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Elective: Intercultural Communication 1


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies who have succesfully completed the second year elective course.

The number of participants is limited to 25.


Communicating with people from different (linguistic) backgrounds is an everyday matter, especially in the globalized world we live in today. Most people speak several languages, but there is more to communication than knowing how to construct grammatical sentences in a language. Alongside linguistic competence, interactional competence is essential to successfully participate in communication. Included in interactional competence is knowing what words are appropriate to use, when (not) to speak, what (not) to talk about, in short how to express yourself in a culturally accepted manner. This inevitably depends on the speech situation you are in: an informal conversation is nothing like a courtroom examination; communication in an educational setting differs greatly from a service encounter; and a business meeting and a doctor’s consult are guided by different norms.

Speakers possess a range of communicative strategies to choose from each time they address someone. What strategies are considered socially appropriate is by no means universal. What might be the correct way to behave in one language and (language) culture, is not necessarily approved of in another. In this course we will discuss different aspects of communication that can show great divergence between speech communities, including power relations and stereotypes, politeness, language taboos, language and gesture, naming and addressing and conversational expectations in general. Considering the fact that in intercultural communication at least one of the parties is speaking a language that is not their native tongue, recognizing the existence of such differences and knowing how to handle them is an important step towards successful communication. We will analyze case studies of different intercultural communication situations to gain insight in the possible problems interlocutors may encounter and the strategies they use to avoid them.

Course objectives

The elective courses for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the interdisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.

Academic skills that are trained include:

Oral presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using up-to-date presentation techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience;
3. to actively participate in a discussion following the presentation.

Collaboration skills:
1. to be socio-communicative in collaborative situations;
2. to provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position;
3. adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.
Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. to collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques;
2. to analyze and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability;
3. to formulate on this basis a sound research question;
4. to design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved;
5. to formulate a substantiated conclusion.

Written presentation skills:
1. to explain clear and substantiated research results;
2. to provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course
a. in the form of a clear and well-structured written presentation;
b. in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
c. using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
d. aimed at a specific audience.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website.

Mode of instruction

Seminar and supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for this 10 EC course is 10 × 28 hours = 280 hours.
A brief calculation of the course load, broken down by:
• Attending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks = 24 hours
• Reading compulsory literature, preparing assignments and presentation: 8 hours per week x 12 weeks = 96 hours
• Writing essay (ca. 5000 word including time for reading and research): 16 hours per week x 10 weeks = 160 hours

Assessment method

  • Learning aim: Interactive engagement with course material
    Assessment: In-class participation, weekly assignments
    Percentage: 30%
    • Learning aim: Presentation skills
    Assessment: Presenting analysis of a case study
    Percentage: 10%
    • Learning aim: Analytical skills
    Assessment: Research essay (app. 5000w)
    Percentage: 60%

Note: The maximum possible grade to be obtained for re-submission of the final essay is a 6.0


Blackboard will be used. For tutorial groups: please enroll in blackboard after your enrollment in uSis

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.

Reading list

As a textbook we will use Jane Jackson (2014). Introducing Language and Intercultural Communication. London/New York : Routledge.

Additional reading material will be made available online.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.