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Thompson Rivers University
Thompson Rivers University

CMNS 1151: Advertising as Communication

Students examine advertising as a form of professional and cultural communication through the lens of communication studies, informed by a variety of theoretical perspectives including semiotics, rhetoric, cultural analysis, and visual design. As well, students explore advertising as representation in the contexts of intercultural communication. Students consider advertising both as message and as process of communication, examining how symbols are used to create meaning and engage ideological frameworks across different social and cultural environments, across historical periods and in the contexts of changing communications technologies.

Learning outcomes

  • Discuss and apply introductory concepts from semiotics and rhetoric as they apply to advertising as a form of professional communication.
  • Interpret the semiotics of advertising, examining the use of visual and linguistic symbols to make meaning.
  • Examine the function of advertising in the production and circulation of meanings through culture.
  • Compare the design and process of advertising across historical periods and in the context of changing communication technologies, with attention to a shift from mass communication culture to personalization and participatory culture.
  • Analyze advertising design and process as forms of representation in the context of intercultural communication.

Course topics

  • Module 1: Theoretical, Historical and Institutional Foundations of Advertising and Consumer Culture
  • Module 2: Canadian Brand Case Studies: Consumer Citizens and the Canadian Imagination
  • Module 3: Controversies in Canadian Advertising: Audiences and Messaging
  • Module 4: Thinking Creatively and Expanding Frontiers of Canadian Advertising

Required text and materials

The following material is required for this course:

  1. Asquith, K. (Ed.). (2019). Advertising, consumer culture and Canadian society: A reader. Oxford University Press: Don Mills, ON.
    Type: Textbook. ISBN: 978-0-19-902632-6


Please be aware that should your course have a final exam, you are responsible for the fee to the online proctoring service, ProctorU, or to the in-person approved Testing Centre. Please contact with any questions about this.

To successfully complete this course, students must achieve a passing grade of 50% or higher on the overall course, and 50% or higher on the final mandatory exam.

Assignment 1: Visualizing Key Concepts 15%
Assignment 2: Part A Shift-in-Perspective Journal 7.5%
Assignment 2: Part B Shift-in-Perspective Journal 7.5%
Assignment 3: Advertising Presentation 20%
Assignment 4: Critical Response Paper 20%
Final Exam (mandatory) 30%
Total 100%

Open Learning Faculty Member Information

An Open Learning Faculty Member is available to assist students. Students will receive the necessary contact information at the start of the course.

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