Communication Studies (CMNS) 201

Introduction to Mass Media (Revision 4)

Course cover

Revision 4 closed, replaced by current version.

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Communication Studies home page

CMNS 201 has a Challenge for Credit option.


CMNS 201 examines the effects of media on society from critical and historical perspectives. The main emphasis of the course, however, is on the relationship between mass media and culture-how the media affect individuals, communities, and nations. We examine each of the mass media, as well as new related technologies, in light of how they influence cultural mores. Key themes include the historical development of the mass media, future technologies and potential societal repercussions, and the role of the media in influencing Canadian culture.


  • Unit 1: The Media of Mass Communication
  • Unit 2: Public Relations
  • Unit 3: Advertising
  • Unit 4: Newspapers and Magazines
  • Unit 5: Sound Recording
  • Unit 6: Radio
  • Unit 7: Television and the Moving Image
  • Unit 8: The Web and Globalization
  • Unit 9: Society and Media Effects


To receive credit for CMNS 201, you must complete all assignments, and the final examination, achieving a minimum grade of 60 per cent on the final examination and a minimum composite course grade of “D” (50 percent). The chart below summarizes the course assignments and the credit weight associated with each one.

Unit Questions (Units 1 & 2, due Week 3) 8%
Assignment 1 (due Week 6) 8%
Unit Questions (Units 3 & 4, due Week 8) 8%
Unit Questions (Units 5 & 6, due Week 11) 8%
Assignment 2 (due Week 12) 8%
Unit Questions (Unit 7, due Week 14) 4%
Unit Questions (Units 8 & 9, due Week 17) 8%
Assignment 3 (due Week 18) 8%
Final Examination 40%
Total 100%

The final examination for this course must be taken online with an AU-approved exam invigilator at an approved invigilation centre. It is your responsibility to ensure your chosen invigilation centre can accommodate online exams. For a list of invigilators who can accommodate online exams, visit the Exam Invigilation Network.

To learn more about assignments and examinations, please refer to Athabasca University's online Calendar.

Course Materials


Vivian, J. & Maurin, P. J. (2007). The media of mass communication (5th Canadian ed.). Toronto: Pearson.

Other Materials

The course materials also include a study guide, student manual, and a reading file.

Challenge for Credit Course Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows students to demonstrate that they have acquired a command of the general subject matter, knowledge, intellectual and/or other skills that would normally be found in a university level course.

Full information for the Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the CMNS 201 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the examination.

Take home exam Exam Total
30% 70% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

Athabasca University reserves the right to amend course outlines occasionally and without notice. Courses offered by other delivery methods may vary from their individualized-study counterparts.

Opened in Revision 4, April 23, 2009.

View previous syllabus