• University of Leeds

Introduction to Intercultural Studies: Defining the Concept of Culture

Understand intercultural communication by learning about the concepts of culture and interculturality.

9,587 enrolled on this course

People celebrating Holi in India

Introduction to Intercultural Studies: Defining the Concept of Culture

9,587 enrolled on this course

  • 2 weeks

  • 5 hours per week

  • Accreditation available

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Expand your understanding of the concepts of ‘culture’ and ‘interculturality’

On this course, you’ll explore some of the meanings associated with the term ‘culture’ and examine their problematic nature. You’ll understand the effects of the interaction between cultures, explore the notion of interculturality and problematise the way in which social interaction between people from different backgrounds has been considered.

Through videos and articles, you’ll also examine the theories that underpin intercultural interactions and broaden your understanding of culture and intercultural communication.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 6 seconds Welcome to Intercultural Studies– Defining the Concept of Culture.

Skip to 0 minutes and 13 seconds Examining culture can be problematic, because categorising people into different cultures creates in and outgroups. This course focuses on the different dimensions of culture and explains the limitations of these definitions.

Skip to 0 minutes and 31 seconds So if we think about the question what is culture? We might want to change it to how culture is used. Culture can be used as a way, in quite a positive aspect, where people can draw on the ideas of culture for identity formation. However, there’s also a flip side where culture can be used in practises of othering. By exploring the concept of othering further, you will gain greater understanding of how division occurs between groups of people. Difference can be used in quite a positive sense where we have a curiosity about what we see as differences which we want to explore.

Skip to 1 minute and 6 seconds It can also have a very negative sense as well where, for example, it’s used in the realm of politics where a group of people who are seen as different and threatening. And it can sow the seeds of distrust and, possibly, discord as well. Through case studies, you will look at different cultural and intercultural groups to gain a greater understanding of the topic and how it affects our everyday lives. The course will be available to learners worldwide. And this will provide an opportunity for people from different places to work together creatively and constructively.

Skip to 1 minute and 42 seconds That will include analysing and critically interrogating notions of stereotype and, hopefully, using the concept of culture and interculturality in positive ways, which will allow them to work together effectively. Sign up now for Intercultural Studies– Defining the Concept of Culture.


  • Week 1


    • Welcome

      Welcome to Introduction to Intercultural Studies: Defining the Concept of Culture. This course explores the different meanings and uses of the term ‘culture’, and the effects of interaction between cultures.

    • What is culture?

      In this activity, to introduce the course, you will consider what culture is and how each definition and perspective of culture has different implications. You will also explore the difference between Culture and culture.

    • How can we describe culture?

      In this activity, you will look in more detail at the complex nature of culture and how it is problematically applied to what are seen as ‘national cultures’.

    • Us and them

      In this activity, you will look at the process of ‘othering’ (where people are separated into ‘us’ and ‘them’) and examine a case study to help you understand this concept.

    • Summary

      To close this week of the course, you will have the opportunity to reflect on the week and explore the Glossary.

  • Week 2


    • About Week 2

      This week, you will learn what interculturality is. You also explore how cultural resources and artefacts help to shape our identities.

    • Intercultural competence

      In this activity, you will look at the knowledge and skills you need to interact effectively with people from different backgrounds. This is known as intercultural competence.

    • Cultural environments, practices and artefacts

      In this activity, you will explore small cultures. Two case studies help you to analyse cultural environments and develop your understanding of them.

    • How cultural resources shape behaviour

      In this activity, you will examine the idea of cultural resources, which are physical objects (buildings, places, etc) or intangible ideas, practices and behaviours, that people associate with.

    • Summary

      In this final activity, you will review what you have covered on the course before completing the end of course test.

Who is this accredited by?

The CPD Certification Service (corporate member)
The CPD Certification Service (corporate member):

This course is seeking accreditation by the CPD Certification Service. Once approved it can be used to provide evidence of your continuing professional development.

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Develop an understanding of the ideas of culture and interculturality.
  • Describe the different dimensions of cultures and explain the limitations of these definitions.
  • Discuss how othering leads to the development of in and out groups and explore their effect on cultural interactions.
  • Evaluate the range of meanings of the term culture.
  • Investigate a range of intercultural interactions using their understanding of intercultural competence.

Who is the course for?

The course is for anyone with an interest in the concepts of culture and interculturality, you don’t need any previous experience.

This course is also ideal if you are preparing to move to a different country for work or study or you work with groups of people from different cultures to yours. By completing all aspects of the course you will have achieved 14 hours of CPD time.

Who will you learn with?

I am Director of Intercultural Studies in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies at the University of Leeds.

Who developed the course?

University of Leeds

As one of the UK’s largest research-based universities, the University of Leeds is a member of the prestigious Russell Group and a centre of excellence for teaching.

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Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$99/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 12 Feb 2023

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

Sale price available until 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply.

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