Language Studies for Professional Communication

Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Course Code
CMNS 3102
Semester Length
15 weeks
Max Class Size
Method Of Instruction
Typically Offered
To be determined


Course Description
This course introduces theories of language relevant to the professional communicator’s craft. Students will focus on ways to identify different styles of writing, to understand the relationship between style and content, and to predict readers’ responses to texts. They will learn to analyze communication tasks from these perspectives and to assess written texts for their readability and their appropriateness in different contexts.
Course Content

1.  Genres and Their Social Contexts

Students will

  • become familiar with theories of genre that describe the relations between genre and context (that is, between styles of writing and the distinct situations which these styles serve)
  • analyze samples of genre to determine the conventions (that is, the regular forms of expression, organization, and situation) that distinguish them from one another
  • examine the role of innovation in different types of writing, and the opportunities for and constraints on individual writers’ innovations


2.   Readers and Texts

Students will

  • become familiar with research on reading comprehension that explains the roles of word choice, grammar, coherence, and format in the reader’s experience of text
  • become familiar with basic principles of classical rhetoric that help to explain the success or failure of texts in addressing their readers
  • become familiar with current explanations of the role that conventions of style and organization play in the reader’s comprehension
  • analyze text samples to (i) describe their genre features and rhetorical profile, and (ii) estimate the ease with which the intended reader could understand and use the text
  • complete exercises on the functional linguistic approach to coherence


3.   Writer and Text

Students will

  • compose examples of specific genres, consulting the genre descriptions devised
  • evaluate writing in light of conventions of style and organization, rhetorical profile, and models of the way readers understand—or fail to understand—what they are reading


4.   Techniques and Analysis

Students will

  • learn and apply techniques for analyzing a text’s patterns of abstract and concrete reference, and its levels of generality and their arrangement
  • learn and apply techniques for analyzing grammatical features crucial to reading comprehension
  • learn and apply techniques for analyzing a text’s patterns of coherence
  • learn and apply techniques for analyzing the role of background knowledge in a text
  • use these techniques to develop descriptions of different types of writing
  • use these techniques to estimate appropriateness and readability of texts
  • learn how to use interview techniques (for example, think-aloud protocols) to elicit readers’ responses to texts, and to use the results of these interviews in the drafting or revision process
Methods Of Instruction

In lectures, the instructor will introduce theory and demonstrate analytical techniques. In seminars, students will practise analysis of sample texts and of their own writing. In their research outside the classroom, students will gather data on readers’ comprehension by conducting and recording think-aloud readings and text-based interviews with readers. In their written assignments, students will provide analyses using the theories and techniques introduced in lecture, and they will compose in the genres they have analyzed.

Means of Assessment

Students are expected to be self-motivated and to demonstrate professionalism, which includes active participation, good attendance, punctuality, effective collaboration, ability to meet deadlines, presentation skills, and accurate self-evaluation.

Evaluation will be based on this general format:

Rhetorical analysis 10%
Genre analyses (3) 40%
Report of reader interview (think-alouds) 20%
Genre sample and analysis 20%
Professionalism/participation (as defined above)    10%
Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course will

  1. become familiar with genre theory, discourse theory, principles of classical and contemporary rhetoric, and models of reading comprehension
  2. develop techniques for analyzing texts and situations in response to generic conventions, rhetorical profile, and readability
  3. be able to apply theory and analytical techniques to practical communication tasks, especially written communication in non-academic contexts
Textbook Materials

Texts may include a resource such as Joan Cutting’s Pragmatics and Discourse: A Resource Book for Students.

Texts may also include a rhetorical grammar reference such as a current edition of Joseph M. Williams’s Style.

Coursepack of required readings



Acceptance into the Post-Degree Diploma in Professional Communication

or a minimum of 45 credit hours including a university-transfer course in English, Communications, or Creative Writing with a grade of B or higher

or permission of the Professional Communication program coordinator




Requisite for


Course Guidelines

Course Guidelines for previous years are viewable by selecting the version desired. If you took this course and do not see a listing for the starting semester / year of the course, consider the previous version as the applicable version.

Course Transfers

Institution Transfer Details Effective Dates
Simon Fraser University (SFU) SFU CMNS 3XX (3) 2014/09/01 to -
Thompson Rivers University (TRU) TRU CMNS 3XXX (3) 2014/09/01 to -
University of Northern BC (UNBC) UNBC ENGL 3XX (3) 2014/09/01 to -

Course Offerings

Summer 2021

There aren't any scheduled upcoming offerings for this course.