Fall 2020 - CMNS 223W D100

Advertising as Social Communication (3)

Class Number: 6890

Delivery Method: Distance Education


  • Course Times + Location:

    Th 2:30 PM – 4:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 14, 2020
    11:59 PM – 11:59 PM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    CMNS 110 and 130.



An interdisciplinary examination of the significance of advertising as a social message system in our consumer society. The course proposes an analytical method for appreciating the changing styles and functions of advertising in the 20th century. Students with credit for CMNS 223 may not take this course for further credit. Writing.


This course is an introduction to the study of advertising as social communication from a critical - analytical perspective. It should deepen your understanding of mass-mediated communication by focusing on advertisements as highly condensed and rich cultural “texts”. While ads do not reflect the culture as a whole, they do respond to and represent cultural values and trends. You will learn to analyze the process of representation and identify the social functions of advertising: the economic, political, ideological, and cultural implications of the meanings circulated by advertising. As we study advertising across media while we will consider its place in the reproduction of the ideological frameworks of a rapidly changing consumer culture.

The course will approach advertising from two perspectives: the critical analysis of advertising texts and a recognition of the cultural and economic role of advertising in western societies. Topics will include semiotic analysis, the cultural frameworks of consumer culture, gender, issues of ideology and hegemony, concepts of the self and modes of audience address, queer marketing, cultural appropriation, authenticity, and cool.


  • Part 1 Paper: Semiotics (3 pages) 10%
  • Part 2 Paper: Social Representation (4-5 pages) 15%
  • Part 3 Paper: Issues in Contemporary Advertising (6-8 pages) 25%
  • Creative Project 15%
  • Tutorial Ad Discussion (Bring an Ad) 5%
  • Tutorial Attendance 10%
  • Final Exam 20%


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).



Recommended and required readings/screenings are available on Canvas.

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


Teaching at SFU in fall 2020 will be conducted primarily through remote methods. There will be in-person course components in a few exceptional cases where this is fundamental to the educational goals of the course. Such course components will be clearly identified at registration, as will course components that will be “live” (synchronous) vs. at your own pace (asynchronous). Enrollment acknowledges that remote study may entail different modes of learning, interaction with your instructor, and ways of getting feedback on your work than may be the case for in-person classes. To ensure you can access all course materials, we recommend you have access to a computer with a microphone and camera, and the internet. In some cases your instructor may use Zoom or other means requiring a camera and microphone to invigilate exams. If proctoring software will be used, this will be confirmed in the first week of class.

Students with hidden or visible disabilities who believe they may need class or exam accommodations, including in the current context of remote learning, are encouraged to register with the SFU Centre for Accessible Learning (caladmin@sfu.ca or 778-782-3112).