the final exam.

The students have at their disposal a complete syllabus, which allows the professor to focus on key or more difficult aspects during the lectures, as well as to allocate some time for interaction with/among the students. The visual presentations are also provided to the students.

The practical work sessions are mandatory. They have two main objectives: 1) to provide occasions for an active use of the course content by students, through exercises in which the students have to apply the theories and concepts to concrete objects or topical subjects, and 2) to help the students perceiving what kind of learning is required from them at the university, through simulations of exam questions and collective debriefings.

In addition to using the e-learning platform Moodle, this teaching unit uses a closed Facebook group in order to share resources or news related to the course subject, to request input from the students, and to gather the students' questions on the course content. These questions will then be addressed in the forthcoming lecture or practical work session.

Assessment methods and criteria :
Be it face-to-face or at a distance, the assessment method is a written exam covering the different aspects of the content and competences addressed in the lectures and the practical work.

The exam includes “theoretical” questions as well as more “practical” questions. It evaluates the following dimensions:
- one's comprehension of the theories and concepts;
- one's capacity to explain precisely in writing the theories and concepts;
- one's capacity to synthesize the course content and make links between the different parts of it;
- one's capacity to apply the theories and concepts to media and communication phenomena;
- one's capacity to adopt a critical stance toward common sense on media and communication.

In a face-to-face situation, the exam will include closed questions as well as open-ended questions. At a distance, the exam will only include open-ended questions and the students will be allowed to use their course material (course notes provided by the professor, personal notes, resources available on Moodle and in the Facebook group). Accessing other materials is strictly prohibited.

Class attendance is checked at each practical work session, be it face-to-face or at a distance. In case of two non-justified or “non-legitimate” absences, one point will be deducted from the final grade in January. In case of three non-justified or “non-legitimate” absences, two points will be deducted from the final grade in January. In case of more than three non-justified or “non-legitimate” absences, the final grade in January will be 0/20.

The attendance of the practical work sessions is not taken into account in the June and September evaluations.

Recommended or required reading :
Among the many introductory books on media and communication studies, one can mention here:

BOUGNOUX D. (dir.) (1993), Sciences de l'information et de la communication, Paris, Larousse.

BRETON P. & PROULX S. (1996), L'explosion de la communication, Paris, La Découverte.

CARAH N. & LAOUW E. (2015). Media & Society. Production, Content & Participation, Londres, Sage, 2015.

HEINDERYCKX F. (2002), Une introduction aux fondements théoriques de l'étude des medias, 2ème éd., Liège, Céfal.

LOHISSE J., en collaboration avec PATRIARCHE G. et KLEIN A. (2009), La communication. De la transmission à la relation, 4ème edition, Bruxelles, De Boeck.

MAIGRET E. (2007), Sociologie de la communication et des médias, 2ème éd., Paris, Armand Colin.

MATTELART A. & MATTELART M. (1995). Histoire des théories de la communication, Paris, La Découverte.

MEUNIER J.-P., PERAYA D. (2004). Introduction aux théories de la communication. Analyse sémio-pragmatique de la communication médiatique, Bruxelles, De Boeck.

Reference quoted in the learning outcomes:

FASTREZ, P., « Quelles compétences le concept de littératie médiatique englobe-t-il ? », Recherches en communication, n°33, 2010, pp.35-52.