Communication Studies (CMNS) 402

Global Communication (Revision 2)

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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 402 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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In this course students will engage critically with problems presented by the production, distribution, and consumption of global media products, and will develop an understanding of the social, political, and economic influences that shape global media systems.

We discuss both mainstream and alternative media of various countries in the broader context of international media flows. Case studies focus mainly on North and Latin America, but readings and assignments offer scope for exploring the media systems of other regions.

Course Objectives

CMNS 402 will develop students’ ability to

  1. describe the connection between media systems and economic and political structures in various types of societies, and the role of the mass media in the functioning of economic and political systems.
  2. explain the significance of regulatory frameworks of international communications.
  3. inform themselves about mainstream and alternative media networks.
  4. identify some of the main developmental directions of current information and communications systems.
  5. improve critical tools with which to analyze the complex interests involved in media systems.


Unit 1: Introduction to the Study of Global Media

  • Part A: Defining Global Communication
  • Part B: Critical Views: Media Flows and Transnationalization

Unit 2: Controlling Communications

  • Part A: Organizations and Regulations
  • Part B: Dependence and Sovereignty: Canada

Unit 3: Global Networks and Flows: America and the World

  • Part A: Corporations and Conglomerations
  • Part B: Beyond America: Developing Media Flows

Unit 4: Alternative Media Systems

  • Part A: Democratic and Community Media
  • Part B: Ethnic, Minority, and Special-Interest Media Production

Unit 5: Media in Latin America

  • Part A: Latin Politics, Global Media
  • Part B: Popular Culture, Transnationalization, and Identity


To receive credit for CMNS 402, students must complete all of the assignments and achieve a grade of at least fifty percent on each of them. There is no final exam. The weighting of the assignments is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Glossary Probe 15%
Critical Response Essay 25%
Media Exploration—Case Study 20%
Research Paper 40%
Total 100%

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

Course Materials


Registration in this course includes an electronic textbook. For more information on electronic textbooks, please refer to our eText Initiative site.

McPhail, T. L. (2014). Global communication: Theories, stakeholders and trends (4th ed.). Chichester, UK: John Wiley and Sons.

A print version of the eText may be available for purchase from the publisher through a direct-to-student link provided on the course website; you can also acquire the textbook on your own if you wish.

Other materials

All of the other course materials are online.

Challenge for Credit Overview

The Challenge for Credit process allows you to demonstrate that you 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 about Challenge for Credit can be found in the Undergraduate Calendar.

Challenge Evaluation

To receive credit for the CMNS 402 challenge registration, you must achieve a grade of at least D (50 percent) on the examination.

Activity Weighting
Part I: Take home essay exam 40%
Part II: Paper exam 60%
Total 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 2, February 26, 2015.

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