Communication Studies (CMNS) 425

Film and Genre (Revision 3)

CMNS 425 Course image

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online or grouped study, with video component.*

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Humanities

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

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

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CMNS 425 has a Challenge for Credit option

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*Note: Overseas students, please contact the University Library before registering in a course that has an audio/visual component.

**Note: Students registering in grouped study, or grouped study international mode are advised that there may be some differences in the evaluation and course materials information indicated below. To obtain the most up-to-date information, contact the Faculty of Business Call Centre at 1-800-468-6531.


Film and Genre looks at the historical, economic, political and social factors that influence filmmaking, particularly genre films. The course explores the possibilities and the limitations of genres, and looks at some of the criticism that has dealt with the area over the years. Two of the primary questions that recur throughout the course are, “What constitutes a film genre?” and “How do we identify genres, and how does this identification influence what we see on the screen?” The course concludes by examining specific genres that illustrate the complex issues that arise when we look at so-called escapist films.


  • Unit 1: The Usefulness of Genre
  • Unit 2: Genre History and Literary Precedents
  • Unit 3: The Effects of Economics and Social Change on Genre
  • Unit 4: Genre Development and Instability
  • Note: A short paper is due after Unit 2.

Choose two units from Units 5 through 8

  • Unit 5: The Role of the Individual Artist in Genres
  • Unit 6: International Variations in Genre
  • Unit 7: Transcendence and Failure: Nongenre and Cult Films
  • Unit 8: Against Grains: Experimental and Cross-genre Films
  • Note: A major essay is due after completion of the fifth unit.

Choose two units from Units 9 through 12

  • Unit 9: Possibilities and Parameters in Science Fiction
  • Unit 10: Possibilities and Parameters in Mystery/Suspense
  • Unit 11: Possibilities and Parameters in Horror
  • Unit 12: Possibilities and Parameters in Comedy
  • Note: A major essay is due after the eighth completed unit.


To receive credit for CMNS 425, you must complete all of the assignments, achieve a minimum mark of 50 percent on assignment number three, and obtain a course composite grade of at least D (50 percent). There is no final examination for this course. The weighting of the composite mark is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Short Paper (due after Unit 2) 20%
Major Essay (due after fifth completed unit) 35%
Major Essay (due after eighth completed unit) 45%
Total 100%

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

Course Materials


Grant, Barry K., ed. Film Genre Reader IV. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2012.

Other Materials

Other than the videos, which students will choose for themselves, the rest of the course materials are online, including additional readings and unit study guides.

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 425 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 3, May 22, 2014.

View previous syllabus