MC 3390 – Media Design

Course Description

Study and application of advanced principles of media design including: basic design principles, typography, color, photography, video, and multimedia. Students will learn production skills for existing and new media.

Course Purpose

Media design is a term that expands the profession of graphic design. Combining words in the form of text and audio, images in the form of still and moving messages, informational graphics, and graphic design for print and interactive multimedia presentations for the World Wide Web is a great challenge that you need to undertake. This course strengthens your graphic design expertise, expands the definition of graphic design to include the WWW and video, and provides a basis for the critical examination of print and non-print media. The course also strengthens your understanding about the organization of visual information. You will learn the basics of how to control what people see when they look at a visual message. Basic design principles are fundamental, not simple. These principles are the foundation upon which all of the subtleties of visual communication are based. It is important for you to learn these fundamentals before attempting more advanced design. Like anything, the stronger the foundation, the better the structure that can be built upon it. Media design and production is a synthesis of information about framing and composition, typography and graphic design, and video. You must be aware not only of the production values for existing media, but of the ways new media should be analyzed. Few media professions today are without a media design component. The demand for media design is everywhere from business to industry to education and the need for people in the field of media design is growing rapidly. Someone with a media design background is more prepared for a successful and creative career where visual talent combined with the latest technology can produce memorable and exciting visions for the future.

Course Objectives

We will try to cover everything about media design, layout and production. As such, we cannot possibly become experts in any one given area. I will spend the bulk of this course discussing the themes, philosophies and principles that are inherent to all areas of media design. We will also spend a good deal of time analyzing design, as well as hands-on work in creating your own using Adobe InDesign, Photoshop, and Experience Design. A firm understanding of typography, graphics, and color are needed before you can succeed at any type of design, so expect those areas to be of primary focus. Design is much more than just slapping text and photographs on a page. Professional design is a problem-solving discipline, and this course prepares you to apply design methods and tools to communication projects. Specifically, this course will help you to:

Demonstrate an awareness of the range of media design practices in mass media. 

Articulate an informed critical response to media design. Demonstrate aesthetic appreciation of media design in today’s mass media environment. 

Demonstrate knowledge of the importance of media design in defining or exploring our culture. 

Critically study and investigate media design in advertising, public relations, journalism, and electronic media. 

Demonstrate a command of media technology and the fundamentals and techniques in visual expression, and the importance of media design as an instrument of expression and communication

Create knowledge and techniques of media design and the impact and use of key tools of media design to express one’s own thoughts in mass media.

Mode of Class Delivery

This class meets on campus. If you want to participate in this class online, there are other online sections of this course offered. Please make sure you arrive on time to each class. If you have any questions about course delivery or attendance, please feel free to reach out to me at

Teaching Methods

This class uses a variety of teaching methods to accommodate various learning styles. Lecture is but one method in which students will be introduced to course concepts. Students are expected to participate in discussions and critiques. The instructor will cover skills session and students will practice skills both in and out of class in order to complete projects. Be prepared to spend extra time to work on projects. The course website and Canvas provides a variety of resources for reinforcement of learning, including downloadable handouts and video tutorials.


You must use an active Texas State email account. Communication via Canvas uses your Texas State email. The university is required to send grade information out only through the Texas State email system. Make sure you check your email on a regular basis, at least once a day, as schedule changes will be communicated via email. I will send out emails through the Announcements feature on Canvas, so you must have your email notifications turned on. To do this, go to Canvas > Account > Notifications > Click the check mark for Announcements under your email notifications option.

Required Software / Items

You will need access to Adobe Creative Cloud for your computer or to use the SJMC labs when open. Creative Cloud gives you the entire Adobe collection of creative tools for your desktop, like InDesign, Photoshop, which we will use for this course. Students will have FREE access to Adobe Creative Cloud from being enrolled in this course. We will also be using other online software like Canva and Figma. You will also need a flash drive or external hard drive to store your projects on for the class.


Textbook (Recommended)
White Space is not Your Enemy, 3rd Edition: A Beginner’s Guide to Communicating Visually Through Graphic, Web & Multimedia Design (2017) by Rebecca Hagen & Kim Golombiskey. Focal Press. This book is available free as an e-book through the Alkek Library. View Book Here.

Textbook (Recommended)
Adobe InDesign CC classroom in a book 2020 release (2020) by Kelly Kordes Anton & Tina DeJarld. Adobe Press. ISBN: 978-0136502678.

Textbook (Recommended)
Type Rules! The Designer’s Guide to Professional Typography (2014) by Ilene Strizver. John Wiley and Sons, Inc. This book is available as an e-book through the Alkek Library. View Book Here.

Submitting Documents

Before you submit a file, name it according to the format below. Avoid special characters and spaces in file names. Use a single underline _ to separate words. The name of your project file should look like this: LastName_ProjectName.pdf.


Grades are available via Canvas Grades. Missed assignments will result in a zero. Late work is not accepted and will result in a zero. Assignments in this class are worth a total of 1,000 points. Every 10 points equals one percent of your overall grade. Grade bumps at the end of the semester are only considered for students within 0.5 points of the next level, and they are not automatic. Deciding factors are lecture attendance and the number of missed assignments and quizzes.

Projects – 600 pts

Project 1 – Social Media Graphic (100 pts)
Project 2 – Digital App (150 pts)
Project 3 – Magazine / Editorial Philosophy (350 pts)

Exercises – 150 pts

Typography Poster (50 pts)
Branding Style Guide (50 pts)
Magazine Cover Page (50 pts)

Participation / Attendance – 150 pts

Critiques (100 pts)
Participation and Attendance (50 pts)

Quizzes – 100 pts

10 Quizzes (10 pts each)


Department policy permits instructors to lower a student’s final grade for absences and tardiness. You are allowed one absence (excused or unexcused) without penalty for this course. On your second absence, your overall grade will be reduced by five points. The third absence is a full letter grade deduction. If you miss four classes, you automatically fail the class.

Please be on time for class. 3 tardies will equal one 1 class absence. If you leave once class has started and have not discussed it with your instructor beforehand, you will be counted absent. If you should miss a class, it is your responsibility to get class notes and complete assignment(s) as scheduled. If you know ahead of time that you will need to miss a class, email me to make arrangements to submit assignments.

If you need to miss a class for a reason that rises to the level of an excused absences from the university, please go through the Dean of Students Office so all your professors are notified. If you need to miss class because of a university sponsored event, I will need to discuss with your faculty sponsor. Otherwise, any other absence (flat tire, had to work another shift, not feeling like it, etc) fit under the stated attendance policy.

Follow The Rules

Study your project instructions carefully. Design projects are inherently subjective. They are tough to evaluate on a purely qualitative basis. In order to be fair, I will look closely at the quantitative aspects of each project – such as attention to detail. I will weigh your ability to follow the rules when grading your work in this course. Each project has a rubric that will detail what I look for when grading.


Student work must be original. Although you are encouraged to discuss your work with others, you may only submit your own, original work for evaluation. You are permitted to use found images as part of design projects you create in this class, unless otherwise notified by me. Remember that finding the “right” image takes time. You CANNOT use infographics built by someone else, or any images with design elements, such as typography, already included in the image.


Like writing, effective design involves editing and reworking. Consequently, as often as possible, I will employ discussions and design critiques focused on your finished work. The intention is to identify strengths and weaknesses, provide positive feedback and make suggestions for improvement. All criticism is intended to be constructive — the aim is to develop your design skills. I can be brutally honest at times, however, it is meant to improve your work.

Student Conduct

In this class, you should feel comfortable to participate and express opinions and ideas. Please respect the opinions of others and be considerate of their need to contribute and learn. If you must take a phone call, please leave the room. Do not use your phone for text messaging during class. Browsing the Web, checking email, messaging, Twitter, Facebook or other non-related activities during class are not acceptable. Please do not have private conversations with your neighbors during class time, whether the instructor or other students are talking.

Any student who does not adhere to these conduct policies will be asked to leave the classroom. In general, please be respectful of others desire to learn and help to create a fun and beneficial classroom environment. Students (and teachers, too) often learn best from one another, so an open environment is encouraged. Ask questions and help each other.

Title IX Reporting of Sexual Misconduct

Effective January 2, 2020, state law (SB 212) requires all university employees, acting in the course and scope of employment, who witness or receive information concerning an incident of sexual misconduct involving an enrolled student or employee to report all relevant information known about the incident to the university’s Title IX Coordinator or Deputy Title IX coordinator. According to SB 212, employees who knowingly fail to report or knowingly file a false report shall be terminated in accordance with university policy and Texas State University System (TSUS) Rules and Regulations.

Drop Policy

Pay attention to the course drop dates on the University Registrar’s academic schedule. You can find the dates on the Registrar’s website on the Texas State home page.

Academic Honesty

Students are required to submit original work in this course unless otherwise specified in the assignments. This includes text, content, graphics and photography. Students may use art from “free” sites with appropriate credit and identification, but are encouraged to design their own artwork (grades will be higher for using original work as opposed to another’s artwork).

The School of Journalism and Mass Communication commits itself to the preparation of mass media professionals and scholars. Such a mission demands the highest standards of academic honesty and integrity. Violations of academic honesty, including but not limited to plagiarism, unauthorized collaboration, collusion, deception, conflict of interest and theft, are not tolerated and can lead to severe penalties. Disciplinary actions for violations of the standards for academic honesty are outlined in the Texas State Academic Honesty Statement, printed each year in the Student Handbook. The policy is also available at

Note to Students with Disabilities

Texas State University seeks to provide reasonable accommodations for all qualified individuals with disabilities. This university will adhere to all applicable federal, state, and local laws. Students with disabilities who need special accommodations should contact the Office of Disability Services (ODS) at (512) 245-3451, and register with that office. ODS is located in Suite 5-5.1 at the LBJ Student Center. If you are a student with a disability certified by ODS and you require accommodations in this class, it is your responsibility to notify the professor no later than the fifth class day of this semester so that accommodations can be discussed and promptly provided.

Campus Health, Wellness, and Safety

Considering rising infection rates and recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, Texas State is requesting all members of the university community to take these five additional steps: 

  1. Get tested. Regardless of vaccination status, get tested before the start of the fall semester and when selected to participate in Texas State’s random COVID-19 testing program. Testing information can be found on the Texas State’s COVID-19 Testing, Reporting, and Response Steps webpage.  
  2. Stay home and get tested if you develop cold-like or other COVID-19 symptoms, regardless of vaccination status. 
  3. Promptly Report to Bobcat Trace if you test positive for COVID-19 or have had close contact with someone who received a positive test result. Reporting information can be found on the Texas State’s COVID-19 Testing, Reporting, and Response Steps webpage.
  4. Isolate if you test positive for COVID-19. Stay home and away from others for 10 days from the start of symptoms or the positive test if you have no symptoms.
  5. Quarantine if you have been identified as a close contact and stay home for the prescribed time period.

Fully vaccinated Bobcats who are asymptomatic are not required to quarantine but should get tested for COVID-19 three to five days after last exposure. They should also wear a face mask when indoors in public spaces for 14 days since the exposure or until a negative test result is obtained three to five days after exposure.

Unvaccinated Bobcats are required to quarantine for 10 days since the time of last exposure.

Please continue to follow the university’s Roadmap for updates. 

Civility and Compliance in the Classroom

Civility in the classroom is very important for the educational process and it is everyone’s responsibility. If you have questions about appropriate behavior in a particular class, please address them with your instructor first. Disciplinary procedures may be implemented for refusing to follow an instructor’s directive, refusing to leave the classroom, not following the university’s requirement to wear a cloth face covering, not complying with social distancing or sneeze and cough etiquette, and refusing to implement other health and safety measures as required by the university. Additionally, the instructor, in consultation with the department chair/school director, may refer the student to the Office of the Dean of Students for further disciplinary review. Such reviews may result in consequences ranging from warnings to sanctions from the university. For more information regarding conduct in the classroom, please review the following policies at AA/PPS 02.03.02, Section 03: Courteous and Civil Learning Environment, and Code of Student Conduct, number II, Responsibilities of Students, Section 02.02: Conduct Prohibited.

Emergency Management

In the event of an emergency, faculty, students, and staff should monitor the Safety and Emergency Communications web page. This page will be updated with the latest information available to the university, in addition to providing links to information concerning safety resources and emergency procedures. Faculty, students, and staff are encouraged to sign up for the TXState Alert system.