Communication Studies (CMNS) 358

Popular Culture and the Media (Revision 1)

CMNS 358 Course website

Revision 1 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

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

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Communication Studies home page

CMNS 358 has a Challenge for Credit option.

check availability


This course introduces students to the field of cultural studies, as well as the relationship between popular culture and the media. Students will be asked to look critically at movies, television, radio, and print, in order to ponder a number of important questions. To what extent do the media lead or follow trends in popular culture? The emphasis in the course is on examining cultural artifacts as artistic objects seen in the light of various socio-political contexts.


  • Unit 1: Cultural Studies and a History of the Highbrow, Lowbrow, and the Middlebrow
  • Unit 2: The Media and the Business of Culture
  • Unit 3: Icons, Visionaries, and Empires
  • Unit 4: Genres in Fiction, TV, Radio, and Film
  • Unit 5: The Rise and Fall of Rock Music
  • Unit 6: Cartoons: The Grotesque and the Vulgar as the Bases of Popular Expression
  • Unit 7: Information, Gossip, and Ideology in Game Shows, Talk Shows, and News
  • Unit 8: Our Identities: Lifestyles, Work, Families, and Love
  • Unit 9: Our Role Models: Heroes and Villains, Stereotypes, and Ground-Breakers
  • Unit 10: Our Myths and Our Futures: Apocalypse, Utopia, and the Machine
  • Unit 11: The Interpretation of High Art and Low Art
  • Unit 12: Audience, Americanization, and Globalization


To receive credit for CMNS 358, you must receive 50 percent on the final exam and achieve a course composite grade of at least “D” (50 percent) to pass course. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Exam Total
15% 20% 30% 35% 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


Bloom, Clive. 1996. Cult Fiction: Popular Reading and Pulp Theory. London: Macmillan.

Fiske, John. 2nd. ed., 2011. Television Culture. London & New York: Routledge.

Longhurst, Brian. 2007. Popular Music and Society. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Other materials

The course materials package also includes a student manual, a study guide, and a reading file. The articles and book chapters in the reading file, together with selections from the course textbooks, make up the assigned readings for the course.

Special Course Feature

Students registered in this course may take part in computer conferencing. Mini-Lectures from Nicola Simpson Khullar and Jacques Benoit for this course are available from ACCESS Television. Viewing of specified dramas, feature films, and Movies of the Week (MOW) on ACCESS Television is also recommended.

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 358 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least “D” (50 percent) on the examination.

Part 1: Exam Part 2: 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, 1997.