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Introduction to Communication Studies

Introduction to Communication Studies

6 ECTS credits
157 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 1020436AER for all students in the 1st semester at a (A) Bachelor - preliminary level.

Information about this course is applicable on academic year 2017-2018.

1st semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method

Grading (scale from 0 to 20)

Can retake in second session
Taught in
Partnership agreement
  • Under interuniversity agreement for degree program
Faculty of Economic & Social Sciences & Solvay BS
Communication Sciences
Educational Team:
Activities and contact hours
  • 39 contact hours Lecture
  • 118 contact hours Independent or External Form of Study
Course content

In this course, the process of communication and theories related to the different aspects of the communication process take a central place. This introductory course indeed aims to provide students with a bird’s-eye view of the communication studies discipline, on the basis of which different domains in communication studies are explored in depth in subsequent courses in the program.

The course

  • Traces the origins and development of communication studies as a social science;
  • Offers a concise social history of media to contextualize the interplay of the (historical) development of media; social, political and cultural developments in Western society, and the communication studies discipline;
  • Discusses important research topics and questions that are or have been on the communication studies agenda;
  • Links communication studies theory and research with different theoretical currents in social sciences that underlie the media studies discipline;
  • Presents and critically discusses the main research traditions in communication studies, i.e. the main media theories and empirical research traditions within different research areas (e.g. analysis of the communicator; media content studies; audience and effect studies).

Other important ‘transversal’ lines of investigation and focus are:

  • The importance of (historical) context: Students will be able to (historically and societally) contextualize concepts, theories, authors, research traditions and results;
  • Multidisciplinarity: Although the focus is on the discipline of communication sciences, students are made aware that media communication occurs in relation to social, political, cultural, economic, technological, legal, … processes. Other scientific disciplines are, in other words, essential and related to media studies research.
  • Theory: Communication studies research presumes a scientific and critical approach. This course is foremost of a theoretical nature and to a far lesser extent practical.
Course material
  • Handbook (Required): On media and communication. An introduction to communication sciences: theory and research, Reader 'Introduction to Communication Studies', Jan Loisen & Stijn Joye
  • Digital course material (Required): Slides 'Introduction to Communication Studies', Jan Loisen
  • Digital course material (Recommended): Lecture recordings 'Introduction to Communication Studies', Jan Loisen
Additional info

Teaching Methods

Lecture: collective contact-dependent moments during which the lecturer engages with learning materials
- Seminar, Exercises or Practicals (Practical): collective or individual contact-dependent moments during which the students are guided to actively engage with learning materials
- Independent or External Form of Study (Self): independent study

This description of the teaching methods is indicative, in order to assess the expected study load.

Lectures: 39 hours

  • Classe take place 2 hours weekly and 2 hours bi-weekly

Self-study: 118 hours

  • Following up on lectures during the semester, with a rate of 2 hours per hour lecture: 78 hours
  • Preparation of the exam: 40 hours (5 days of 8 hours)
Programme Objectives

General Learning Outcomes

General learning goals

The student

  • Has an active knowledge of the most important theories, currents and concepts prevailing in the domain of the social sciences.
  • Is familiar with the historical developments that have occurred in the fields of sociology, political sciences and communication sciences over time.
  • Recognises the cross-sections, the intersections and the cross-fertilisations that are noticeable amongst the different social sciences.
  • Knows the historical, political, juridical and socio-economic structures that shape the activities and define the agency of the European political institutions, private and public social organisations and media-organisations.
  • Recognises the multilayered and complex character of social, political and media-related facts and phenomena.

Specific learning goals

At the end of this course, students:

  • Are able to retell the origins and development of the discipline of communication sciences;
  • Can recognize, distinguish and classify the main theoretical currents and authors in the discipline of communication sciences;
  • Can construe the historical development and the underlying human and worldview of the main theoretical currents in the discipline of communication sciences;
  • Can make connections between the main theoretical currents in the discipline of communication sciences and other social scientific schools and paradigms;
  • Are able to define, illustrate and link important theories and concepts in the discipline of communication sciences; and
  • Are able to identify, contextualize and discuss research questions and results on different elements in the communication process (sender/medium/message/receiver/effect).

The final grade is composed based on the following categories:

  • Written Exam determines 100% of the final mark.

Within the Written Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

Written Exam with a relative weight of 100 which comprises 100% of the final mark.

Additional info with regard to grading

Examples of exam questions will be distributed via the learning platform PointCarré during the final class. The exam procedure in the first and second session is the same.