Fall 2020 - CMNS 240 E100

The Political Economy of Communication (3)

Class Number: 6915

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Mo 6:30 PM – 8:20 PM

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 17, 2020
    8:00 AM – 8:00 AM
    TAKE HOME-EXAM, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    CMNS 110 and 130.



Examination of the political and economic processes that have generated the policies and structures of mass media, telecommunications and related industries; the relationship between the dichotomies of state and market, citizen and consumer, capitalism and democracy, global and local, and sovereignty and globalization in media industries and policies; overview of influences on State and international policies towards the media.


This course introduces students to political economy as an approach to studying communication, media, and information. Students will first learn the core characteristics and founding theories that make political economy of communication ("PEC") a key framework for analysis. Then, students will learn how PEC illuminates the history and structural transformations of our societies, such as the rise of capitalism, shifts from Fordist to Post-Fordist modes of production, and the implementation of neoliberalism. Students will then apply the PEC framework to a wide range of contemporary issues in media and information, including transnational production networks, cultural imperialism, ownership convergence, creative labour, digital commodities, alternative media, and more. The course concludes with students researching and writing a case study by using the PEC framework to analyse a communication-related issue of their choice.


  • Tutorial Attendance 5%
  • Tutorial Participation 15%
  • Mid-Term Exam (In-Class) 15%
  • Case Study Proposal 5%
  • Final Exam (Take-Home) 25%
  • Case Study 35%


There will be zero tolerance towards plagiarism. Please see Library’s plagiarism website: https://www.lib.sfu.ca/help/academic-integrity/plagiarism

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.]



Course readings will be made available online via 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).