Psychology (PSYC) 315

Psychology and the Mass Media (Revision 5)

PSYC 315 Course Cover

Revision 5 is closed for registrations, see current revision

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Delivery Mode: Individualized study online

Credits: 3

Area of Study: Social Science

Prerequisite: None. PSYC 289 and PSYC 290, or an equivalent course is recommended but not required.

Faculty: Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Psychology home page

PSYC 315 has a Challenge for Credit option.

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This course introduces the psychological theories, principles, and research relevant to mass communication and the mass media. Several areas of application are also discussed in the course: violence in the media, advertising, news and politics, educational and public information programming, and entertainment. As you work through the course, think about your own professional practices and how these psychological principles might apply in your field of study or work. The course also discusses the implications of psychology and the mass media for parents, consumers, educators, and researchers.


Part 1: Introduction to the Course

  • Unit 1: Background to the Course

Part 2: Theories and Research

  • Unit 2: Research Framework and Theories
  • Unit 3: Persuasion Theories

Part 3: Applications

  • Unit 4: Advertising
  • Unit 5: News and Politics
  • Unit 6: Educational and Public Information Programming
  • Unit 7: Entertainment
  • Unit 8: Violence in the Media

Part 4: Conclusions

  • Unit 9: Conclusions


To receive credit for PSYC 315, you must complete all of the assignments, achieve a mark of at least 50 percent on the final examination, and achieve a composite course grade of at least D (50 percent). If you receive less than 50% on your final exam, your exam mark will become your overall course grade. The weighting of the composite grade is as follows:

Activity Weighting
Unit Quizzes (3 quizzes, 7% each) 21%
Written Assignment 40%
Final Exam 39%
Total 100%

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

Course Materials


Harris, R. J. & Sanborn, F. W. (2014).  A cognitive psychology of mass communication (6th ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. (PDF)

Perloff, R. M. (2017).  The dynamics of persuasion: Communication and attitudes in the 21st century (6th ed.).  New York, NJ: Routledge.

Online Materials

The course materials include course information, student manual, study guide, and assignment manual.

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 PSYC 315 challenge registration, you must score at least 50 per cent on the exam and obtain a composite mark of at least D (50 percent) to pass. If you fail the exam, your exam mark will become the final grade for the challenge.

Activity Weighting
Research Paper 40%
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, February 5, 2015.

View previous syllabus