Fall 2019 - CMNS 221 D100

Media and Popular Cultures (3)

Class Number: 3313

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Tue, 2:30–4:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    CMNS 110 and 130.



Focuses on communication for social change; historical and contemporary perspectives in consumer culture; technology, media and popular culture; media and identity; and communication as public education.


This course is an introduction to the study of popular culture and communication, with a focus on the social and cultural dimensions of media and media environments. The course examines critical issues, controversies, currents, and debates in media and popular culture, and engages with both theoretical and applied approaches to the understanding and analysis of media and communication. The course examines a range of themes in the study of popular cultural production, dissemination, and practices, including: communication and social change; citizenship, media and culture; histories of media and popular culture; the emergence of consumer culture; controversies and practices of technology in media cultures; digital culture; theories of mass culture and society; issues in relation to modernism, post-modernism, and popular culture; globalization; identities and popular culture; media and urban life; communication as public education; applied communication (advocacy, social marketing, public relations, and social issues communication); and others. In addition to course readings, and lectures, we shall consider numerous films, examples of popular music, Internet/YouTube sources, and other media illustrations.

Please note that the first class of semester will be a full two-hour lecture and introduction to the course.


  • Mid-Term Exam 20%
  • Tutorial (presentations and attendance) 15%
  • Term Paper 40%
  • (This term paper is to be 10-12 pages (double-spaced) in length, and written on a topic related to the course, and of the student’s own choosing. Suggested topics will be provided in lecture. Term paper proposals, including thesis statement and preliminary research sources, will need to be submitted and approved. The term paper is due at the beginning of the last class of the semester.)
  • Take-Home Final Exam 25%


The school expects that the grades awarded in this course will bear some reasonable relation to established university-wide practices with respect to both levels and distribution of grades. In addition, the School will follow Policy S10.01 with respect to Academic Integrity, and Policies S10.02, S10.03 and S10.04 as regards Student Discipline. [Note: as of May 1, 2009 the previous T10 series of policies covering Intellectual Honesty (T10.02), and Academic Discipline (T10.03) have been replaced with the new S10 series of policies.]


This is a writing-intensive course.

*Students who began their degrees in Fall 2006 onwards must successfully complete at least two (W) courses, at least one of which must be upper division, within the student’s discipline.  It is strongly recommended that students take one (W) course as early as possible, preferably in their first 30 units.  Students are required to complete their first (W) course within their first 60 units. Each (W) course must be at least 3 units, and achieve at least a C- grade.



Course readings, media, and other materials will be available on the course wiki (address to be provided in the first class).

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html