Communication Studies (CMNS) 423

The Television Age (Revision 4)

CMNS 423 Course website

Revision 4 is closed for registrations, replaced by current version

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online or grouped study.

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

Prerequisite: None. CMNS 301 and CMNS 302 are recommended.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Communication Studies home page

Course website

CMNS 423 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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CMNS 423 introduces students to the technology, politics, economics, philosophy, ideology, and morality of television. Students are asked to look critically behind the scenes of the television world and discern the various patterns of industry structure and thematic content. Students require access to a television. Some course components are available online as an optional delivery mode.


The purpose of this course is to introduce you to the technology, aesthetics, politics, economics, philosophy, ideology, and morality of television. You will be asked to look critically behind the scenes of the television world, and discern the various patterns of industry structure and thematic content. By looking at the medium itself, its major players, its content, and the audience responses to that content, you will be able to reach your own conclusions about just who, if anyone, controls the television industry. You should develop a critical understanding of television producers, promoters, critics, and creative personnel, as well as a sense of the importance of ongoing debates in this field in which so few issues have been resolved.


  • Unit 1: The History of Television and the Nature of the Medium
  • Unit 2: The State of the Art
  • Unit 3: Sponsorship and Art
  • Unit 4: Genres and Format I
  • Unit 5: Genres and Formats II
  • Unit 6: News, Tabloid TV and the Creation of Community
  • Unit 7: The Power to Educate and Inform
  • Unit 8: The Star System
  • Unit 9: Stereotypes and Role Models
  • Unit 10: The Offensive Side of Television
  • Unit 11: Chasing Popularity and Quality
  • Unit 12: Global Television


To receive credit for CMNS 423, you must complete all of the assignments, achieve a mark of at least 50 percent on assignment number three, and obtain a course composite grade of at least 'D' (50 percent). The weighting of the composite mark is as follows:

Assignment 1 Assignment 2 Assignment 3 Total
20% 35% 45% 100%

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

Course Materials


Newcomb, Horace, ed. Television: The Critical View (7th ed.). New York: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Other Materials

All other materials are available online, including the Study Guide, the Course Information, and the Reading Files.

Special Course Feature

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

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

Part I: Take home essay exam Part II: Paper 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 3, October 10, 2012.

View previous syllabus