Intercultural Communication and Management

This information is for the 2022/23 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Hua Xiang PEL.6.01b and Dr Neil Mclean 20KSW.G.07


This course is compulsory on the BSc in International Relations and Chinese. This course is available on the BSc in Language, Culture and Society. This course is not available as an outside option nor to General Course students.

This course is capped.


No pre-requisite required. 

Course content

The course will cover the main theories and concepts involved in inter-cultural communication, such as: face, politeness, (im)politeness, speech acts and pragmatics. It explains and analyses how theories and concepts about the above phenomena apply in real life, in business and in political communications. A range of case studies will be presented in the course. These demonstrate how linguistic and communication strategies can be used effectively in different interactional contexts.

Some important themes and areas include:

  • The intercultural challenge, such as the importance of intercultural communication, barriers to intercultural communication, and how to deal with difference
  • Understanding of culture and cultural dimensions, such as various theories of culture, socialisation and its role in the acquisition of language, non-verbal communication, communication styles and relativity as explored through concepts such as time, space, distance, as well as role performance and speech acts, such as apologies, giving compliments and showing gratitude
  • Pragmatics and how language use should be and/or could be applied in a comparative cultural context
  • Case studies of miscommunication across cultures and research on cultural difference 


10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the MT. 10 hours of lectures and 10 hours of classes in the LT.

Two hours per week, featuring: (a) one hour lectures on a range of concepts and themes; (b) one hour classes; (c) student presentations; (d) tutorials. Structured activities will take place in the Week 6 Reading Week of the Michaelmas Term and the Lent Term.

Formative coursework

Students will be expected to produce 1 essay and 1 case study in the MT and 1 presentation and 1 project in the LT.

Short essay, case study analysis, presentation, and a project analysing a case of language use. 

Indicative reading

Bowe, Heather, Martin Kylie and Manns Howards (2014). Communication across Cultures. Mutual Understanding in a Global World, 2nd ed. Cambridge University Press. 

Mooney, Annabelle et al (2010). Language, Society and Power. An Introduction, 3rd ed., London: Routledge

Scollon, Ron and Scollon Suzanne Wong (2001). Intercultural Communication, 2rd ed, Blackwell Publishing

van Dijk, Teun A. (2009). Society and Discourse. How Social Contexts Influence Text and Talk, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Yule, George (2010). The Study of Language, 4th ed., Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Chapters from:

Wodak, Ruth, Barbara Johnstone & Paul Kerswill (eds) (2011). The Sage Handbook of Sociolinguistics, London: Sage

Spencer – Oatey, Helen (2008). Culturally speaking: Culture, communication and politeness theory (2 nd edition ). London & New York, Continuum


Coursework (60%) in the MT and LT.
Project (40%) in the LT.

Key facts

Department: Language Centre

Total students 2021/22: 30

Average class size 2021/22: 19

Capped 2021/22: No

Value: One Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course selection videos

Some departments have produced short videos to introduce their courses. Please refer to the course selection videos index page for further information.

Personal development skills

  • Leadership
  • Self-management
  • Team working
  • Problem solving
  • Application of information skills
  • Communication
  • Commercial awareness
  • Specialist skills