Thursday , May 25 2023

Syllabus for Journalism & Media Studies Courses: Theories of Communication (CMS 204)

 With the unbundling of Mass Communication programme in Nigeria, the face of communication education in the country has changed. The programme has transited into a full college/faculty while individual courses have adapted to the change. While several new courses now exist in the seven new departments, some of the courses you used to know before have also taken a new shape. We have done a thorough research on what these courses offer in universities across the world; and we have provided prototype syllabus for students to study ahead. This is also to assist lecturers who might be facing new challenges with several new courses to have an idea of what the syllabus of each course offers.



Faculty: Communication and Media Studies                                            Department: Journalism & Media Studies

Course Code: CMS 204                                         Unit(s): 2                      Semester: Second

Course Title: Theories of Communication

Lecturer:                                                       Programme: B.Sc.



This is an introductory course which focuses on the major theoretical issues of, approaches to, and applications of communication. The course is an exploration and analysis of major theories that explain the nature, uses and effects of media and communication. It is designed to teach students the relationship between theory and research, including the relevance of research is establishing theories. Theories from various branches of communication, including interpersonal, group/organizational, rhetorical, mass and cultural, will be explored in-depth. Historical, current, and practical critiques of each theory will be conducted. The course also helps students to give critical consideration to the place of theory within the Communication Studies discipline and everyday life. At the completion of this course, students would have an in-depth understanding of how theories shape how people make judgments about reality, relationships, circumstances, and decisions in their lives and in the society.


By the end of this course, students will have learned:

  1. The historical development of communication theories
  2. How to identify and investigate the major theories in the various branches of communication studies
  3. Functions of communication theories
  4. Relationship between communication theories and social, political and technological events/issues in the field of communication
  5. Theories from various branches of communication, including interpersonal, group/organizational, rhetorical, mass and cultural communication
  6. The strengths and weaknesses of basic theories of communication
  7. Approaches to and application of communication theories to research and practice
  8. Current and practical critiques of each communication theory
  9. How to appreciate practical relevance of theory


  1. Lectures
  2. Quizzes
  3. Assignments
  4. Practical Classroom Sessions


1. Introduction

Definition of theory

Meaning of communication theory

Origin of mass communication theories

Paradigm shifts in communication theories

Functions of communication theories

Models of communication

2. Approaches to the Study of Communication Theories

(Media use theories, media effects theories, channel/source/message/audience   theories, Post-positivist, Hermeneutic, Critical, Post-positivist, Hermeneutic, Critical, Normative theories, etc.)

3. Normative Theories and their Criticisms

Authoritarian media theory

Soviet-communist media theory

Libertarian or free press media theory

Social responsibility media theory

Democratic participant media theory

Development media theory

4. Source Theories

Agenda setting


5. Message Theories

Diffusion of Innovations

Propaganda theory

Framing Analysis


Discourse Analysis

Social Construction

Two step flow of information

6. Channel Theories


Technological Determinism

Social Shaping of technology

7. Audience Theories

Uses and gratifications

Social categories theory

Cultivation Analysis

Social Learning theory


Spiral of Silence

Hypodermic/Stimulus-Response/Magic Bullet

Diffusion of Innovations

Two step flow

Individual Differences

Selectivity Processes

Knowledge Gap


Aggressive Cues


Active theory of Television Viewing

The Third- Person Effect


7. Communication and Cultural Theories

Communication Accommodation

Genderlect Theory

Standpoint Theory

Muted Group Theory

8. International Communication Theories

World Systems


Structural Imperialism

Cultural Imperialism



Public Sphere


9. Relevance of theories in Communication Studies

Relevance of theories

Theories and research tradition in communication

Critical discourse on theoretisation of media, communication and culture

10. Class activities and Assignments

Practical classroom exercises on analysis of theories and application to real world issues


Griffin, E. (2012). A first look at communication theory (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.


Types of communication theories

Media theories and their relevance to communication practice

Functions of communication theories

Communication Theory (List of theories)

Communication models and theories

Borah, P. (2016). Media effects theories



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About Chinenye Nwabueze

Nwabueze is a writer with passion for cutting-edge news

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