Woodbury’s Media Studies program provides students with the framework to analyze the history, theory, aesthetics, and industry of contemporary media, from moving image media such as film and TV to social media. Critical Studies + Praxis: Students will develop critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills, and gain hands-on experience in digital media production.
Ours is an era of digital transformation. We are bombarded by thousands of images and messages on a variety of screens every day. It’s increasingly urgent that we learn to understand and question the links between media and power. Media Studies is a robust, future-driven discipline that equips us to understand and thrive in this rapidly evolving, visually-driven culture. Our program gives students the essential analytical and practical skills to navigate, work in, and actively shape the evolving forms of media in our digital age.
Our courses are designed to develop critical thinking, writing, speaking, and research skills, while allowing students to gain practical experience in digital media production, including video and sound capture, editing, and broadcasting. By combining critical studies with hands-on practice, students develop a toolkit that allows them to thrive in our ever-changing digital media ecosystem. See below for our list of courses.
Our professionally focused program prepares students for a wide range of careers in the media industries. Our location in Southern California gives students the unique opportunity to intern at some of the world’s most impactful and progressive media companies. Media Studies graduates are prepared for careers in the entertainment industry (film, television, radio, internet media), social and emergent digital media, public relations, entrepreneurship, and management. Media Studies is a well-rounded undergraduate degree that also provides excellent preparation for graduate study in fields such as Law, Education, Business Management, Cinema and Media Studies, and a range of other disciplines.
Internships are a required component of the BA in Media Studies.
7500 is a student-run magazine encompassing the arts, entertainment, and culture in the greater Los Angeles area, including Burbank, Hollywood, North Hollywood, Los Feliz, Eagle Rock, Pasadena, Downtown LA, and beyond.
WU Radio, our campus internet station with a local focus and a global audience, enables Woodbury students, alumni, faculty and staff to get hands-on experience with broadcasting in the digital era.
Kahren Torosyan was born and raised in Los Angeles, CA. He has always been interested in media, especially television and film, but his personal favorite is social media. Since launching his first Instagram page back in 2013, he began capturing everyday moments to share with his followers, and after a few years of photography, he began sharing his passion for fashion and lifestyle content through a curated feed. Now, Kahren is a freelance content creator for numerous brands such as Aldo Shoes, Express and more. As his work as a digital creator began growing during his freshman year at Woodbury, he decided to make the switch from being a Psychology major to a Communication major, in order to follow his love for media.
Within the Communication major, Kahren focused primarily on media studies, which includes a focus on cultural studies, entertainment history, social media creation and analysis, and critical analysis. All these areas of study play an important role in the world of social media influencing and marketing, thus Kahren’s digital work and schoolwork were a perfect pairing. At Woodbury, Kahren particularly loved the smaller class sizes because they allowed for in-depth discussions and the chance to develop closer relationships between classmates and professors. Kahren graduated in spring 2021 and plans to pursue a career in editorial/digital content for mass media companies.
Since she was young, Madeline Rizzo has displayed a passion for achieving her goals of independence and self-sufficiency. Growing up in New Jersey, she set her sights on the golden coast of California, and when she graduated high school she made the journey out to Los Angeles. Maddie enrolled at Woodbury University to study Communication with the dream of someday working in the entertainment industry. Through the leadership, collaboration, and guidance from her instructors and peers during her time at Woodbury, Maddie carved a path of her own. Shortly after graduating in 2018, Maddie began working at Los Angeles Center Studios, a full-service studio for TV, film, and commercial production.
Popular shows such as Mad Men (AMC), Glow (Netflix), Good Girls (NBC), and WestWorld (HBO) are among the many productions that have been shot there. Now, after several years of hard work and determination, Maddie has taken on further responsibilities at Los Angeles Center Studios as a property assistant, which involves meeting new prospective clients and maintaining relationships with current ones. It wasn’t an easy journey, but it’s one she is proud to have accomplished by taking a chance and trusting her strength.
See our Course Requirement breakdown below.
The Media Studies major is a Bachelor of Arts degree designed to prepare graduates to enter professional careers or graduate school. Media Studies students begin with a series of foundation courses at the 100 and 200 level: Introduction to Media Studies, Media Audiences & Methods, Media Industries, Media History, Media & Identity, and Media Ethics.
All Media Studies students take our Introduction to Broadcast Media course, along with a required media production elective of their choice in one of our making and design programs (such as Filmmaking, Animation, Game Art & Design, Fashion Design, or Graphic Design). Media Studies students are also required to complete an Internship.
Media studies courses at the 300 and 400 level include required courses in Cultural Studies, Media Professions, and Media & Social Change, as well as a selection of electives from our rotating series of courses in topics such as Gender and Media, Race and Film, Media Authorship, TV Studies, Social Media, Radio in the Age of the Internet, Studies in Narrative, and courses focusing on a range of media genres, modes, and historical moments such as Film Noir, Documentary, World Cinema, History of Hollywood, Media & the Environment, and more.
In the senior year, students focus on their original senior thesis project through a series of courses: Senior Thesis Prep, Senior Seminar, and our capstone Senior Thesis course.
COMM 100: Introduction to Media Studies
This course provides an introduction to media studies, including film, television, radio, video games, social media, and other forms of digital media. The course offers a set of basic terms for understanding film and media forms; it also functions as a gateway for thinking about the ways in which media forms, styles, genres, and industrial contexts construct meaning in different historical moments. The course emphasizes the study of film form – the building block for all kinds of moving image media – exploring topics such as camerawork, mise-en-scène, sound, editing, narrative, and film’s representation of reality. The course also addresses questions of medium specificity and media convergence in the digital era. The goal of this course is to provide students with a systematic understanding of moving image media in its basic forms, and to introduce students to some of the tools for analyzing media. Lecture.
COMM 115: Media Audiences and Methods
This course provides an introduction to some of the major critical methods for conceptualizing and analyzing the audience in media studies, with a particular focus on the digital era. We analyze a variety of media forms including film, television, radio, video games, social media, and other forms of digital media, opening up ways of thinking about how media texts shape our identities, politics, experiences, and sense of what is possible in the world. We also study and practice different approaches to writing about media. This course builds upon the introduction to media studies offered in COMM 100, which emphasizes formal and structural elements of moving image media (students are recommended to take that course first, but it is not a prerequisite). The goal of this course is to provide students with the basic methodological tools to think, speak, and write critically about different forms of media and their audiences. Lecture.
COMM 120: Public Speaking
This course provides a study of the oral presentation of ideas and feelings blending contemporary communication theory with traditional approaches to public address. This course also provides experience in public speaking, interpersonal communication, and critical listening. Lecture.
COMM 235: Media Ethics
This course will explore the origins of ethical behavior and actions within the media by looking at both classical and contemporary approaches to ethical decision making and applying them to modern media practices. Students will question media behavior, critique media practices, and search for suggestions that will most positively affect both the media institutions and the publics with which they interact. Lecture.
MSST 241: Media Industries
At the core of the media industries is a fundamental tension between art and commerce; creative products are generated within a business environment that is focused on keeping costs down and profits high. This course will introduce students to the institutional, economic, technological, and regulatory factors that shape the circulation of cultural objects within the entertainment media industries. Through a combination of lecture and discussion, students will come to understand the media industries’ key players, challenges, hierarchies, and debates. Lecture.
COMM 215: Media History
How do new forms of media and communication grow out of older forms? How do new media technologies alter the cultures from which they emerge? This course explores how major developments in media technologies have influenced history and how major historical and social changes have reshaped media forms. In so doing, the course draws connections between the present and historically and culturally specific modes of communication. Lecture.
COMM 237: Media & Identity
This course examines the relationship between mediated forms of communication and the formation of individual and social identities, with a particular emphasis on identities related to race, class, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality. Through a combination of lecture, screenings, and discussion, students will examine the ways in which popular media serves to construct, maintain, reproduce and/or challenge the patterns of representation that shape our social and cultural understanding of identity. Lecture.
COMM 205: Introduction to Broadcast Media
An overview of the theory and technique of broadcast media, with a focus on the role of broadcasting in creating positive transformation within communities. With case studies from radio, television, and networked media as background, students will be offered a hands-on introduction to industry-standard broadcast production tools, including both audio and video capture and editing techniques. Coursework will include reading and discussing theoretical, technical, and historical research, as well as producing original broadcast content to be shared in class and potentially online, via Woodbury’s internet radio station, WU Radio. Final projects for this course will take the form of serial broadcasts informed by regular interactions with community stakeholders, including interviews, access to archival material, investigative field work, and more. Lecture.
COMM 204: Public Relations
This course introduces messaging strategy using a combination of public relations theory and practical application. Lecture.
COMM 209: Advertising
This course introduces students to North American advertising techniques. Components of advertising campaigns are used to illustrate these techniques in both successful and unsuccessful marketing efforts. Lecture.
COMM 222: Film Studies
This class will introduce students to the study of film form and culture. Films can be understood from a number of perspectives: as technology, as business, as entertainment, as art, and perhaps most importantly, as a socio-cultural artifact that reflects the cultural conditions under which they are produced and received. To that end, this class will explore a wide variety of issues related to the study of film, including aspects of production, distribution, reception, film form and style, genre, and authorship. Lab.
COMM 225: Writing for Media
In this course, students will develop writing skills specific to communication and media-related fields. Emphasis will be placed on writing structure and style, the importance of revising and editing, and the emergence of a writer’s voice. Lecture.
COMM 226: Television Studies
This course will analyze television as a medium of information, purveyor of mass culture, and form of aesthetic expression, tracing the development of television as both a cultural product and an industry. Lab.
COMM 230: Research Methods
This course examines the complex relationship between the many scholarly disciplines that study communication and the theoretical and methodological divides that separate them. Students will acquire working knowledge of interpretive, historical, ethnographic, survey, and experimental research methods in historical context. The goal of the course is to help students develop tools for a rigorous, multi-method research practice. Lecture.
COMM 323: Cultural Studies
Cultural Studies is an academic discipline devoted to understanding and “reading” the world around us, particularly those elements we define as “culture.” In this class, we will examine some of the different theories and theorists that make up the fields of Media & Cultural Studies, as well as various methods used to decode the objects and ideas that surround us. We will explore how culture acts on individuals in society, how it is produced, where it is located, and how it engenders consensus. We will pay particular attention to how culture relates to power, whether that power is tied to producers or consumers, the industry or the academy, the ruling class or the subculture. Lecture.
COMM 335: Media and Social Change
This course examines the relationship between media and social change. We explore the theoretical and historical foundations of this connection, and put theory into practice through media production projects exploring social justice themes. Working in teams, students complete a short documentary integrating community partners; community outreach is required. Students learn how to harness the power of media to create positive transformation designed to generate social change within a specific area of interest. This is a designated Civic Engagement course. Lecture.
COMM 360: Media Professions
This course provides a window into various fields related to media studies and gives students the chance to examine future career options. Through guest speakers, field trips, analysis of media industries, and completion of student projects, students will gain a better understanding of the career opportunities and internship possibilities available to them. Lecture.
COMM 480: Senior Thesis Prep
This is a 1-unit course that is designed to prepare media studies students for the execution of their senior thesis project. Students will generate and develop their ideas, formulate research questions, and decide on a project methodology. The course will culminate with a Senior Thesis proposal. All students will take this course P/F. Lecture.
COMM 481: Senior Seminar
This writing-intensive, advanced critical theory seminar will explore a major question, theme or issue in the field of media studies. Topics are determined by the instructor and will vary from semester to semester. This fall Seminar is designed to give students critical thinking and writing practice at the capstone level. Lecture.
COMM 402: Senior Thesis
This course is a capstone research seminar for students in the media studies major. Students will engage in extensive research and produce a major research paper or original project appropriate to the field of media studies. Lecture.
COMM 490: Internship
Students participate in an on-the-job practicum in commercial settings in the media entertainment industry. Work experience is complemented by academic requirements specified in a contract with the faculty advisor. All students will take this course P/F.
COMM 300: Censorship
This course will explore the history of censorship in American pop culture, with a particular emphasis on the film and television industries. Through a combination of lecture, screenings, and discussion, students will examine the ways in which pop culture has become a battleground in the culture wars around violence, sex, race, religion, and politics. Lecture.
COMM 304: Social Media for Entrepreneurs
This course has students develop a strategic and detailed social communication plan for their own start-up concept. The class takes them from crafting the initial concept and feasibility through identifying, planning and launching a social media communication plan that can be presented to venture capital investors. Students will also be coached on VC arena meeting requirements and will present their final projects to the class. Lecture.
COMM 305: Media, Self, and Society
This course provides an exploration of the techniques used in propaganda and the persuasive communication strategies that convert ideas into ideologies. These techniques and strategies are illustrated in several ways, including marketing campaigns, artistic efforts, and wartime propaganda. Lecture.
COMM 306: Radio in the Age of the Internet
An overview of the theory and technique of radio, as both a terrestrial and internet medium, with a focus on the role of radio in positively transforming communities. The course begins with a hands-on introduction to industry-standard broadcast production tools (focusing on Adobe Audition). Coursework will include readings and discussions of theoretical and historical scholarship about radio, podcasts, internet video, and television, as well as producing lab-based original broadcast content to be shared in class and online. Student projects for this course will include program informed by regular interactions with members of the community (including interviews), access to audio archives, script writing, investigative research, and more. The final project will be a collaboratively created, fully formed radio or podcast episode, with the intention of airing the student-produced program on WU Radio. Lecture.
COMM 307: Studies in Narrative
This course examines the use of narrative in human culture. Students will learn the history and functions of storytelling, up to and including modern uses of story. Students will gain an understanding of storytelling fundamentals, techniques, and applications in a range of industries including Animation, Architecture, Filmmaking, Game Art & Design, Graphic Design, and Marketing. Through a combination of lectures, screenings, and discussions, students will learn how to analyze narrative in multiple forms of media and thus apply the fundamentals of storytelling within their own fields. Lecture.
COMM 308: History of Hollywood
This course is an historical survey of the emergence and development of the motion picture industry here in southern California. We will focus on the business practices, technological developments, formal strategies, and socio-political conditions that have led Hollywood to become the center of global film culture. Special attention will be paid in this course to the “Golden Era” of the studio system as we look to its stars, studios, and feature films in order to explore the cultural history of American movies. Lab.
COMM 314: Digital Journalism
This course develops writing, editing, reporting, design, production, and public relations skills through work on the Woodbury student digital magazine, 7500. This course may be taken up to two times for credit. Lecture.
COMM 327: Gender and Media
In this course we explore gender as a social construct shaped by media. We consider gender as an intersectional term, examining how it functions in the context of other categories of embodiment such as race, class, sexuality, ability, age, and other dimensions. Our focus is on media representation of gender in terms of roles, identities, sexualities, and structures of power in a patriarchal context. We analyze the construction of gender through various media forms, concentrating on the gendered dynamic of looking in visual media such as film/television, game, photography and fashion. We also engage in discussion regarding how media forms visualize gender in specific historical moments. Lecture.
COMM 330: Social Media
This course looks at the channels of communication that make up the social media space, focusing specifically on how media technologies figure into practices of everyday life and the construction of social relationships and identities. Lecture.
COMM 336: The Art of the Pitch
This course helps students become more persuasive speakers. It offers a history and context of the pitch process and documents the multiple formats of pitching across the design and business disciplines. Students also develop the analytical and critical tools necessary to evaluate the pitches of other students from multiple majors. It is intended for juniors and seniors and is preparatory for senior projects. Lecture.
COMM 337: Surveillance & Culture
This course will introduce students to a broad range of political, social, and cultural applications of surveillance technologies in the 20th and 21st centuries, paying particularly close attention to the ways in which film, television, and new media technologies structure the culture of surveillance in our daily lives. Lecture.
COMM 338: History of Documentary
This course examines the history and theory of documentary media, focusing on a range of examples from the 1920s to the present. Students will develop historical and theoretical perspectives on the traditional concerns of documentary through a focused exploration of how documentary’s interests, methods, and style have changed over time. Lab.
COMM 341: Film Genres
This course is an historical and theoretical survey of film genre as a stylistic and narrative device. It will focus on one or more genres as a case study for exploring genre’s significance in the historical, cultural and economic fabric of the film industry. Lab.
COMM 342: Film Noir
This course explores the origins and evolution of the film noir, from its literary beginnings to its contemporary manifestations. Students will look at the loosening of censorship structures that allowed for noir’s emergence in Hollywood, the politics of post-war America that gave context to the films’ bleak cynicism, and the films’ distinctive style and character archetypes as they work to develop a better understanding of the genre’s significance within the history of cinema. Lab.
COMM 350: World Cinema
This course offers a survey of narrative filmmaking outside of the United States from World War II through the beginning of the 21st century, focusing on various New Cinemas and other significant and influential film movements. The goal of the course is to examine the aesthetic histories of international filmmaking, while analyzing how particular film movements respond to local and global changes in political, social, and cultural climates over time. Lab.
COMM 370: Special Topics in Media Studies
This is a seminar devoted to selected topics of special interest to students and faculty. Lecture.
COMM 3779: Media Authorship
What does it mean to be an “author” in the creative industries? How are artistic reputations constructed and understood? This course examines the complications of media authorship by studying the style, themes and development of one or more authors. Lab.
Woodbury’s faculty are accomplished, caring academics and professionals dedicated to supporting the success of students throughout their academic journey. They bring their professional expertise to students and work closely with them to teach the skills and theory required to enter professional practice or pursue advanced study. Through this individual attention, Woodbury fosters close mentoring relationships between faculty and students in a supportive and encouraging environment.
WSCUC: Senior College and University Commission (formerly WASC)