Student Pages
Postgraduate course

Intercultural Competence

Main content

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Teaching semester

Spring (when resources allow)

Place of Instruction


Objectives and Content

In a globalized world with increasingly interconnected societies, foreign language skills have become a fundamental requirement in most professional environments, language proficiency is, however, only one set of communication skills students of foreign languages and applied linguistics need to gain. It has become increasingly recognized that intercultural competences are a key qualification for people who work in culturally diverse environments either abroad or within one¿s country. They refer to skills, knowledge, and attributes that foster mutual understanding and facilitate successful collaboration between people from ethically and culturally different backgrounds.

In the seminars, students gain advanced knowledge on diverse aspects of Chinese culture and social relations and analyze them in relation to their own cultural and societal environments. Questions that will be tackled include: Why can Chinese openly criticize local administrators and Chinese officials in social media but not mass protests across administrative jurisdictions? Why do many young Chinese choose not to marry and have children? Do people from Hong Kong and Taiwan refer to themselves as Chinese and if not what are the reasons for that? Why do students in China spend their afternoons in cram classes instead of meeting friends and making bonfires in the wild? Are young people in China and Taiwan more tech savvy than their counterparts in Western countries?

By intensively engaging with Chinese language sources and adopting a comparative perspective, students will learn how their own experiences and social realities relate to those of their Chinese peers and beyond. The course uses pedagogical approaches, methods and techniques that encourage students to become actively involved in discovery, challenge, reflection and co¿operation. Students are required to carry out independent research on a self-chosen topic within the overall course framework, prepare an oral presentation of their project in class to engage in discussions with their peers.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course:


The student

- will have developed a thorough understanding of a variety of socio-political aspects of China and the broader Sinophonic world in Greater China and advanced knowledge about the dynamic interaction between social and political changes in Greater China over the course of the 20th and 21st century

- will be able to compare similarities and differences in Chinese and Norwegian culture and society, and analyze how for example political and societal structures affect social relations and behavior differently in China and Norway


The student

- will be able to analyze and deal critically with different academic and non-academic sources of information and use them to see similarities and differences between Chinese and Norwegians in a non¿judgmental manner and take the perspective of the other in order to see themselves as others see them

- will be able to reflect on and be engaged in a conscious comparison of their own values and attitudes with Chinese ones, to better realise how they construct the other

- will be able to explain the practices, the values and the beliefs that many people in Greater China and the Sinophere share, and over which they are divided, and reflect back on themselves and so question their own practices, values, and beliefs

General competence

The student

- will have developed a strong awareness of the impact of political socialization on social behavior and social interrelations

- will have obtained an ability to relate to these differences and integrate this awareness in communication and collaboration strategies

Required Previous Knowledge

Bachelor degree with specialisation in Chinese language, Sinology, or the equivalent. Proficiency in Chinese language is necessary in order to understand the Chinese data for analysis.

Recommended Previous Knowledge


Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap


Access to the Course

The course is open to students enrolled in the Master programme in Chinese Studies at the University of Bergen.

Teaching and learning methods

This course is taught in English. The main teaching methods are seminars: altogether 12 weeks, 24 hours. The instructor uses pedagogical approaches, methods and techniques that encourage students to become actively involved in discovery, challenge, reflection and co¿operation. The main learning activities may include translations, (social) media analyses, group reading and reflective discussions, intercultural encounters, excursions, groups assignments, peer feedback, oral presentations, excursions, etc..

The course builds on a syllabus that is published before the beginning of the semester and contains a list of academic publications and additional written and audio-visual sources on a variety of topics. For each class, students are required to prepare the compulsory material and carry out additional small assignments at home, to be able to actively engage in lively discussions in class. These can encompass writing a response paper, preparing a translation, conducting an interview or searching additional material. To improve students¿ Chinese proficiency and help them gain insights into public discourses in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas communities, the course integrates a variety of Chinese language sources.

Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the new vocabulary and prepare the content for class. To overcome remaining difficulties in linguistic understanding and contextualize information, the material will be discussed and evaluated in class.

Each student chooses one of the topics on the syllabus to conduct a limited research project independently. The topic must be approached from a comparative perspective juxtaposing Chinese and Norwegian (or other) social realities, values, or beliefs. The student must deliver an oral presentation in class, presenting the gathered information, reflecting about preliminary findings, and preparing relevant questions to encourage and moderate a lively debate among the participants in class. The student is also expected to provide feedback to his/her peers and actively engage in the debates during class.

Compulsory Assignments and Attendance

The student must attend at least 75% of the classes.

Students must develop and carry out independent research on a self-chosen, instructor-approved topic, prepare an oral presentation in class, and accomplish other small exercises at home as outlined in the syllabus. Supervision is mandatory.

Compulsory assignments are valid for one semester following the semester of instructions, and all compulsory assignments must be completed in the same semester.

Forms of Assessment

The final exam is a supervised term paper of 3000 words (+/- 10%) in which the student demonstrates his/her ability to apply research methods to collect and analyse data, communicate their newly acquired and advanced knowledge about their self-chosen topic within the overall course framework, and critically reflect similarities and differences in practices, values, and beliefs between Chinese and Norwegian (or other) societies and cultures. The word count does not include list of references, bibliography. appendixes etc.

The term paper must be written in English and follow the conventions of academic writing. The descriptive adequacy and explanatory adequacy of the paper will be the key aspects for assessment. The student must familiarize himself/herself with the rules that apply to the use of sources and citations. If the rules are violated, the student may be suspected of cheating/attempted cheating.

A student who did not submit the term paper in the teaching semester can resit the exam in the subsequent semester if he/she fulfills all the compulsory requirements for the course. In such cases, no teacher supervision will be given. If the student retakes the course, the term paper and the drafts prepared in the previous semesters cannot be reused.

Examination Support Material

Not relevant

Grading Scale

The Department uses a grading scale ranging from A to F. F is a failing grade.

Assessment Semester

The exam for KIN305 is offered in the instructional semester. The regular exam is arranged at the end of the Spring semester. The re-take exam is in the middle of the Autumn semester for students with valid compulsory assignments.

Reading List

A tailored collection of state-of-the-art articles in the field will be provided digitally.

Content may vary slightly from semester to semester, in accordance with the development of the core discipline and its academic circles in different geographical-cultural contexts.

The reading list will be available by 1 December for the Spring semester.

Course Evaluation

The course is evaluated in accordance with the quality control system of the University of Bergen.

Programme Committee

The Programme Board is responsible for the academic content and structure of the study programme, and for the quality of all the subjects therein.

Course Coordinator

The Programme Board for Chinese Studies

Course Administrator

The Department of Foreign Languages at the Faculty of Humanities has the administrative responsibility for the course and the study programme.


Student advisor: studierettleiar.if@uib.no

Exam administration: eksamen.if@uib.no

Exam information

  • Type of assessment: Term paper

    Submission deadline
    15.05.2023, 13:00
    Withdrawal deadline
    Examination system
    Digital exam