Comparative Media Studies (co-major)

Comparative Media Studies is the exploration of media in its broadest sense. Multiple media technologies affect the way we engage with the world around us every day: print, television, digital film, radio, mp3, video games, online websites, smart phone apps, geographic mapping, data visualization, weather radars and many more. CMS provides students with the tools they will need to successfully navigate environments shaped by continually emerging and evolving media. Students compare such media technologies and examine how different media function across different historical and cultural contexts. In doing so, they will encounter various disciplinary methods drawn from art history, sociology, history, communication, music, anthropology, computer science, business, and others. CMS is designed to help students control the media in their lives rather than be controlled by them.


What are the features of the Comparative Media Studies co-major?


The term "co-major" indicates that students must be concurrently enrolled in and must complete another major at Miami University. This co-major complements the primary major, which provides significant depth and breadth in an academic discipline.

Blending Media Analysis and Media Production

CMS co-majors study how media technologies shape their world through hand-on-engagement with those technologies. In the process, students gain a broad knowledge of many different media production skills. More importantly, given the rapid rate of technological change, CMS empowers students to teach themselves how to use unfamiliar technologies (rather than giving narrow instruction in today’s soon-to-be-replaced equipment and programs).

Self-Designed Curriculum

Only 13 of the curriculum's 32 credited hours come from required classes. Each student works with a CMS advisor to select the remaining 19 credit hours from among the university’s diverse course offerings. This self-designed curriculum allows students to tailor their CMS experience to their personal interests.

Engagement with Diverse Peers and Faculty

As an interdisciplinary program, CMS brings together faculty and students from across the university, giving students the opportunity to work closely with people who have different perspectives and expertise.

Co-major Flexibility

CMS serves as an efficient second major option to students across the university. As a co-major, the CMS degree becomes an addition to a student’s primary major. Although the CMS program is located in the College of Arts and Science, students whose primary major is located in a different division (e.g., in the Farmer School of Business; College of Create Arts; College of Education, Health and Society; College of Engineering and Computing; College of Professional Studies and Applied Sciences) do not have to complete the Arts and Science divisional requirements. Picking up a co-major in CMS will add at most 32 additional credit hours to a student’s graduation requirements.

What are the special admission requirements, if any?

Because this degree is a co-major, CMS requires students to have a primary major. That major can be any major in the University (except another co-major).

What courses would I take?

During your first two years, you will take MAC 143: Introduction to Media and CMS 201: Introduction to Comparative Media Studies. After those foundation courses, you will take CMS 301: Comparative Approaches to Media Studies and at the end of your coursework you will take CMS 401, the senior seminar in CMS.

The rest of the curriculum is a self-designed set of courses that co-majors select in consultation with a CMS advisor. Students will take 9 credits of critical/analytical courses from across the university and 9 credits of coursework focused on one form of production (of the student's choice). When possible, students may fulfill the production requirement with production-focused coursework from their primary major.

What can I do with this co-major?

The CMS degree was designed as a co-major to give students from across the university a valuable media skill set that would serve them well in any career. Employers in the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors all need people who are not only experts in their respective fields, but also effective communicators and analysts of media communication. Moreover, studies show that graduates with more than one major are better critical thinkers. No matter what your current major, adding a CMS co-major will add to your professional depth and give you an edge in the job market.

Who can I contact for more information?

Dr. Mack Hagood, Associate Professor, Area Coordinator
147 Williams Hall


Co-major in Comparative Media Studies (31 Credits)

A co-major is a degree that gets attached to a primary major. In other words, as a CMS co-major, you must complete an additional major (which will serve as your primary major). That major can be located in any division of the university (i.e., College of Arts and Science; School of Creative Arts; Farmer School of Business; School of Education, Health, and Society; School of Engineering and Applied Sciences). As a CMS co-major you only complete the requirements of the division where your primary major is located. For example, if you are an IMS major and CMS co-major, you complete the divisional requirements of the College of Creative Arts. If you major in Marketing and co-major in CMS, you complete the divisional requirements of the Farmer School of Business, and so forth.

Core Courses (13 credits) take all four

  • MAC 143 Introduction to Media (3)
  • CMS 201 Introduction to Comparative Media Studies (4)
  • CMS 301 Comparative Approaches to Media Studies (3) [prereq. COM 143, CMS 201]
  • CMS 401 Senior Seminar in Comparative Media Studies (3) [prereq. CMS 301]

Core Courses (13 credits) take all four

  • Track 1: Comparative Media Technologies
  • Track 2: Comparative Media Cultures
  • Track 3: Comparative Media Histories

You will consult with your CMS advisor to identify 3 courses from across the university relevant to your selected track. At least one of these courses must be a CMS-coded course. For non-CMS coded courses, you will be responsible for completing a project connecting that course content to track-specific concepts gained in CMS 201. If deemed appropriate by your advisor, that project can be completed through the course’s standard assignments. If the course’s standard assignments are not appropriate, you will design an assignment in consultation with your CMS advisor. Below, we provide a list of a few courses CMS students might be interested in taking. NOTE: Many more courses could be used to fulfill this requirement even if they are not explicitly about media. For example: a student could make a History course about 19th century Russia a CMS-experience by completing a project that examines the role newspapers played in Russian politics.

CMS coded courses:

  • CMS 225: Linking Film and New Media
  • CMS 350: Special Topics in Comparative Media Studies


  • ART 389: The History of Photography
  • ART 487: Art of the Early Twentieth Century
  • ART 489: Art of the Late Twentieth Century
  • ATH 135: Film As Ethnography
  • ATH 345: Global Media, Ethnography and Film
  • CIT 182: Ethical Issues in Info Technology
  • ENG/IMS: 171 Humanities and Technology
  • FST 251: Gender & Third World Film
  • GEO 385: Media Geographies
  • HST 252: Representation of History in Film and Video
  • HST 301: Age of Revolutions: Europe, 1750-1850
  • HST 331: Industry and Empire: Europe, 1850-1914
  • HST 332: Age of Dictators: Europe, 1914-1945
  • HST 333: Reconstruction of Europe since 1945
  • HST 374: A History of the Russian Empire
  • HST 375: A History of the Soviet Union
  • IMS 404: Mind and Medium
  • LAS 415: Cuba in Revolution
  • MAC 212: Media Representation
  • MAC 215: Media History
  • MAC 355: Media Technology
  • MAC 477: Media Criticism
  • MUS 221: Music Technologies
  • MUS 303: Electronic Music
  • POL 356: Mass Media and Politics
  • RUS 263: Soviet & Post-Russian Cinema
  • SJS/SOC 323: Social Justice and Change

Production Requirement (9 credits)

In addition to the media production experiences you develop in CMS core courses, you will also develop a minimum competency in a form of media production of your choosing. Pick one of the follow ways to satisfy this requirement.

  • Complete 3 courses (a minimum of 9 credits) in an individualized production track approved by your CMS advisor.
  • Complete a minor or certificate in a production-oriented program (e.g., Computer Science, Geographic Information Science Certificate)
  • Complete a second major with a substantial media production component (e.g., IMS, Computer Science, Art, Graphic Design, English/Creative Writing, Professional Writing, Paper Engineering)

Course Descriptions

CMS 101: The Smartphone and Society (3 credit hours).

This course introduces students to the comparative study of media and technology through an interdisciplinary exploration of the smartphone and its cultural contexts and inheritances. As a relatively new medium that encompasses multiple technologies and traditions of communication, the smartphone will serve as our entry point into examining the integration of digital, mobile, and telecommunications technologies into various spheres of human activity and the intersections between such technologies and social relationships. Using a comparative media studies lens, we will ask how the meanings and uses of the smartphone can be illuminated through the comparison of communication devices and practices across cultures, temporalities, and material forms. This course will help students to think critically about the tools they use in their everyday lives and the ways in which technology and society mutually shape each other.

Course Objectives

  • Compare practices and understandings of communication across technologies, cultures, and periods of history;
  • Identify, describe, and evaluate scholarly arguments about relationships between communication, technology, and society;
  • Apply theories and test ideas using artifacts and practices from your own media environment;
  • Consider the social and ethical dimensions of mediated communication in a mediated and global society.

CMS 201: Introduction to Comparative Media Studies (3 credit hours)

This course introduces students to various forms of media and concepts of mediation that can be applied to a plethora of media forms—from typical entertainment media such as film and television, to the geographic maps or scientific visualizations, from recent developments in social and mobile media to historical developments such as postal networks or undersea cable systems, from retro video games to interactive, pre-cinematic toys developed in the 19th century. Moreover, students will learn to apply different concepts of mediation to a wider, expanded field of media forms such as fashion, the human body and “spiritual” mediums, urban environments, political cartoons, etc. In CMS 201, students will be introduced to three critical lenses relevant to the comparative analysis of mediation: Media & Technology, Media & Historical Change, Media & Cultural Contexts. Thus, students will compare different forms of media technologies, how these technologies might have operated in distinct historical situations, and how media operate differently across various cultural contexts. In the process, students will not only gain insight into each form of comparison, but they will also develop the basic skills needed to start producing media products—digital photographs, audio recordings, videos, collaboratively written wikis, web pages, maps, etc.. This course seeks to not only provide students with the opportunity to analyze media through traditional written forms but to produce creative and critical media objects which investigate and analyze various contemporary and historical media environments.

CMS 301: Comparative Media Methodologies (3)

This course will introduce students to the various methods researchers use when they study the production, textual qualities, use/reception, and social impact of media. Thus, the course will survey “ways of knowing” media. For example, students might not only learn how to interpret media through semiotic approaches to textual meaning, but they might also study scientific measurements of resolution or the use of data visualization to uncover unforeseen correlations in media aesthetics. During the course students might explore how ethnography, radiation measurements, surveys, and media effects methodologies are used to understand how people interact with media technology and texts (not only as users but also creators); or how archival research methods are used to understand the history and political economy of media; or even how media production itself can be used as a way to understand media.


Core Faculty

Affiliated Faculty

Collaborating Faculty