Communication Studies (CMNS) 401

Cultural Policy in Canada (Revision 5)

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: CMNS 301 and CMNS 302 are recommended but not required.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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CMNS 401 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course provides an overview of cultural policy in Canada, with a primary focus on the national level, but situated within the larger context of cultural policy developments at the international, provincial, and municipal levels. These interconnections are increasingly important as jurisdictions collaborate, borrow from each other, and share resources for the promotion, protection, and development of various types and means of cultural expression. The course examines the conceptual foundations of cultural policy, definitions of culture, the evolution of cultural policy in Canada over the past 100 years, and some of the major ideas and discourses that have shaped its development both historically and in recent years. 


Part 1: Canadian Cultural Policy in Perspective

  • Unit 1—Foundations of Cultural Policy: International Contexts
  • Unit 2—Inventing Cultural Policy: History in Canada

Part 2: From Art to Social Diversity—Cultural Policy in Four Sectors

  • Unit 3—The Arts: A Hybrid Approach to Policy
  • Unit 4—The Cultural Industries: Music, Movies, and More
  • Unit 5—The Heritage Sector: Museums, Libraries, and Archives
  • Unit 6—Diversity Issues: Cultural Expression and Equality

Part 3: Key Issues and Debates

  • Unit 7—National Identity and Ownership: Why Should We Care?
  • Unit 8—Creative Industries on the Market: Economic Issues
  • Unit 9—Cohesive Communities: The Social Effects of Culture
  • Unit 10—Place Making: Policy for Sustainability
  • Unit 11—Facing the Future: The Impacts of Digital Technology
  • Unit 12—Who’s Running the Show? Cultural Governance
  • Unit 13—Conclusion: How Do We Place a Value on Culture?


To receive credit for CMNS 401, you must complete all assignments and obtain a minimum composite course grade of at least D (50 percent). The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Assignment 1 15%
Assignment 2 20%
Assignment 3 25%
Assignment 4 40%
Total 100%

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

Course Materials

The course materials include an AU Student Manual, a Course Information, a Study Guide, and a Digital Reading Room. All 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 401 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 5, October 5, 2016.

View previous syllabus