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Culture: Europe


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
Limited places are also open for exchange students. Please note: this course takes place in The Hague.


When studying a particular region of the world, knowledge of its cultural universe is crucial; the study of culture allows the understanding of the deeper structures behind history, politics and economy. Culture is the symbolic repertoire that gives form and content to national and collective identities, the subjectivity of individuals, and the environment. Culture is expressed in both material and immaterial resources, through which relations of legitimacy and domination are built in specific temporal and geographical contexts. Culture is a domain in which strategies for winning consent and cohesion are reflected, but it also includes mechanisms of in- and exclusion or conflicts on the basis of e.g. nationality, language, religion, ethnicity or gender. This course looks at these processes in specific cultural contexts of the world, and revises the regional scholarly traditions in the study and circulation of culture.
The purpose of this course is to provide students with a broad overview of (Western) European culture and its influences. The course is divided into two blocks, culture and language, and addresses the overarching question: what is the meaning of the expression “(Western) Europe” in the cultural and linguistic fields?
In the culture block we will take a chronological look at a series of essential cultural ‘stages’ or ‘phases’ of European history, including Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment period and the Modern era, in order to examine how European identity came to be associated with notions of rationality, Christianity, science, Humanism, colonialism etc. We will do so by examining pivotal cultural artifacts and events, putting them in a context of ‘European identity’. What are the essential cultural elements that tie the multiple national and regional identities within the area together? What do you think of when you think of European culture? Plato, Shakespeare, Bach or Hagia Sophia? The Beatles, IKEA, Monty Python or UEFA? For each of the chosen cultural stages, we will take a closer look at cultural elements from its high as well as its low culture; throughout these lectures the question will be: how did these periods, artifacts and events shape a current European cultural identity?
In the language/culture block, we will take a chronological look at a series of essential ‘phases’ of European challenges : European linguistic imperialism and influences (18th-20th century) and impact in European multilingualism perceptions; religion and secularisation process; migrations, language and culture. We will focus on specific individual (historical/thematic/regional) cases, putting them in a context of ‘European identity’ inside but also outside the European Union. The comparative dimension of the analysis will consider examples of Eastern Europe.

Course objectives

Students will have:

  • a better understanding of the linguistic and cultural aspects in European processes of change (colonization and decolonization; crises; migration; religious change, shifting borders, etc.)

  • a better understanding of various links between politics, religion, language, arts, and political entities (states) in Europe

  • a critical comprehension of the impact of political-societal changes on language, film, literature.
    Students will be able

  • to analyse in a scholarly way primary (including political texts, memoirs, fiction, and film) and secondary sources

  • to present and debate intellectually scholarly ideas and analyses.


The timetable is available on the BA International Studies website

Mode of instruction

One two hour lecture per week; tri-weekly tutorials.

Attending all tutorial sessions is compulsory. If you are unable to attend a session, please inform the tutor of the course in advance, providing a valid reason for your absence. Being absent without notification and valid reason or not being present at half or more of the tutorial sessions will mean your assignments will not be assessed, and result in a 1.0 for the tutorial (30% of the final grade).

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 5 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 140 hours, broken down by:

  • Atending lectures: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks: 24 hrs

  • Atending attending tutorials 2 hours per three weeks: 8 hrs

  • Assessment hours (midterms and final exam): 4 hrs

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 68 hrs

  • Time for completing assignments, preparation classes and exams: 36 hrs

Assessment method


Midterm Exam:

  • Written examination with short open questions

Final exam:

  • Written examination with essay questions


Tutorials 30%
Midterm Exam 30%
Final Exam 40 %

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following: the final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


If the final grade is insufficient (lower than a 6), there is the possibility of retaking the full 70% of the exam material, replacing both the earlier mid- and endterm grades. No resit for the tutorials is possible.


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

Students are requested to register on Blackboard for this course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available in English and Dutch

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable


For tutorials Dr. K.M.J. Sanchez