Santa Clara University


Senior Thesis & Capstone

2014–2015 Thesis and Capstone

All Communication majors complete a senior thesis or capstone course in their senior year. 

Thesis students complete substantial papers based on their original research. 

Capstone students make films, write feature-length magazine articles, or create public relations materials for a real-world client.  Students emerge from thesis or capstone with an example of their best work, suitable for including in applications for jobs and graduate school

Prerequisite Information

All students enrolled in any section of thesis/capstone must complete the following lower division required courses before taking thesis/capstone:  
□    COMM 1 (Introduction to Interpersonal Communication)
□    COMM 2 (Introduction to Media Studies) or 2GL (Introduction to Global Media Studies)
□    COMM 12 (Technology & Communication)
□    COMM 20 (Public Speaking)
□    COMM 30 (Introduction to Digital Filmmaking)
□    COMM 40 (Introduction to Journalism) or 40 EL (Introduction to Journalism- Experiential Learning)
•    There are additional prerequisites for each thesis/capstone section. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have completed them before the quarter in which you plan to take thesis/capstone.  Enrolling in a prerequisite during the same quarter as thesis/capstone doesn’t count.
•    Acceptance into any thesis/capstone section is contingent upon the student successfully completing all prerequisites prior to the quarter in which the student is enrolled in thesis/capstone.  A student who drops or fails a prerequisite will not be eligible to take thesis/capstone and will forfeit their slot in a thesis/capstone section.
•    Please plan accordingly and give yourself enough time to complete these courses

Fall 2014

Parenting in the Digital Age

Professor Katherine Heintz

As families increasingly fill their homes with personal and mobile technology, what are the impacts on parenting strategies, parent-child communication, and children's development?In this senior thesis section we will explore the literature on media and families, and extend the discussion to include not only children's use of media but parents' use as well.We will craft a survey questionnaire to administer to parents so that we can analyze an original data set.

Pre-requisites: All lower division, Comm 110 and Comm 123a

Winter 2015

Open Topic

Professor Paul Soukup, S.J.

Students work in pairs to develop a research project on a communication-related topic, and carry out that research using either quantitative or qualitative methods, resulting in both a final thesis paper and a research presentation.

Pre-requisites: All lower division, COMM 110 or COMM 111, two courses from the List A

Team-Based Communication

Professor Andrew Ishak

This seminar course explores communication issues in team contexts.  We will examine research on topics such as team process, communication networks, culture, and leadership. The course will culminate with a research project completed in small teams.

Pre-requisites: All lower division, COMM 110, COMM 111, and at least one of the following classes: 104A, 151A, 172A.

Spring 2015

Work, Diversity, and Communication in a Globalized Society

Professor Hsin-I Cheng

Diversity has become one of the top agendas in the globalized world furthered by worker migrations, immigration, legal and demographic changes. A diverse work environment brings energizing perspectives while at the same time posing potential tensions. This thesis seminar will explore inclusion-exclusion issues from an intercultural communication perspective. You will produce and deliver a group research project at the end of the course.   

Pre-requisites: All lower division, Comm 111 and 110 and  at least one of the following classes 101A, 103A, 107A, 121A, 127A, and 151A. 

Digital Filmmaking Capstone

Professor Michael Whalen

The goal of the Digital Filmmaking Capstone is to produce quality short films in any of the following genres: documentary, fiction, poetic, experimental, or any combination of these modes of storytelling. Students work in small production groups of 2-3 to produce 15-minute films, ideally from scripts that have been written in COMM 130B.

In addition to the film projects, each student is required to write an essay outlining his/her overall vision as a filmmaker and how this vision helped frame their Capstone project. The essay will draw on theories and concepts such as mise-en-scene, montage, auteur theory, the long take, film reflexivity, defamiliarization, cinema verite, and observational documentary to link the student’s practical experience to the various theoretical concepts of filmmaking.


•    All COMM lower division requirements (COMM 1, 2/2GL, 12, 20, 30 and 40/40EL)
•    COMM 130B (Global Screenwriting)
•    Two of the film/television COMM List B courses from among the following:
    131B (Short Fiction Production)
    132B (Short Documentary Production)
    133B (Expanded Cinema)
    134B (Master Shot/Studio Production)
•    One of the following advanced COMM courses related to film and television:
    COMM 121A (Diversity and Media)
    COMM 123A (Media and Youth)
    COMM 125A (Media Audience Studies)
    COMM 136A (Genre, Auteur & Narrative Strategies)
    COMM 137A (Film History/Theory)
    COMM 138A (Television History/Theory)
    COMM 139A (Global Documentary)
    COMM 162B (Visual Cultural Communication)
    COMM 187A (Cinema in the Age of Globalization)
    COMM 171A (Business of Media)
    COMM 188A (The Fantastic in Film and Literature)

Journalism Capstone

Professor: Barbara Kelley

The goal of the journalism capstone project is to produce a 3500-word magazine piece of publishable quality on a significant community issue. Students are encouraged to view their final project as a portfolio piece they can use as evidence of superior writing/reporting ability when applying for graduate school, internships or media-related jobs. Students will submit a written story proposal, including a preliminary list of sources and projected reporting strategy; perform a comprehensive literature search; and thoroughly research the story via interviews, archival research, and first-hand observation.  Students will also edit their peers’ work throughout the quarter, participate in class discussions, and submit multiple drafts of the final project. In addition to the finished magazine piece, students will write a reflection noting how previous journalism courses and class discussions, Communication and Core courses, and university experiences have all combined to inform their ability to complete their project.  In the reflection, students will consider both ethics and audience.

Note: The pre-requisites for a journalism capstone do NOT require students to complete additional courses to graduate; students simply need to fulfill upper division COMM requirements in part by taking two List B journalism courses and one List A course related to journalism, media studies or multi-cultural communication.  

•    All COMM lower division requirements (COMM 1, 2/2GL, 12, 20, 30 and 40/40EL)
•    COMM 141B (Advanced Journalism)
•    At least one additional journalism List B course prior to Spring quarter, from among:
    COMM 142B (Online//Digital Journalism)
    COMM 143B (Special Topics in Journalism)
    COMM 146B (Magazine Journalism)
    COMM 149B (Science News)
Special permission from the instructor may be given to a student who requests to substitute a comparable journalism course taken at a different institution for one of these List Bs.
•    One advanced course related to journalism, media studies, or multi-cultural communication, which may be taken concurrently with Capstone, from among the following:
    COMM 121A (Diversity and Media)
    COMM 122A (Media and Advocacy)
    COMM 125A (Media Audience Studies)
    COMM 139A (Global Documentary)
    COMM 161B (Communication Media and Technology in Education)
    COMM 162B (Visual Cultural Communication)
    COMM 164A (Race, Gender, and Public Health)
    COMM 168A (Race, Gender, and Politics in the News)
    COMM 170A (Communication Law)
    COMM 171A (Business of Media)
    COMM 182A (Global News Issues)
    COMM 185A (New Media and Communication)
    COMM 186B (Global Interpersonal Communication)

Public Relations Capstone

Professor Buford Barr

Public Relations Capstone focuses on the application of communication, business, and core academic concepts and theories to the practice of business communications, including the basic communication skills, planning/execution process, and functions that compose public relations within a corporate, business entity or agency.  Topics include integrated marketing communications, branding, marketing, mainstream media, and social/digital media.  Business ethics and social responsibility are heavily emphasized.

The Capstone Project is to develop a public relations plan for an actual organization in a real business situation or to implement an existing PR plan. Working as a PR agency, students will develop a complete PR plan book designed to achieve the client's corporate and marketing objectives, the PR tactics for outbound and inbound communication and a formal presentation of the plan to the client and his/her staff.  The focus is on research, creative problem solving, critical thinking, planning, project management, accountability and ethics.  (5 units)

•    All COMM lower division requirements (COMM 1, 2/2GL, 12, 20, 30 and 40/40EL)
•    COMM 110 or 111 or 111G
•    COMM 150B (Public Relations Theories and Principles)
•    COMM 152B (Public Relations Strategies and Practices)