Intercultural Competences

Undergraduate course

Course description

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. Intercultural competences refer to skills, knowledge, and attributes that foster mutual understanding and facilitate successful collaboration between people from ethically and culturally different backgrounds.

In this seminar, students will gain basic knowledge on diverse aspects of Chinese culture and social relations and learn to analyze them in relation with their own cultural and societal environments. Questions that will be tackled can include the following: 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 and how do Chinese politicians address this problem? 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 engaging with academic literature and other genres of cultural production and adopting a comparative perspective, students learn how their own experiences and social realities relate to those of their Chinese peers in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and other parts of the world.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of the course:


The student

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

- will have deepened their knowledge about similar socio-political aspects in Norway


The student

- will be able to analyze and deal critically with different academic and non-academic sources of information, use them to detect 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, to better realize how they construct the Other

- will be able to explain the practices, values and beliefs that many people in China, Taiwan, Hongkong and the global Sinophere share and over which they are divided

- by reflecting back on themselves, the student will be able to critically question their own practices, values, and beliefs in relations to others.

General competence

The student

- will have developed an 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.

ECTS Credits


Level of Study


Semester of Instruction

Spring (when resources allow)
Required Previous Knowledge
Recommended Previous Knowledge
Basic Chinese language skills. Please note that you will need to know some Chinese to successfully complete this course.
Credit Reduction due to Course Overlap
Access to the Course
The course is open to students enrolled in the Bachelor program in Chinese Studies at the University of Bergen. It is also possible for students from other programs to apply to take this course if they have basic Chinese proficiency. Contact to apply. This course and KIN305 (Master Program in Chinese Studies) are the same, requirements for students of the Bachelor and Master program will differ.
Teaching and learning methods

This course is taught in English. The main teaching methods are seminars: altogether 4 weeks, 12 hours in-class teaching, self-study, and, if applicable, a limited number of hours in extracurricular activities. The instructor uses pedagogical approaches, methods and techniques that encourage students to become actively involved in discovery, challenge, reflection and cooperation. 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. 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. He/She 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. Each 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 a limited, independent research on a self-chosen topic, instructor-approved, 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 2000 words (+/- 10%) in which the student demonstrates his/her ability to collect information and data on the self-chosen topic, deal critically with the sources, 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 a list of references, bibliography 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 term paper that is passed may not be resubmitted in revised form. If the student retakes this course, the term paper and the drafts prepared in the previous semesters cannot be reused.

Grading Scale
The Department uses a grading scale ranging from A to F. F is a failing grade.
Assessment Semester
Assessment in KIN205 is offered in the instructional semester. The regular assessment is arranged at the end of the Spring semester and the re-take assessment 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.
Examination Support Material
Not relevant
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.