Course Information

Master of Professional Communication candidates are required to complete an intensive ten-credit, one-year, three-semester program. The first semester (fall) consists of four courses and one non-credit colloquium in library research. The second semester (winter) consists of three courses and a professionally related internship. The third semester (spring/summer) requires candidates to complete a major research project (MRP), a formal presentation based on the MRP, and a research poster. Students deliver their presentations to faculty, peers, and industry associates.

See the Graduate Calendar and Master of Professional Communication Course Descriptions below for for more detail.

Graduate Degree Requirements

Fall Semester
PC8002 Professional Communication: History, Theory, Practice 1 credit
PC8005 The Virtual Organization 1 credit
PC8006 Advanced Editing and Document Design 1 credit
One one-credit elective 1 credit
PC8001 Library Research Colloquium Non-credit
Winter Semester
PC8003 Research Methods 1 credit
Two one-credit electives 2 credits
PC8004 Internship 1 credit
Spring & Summer Semester
Major Research Paper (MRP) and Presentation 2 credits
Elective Courses (offered on a rotational basis)
PC8101 Advanced Speaking and Presentation Technology 1 credit
CD8330 Audiences and the Public 1 credit
PC8102 Communication and Legal Issues 1 credit
PC8103 Communication and Technology 1 credit
PC8104 Crisis Communication 1 credit
CD8320 Media Languages 1 credit
PC8105 Proposal Writing, Grant Seeking and Fundraising 1 credit
PC8106 Special Topics in Professional Communication 1 credit
PC8107 Strategic Media Relations 1 credit
CD8310 Topics in Cross-Cultural Communication 1 credit
PC8108 Visual Rhetoric in Public Contexts 1 credit

Required Courses

PC8006 Advanced Editing and Document Design

This course will appeal to students who wish to acquire professional-level expertise in editing and document design. Drawing on theories of cognitive psychologists and usability experts, students will learn to make editorial and design decisions suited to a range of messages, audiences, and purposes. Approaching the practical challenge of editing and design from a problem-solving perspective, students will analyze and apply rhetorical structures, grammatical concepts, and stylistic elements to textual content. Students will follow principles of graphic design to learn how layout, organization, data display (lists, tables, line art, sidebars, diagrams, graphs), illustrations, colour, and typography are used aesthetically and functionally to enhance readability, clarify thought, and reveal underlying logic in professional documents. Students will become familiar with editorial mark-up, document cycling, advanced word processing features, and electronic publishing. Students will also learn techniques to manage the editing process in a production environment with short timelines and frequent deadlines. 1 credit.

PC8004 Internship

The internship will allow students to participate in organizational placements that relate to their research interests. The internship can provide primary data for the Major Research Paper. The internship takes place in the second (winter) semester of the MPC program. Students are responsible for identifying potential host organizations and securing their own placements subject to approval by the School of Professional Communication. The internship will be approximately 150 hours in duration normally spread over 8 to10 weeks at approximately two days per week. The organizational sponsor and the intern will establish a mutually agreed upon schedule. Students will provide the School with progress reports. The organizational supervisor will provide the School with an interim and a final report. The School, in consultation with the organizational supervisor, will determine the final grade. 1 Credit. Pass/Fail

PC8001 Library Research Colloquium

The Library Research Colloquium will introduce students to the complexities of contemporary library research at the graduate level including the quality of information sources, searching strategies, Boolean nesting and hierarchies, the metrology of information transfer, the journal impact factor, citation styles and bibliographic citation managers. Non-credit course. Pass/Fail

Major Research Paper

The Major Research Paper is a sustained exploration of a specialized topic supported by material from scholarly sources and a theoretical framework. It may take the form of a critical review of literature or an empirical exploration, and may include research conducted during the MPC internship. The MRP is evaluated by a supervisor and second reader and requires a presentation and a knowledge translation product (e.g. a research poster or a digital representation of the project).  2 credits.  Pass/Fail

PC8002 Professional Communication: History, Theory, Practice

This course examines how diverse practices of professional communication have evolved and merged into a defined discipline supported by a body of interdisciplinary research. Moving from past to present, we will investigate how the recent shift from traditional to digital and from local to global communication practices and processes has transformed the foundations of professional practice including strategic planning, ethics, and interpersonal, organizational and public communication. Looking towards the future within a media ecology framework, we will theorize the ways current and imagined techno-global communication practices may impact sustainability on social, economic, political, ethical, and environmental levels. Throughout the course, we will consider how the shift from mechanistic to systems thinking provides new research methods and theoretical models to study these complex and dynamic processes. 1 credit

PC8003 Research Methods

Students will be introduced to the theories, methodologies and methods that take into account creative, humanities-based and social scientific perspectives. A second goal of the course will be to familiarize students with the research and information gathering process, with the use of library and library resources, electronic and online research, and creative and unusual research strategies. The third goal is to provide an introduction to the art of project design and the writing of proposals. 1 credit

PC8005 The Virtual Organization

This course addresses the Internet’s increasing impact as a dynamic platform of professional communication practices. Students will examine how a knowledge environment fused with social networking capabilities creates unprecedented opportunities, challenges and risks for the contemporary organization and its members. Drawing on case-grounded theory and hands-on investigation, students will explore the organizational revolution implicit in present and emergent technological innovations and virtual networking trends in order to develop the strategic knowledge and critical practices necessary to communicate in the workplace of today while anticipating the workplace of tomorrow. 1credit

Electives (offered on a rotational basis)

PC8101 Advanced Speaking and Presentation Technology

This course builds upon fundamental informative and persuasive speaking techniques by introducing students to their advocacy role as professional communicators. Students learn how to adapt high-level messages for a variety of internal and external audiences and effective audience-response strategies. They will learn the use of presentation technology such as PowerPoint, podcasting, and webcasting to transmit their messages effectively. Theories of self-presentation, presentation protocol, medium and message, and cognitive perception underlie the course. Students will deliver presentations to their peers and have the opportunity to use the Professional Communication Department’s new media facilities to create and broadcast audio podcasts and videocasts on the Department’s intranet for feedback and evaluation. Spoken voice training to achieve clarity and confidence in oral communications is a part of this course. 1 credit

CD8330 Audiences and the Public

The course will begin with the work of Jurgen Habermas and his influential notion that “the public” is not something that can be taken for granted, but a very specific historical development that first emerged in the 16th and 17th centuries in the bourgeois societies of western Europe. There is a rich body of literature that examines how the ideal of “the public” or “the audience” has taken shape at different times; the “imagined communities” that are the foundations of modern nations could not have taken shape in the absence of mass media. This course will examine the development of these ideas in the context of the varying disciplines offered across the Faculty. 1 credit

PC8102 Communication and Legal Issues

This course introduces students to the legal dimensions of professional communication through a variety of practical and theoretical approaches with a strong emphasis on semiotics, especially semantics and syntactics. Students will study the Canadian legal system as it applies to ethical responsibility and legal risk in the written and oral messages exchanged within and between organizations and will consider the degree to which legal formalism and legal realism operate in the determination of judicial decisions. Using detailed case analyses of documents such as briefs, letters, proposals, contracts, and reports, students will examine legal formats and structures, evidence and argumentation, copyright and intellectual property, and “plain language” writing. Students will learn to identify potential risks, and to prepare and manage communications that are clear, accessible, ethical and legal. 1 credit

PC8103 Communication and Technology

Communication theorist, Lance Strate, writes that “as environments, media do not determine our actions, but they define the range of possible actions we can take, and facilitate certain actions while discouraging others.” Using media ecology, convergence culture and media studies as a broad theoretical framework, students will explore the relationships between past and emergent technologies, as well as the relationships that ensue amongst our current technologies. In particular, we will apply different schools of thought to different contexts of professional communication by examining the ways that this web of medial relationships both enables and hinders our professional communication practices. 1 credit

PC8104 Crisis Communication

Crises can weaken an organization’s reputation, diminish employee commitment, and, as numerous historical examples have shown, destroy companies. Communication professionals must know how to predict, prevent, and manage crises. This course explores the theory and practice of crisis communication in a variety of sectors. Using case studies, students examine and analyze the natures of crises; the roles of employees, the media (traditional and electronic), and the public; theories of crisis management and crisis communication; and the role of the communication professional. The stakeholder dialectic and deliberative rhetoric theories are two frameworks that govern the course’s investigation into crisis communication modes. 1 credit

CD8320 Media Languages: Forms and Approaches

This shared, interdisciplinary course will investigate both common elements (visual and auditory narratives, methods of presentation/distribution, cultural roles) and specific attributes (individual characteristics and technologies) of contemporary media forms. Key developments in the evolution of media types and media languages will be explored in the larger context of understanding critical and theoretical issues associated with these forms and languages. 1 credit

PC8105 Proposal Writing, Grant Seeking and Fundraising

This course provides a detailed introduction to the multidimensional processes of grant-seeking and the strategic principles of writing proposals for research funding and non-profit fundraising. Through a theoretical framework grounded in classical and modern rhetoric, meta-rhetoric, and narratology, students will explore how professional communicators construct polished arguments to generate support. From the perspective of both grant seekers and multidisciplinary peer-review audiences, students will learn how to identify and target government, foundation, and corporate funding sources/opportunities, to translate project goals and problem statements into clear objectives and hypotheses reflective of societal need, and to coordinate activities in the planning, development, structuring, and articulation of feasible, methodologically rigorous, and conceptually innovative research projects/proposals. Students will also gain practice in applying these techniques to fundraising initiatives and tasks including outreach and the cultivation of potential foundation and corporate donors. 1 credit

PC8106 Special Topics in Professional Communication

Courses offered on an occasional one-time-only or very limited basis designed to address specific subjects of compelling current interest. Special topics courses will integrate visiting guest lecturers who are experts in the field. 1 credit

PC8107 Strategic Media Relations

This course examines the theory and practice of effective media relations. Students will explore the geography of the modern media landscape – including both traditional and new media outlets – and learn how to navigate it on behalf of an organization or client. They will study the concepts underlying media relations, and how to employ them in strategic planning, image management, advocacy, and both proactive and reactive interaction with the press. Through a critical analysis of what actually makes a story newsworthy and of how news organizations function, students will learn how to craft and deliver the kind of sharply defined messages that are effective in today’s 24/7 news cycle. 1 credit

CD8310 Topics in Cross-cultural Communication

A vogue term to emerge in recent years is cross-cultural competence. In fact, the term denotes a vast complex of competencies, which educators, politicians and business leaders around the world have identified as one of the most crucial of the 21st century. The purpose of this course will be to foster such “competence” through a wide ranging examination of the major social issues that affect communication across national and cultural boundaries. 1 credit

PC8108 Visual Rhetoric in Professional Contexts

John Berger tells us that “seeing comes before words.” Donis Dondis writes that “there is little rest in the process of seeing”. In all of our dealings with the world, we constantly use images to persuade others, but we also become used by the same images. Drawing on the field of visual social semiotics, this seminar course explores visual meaning-making. It investigates how visual texts can be rhetorical and persuasive within a professional communication context. How do images dominate or become dominated by the viewer/consumer? How do images and written text combine to persuade viewers? What is visual culture? We will draw on the theories of Rudolf Arnheim, Donis Dondis, Gunther Kress and Theo van Leeuwen, amongst others. Objects of analysis will be drawn from print advertisements, organizational documents, digital media, and other multimodal texts in professional contexts. 1 credit