Elective Course Descriptions

Visual Journalism (new)

As more and more of journalism is consumed on digital platforms and screens, visual forms of storytelling and production has become an essential tool for journalists. Visual media ranges from broadcast or documentary video to short video explainers for mobile to interactive online modules combining graphics, photographs or video. The aim of visual journalism is to make the complicated easier to understand, giving background, context and insight. This course is designed to build on the skills and knowledge introduced in first year courses to develop students’ abilities to think about, develop and deliver impactful visual stories. Students will enhance their use of use still cameras, video cameras and audio equipment as tools for communication a multimedia, mobile and social environment. The course will provide students with the skills and creativity to engage and inform audiences on through insightful, compelling and shareable visual journalism.

Imagine Journalism Studio (new)

The course is designed to prepare students to launch and/or run their own journalism startup. Most journalism courses focus on the norms and practices of content creation, production and representational critique. This course focuses on journalism startups and innovation from practice, organizational, audiences, leadership, theories of change, entrepreneurship and critical perspectives. While technology and technological change are often privileged as antidotes in contemporary discussions of the current journalism crisis, this course takes an integrated approach to the role that technologies, social, cultural and economic structures play in understanding journalism. Students will study the continuity and changes of what journalism is, could and should be, emerging and contested relationships with global audiences and diverse publics, digital technologies and what actually constitutes innovation, as well as shifting labour conditions for journalists and for-profit journalism economic decline. Students will concurrently work individually or in teams to conceive, research, design and prototype an idea for a journalism project – a startup, product or service – to help meet the information needs of communities.

Feminist Postcolonial Critique and Journalism in a Digital Age

This course will look at feminist and postcolonial critiques related to professional norms and practices of journalists, examining underlying democratic ideals in a rapidly evolving media landscape where news organizations are struggling to find their place amidst newly emerging digital infrastructures that are being coproduced with societal relations. Journalists have often been seen as a ‘surrogate for the public,’ holding governments and institutions accountable, and as an institution themselves, committed to ‘giving voice to the voiceless.’ Journalistic codes of ethics enshrine such professional values, espousing practices that aim to shine light on particular societal problems in a fair and balanced manner. However, media are also often a focus of informal and formal critique for journalistic conceptions of objectivity, a fascination with conflict over reporting with context, and other generalized news values that do not adequately address issues related to power, gender, race and class. In a rapidly changing media environment where social movements and activists are often more likely to address wide publics directly rather than wait to be reported on, this class seeks to examine persistent critiques of media. The experience of #Idlenomore, #NODapl, #BlackLives Matter, Occupy, and the Arab Spring have brought to light many such critiques particularly as they relate to feminist and postcolonial realities. Using varied texts and case studies, this course will address professional ethical practice, what kinds of knowledge journalism produces and the wider scope of media critique historically and in the present as it relates to reporting on race, gender, and class.

Decoding Social Media: Theory and Practice

Social media is transforming the way we work, learn and play. Knowledge and understanding of social media is a critical skill for graduates entering the workplace. This ground-breaking course brings together journalism and business students to build a social media campaign for media partners such as The Walrus, CBC Music, Journalists for Human Rights or Vancouver Magazine. Learn how to create a professional social media portfolio, how to reach audiences and how to be heard at a time when we are sharing more information from more sources with more people, more often and more quickly than ever before.

Feature Writing

When the power of voice and narrative storytelling are joined with strong reporting and the right structure, journalism connects with the reader. This seminar-style class allows students to develop written projects intended to make an impact. Examples: ‘Future-focused’ journalism that explores innovative solutions to social and environmental problems; first-person reported essays that convey a personal connection to a larger, critical issue; and investigative reportage that is clear and compelling in identifying need for change.

International Reporting (competitive entry)

The global reporting course addresses the need for student journalists to gain experience in the field of international reporting while honing their research, organizational and technical skills. Students will develop video and multimedia projects, and enhance their critical analyses of current global issues as well as their aptitude in digital technologies. The class will be structured around a specific issue. Past projects have focused on development pressures in Brazil, global illegal logging and the role of young environmentalists in China. These topics are selected in preparation for a field reporting trip to a collaboratively chosen global destination. A major objective of the course is to prepare students for reporting through both skill development and studies of best practices. Students are selected through an application process in their second year of studies.

Reporting in Indigenous Communities (competitive entry)

This course offers students a unique opportunity to study and practice reporting in Indigenous communities in the Lower Mainland. Students will learn about local First Nations cultures and history; examine representations of Indigenous peoples in Canadian media; and discuss strategies for in-depth coverage of Indigenous issues. Participating First Nations include Squamish Nation, Tsleil-watuth First Nation, Tsawwassen First Nation, Sto:lo Nation and Sto:lo Tribal Council. Students’ work is published in mainstream media outlets and our own multimedia website, www.indigenousreporting.com. Students are admitted to this class by an application process.

Final Research Project or Thesis Project

Students can choose between completing a Final Research Project or an Academic Thesis in their second year of study. Both represent a major project in journalism and journalism studies, jointly supervised by faculty of the UBC Graduate School of Journalism and a journalist or academic expert with a deep background in the subject covered by the project. The Final Research Project and Thesis are an in-depth investigative exploration of a topic, issue or problem considered newsworthy and timely. Final Research Projects may be executed in any journalism format: multimedia, text, audio, video, or online, whereas the Academic Thesis must be formatted as a traditional print based thesis. Both the Final Research Project and Thesis should be a culmination of the student’s program of studies, allowing for a convergence of subject area and medium specialization, research interests and journalism skills.

New Media and Society (Journalism 100 offered through UBC CAP)

Digital communication technologies have transformed the nature of news and information, their circulation and role in democracy. This course will examine how shifts in media technologies, institutional structures and public life are being radically altered alongside the practice and role of journalism. By the end of this course, students will be able to interrogate and discuss how media landscapes have changed, and what implications these changes have for society, politics and culture. This course is offered to undergraduate students only through the Coordinated Arts Program’s Media Studies stream.

Anthropology of Science and Technology (not being offered next semester)

This course will approach science as both a culture and practice, examining how facts are made, how they circulate, and how they come to matter for diverse publics. Such approaches to knowledge production, institutional contexts, and the emergence of new forms of expertise have become increasingly important as complex global problems like climate change present newly configured challenges for both sciences and societies. This course will closely examine and actively discuss ethnographic studies of field sites that range from nuclear weapons laboratories and surgical operating theatres to tech start-ups, activist communities, and responses to recent disasters such as Hurricane Katrina and Fukushima. Students are encouraged to research and reflect on the role of science and technology in politics, policy, social movements, and as represented in media.

Learning modules

The School of Journalism is piloting 1.5 credit modules that provide students with applied teaching in specific professional skills and competencies. Modules for the 2019-2020 academic year include:

  • Advanced audio
  • Data visualisation

* Please note that some elective courses options may not be offered each year.