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Communicating Across Cultures


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
Limited places are also open for exchange students.
Please note: this course takes place in The Hague. Traveling between University buildings from Leiden to The Hague may take about 45 minutes.


In today’s globalized world, we all communicate increasingly with people from backgrounds different than our own. What are the potential pitfalls of verbal and non-verbal communication across cultures? What are the advantages? What difference does the mode of communication make? By examining the frequently taken-for-granted details that make communication work within and across cultures around the world, the goal of this course is to gain a better understanding of how (and why) we all come to understand (or misunderstand) each other on a daily basis and of the micro- and macro-social parameters involved in this process.

Course objectives

By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Identify and describe examples of how culture in shapes communication;

  • Discuss how different modes of communication (e.g. non-verbal, computer-mediated) differ across cultures;

  • Think critically about the main concepts in pragmatics and analyze their adequacy in describing communication in different cultural contexts and situations;

  • Apply the theoretical concepts discussed to analyze concrete instances of communication and interaction.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction


Lectures are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Weekly lectures will cover issues both inside and outside the readings.


Tutorials are held once every three weeks, with the exception of the midterm exam week. Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform your tutor in advance. Being absent at more than one of the tutorial sessions will result in a lowering of your tutorial grade (50% of the end grade) with 1 point for each session missed after the first session. Please note that being absent at any tutorial session may have a negative impact on the grade of the assignment due for that particular tutorial session. This is at the discretion of the tutor.

Assessment method


  • Final Exam:
    Written examination with short open questions and (up to) 50% multiple choice questions.


Partial grade Weighing
Tutorials 50%
Final Exam 50%

End Grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note of the following:

  • The end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of Tutorial grade and Final Exam grade.

  • The Final Exam grade needs to be 5.5 or higher.

  • This means that failing Exam grades cannot be compensated with a high Tutorial grade.


If the end grade is insufficient (lower than a 6.0), or the Final Exam grade is lower than 5.5, there is a possibility of retaking the full 50% of the exam material, replacing the Final Exam grade. No resit for the tutorial is possible.
Please note that if the Resit Exam grade is lower than 5.5, you will not pass the course, regardless of the tutorial grade.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2022 – 2023.

Exam review and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.

Reading list

To be announced on Brightspace.




All other information.