Intercultural Communication Research in Action

Key information

Start date
End date
Year of study
Term 2
Module code
FHEQ Level
Department of Linguistics

Module overview

Globalisation and mobility in todays world results in communication across cultures and languages in every day encounters:  a growing number of interactions in all spheres of life now involve participants who do not share the same language or culture. The public discourse is characterised by recourse to cultural differences and linguistic misunderstandings due to cultural and linguistic differences. This affords a critical view on such discourses and the ability to identify potential sources of communication breakdown. Moreover it is a necessity to develop skills in analysing linguistic encounters and providing strategies to address potential problems and providing solutions.

This module will provide students with practical skills in conducting research. They will learn to formulate research questions addressing sources of misunderstanding, developing a research design and choosing the right research methodology for a cross-cultural study and the presentation of the research results They will be familiarised with the main methodologies (qualitative and quantitative) in cross cultural communication research as well as with the theoretical frameworks associated with these approaches.

Students will conduct their own study, discuss their design and present their research results in a poster conference with regard to an intercultural setting of their choice. By the end of the module, students will have developed a clear and in-depth understanding of the main challenges in research design and methodology, presentation of research results and the evaluation of public discourse using intercultural frameworks in their argumentations. They also will be able to propose 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. Examine and provide a critical discussion of the main components involved in intercultural encounters, especially those related to language
  2. Analyse intercultural interactions and identify components leading to breakdown or swift encounters
  3. Develop research questions and design a small scale study to address strategies and practical solutions in handling intercultural encounters
  4. Present a research proposal and critically discuss the potential outcomes
  5. Conduct study from data collection, coding and analysis  and present in poster format


This module will be taught over 10 weeks with a one hour seminar and one hour practical classes and workshops per week.

Scope and syllabus

This module will cover central different methodological approaches in cross cultural research. The following topics and issues will be covered:

  • Key themes, concenpts and methods in studies of intercultural communication
  • Culture, Identity and Discourse, how they are conceptualised and the related challenges
  • Identifying research questions and formulating hypothesis
  • Qualitative and Quantitative Reasearch Methods
  • Operationalisation of variables and the related challenges
  • Working with participants: ethical and practical concerns
  • Summarising results and proposing strategies and solutions to resolve challenges in intercultural communication

Method of assessment

A study design report of 1,000 word essay to be submitted on Friday, week 3, term 2 (30%); a field report of 1,000 words to be submitted on Friday, week 7, term 2 (30%); a 15 minute oral poster presentation (40%).

Suggested reading

  • Gudykunst, W. B. (1987). Cross-cultural comparison. In C. R. Berger, & S. H. Chaffee (Eds.), Handbook of Communication Science (pp. 847–889). Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.
  • Berry, John W; Dasen, Pierre R; Saraswathi, T.S. (Editors) (1997), Handbook of Cross-cultural Psychology, Vol 2: Basic processes and human development (2nd ed.), Boston: Allyn and Bacon
  • Berry, J. W., Poortinga, Y. H., Breugelmans, S. M., Chasiotis, A. & Sam, D. L. (2011). Cross-cultural psychology: Research and applications (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.
  • Zhu Hua (ed.). (2016) Research Methods in Intercultural Communication: A Practical Guide. Wiley Blackwell.
  • Zhu Hua (2014). Exploring Intercultural Communication: Language in action. London: Routledge.
  • Janet Holmes (Editor), Kirk Hazen (Editor)Research Methods in Sociolinguistics: A Practical Guide


Important notice regarding changes to programmes and modules