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Communication Studies (CMNS) 301

Communication Theory and Analysis (Revision 5)

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Revision 5 closed, replaced by current version.

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online or grouped study with a video component.*
*Overseas students, please contact the University Library before registering in a course that has an audio/visual component.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science


Centre: Centre for State and Legal Studies

CMNS 301 has a Challenge for Credit option.

Télé-université du Québec equivalency: COM 1001.

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CMNS 301 is a three-credit course that is intended to provide you with a grounding in the field of communication studies, a relatively new interdisciplinary field that draws many of its theoretical ideas about human communication from psychology, sociology, cultural studies, linguistics, philosophy, and literary studies. The course focuses on developing notions of mass communication in the twentieth century and debates in the field.

Course Objectives

Communication Theory and Analysis is intended to

  • introduce you to a broad range of approaches to mass communication theory so that you can comprehend the ideas at play in the professional literature and in the practice of communication.
  • increase your ability to analyse concepts and issues in mass communication theory, and to develop and defend your own positions on a variety of issues
  • help you to determine, through the exploration of debates and case studies, how the positions that you have developed might apply to circumstances arising in your professional practice.


Part I: Introduction

  • Unit 1: Introduction to Theory

Part II: Persuasion

  • Unit 2: Classical Rhetoric and Public Communication
  • Unit 3: Contemporary Rhetoric and Attitude Change
  • Unit 4: Propaganda

Part III: Media and Culture

  • Unit 5: Semiotics
  • Unit 6: McLuhan and Innis
  • Unit 7: Uses and Effects Models of Mass Media
  • Unit 8: The Frankfurt and Birmingham Schools and Critical Theory
  • Unit 9: Agenda—setting Theories in the Digital Age


To receive credit for CMNS 301, you must complete all assignments, achieve a grade of at least 50 per cent on each of the written assignments, and obtain a composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent). The weighting of the composite mark is as follows:

Unit Journals (9)
(5% each)
Critical Review Final Essay Total
45% 20% 35% 100%

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

Course Materials


Griffin, Em. A First Look at Communication Theory, 7th ed. Boston: McGraw–Hill, 2009.

Other materials

Most of the course materials for CMNS 301 are available online through the myAU portal. There are also print materials and a textbook, and these will be sent to you before your course start date, and audio-visual material (DVD format) available through Athabasca University Library.

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.

  • Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Policy
  • Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Procedures

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the CMNS 301 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the examination.

Take home exam Exam Total
25% 75% 100%

Undergraduate Challenge for Credit Course Registration Form

  • Challenge for Credit 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 5, August 26, 2010.

View previous syllabus

Last updated by SAS  05/08/2015 15:54:16