Intercultural Communication and Interaction

Key information

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Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Linguistics

Module overview

Communication across cultures  is a key feature of a globalised world:  a growing number of interactions in all spheres of life now involve participants who do not share the same language or culture. Such encounters pose challenges to all involved. In order to minimise communication breakdowns and misunderstandings, we need to develop inter-and cross-cultural competence. This entails an understanding of the similarities and differences in the communicative practices across cultures and languages, the ability to recognise key communicative challenges in intercultural settings and the development of strategies and skills to operate effectively in such contexts. This module will provide students with a critical introduction to the  study of intercultural and cross-cultural communication. They will be familiarised with the main approaches to such study as well as with the theoretical frameworks associated with these approaches. Special attention will be paid to the (socio)linguistic approach and to the following intercultural settings: education, legal and medical settings and international business settings. Students will have an opportunity to collect, analyse and discuss their own field data dealing with a specific intercultural setting.  By the end of the course, students will have developed a clear and in-depth understanding of the main challenges affecting inter- and cross-cultural encounters and will have developed strategies to facilitate intercultural communication in different settings and contexts.

Objectives and learning outcomes of the module

On successful completion of this module a student will be able to:

  1. Identify and critically evaluate the main approaches to the study of intercultural communication
  2. Examine and provide a critical discussion of the main components involved in intercultural encounters, especially those related to language
  3. Analyse intercultural interactions based on the models and frameworks covered in the course
  4. Develop strategies and practical solutions to handling intercultural encounters


The module will be taught over 10 weeks (2 hours weekly) including lectures and tutorials.

Scope and syllabus

This module will cover key concepts, approaches and theoretical frameworks in the study of intercultural and cross-cultural communication. The following topics and issues will be covered:

  • Approaches to the study of intercultural communication
  • Culture, language, and identity
  • Linguistic diversity and intercultural communication: e.g.,language differences, cultural differences in style, in spoken and written discourse
  • Intercultural aspects  and challenges of  lingua franca settings
  • Multimodality : kinesics, proxemics and other non-verbal behaviour
  • Intercultural communication in education, health and legal encounters and in business
  • Managing intercultural  misunderstandings, breakdowns and conflict

Method of assessment

One three-hour exam (50%) and two 2000-word assignments due on 30th November 2018 and 7th January 2019 (25% each).

Suggested reading

  • Gudykunst, W. 2004 Theorizing about Intercultural Communication. London: Sage.
  • Kotthoff, Helga and Helen Spencer-Oatey (eds.) 2007 Handbook of Intercultural communication. Berlin: Mouton-De Gruyter.
  • Pauwels, Anne 1995 Cross-cultural  communication in the health sciences: communicating with migrant patients. Melbourne: Macmillan.
  • Piller, Ingrid 2010 Intercultural communication: a critical introduction. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Scollon, R et al. 2012 Intercultural communication: a discourse approach. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules