Communication Studies (CMNS) 301

Communication Theory and Analysis (Revision 7)

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online or grouped study, both options with eTextbook, 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

Prerequisite: None

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Communication Studies home page

Télé-université du Québec equivalency: COM 1001

CMNS 301 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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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 twenty-first 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 understand the ideas at play in the professional literature and in the practice of communication.
  • increase your ability to analyze 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: Innis and McLuhan
  • 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 and obtain a composite course grade of at least D (50 percent). The weighting of the composite mark is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Unit Journals (9x5% each) 45%
Critical Review 20%
Final Essay 35%
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.

Griffin, Em, et al. A First Look at Communication Theory. 9th ed. Boston: McGraw–Hill, 2015.

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 Resources

Most of the course materials for CMNS 301 are available online. There is also audio-visual material (DVD format) available through Athabasca University Library.

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

Activity Weighting
Take Home Exam 25%
Exam 75%
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 7, April 21, 2016

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