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ALC8013 : Introduction to Intercultural Communication

  • Offered for Year: 2024/25
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Alina Schartner
  • Lecturer: Dr Sara Ganassin
  • Owning School: Education, Communication & Language Sci
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus

Your programme is made up of credits, the total differs on programme to programme.

Semester 1 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0
European Credit Transfer System


The module’s overall aim is to provide a critical introduction to the study of inter- and cross-cultural communication. It focuses on the theoretical as well as on the experiential dimension of intercultural communication. Central importance is given to people’s lived experiences, how they shape intercultural encounters between individuals from different backgrounds, and how they support us to reflect on and negotiate our understanding of the world, identities and attitudes to ‘the other’. Students will be encouraged to take part in structured individual and small group online activities (e.g. discussions on Canvas). These will support the creation of an inclusive learning environment and encourage participation whilst accounting for the multiple skills and experiences brought by the students themselves. Students will be given an up-to-date reading list in line with current CCC/ICC research from multiple global contexts and across higher education systems. The module will also draw on multimedia and digital resources (e.g. blog posts) to encourage engagement with ‘real life’ examples of CCC/ICC.
Specific module aims are:
- To develop an understanding of key issues and concepts in the study of inter- and cross-cultural communication
- To introduce key theoretical approaches to the study of inter- and cross-cultural communication
- To develop an understanding of challenges and opportunities in intercultural encounters across a range of ‘real life’ contexts such as workplaces, international mobility (e.g. the study abroad experience), diasporic communities (e.g. the refugee experience)
- To develop an understanding of the relationships between culture, language, and identity
- To introduce global perspectives on the study of inter-and cross-cultural communication, beyond the ‘western’ Anglophone world
- To reflect on the complexity in our identities and attitudes towards others, and on our own experiences of intercultural encounters

Outline Of Syllabus

This is an introductory module, and many of these topics will be covered in more detail in other, optional, modules.

Week-by-week outline of module:

Week 1: Module overview - Why study ICC/CCC?
Introduction to module aims and assessment; Unpacking of key concepts

Week 2: Understanding ‘culture’
Introduction to and discussion of different dimensions of ‘culture’

Week 3: Understanding identity
Introduction to and discussion of different dimensions of identity

Week 4: Interculturality and intercultural encounters
What is interculturality?; Discussion of challenges and opportunities in intercultural encounters

Week 5: Theoretical approaches to the study of ICC/CCC
Introduction to a range of theoretical approaches and conceptual frameworks relevant to the field of ICC/CCC

Week 6: Interculturality in context
Introduction to how ‘culture’ is relevant/made relevant across a range of 'real life' contexts (e.g. workplaces, social relationships, education)

Week 7: Interculturality, mobility and migration
Discussion of intercultural transitions in mobility contexts (e.g. international students, diasporas, refugees)

Week 8: Intercultural Communicative Competence
Introduction to conceptual models, and discussion of how to assess intercultural communicative competence

Week 9: Global perspectives on intercultural communication
Examples of approaches to ICC across global contexts, including beyond the ‘western’ Anglophone world

Week 10: Interculturality in online/virtual contexts
Introduction to how ‘culture’ is relevant/made relevant in communication in virtual spaces

Week 11: Module conclusion and Q&A
Summary of key issues and assessment questions and answer session

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture112:0022:00Weekly lectures
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion150:0050:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading130:0030:00N/A
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching51:005:00Five small-group seminars (weeks 6-10)
Structured Guided LearningStructured non-synchronous discussion52:0010:00Guided online tasks on Canvas discussion board (weeks 1-5)
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study183:0083:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

In the first part of the module (Weeks 1-5) lectures will introduce key concepts and theoretical approaches. This part of the module will be supported by structured formative online learning activities on Canvas (group and/or individual). In the second part (Weeks 6-11) key issues in inter- and cross-cultural communication will be discussed in relation to ‘real life’ intercultural encounters across a range of contexts such as education, workplaces, international mobility and migration. Attention will be given to current affairs and to students’ own inter/cross-cultural experiences. This more experiential part of the module will be accompanied by weekly small-group seminars to enable students to draw on their experiences and allow for critical discussion.

A combination of lectures and seminars will allow for a blend of theoretical input concerning issues surrounding inter- and cross-cultural communication and discussion of students’ own intercultural experiences. The aim is to promote a discursive and dialogic type of learning environment in which learners are guided to exchange ideas and experiences.

Independent study will enable wider reading and assignment preparation. In the final week (Week 11), students will be able to review their learning in the module and discuss assignment topics.

Participation is at the centre of this module: as a range of theories, frameworks and contexts will be explored, it is important that students engage with the readings, tasks on Canvas and in discussions in order to critically unpack key issues.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Written exercise1M1003,500 word written exercise comprising of a personal reflection on an intercultural encounter and a critical literature review.
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The two-part written exercise comprises two interrelated parts:

Part 1 (max. 500 words) is a critical account of an intercultural encounter
Part 2 (max. 3000 words) is a critical literature discussion of key issues emerging from part 1

The assignment assesses both learning of theory and skill development of intercultural self-reflection. In part 1, students describe and reflect on an intercultural encounter of their choice from a range of settings (e.g. classroom, study/travel abroad experience, workplace, family setting).

In part 2, students will discuss key concepts from the encounter, drawing on theoretical and empirical literature as well as content discussed in the lectures.

This assignment will allow students to reflect on topics/issues covered in the module as well as provide an experiential learning opportunity linking theoretical approaches to ‘real life’ experience. The assessment is designed to evaluate students’ ability to critically engage with one or more aspects of intercultural communication according to theories and frameworks discussed in class as well as to encourage learning through reflection on personal intercultural experiences. As such, it aims to support students in operating more confidently in an increasingly complex and globally interconnected world.

Reading Lists