Skip to main content

Senior Thesis & 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 (Media in a Global World) 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.

Spring 2018

Professor Sunwolf

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

When we get what we wanted, why doesn't that always make us happy? Our relationships are embedded in the pursuit of or loss of happiness. Topics include the transient nature of happiness, our brain?s biological happiness system, the effects of tragic or fortunate events, compassion, prosocial behavior, gratitude, flourishing, savoring and the pursuit of pleasure. We will look at how happiness is affected by winning or by losing, as well as why predicting our future happiness is flawed. Students will gain an understanding of what might (or might not) bring them and those they care about sustained happiness?for decisions they will make throughout their lives. 

This senior seminar will extend the interdisciplinary review of research and theories from COMM 100A. Students will select one interpersonal issue of interest to them in which to apply our new readings, synthesizing and extending what is known about happiness to explain the challenges and issues within that social issue. No partner is needed. Final projects involve individual work, but other assignments will involve working in small teams that will teach an outside class or group about research from the Science of Happiness and demonstrate how it explains specific issues in our relationships.

Prerequisites:

  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 100A (The Science of Happiness)
  • COMM 110 or 111/111G

Professor Michael Whalen​

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

Digital Filmmaking is a workshop designed to provide Seniors the context in which they produce their Capstone films and reflect on how the courses in history, theory, and criticism they have taken in the Communication Department have informed their work and filmmaking vision. Digital Filmmaking Capstone entails the production of a 10 to 15-minute film and the writing of an 8 to10-page reflection paper in which students discuss the relationship between theory and practice as it relates to their projects and who they are as filmmakers. Students will work in groups to pre-produce, shoot, and post-produce an original film, and to write an individual vision statement. The goal of Digital Filmmaking Capstone is to give students the chance to refine the technical and aesthetic skills they have learned in the film production sequence and to deepen their understanding of the relation between the practice of filmmaking and film/video theory and criticism.

Prerequisites

  • All lower division Communication Requirements
  • ​Comm 110 or Comm 111/111G​
  • 130B (English Screenwriting is okay)
  • Two of the list B courses in film/TV production (131B, 132B, 133B, 134B, 135B, 144B) and at least one from the following list: COMM 187A, COMM 188A, COMM 139A, COMM 136A, COMM 137A, COMM 138A, COMM 171A
  • And at least one from the following list: COMM 187A, COMM 188A, COMM 139A, COMM 136A, COMM 137A, COMM 138A, COMM 171A

Professor Barbara Kelley

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

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 when applying for graduate school, internships or media-related jobs that they can use as evidence of:

  • superior writing
  • sophisticated and comprehensive reporting
  • the ability to show initiative in working independently on an in-depth project of their own choosing.  

Prerequisites

  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 141B
  • At least one additional journalism List B (Comm146 is recommended, but not required)
  • At least one A-list communication course related to journalism or the media (can be concurrent with Capstone)

Professor Chuck Byers

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

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)

Prerequisites:

  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 or 111/111G
  • COMM 150B (Public Relations Strategies and Practices)
  • COMM 152B (Public Relations Strategies and Practices)

Fall 2018

Working with a partner, students in this section will choose their own topic of communication-related research and design and carry out that study

Prerequisites: COMM 1, 2, 12, 20, 30, 40; either COMM 110 or 111 (preferably both; at least one COMM list A and one COMM list B.

Winter 2019

This Capstone course will focus on the implementation of a health campaign that students have designed to target a health behavior among their fellow students.  We will be working in close partnership with the SCU Wellness Center to implement projects that will directly contribute to the health of fellow students on campus.  Using data and theory-driven strategies, the campaigns will be designed in the prerequisite course, Comm 154A, Foundations of Strategic Campaigns (previously called Public Health Campaigns); thus, the Capstone class itself will focus on the hands-on implementation of the campaign and the evaluation of its effectiveness.   The knowledge and skills learned in this course will help students develop experience applicable to careers in a wide range of strategic communication careers, including public relations, advertising, and public health.

Prerequisites: All lower-division requirements. COMM 110, COMM 154A; recommended COMM 111

COURSE DESCRIPTION:

In this seminar, students will explore the intersections between their personal lives and the social scientific literature on interpersonal communication. Students will conduct research on interpersonal topics meaningful to them, including but not limited to: negotiating condom usage in dating relationships, communication between divorced parents sharing child custody, communication between coaches and athletes, conflict between co-workers, sexual harassment, cross-sex or cross-cultural friendships, communication between step-siblings or half-siblings, maintaining long-distance relationships, mentoring relationships, coming out to friends and family about LGBTQIA identities, doctor-patient communication, communicating support and comfort to loved ones, and gendered communication styles. Students will each construct an individual thesis project that will include both a critical literature review and an original arts-based research product (e.g., short story, photo essay, several poems, painting, digital story, performance).

Prerequisite -- All lower division classes, COMM 110 and 111

Spring 2019

Time is central to the human experience. We use time as a way to measure, pace, reward, and punish. But most issues related to time are taken from granted in human communication research. In this course, we will explore many of the social conceptions of time that affect the way we live on a daily (and weekly, and monthly, and yearly) basis. We will also examine how time affects relationships within groups and organizations, as well as how agency plays a role in our relationship with time.

Prerequisites -- all lower division classes and COMM 111.

How do we communication who we are in a new environment? What drives us to do so? What happens when our identifications are misunderstood or dismissed? How does one address diversity questions at work in our current social climate? Diversity has become one of the top agendas in the globalized world furthered by im/migration and demographic changes within the United States and abroad. This thesis seminar will explore how social identities (i.e., differences) and their intersections play out in work environment from an intercultural communication perspective. You will conduct and present original research that examines ways in which identities are implicated in work environment.

Prerequisites: COMM 1, 2, 111, and one of the following: 107A, 108A, 184A, or 189A. 

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 when applying for graduate school, internships or media-related jobs that they can use as evidence of:

  • Superior writing
  • Sophisticated and comprehensive reporting
  • She ability to show initiative in working independently on an in-depth project of their own choosing.  

Prerequisites:

  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 141B
  • At least one additional journalism List B (Comm146 is recommended, but not required)
  • At least one A-list communication course related to journalism or the media (can be concurrent with Capstone)

 

Digital Filmmaking is a workshop designed to provide Seniors the context in which they produce their Capstone films and reflect on how the courses in history, theory, and criticism they have taken in the Communication Department have informed their work and filmmaking vision. Digital Filmmaking Capstone entails the production of a 10 to 15-minute film and the writing of an 8 to10-page reflection paper in which students discuss the relationship between theory and practice as it relates to their projects and who they are as filmmakers. Students will work in groups to pre-produce, shoot, and post-produce an original film, and to write an individual vision statement. The goal of Digital Filmmaking Capstone is to give students the chance to refine the technical and aesthetic skills they have learned in the film production sequence and to deepen their understanding of the relation between the practice of filmmaking and film/video theory and criticism.

Prerequisites:

  • All lower division Communication Requirements
  • ​Comm 110 or Comm 111/111G​
  • 130B (English Screenwriting is okay)
  • Two of the list B courses in film/TV production (131B, 132B, 133B, 134B, 135B, 144B) and at least one from the following list: COMM 187A, COMM 188A, COMM 139A, COMM 136A, COMM 137A, COMM 138A, COMM 171A
  • And at least one from the following list: COMM 187A, COMM 188A, COMM 139A, COMM 136A, COMM 137A, COMM 138A, COMM 171A

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)

Prerequisites:

  • All COMM lower division requirements
  • COMM 110 or 111/111G
  • COMM 150B (Public Relations Strategies and Practices)
  • COMM 152B (Public Relations Strategies and Practices)