Media Studies

The Media Studies stream considers various questions, including:

  • How has media influenced our personal experiences and framed our understanding of issues of identity, equality, globalization, and citizenship?
  • What are the social, cultural, and political implications of media representations in local and global contexts?
  • How do new technologies and media change the way we tell and respond to stories?
  • How might we challenge conventional means of media representation in relation to means of production, consumption, and reception?

From five distinct angles, this stream explores media in the context of modern society. You will be introduced to the different intellectual perspectives associated with the disciplines of Creative Writing, English, Film, Journalism, and Visual Arts. You will be challenged and encouraged to draw connections within and across these fields.

The Media Studies stream, as an area of academic and popular discourse, examines and questions commonly held definitions or understandings of art, aesthetics, power, inclusion and exclusion, ethics, markets, identity politics, embodiment and more. The media by which messages are delivered are as important to our understanding of culture as the content of the messages themselves. Accordingly, the Media Studies stream explores these issues through many media including advertising, blogs, conceptual art, documentaries, graphic novels, fiction, film, social media, photography, podcasts, video art, and websites. Through the five interrelated courses in the Media Studies stream, students will gain an introduction to academic study in both the Humanities and the Creative and Performing Arts.

Students in the CAP Media Studies stream are enrolled in one of two degree options: a general Bachelor of Arts (BA) or a Bachelor of Media Studies (BMS).

BA: This stream may be of particular interest to students who plan on majoring in Film Studies, English, Sociology, Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice, First Nations Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Art History, Visual Art and Theory. It may also appeal to those pursuing studies in film production, creative writing, or visual arts.

BMS: Students can also register in CAP’s Media Studies stream as part of the Bachelor of Media Studies (BMS). The Bachelor of Media Studies is a multi-disciplinary cohort program blending practice, theory, and research methodology in the participating disciplines.

Term One Courses

Arts Studies (ASTU) 100A

(6 credits/2 terms) – First Year CAP Seminar: Focuses on scholarly writing and reading, including both literature and introduction to academic scholarship. This course provides an interdisciplinary foundation for academic writing and related research communicative practices within an interactive learning environment.

  • ASTU 100A Sections M01, M02 -  Media, Genres, and Stories
    Tues & Thurs 9.30 - 11 / 11 - 12.30
    Dr. Kathryn Grafton

ASTU 100A combines literature with academic research and writing through the study of a core research topic, which for this class is “Representation, Resistance, and Responsibility.” Together, we will ask, what is “media”? What are the social, ethical, and political dimensions of media? How do media construct and reinforce social norms (a question pursued by speaker and filmmaker Jean Kilbourne and scholar Stuart Hall)? How do people engage media to resist these norms (a challenge taken up by Joy Kogawa in her novel, Obasan, and Thomas King in his series of lectures, The Truth About Stories)? How is media used as a tool for education and social justice (as seen in the digital Indigenous walking tour of campus, Knowing the Land Beneath Our Feet at UBC)?

To explore these questions, we will study literary works that mediate our experiences of self and others as well as those that foreground the role of media in society. While we will analyze these texts primarily from a literary studies perspective, we will also draw from the disciplinary perspectives of Creative Writing, Film Studies, Journalism, and Visual Arts, the other courses in our CAP stream. In Term 1, we will focus on representation as it relates to identity (including class, gender, ethnicity, place, nationality, race, and sexuality) and society (social norms, constraints, and repercussions). In Term 2, we will begin with a focus on “Stories and Responsibilities” in the context of Indigenous peoples in Canada, examining issues of cultural genocide, appropriation of voice, resistance and reconciliation. We will then direct our attention to “Sharing and Surveillance,” exploring the blurring of the public and private, the subject positions of “mediated exhibitionists” and “voyeurs” (Calvert), and the free labour performed by social media users.

  • ASTU 100A Sections M03, M04
    M, W, F 11 - 12/ 12 - 1
    Tiffany Johnstone

Creative Writing (CRWR) 213

(3 credits / 1 term)
Tues & Thurs 3.30 - 5
Jackie Wong

Through a mix of discussion, in-class creative work, lecture, and writing, Creative Writing 213 equips you with the knowledge and practical tools to engage critically with the new media landscape, its related social impacts and tensions, and the artistic potential it holds for writers. By the end of this course, you’ll gain a more nuanced understanding of contemporary new media and your roles in shaping its future as both writers and digital citizens.

Film Studies (FIST) 100

(3 credits/1 term) Introduction to Film and Media Analysis
Monday 2 - 5.30, Wednesday 2 - 3 (Discussion)
Robyn Citizen

This course is designed to provide an introduction to film as an academic discipline. Through a variety of texts, important essays, and screenings you will develop an appreciation for film form, aesthetics and narratives of key artistic, historical and theoretical significance.  The course is roughly divided into three units: an introductory component on film form that presents you with foundational terminology, a second unit on Hollywood, genre, and ideology, and a final unit on alternatives to Hollywood filmmaking including nonfiction and avant-garde film practices. Screenings and lectures are supplemented by illustrative clips, readings from a core textbook (Essential Cinema), essays posted on Connect, as well as by weekly discussion sessions. At the conclusion of the course, you will have mastered the basic vocabulary and terminology used to analyze formal elements of a film, have a broad understanding of film history – including an overview of how cinema is embedded in global and local political economies – and be familiar with various interpretive concepts/theories and aesthetic ‘waves’.


Term Two Courses

Arts Studies (ASTU) 100A

(6 credits/ 2 terms)

Visual Arts (VISA) 110

(3 credits/1 term)
Christine D'Onofrio

Introduction to Digital Arts consists of weekly one-hour lectures, two hours of lab time, and one hour of online learning.  The course covers historical, political, theoretical, and practical issues of art and image making through studio production of artwork.  The focus of photography and moving image within the lineage of digital media is examined through the machine’s role in the reaction and reception of artistic works, and how it has changed through history. Resources to aid in the technical execution of your artworks in the mediums of still image (Adobe Photoshop), moving image (Adobe Premiere), and audio works (Audacity), are held as part of the online component of the course and require no prior knowledge.  The main topics that will be introduced to inform your projects are:  concept art and appropriation practices.  In this class you will realize your own lens-based and digital visual art works in an informed and critical setting.  This will be enhanced with class work consisting of readings on the nature of images and image-making, lectures on historical to contemporary artists and artworks that have made significant contributions to the dialogue of the machine in art, and class critiques and discussions of works held in labs.  There will be outside class, open lab times available for students to use computers with the software, and projects will be able to be completed with a cell phone or disposable camera.  The class is completed by the creation of an e-portfolio to highlight your visual work and gained knowledge.

Journalism (JRNL) 100

(3 credits/ 1 term)
M, W, F 10 - 11
Peter Klein

JRNL 100 is a first-year undergrad course that looks at how shifts in the media landscape, the advent of new technologies, and changes in information flow are transforming the practice, profession and role of journalism. The social organization and communication features of our media-saturated world are being altered by economic, sociologic and technologic factors, and this course offers students an opportunity to have a better understanding of evolving media landscapes. Exploring these issues provides students with an introduction to the Arts that integrates the humanities and social sciences, while offering a focal point on media practice. Students will learn journalism skills including: investigative reporting methods, the use of data in reporting, the basic use of multimedia, social media analysis, and practice in various forms of storytelling. Each week the class will have a guest speaker, usually a journalist or media practitioner, who will share thoughts on the industry and work with students to explore the complexities of the creative, technical and business aspects of “journalism.”


Indigenous Digital Walking Tour – “Knowing the Land Beneath our Feet”
Students will participate in a digital walking tour that highlights Indigenous knowledges and histories in relation to UBC Vancouver campus. Our goal is to connect what we learn in the classroom about Indigenous issues in Canada to a very local context, our campus.

Academic Speed Dating: Each student works on a question based on a selection of texts that expands on class discussion. They then have approximately 6 minutes in pairs to ask each other their questions and generate discussion about the texts. After 6 minutes, they rotate and work with another student and, at the end, they have a selection of different answers. Afterwards, they produce written responses to the exercise where they analyze their discussions and give a critical response to their classmates’ answers. It transforms the traditional classroom space into a dynamic forum for discussion and debate and allows students to apply their own frames of reference and experiences to the texts.

ASTU 100A & VISA 110

UBC’s Centre for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL) project – the Media Studies stream will be working with a media-focused community organization and working on a related media project in one or more courses.

CRWR 213

Tumblr Literary Project—we’ll spend the last month of the semester working primarily on the Tumblr Literary Project that marks the third and final writing assignment in this class. Through a series of weekly collaborative Tumblr Literary workshops, students will build a multimedia Tumblr site showcasing three original pieces of postcard fiction or creative non-fiction of a similar length. Sampling work from across the web, students will furnish the site with images, video, animation, and text that works to shed new light on and assign new meaning to their writing.

JRNL 100

Group presentations: Students will be assigned in groups to present the history and context behind major new media and journalism events.

Tweeting and Blogging: Students will be assigned in groups to use Twitter and an in-class blogging tool to report on class presentations.

Please note that students will only register in one ASTU 100A section and one VISA 110 discussion section. This timetable is subject to change.

Media Studies term one


Media studies term two


See also: Bachelor of Media Studies