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Registration for the Fall 2019 semester begins June 25.  Watch your email for more details.

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Visual Communication

Course Code: CMNS 3401
Faculty: Language, Literature & Performing Arts
Department: Communications
Credits: 3.0
Semester: 15
Learning Format: Lecture, Lab
Typically Offered: TBD. Contact Department Chair for more info.
course overview

This course introduces students to the theories and techniques of visual communication. The course examines the physical properties of perception and its application in the broader context of communication studies. It explores the scope and possibilities of imagery in modern technology and culture. It also includes an introduction to methodologies for studying visual conventions and analyzing visual media. Students will apply these methodologies to both formal and vernacular examples ranging from presentation graphics to information design to graffiti.

Course Content

1. Principles of Visual Perception

Students will become familiar with basic principles including

  • form, as defined by shape and depth
  • figure/ground relationships (positive and negative space)
  • visual dynamics
  • balance (symmetry and asymmetry)
  • composition and framing
  • visual weight (importance), including subject matter, value, shape, structure, colour, location, depth,
  • size, texture, and isolation

2. Evolution of Visual Communication

Students will consider the evolution of visual communication and its characteristics, including

  • writing systems (with an emphasis on the differences between ideograms and phonetic alphabets)
  • symbols, glyphs, icons, and logos (with reference to semiology and an examination of the advantages and constraints of symbology)
  • pictorial analysis and critique
  • colour (with an analysis of expectations and choices, an introduction to colour terminology, and an assessment of physical, cultural, and political responses)

3. Contemporary Iterations of Visual Communication

Students will identify and discuss contemporary formal and vernacular iterations, such as

  • corporate identity programs
  • information design
  • data visualization
  • branding (including body decoration/tattooing)
  • graffiti (tagging)

Methods of Instruction

Some or all of the following methods will be used:

  1. lecture/discussion
  2. group work
  3. peer review
  4. independent research or project
  5. instructor feedback on students’ work
  6. individual consultation
  7. presentation (individual or group)

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:

Presentation: Image analysis 20%
Photo-essay: Visual world 25%
Midterm exam 15%
Essay: Visual meaning 30%
Professionalism/participation (as defined above) 10%
  100%

Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this course will be able to

  1. identify and understand a wide range of visual principles and techniques
  2. assess imagery and design within varied forms of media
  3. evaluate visual content from physical, cultural, and social perspectives
  4. compare and contrast the effectiveness of visual communication with text, oral, audio, and kinetic media
  5. identify, understand, and discuss distinct visual practices (for example, digital versus embodied media)
  6. analyze and discuss new developments in visual communication
  7. critique visual media analytically and persuasively, and communicate clearly and competently their views and opinions

course prerequisites

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

curriculum 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 schedule and availability
course transferability

Below shows how this course and its credits transfer within the BC transfer system. 

A course is considered university-transferable (UT) if it transfers to at least one of the five research universities in British Columbia: University of British Columbia; University of British Columbia-Okanagan; Simon Fraser University; University of Victoria; and the University of Northern British Columbia.

For more information on transfer visit the BC Transfer Guide and BCCAT websites.

assessments

If your course prerequisites indicate that you need an assessment, please see our Assessment page for more information.