Universitat Internacional de Catalunya

Communication Theory

Communication Theory
First semester
Main language of instruction: Spanish

Teaching staff

In order to make an appointment, please email the professor



The various intellectual discourses, theoretical models and research methodologies that have accompanied the emergence and development of the different media cannot be summarised in one major, complex theory, nor in one single definition of the term communication. In light of this evidence, in this subject we will take an introductory look at a selection of theories that have sought to explain the media world. Through guided self-learning, students will critically analyse the main theoretical and methodological concepts that have served as a compass in this space of dialogue and discussion that has always characterised Communication Theory.

Pre-course requirements

No pre-course requirements are needed to enrol in this subject.




  • The aim of this subject is to help students become familiar with the broad field of theoretical and methodological media thought.

  • The historical background and comparative topics on which this subject is based intend to endow the students with the analytical tools needed to critically discuss the various dimensions of the current dynamics of digital communication ecosystems.

  • Furthermore, this subject aims to spark the students' interest in intellectual work and their desire to become capable of developing their own analytical and critical thoughts.


  • 19 - The ability to memorise
  • 81 - Ability and capacity to perform the duties carried out by the media department
  • 82 - The ability to define and manage a communication budget
  • 83 - The ability and capacity to give form to a creative message
  • 98 - To skillfully manage terminology in English related to Communication

Learning outcomes

The studients:

  1. Manage the various theories that attempt to explain the operation of the communication process in all its dimensions (sender, message, channel, receiver, use, effect, etc..) 
  2. Understand the theoretical and practical development of the advertising phenomenon and public relations. 
  3. Approach the theoretical framework and practical assumptions messages, media and subjects. 
  4. Reflect on the proper conduct of advertising and public relations criteria of good craftsmanship.




Topic 0: Social sciences and theories of communication

0.1. The object of study of communication theories.

0.2  Epistemological and methodological bases.

0.3. What do we mean by "communication theory"?

0.4. Main perspectives


Topic 1: The first era of media theory. The all-powerful effects model

1.1. Historical context: a new social and media order

1.2. Theorists of the mass society

1.3. The origin of propaganda, techniques, characteristics and its impact on theories of communication

1.4. The Frankfurt School

1.5. Contributions and limitations

1.6. Typology of effects

1.6. Overcoming the model?


Topic 2: The second era of media theory. The limited effects model

2.1 Historical context: a new social and media order 

2.2. Origins of the limited effects theory. Mass Communication Research

2.3. Main contributions of the limited effects model

2.4. Typology of effects

2.5. Overcoming the limited effects model.


Topic 3: The third era of media theory: The model of the return to powerful effects.

3.1. Historical context: a new global and mediatic social order

3.2. Main contributions of the model of the return to powerful effects

3.3. Typology of effects

3.4. Overcoming the model?





Design of a communication research

Object of study, research objectives and research questions

Methodologies for communication research

Analysis of empirical data

Presentation of communication research results

Structure and dissemination of results


Teaching and learning activities

In person

Lectures. In lectures, lecturers/professors not only transmit content or knowledge, but also, and above all else, attitudes, motivation, skills and values, etc. They also ensure that participants can express their opinions and arguments to the other students. 2.4
Seminar. This activity will consist of taking an in-depth look at specific up-to-date topics in a monographic manner-in some cases these topics will have been debated socially-, via active work in small groups. 1.0
Practical workshop. A highly practical working activity, where students can acquire skills that are practical or also theoretical (intellectual skills, logical skills, critical skills, intellectual learning skills, study skills, quoting skills, etc). 0.8
Coaching. Monitoring how students learn the content of the subject, either individually or in groups. In the coaching sessions, mistakes will be corrected, queries answered, and exercises and activities to achieve the established objectives will be suggested. 0.6
Lab. Working groups that combine theory and practice. The aim of these is not to undertake already known techniques, but instead to make progress that is both theoretical and technical. These Lab sessions will culminate in the creation of a professional or semi-professional product. 1.2

Evaluation systems and criteria

In person

To every call  
  • Exam SECTION 1: 60%
  • Trabajo SECTION 2: 40%

* To pass the course you must present the two parts.

** The spelling rules of the Faculty shall apply to all tests and assignments.

*** To pass the second call is necessary to accomplish all assessment activities not approved in the first call.

Bibliography and resources

Davison, P. (1983). The third-person effect in communication. The Public Opinion Quarterly, 47 (1), 1-15.

Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Illinois: Row Peterson.

Igartua, J. J. y Humanes, M. L. (2004). Teoría e investigación en comunicación social. Madrid: Síntesis.

Klapper, J. (1974). Efectos de las comunicaciones de masas. Madrid: Aguilar.

Lazarsfeld, P., Berelson, B. y Gaudet, H. (1968). The people’s choice. How the Voter Makes Up His Mind in a Presidential Campaign. New York: Columbia University Press.

Lipmann, W. (2003). La opinión pública. Madrid: Langre.

McCombs, M. (2004). Setting the Agenda. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Noelle-Neumann, E. (1973). Return to the concept of powerful mass media. Studies of broadcasting, 9, 67-112.

Noelle-Neumann, E. (1995). La espiral del silencio. Opinión pública: nuestra piel social. Barcelona: Paidós.

Rodrigo Alsina, M. (2001). Teorías de la comunicación. Ámbitos, métodos y perspectivas. Barcelona: Aldea Global.

Wolf, M. (1987). La investigación de la comunicación de masas. Crítica y perspectivas. Barcelona: Paidós.