COMMS 104/104G : Advertising and Society


2022 Semester Two (1225) (15 POINTS)

Course Prescription

A critical examination of advertising and advertisements focusing on the role advertising plays in consumer culture. Advertisements from a diverse range of media are studied in order to analyse how advertisements construct and disseminate meaning. The course investigates how advertising engages with the logic of wider cultural and global transformations with consideration given to both consumer and industry perspectives.

Course Overview

Often dubbed the "art of capitalism", advertising has become one of the most profound and pervasive inuences on our society. An informed perspective on advertising is therefore crucial to understanding the workings of contemporary society and culture.

The course will provide a historical overview of developments in advertising from the print advertising of the early 20th century to the use of social media, with a focus on how these developments both contribute to and reect socio-cultural trends. It will also offer theoretical perspectives and analytical frameworks for explaining and analysing advertisements and their relationship to society at large. 

In this course, you will learn to critically analyse examples of print, video, and online advertising. You will be given tools to understand both the formal devices utilised by advertising to create meaning and how advertising shapes cultural notions of identity, gender, race, ethnicity, nationalism, and sustainability. 

Course Requirements

Restriction: FTVMS 110, 110G

Capabilities Developed in this Course

Capability 1: Disciplinary Knowledge and Practice
Capability 2: Critical Thinking
Capability 3: Solution Seeking
Capability 4: Communication and Engagement
Capability 6: Social and Environmental Responsibilities
Graduate Profile: Bachelor of Arts

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will be able to:
  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the historical development of advertising and its place within commodity culture (Capability 1.1 and 1.3)
  2. Demonstrate an understanding of the key critical debates regarding advertising's significance as a commercial tool and a cultural form (Capability 1.1, 2.1, 2.2, 2.3, 4.1 and 4.2)
  3. Analyse formal devices and signifying practices used by print, television and online advertisements (Capability 1.1, 1.2, 2.3 and 4.1)
  4. Critically assess the way that advertising participates in discourses of gender and sexuality, race and ethnicity, nationalism, and sustainability (Capability 1.1, 1.3, 3.1, 4.1, 4.2 and 6.3)


Assessment Type Percentage Classification
Tutorial Participation 10% Group & Individual Coursework
Quizzes 10% Individual Coursework
Coursework 40% Individual Coursework
Final Exam 40% Individual Coursework

Your overall course mark is the sum of your assignments, exam and participation marks. There is no plussage on this paper.

Workload Expectations

This course is a standard 15 point course and students are expected to spend 10 hours per week involved in each 15 point course that they are enrolled in.

For this course, you can expect 2 hours of lectures, a 1 hour tutorial, 3 hours of reading and thinking about the content and 4 hours of work on assignments and/or test preparation.

Delivery Mode

Campus Experience or Online

This course is offered in two delivery modes:

Campus Experience

Attendance is expected at scheduled activities including tutorials to complete components of the course.

Lectures will be available as recordings. Other learning activities including tutorials will not be available as recordings.

The activities for the course are scheduled as a standard weekly timetable.


Attendance is expected at scheduled online activities including tutorials to complete components of the course.

The course will include live online events including tutorials and these will not be recorded.

Attendance on campus is not required for the exam.

Where possible, study material will be released progressively throughout the course.

This course runs to the University semester timetable and all the associated completion dates and deadlines will apply.

This course is available for delivery to students studying remotely outside NZ in 2022.

Learning Resources

Course materials are made available in a learning and collaboration tool called Canvas which also includes reading lists and lecture recordings (where available).

Please remember that the recording of any class on a personal device requires the permission of the instructor.

Student Feedback

At the end of every semester students will be invited to give feedback on the course and teaching through a tool called SET or Qualtrics. The lecturers and course co-ordinators will consider all feedback and respond with summaries and actions.

Your feedback helps teachers to improve the course and its delivery for future students.

Class Representatives in each class can take feedback to the department and faculty staff-student consultative committees.

Academic Integrity

The University of Auckland will not tolerate cheating, or assisting others to cheat, and views cheating in coursework as a serious academic offence. The work that a student submits for grading must be the student's own work, reflecting their learning. Where work from other sources is used, it must be properly acknowledged and referenced. This requirement also applies to sources on the internet. A student's assessed work may be reviewed against online source material using computerised detection mechanisms.

Class Representatives

Class representatives are students tasked with representing student issues to departments, faculties, and the wider university. If you have a complaint about this course, please contact your class rep who will know how to raise it in the right channels. See your departmental noticeboard for contact details for your class reps.

Inclusive Learning

All students are asked to discuss any impairment related requirements privately, face to face and/or in written form with the course coordinator, lecturer or tutor.

Student Disability Services also provides support for students with a wide range of impairments, both visible and invisible, to succeed and excel at the University. For more information and contact details, please visit the Student Disability Services’ website

Well-being always comes first
We all go through tough times during the semester, or see our friends struggling. There is lots of help out there - for more information, look at this Canvas page, which has links to various support services in the University and the wider community.

Special Circumstances

If your ability to complete assessed coursework is affected by illness or other personal circumstances outside of your control, contact a member of teaching staff as soon as possible before the assessment is due.

If your personal circumstances significantly affect your performance, or preparation, for an exam or eligible written test, refer to the University’s aegrotat or compassionate consideration page

This should be done as soon as possible and no later than seven days after the affected test or exam date.

Learning Continuity

In the event of an unexpected disruption, we undertake to maintain the continuity and standard of teaching and learning in all your courses throughout the year. If there are unexpected disruptions the University has contingency plans to ensure that access to your course continues and course assessment continues to meet the principles of the University’s assessment policy. Some adjustments may need to be made in emergencies. You will be kept fully informed by your course co-ordinator/director, and if disruption occurs you should refer to the university website for information about how to proceed.

Student Charter and Responsibilities

The Student Charter assumes and acknowledges that students are active participants in the learning process and that they have responsibilities to the institution and the international community of scholars. The University expects that students will act at all times in a way that demonstrates respect for the rights of other students and staff so that the learning environment is both safe and productive. For further information visit Student Charter


Elements of this outline may be subject to change. The latest information about the course will be available for enrolled students in Canvas.

In this course students may be asked to submit coursework assessments digitally. The University reserves the right to conduct scheduled tests and examinations for this course online or through the use of computers or other electronic devices. Where tests or examinations are conducted online remote invigilation arrangements may be used. In exceptional circumstances changes to elements of this course may be necessary at short notice. Students enrolled in this course will be informed of any such changes and the reasons for them, as soon as possible, through Canvas.

Published on 01/11/2021 08:07 a.m.