Module Details

IA937-6-AU-CO: Intercultural Communication

Note: This module is inactive. Visit the Module Directory to view modules and variants offered during the current academic year.

Year: 2016/17
Department: International Academy
Essex credit: 15
ECTS credit: 7.5
Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students: No
Full Year Module Available to Study Abroad / Exchange Students for a Single Term: No
Outside Option: No

Supervisor: Dr Nilufer Demirkan-Jones
Teaching Staff: Dr Nilufer Demirkan-Jones
Contact details: jpsumm

Module is taught during the following terms
Autumn Spring Summer

Module Description

Each country has its own cultural values, social taboos, politics, and religious traditions. Likewise, each country has its own academic culture with differing patterns of expectations, prescribed behaviours and obligations attached to social and academic relationships.

This module provides an introduction to intercultural communication, examining concepts including culture shock and intercultural adaptation, high-context versus low-context cultures and practice in cross-cultural negotiation skills and strategies, with a particular focus on differences between academic cultures.

The main purpose is to increase students' intercultural awareness and competency by showing that norms of behaviour are culturally defined and varied. The module first heightens the students' awareness of their own culture and then focuses on the assumptions, values and behaviour patterns of other cultures. Module pays attention to academic cultures, particularly the British academic culture, with the aim of cultivating the degree of intellectual objectivity essential to study within this particular academic setting.

Students should obtain the level of knowledge and analytic skill and be able to apply these when interacting with others within the British academic setting.

Module aims

The aims of the module are:

- To provide an overview of issues in intercultural communication
- To identify the concept of culture shock
- To examine how cultural barriers can affect communications in order to help them develop strategies to avoid misunderstandings and to overcome problems, especially in academic settings
- To introduce students to a variety of cross-cultural negotiation skills and strategies
- To provide students with the necessary language skills so that they understand the nature and purpose of the interactions
- To provide opportunities for students to practise and improve their language accuracy and fluency across a range of academic skills

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module a student will demonstrate:

- Ability to think critically about his/her own cultural assumptions
- Understanding how these assumptions might affect communication with others from different backgrounds
- Understanding and practice of cross-cultural negotiation skills and strategies
- Awareness of how the concepts studied affect communication in an academic setting
- Basic learner autonomy and independent research skills
- Ability to draw upon a variety of source texts to formulate and strengthen an argument in writing as well as speaking, and to reference those sources appropriately


- Defining culture, intercultural communication and culture shock
- Dimensions of culture (identity, hierarchy, gender, truth and virtue)
- Examining needs and expectations of students within the given academic setting
- Analysing ways to enhance cultural intelligence through case studies of cultural dimensions
- Discourse, identity and culture (cross-cultural negotiation skills and strategies for avoiding miscommunications in mixed cultural situations)
- Stereotyping and representations of culture in the mass media


Coursework: a 3000-word essay on cultural analyses. A range of topics will be made available for students to choose from; alternatively, students will be encouraged to suggest topics. Students are required to present their work-in-progress as a formal presentation, which should be 15 minutes in length. Following formative feedback from their tutor and peers, the students will then complete their essay by week 11.

One 15-minute oral presentation (20%). Titles will be available in week 3. Presentation to be given during weeks 7 and 8. Feedback provided in week 9.

One 3,000-word assignment (80%). Titles will be available in week 3. Assignment handed in during week 11. Feedback provided in week 15.

Pass mark: 40%

Learning and Teaching Methods

The module will run over 10 weeks. There are two contact hours per week throughout the term, a one-hour lecture followed by a one-hour seminar. Students will present their ideas and arguments during these interactive sessions based on selected readings or visual materials. They will also be encouraged to keep a learning diary in order to critically reflect and analyse their cultural experience. Students will have the opportunity to have individual tutorials throughout the term where they can ask for advice regarding their assignments, or raise any other issues.

Learning support

In addition to the above, there is Internet access for research; access to PowerPoint facilities for student presentations; AV facilities for teaching and access to web-based learning materials. Lecture material will consist of the PowerPoint slides to outline the complete lecture, and handouts used to illustrate sample 'case studies'. These will be made available to students at the end of each lecture to provide the students with a foundation for the key learning objectives.
Audio-visual teaching and learning

The module will benefit from samples of British and international films with cultural elements, and also from electronic sources presenting samples of 'dimensions of culture' that are available on dedicated web sites. Each viewing will be accompanied by teaching material written by the lecturer to contextualize the audio-visual material and pose questions designed to encourage critical, analytical viewing and listening on the part of the students.


100 per cent Coursework Mark


  • Cottrell, S. (2008) The Study Skills Handbook Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, (3rd Ed.)
  • Furnham, A & S. Bochner (1986) Culture Shock: Psychological Reactions to Unfamiliar Environments London: Methuen
  • Gudykunst, W.B. (1991) Bridging Differences: Effective Intergroup Communication Newbury Park: Sage
  • Gudykunst, W.B. & B. Mody (eds) (2002) Handbook of International and Intercultural Communication Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications
  • Halliday, A., Hyde, M. and Kullman, J. (2004) Intercultural Communication: An Advanced Resource Book. London: Routledge
  • Hofstede, G.J. (1997-2009) Cultural Dimensions, ITIM International. Available at:
  • Hofstede, G.J., Pedersen, B. and Hofstede, G. (2002) Exploring Culture: Exercises, Stories, and Synthetic Cultures Boston: Intercultural Press
  • Jandt, F.E. (2001) Intercultural Communication: An Introduction (3rd ed.) Thousand Oaks: Sage
  • Robinson, G. (1988) Cross-cultural Understanding New York: Prentice-Hall.
  • Ting-Toomey, S (1999) Communicating Across Cultures New York, NY: Guilford

Further information