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LINGUIST 4S03 Interpersonal Communication

Academic Year: Winter 2016

Term: Winter

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Dr. Magda Stroinska


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 501

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 27067


Office Hours: Tuesday 12:30 - 1:30

Course Objectives:

This course offers an introduction to contemporary interpersonal communication theories and research. Topics covered include: small group communication, persuasive communication, communication in organizations, argumentation strategies, conflict resolution, computer mediated communication, intercultural communication, political communication, communication and gender, and aspects of interpersonal communication in international contexts.

The course will help students understand the role of language (verbal communication) in interpersonal relations and will explain connection between theory and practice. Individual and group projects will help to understand and – hopefully - improve a range of interpersonal skills and apply these to personal, social, and workplace relationships. The course themes range from basic principles of interpersonal communication to topics that are rarely covered in depth in traditional academic courses, such as feedback, gossip, and communication on-line and mediated through machines (e-mail, social networks, voicemail or speech recognition systems).

The students will identify basic factors that influence human relations (anger, envy, love, fear), along with their verbal and non-verbal expressions, and will analyze them at various levels of communication (from the micro level of individual exchange to inter-group communication, and to the macro level of international conflicts). Self evaluations will help students reflect on their own work in the course.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

TEXT: Jennifer MacLennan. 2008. Interpersonal communication for Canadians. Oxford University Press.

           Avenue to Learn

Method of Assessment:

Regular Attendance and Class participation                 10%   

Written assignments (20% and 40%)                            60%

(due Feb 5 and April 1)                        

Self-assessments (2 x 5% due Feb 12; March 4)         10%

Diary Assignment (due Feb 26)                                     20%

Total                                                                              100%

Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Assignments have to be submitted to the Dropbox on Avenue by the Friday midnight deadline.

Penalty for late assignments will be 10% of the total mark within the first 4 days after the deadline. Students who file the MSAF have to submit the work within 4 days after the project deadline with no penalty. 

Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.