Communication Studies 333 : Courses : Athabasca University


Communication Studies (CMNS) 333

Research Methods in Communication Studies  (Revision 1)

CMNS 333 course image

Delivery Mode: Individualized study online.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: CMNS 308 or comparable statistics course is highly recommended as statistics skills are expected in the course.

Precluded course: CMNS 410 (CMNS 333 may not be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for CMNS 410.)

Centre: Centre for State and Legal Studies

CMNS 333 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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Communication Studies 333: Research Methods in Communication Studies, a three-credit course that examines a specialized branch of social sciences research. The course is intended to serve as a foundation for other courses in our Communication Studies program and as a stepping stone into senior level research. In this course, you will learn about the basic tenets of the scientific method, including an exploration of its two major branches: quantitative and qualitative research. You will also encounter a discussion of the ethics of research and will learn about sampling, content analysis, survey methods, longitudinal research, and experimental research.

Course Objectives

Research Methods in Communication Studies is intended to

  • Appreciate the sensitive nature of human subject research ethically,
  • Understand the nature of communication studies research,
  • Appreciate the difference between qualitative and quantitative methods,
  • Explore the use of surveys and content analysis as well when to use laboratory experiments and
  • Apply research skills to asking scientific questions of media of a variety of types.


This course consists of nine units. Each unit includes learning objectives, commentary, a reading assignment, recommended additional readings, and references. Together, these units direct your study of the course content, and indicate the assignments you should be working on at a given time. Instructions for completing the assignments are located in the "Assignment File" section of this manual.

Unit 1: Introduction to Communication Studies Research

Unit 2: Ethics and Sampling in Research

Unit 3: Choosing Qualitative Research

Unit 4: Qualitative Research: Tools

Unit 5: Content Analysis and Survey Research

Unit 6: Longitudinal and Experimental Research

Unit 7: Research Applications: Print, Electronic Media, and Advertising

Unit 8: Writing a Research Proposal

Unit 9: Research Applications: Public Relations, Internet, and Media Effects


To receive credit for CMNS 333, you must complete all assignments, achieve a grade of at least 50 per cent on each of the written assignments and the final exam, and obtain a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent). The weighting of the composite mark is as follows:

Unit Assignments
(8 x 5%)
(2 x 5%)
Research Proposal Final Examination Total
40% 10% 20% 30% 100%

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

Course Materials


Wimmer, R. D. & Dominick, J. R. (2006). Mass media research: an introduction. 8th edition. Thomson/Wadsworth.

Other Materials

Most of the course materials for CMNS 333 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.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the CMNS 333 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the examination.

Take home exam Exam Total
50% 50% 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 1, January 18, 2011.

Last updated by SAS  09/06/2013 14:11:22