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Elective: Intercultural Communication 1


Admission requirements

This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies.
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 oral 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

Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the midterm exam week. This course includes supervised research.

Course Load

Total course load for this course is 10 EC (1 EC = 28 hours), this equals 280 hours, broken down by:

  • Attending lectures and seminars: 24 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 5 hours per week x 12 weeks = 60 hours

  • Completion of short assignments: 3 hours per week x 12 weeks = 36 hours

  • Researching and writing midterm essay and final paper (ca. 4000 words) 16 hours per week x10 weeks = 160 hours

Assessment method

Assessment & Weighing

Partial grade Weighing
In-class Participation 10%
Presentation and Abstract 20%
Midterm Essay on Case Study (1,000 words) 20%
Final Research Essay (4,000 words) 50%

End grade

To successfully complete the course, please take note that the end grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Students who have been active participants in class and submitted the final paper on time, but scored an overall insufficient mark, are entitled to a resit. For the resit, students are given a chance to hand in a new version of the final paper.
In case of resubmission of the final essay (insufficient grade only) the final grade for the essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the final essay.

Retaking a passing grade

Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2017 – 2018.

Exam review

How and when an exam review takes place will be determined by the examiner. This review will be within 30 days after official publication of exam results.


Blackboard will be used for tutorial groups. Students are requested to enroll on Blackboard for this course, but only after correct enrolment in uSis.

Reading list

Will be published on Blackboard.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis can be found here.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


M.J. van Naerssen MA

When contacting the lecturer, please include your full name, student number and tutorial group number.


The deadline for submission of the final essay is 15 June 2018.