MC 3390 – Media Design

Course Information

Instructor: Sara Shields
Course Site:

Class Location: Old Main 106B
Class Hours: T/Th 8:00am – 9:20am
Office Location: Old Main 106-C
Office Hours: T/Th 4:00pm – 5:00pm, W 1:00pm – 2:00pm and 5:30pm – 6:30pm, or appointment

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.

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. The student cost is $19.99 per month. If you cannot afford, or your computer system does not support the software, then you will need to schedule time at one of the many labs on campus to complete your projects on time. We will also be using for Project 3, which is a web based app. You will have access to a 60 day free trial account. You will also need a flash drive or external hard drive to store your projects on for the class.

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.


Textbook (Required)
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 2019 release (2019) by Kelly Kordes Anton & Tina DeJarld. Adobe Press. This book is available free as an e-book through the Alkek Library. View Book Here.

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.



Project 1 – Newsletter (100 pts)
Project 2 – Magazine (100 pts)
Project 3 – Digital App (100 pts)
Project 4 – Resume Website (100 pts)

Final Project

Final Project and Editorial Philosophy (350 pts)


Typography Poster (50 pts)
Social Media Graphic (50 pts)

Participation / Attendance

Participation and Attendance (50 pts)


10 Quizzes (10 pts each)


Department policy permits instructors to lower a student’s final grade for absences and tardiness. You are allowed two (2) absences (excused or unexcused) without penalty for this course. For each absence past the two allowed, five (5) points will be subtracted from your participation grade. For every three (3) absences (excused or unexcused) after the allowed two (2) an additional 10 points will be deducted from your final course grade.

Please be on time for class. Three (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.

Late Work Policy

Assignments are due by 8:00am on the due date, after which they will be considered late one (1) day. For every day an assignment is late, 10% of the grade will be deducted. Any assignment turned in more than three (3) days late will receive zero points. Late assignments or postings will only be excused (no points deducted) for documented emergencies. It is up to you to provide me with an explanation and documentation. You are responsible for keeping a back-up copy of all submitted work.

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.

Guidelines for Success

Every student is held accountable for abiding by the tenants of required conduct outlined in the Texas State Student Handbook ( Students should create a learning environment and refrain from interfering with the learning of fellow students. When students voice opinions with which you do not agree, feel free to voice your opinion in a polite and civil manner. This approach can help us enhance the free flow of ideas.

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.

Student work will be displayed on the Web, which means that it will be available to anyone with Internet access and a browser. Please see the instructor if you have any concerns about posting your projects to the Web.

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.