• University of Leeds

Introduction to Intercultural Studies: Intercultural Contact

Learn how the principles of intercultural contact may challenge the way in which you think about social interaction.

6,122 enrolled on this course

Introduction to Intercultural Studies: Intercultural Contact

On this course you will examine the idea of intercultural contact and the effects of cultural interactions from historical and global perspectives. Through videos and articles, you will discover how intercultural contact is experienced in our everyday lives, and learn about the ways in which people develop intercultural competence.

As the course progresses, you’ll consider terms such as ‘globalisation’ and ‘acculturation’, explore the relationship between nationality and culture, and compare different experiences of returning ‘home’ following periods of absence.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 7 seconds The course is about intercultural contact. And we can consider intercultural contact by thinking of examples in history, from people travelling along the Silk Road to the spread of empire. But in this course we’ll look at more everyday examples of how people experience intercultural contact and how they conceptualise this term as well. My name is Haynes Collins, and I am the director of Intercultural Studies at the University of Leeds in the School of Language, Cultures, and Societies.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 seconds One of the aims of this course is to problematise the notion of moving from one solid bounded culture to another. However, as people make transitions and as people move through different spaces, they do encounter differences that they consider significant. I think if we maintain a very open but critical attitude of the things that we encounter, then that can be a factor in helping us to understand more fully the kind of social interaction that we engage with on a daily basis.

Skip to 1 minute and 14 seconds In order to avoid preconceptions, we have to be really careful with the assumptions that we make about people. And I think on an everyday basis, there’s a danger that people make assumptions based on things like the clothes that somebody wears, it might be the age of someone. So if we can avoid making these assumptions and be more open to seeing the multifaceted identity that everyone has, and this is a much more helpful approach.

Skip to 1 minute and 41 seconds I hope that everybody will find this course useful. There are some obvious groups that, I think, come to mind when thinking about the course– students that are getting ready to go abroad, or students that are coming to a new country to study. It could be businesspeople as well, but I would also hope that the course is useful for people who are trying to understand the complexity of a very rapidly changing world. Sign up now for Intercultural Studies, Intercultural Contact.


  • Week 1

    Approaching intercultural contact

    • Welcome

      Welcome to Introduction to Intercultural Studies: Intercultural Contact. This course explores the effects of cultural interactions from both historical and global perspectives.

    • Intercultural contact

      In this activity, you will explore intercultural contact over time. You will be introduced to models that attempt to describe what happens when cultures interact.

    • Intercultural competence

      In this activity, you explore ‘intercultural competence’ – the ability to interact effectively across cultures. You will consider the ‘KASA’ model, which suggests attributes needed to develop intercultural competence.

    • Analysing intercultural contact

      In this activity, you look at how to use key moments of intercultural contact to analyse cultural interaction. This includes contact that causes discomfort or embarrassment – so called ‘critical incidents’ and ‘rich points’.

    • Summary

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

  • Week 2

    Reflecting on intercultural contact

    • About Week 2

      This week you reflect on different experiences of interactions between cultures, and learn about the study of people in their cultural environments, which is known as ethnography.

    • Return journeys – coming home?

      In this activity, you look at the problems of returning home after spending time abroad.

    • Finding common ground

      In this activity, you look at what helps and hinders successful intercultural contact. This includes exploring cultural blocks and threads that affect social interaction, and how preconceptions and assumptions can divide us.

    • Ethnographic study

      In this activity, you look at what ethnography is and how to conduct an ethnographic study. You also have the chance to practise these skills.

    • Summary

      In this final activity, you will review what you learned on the course before completing your end of course assessment.

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 learn at your own pace. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

  • Available now

What will you achieve?

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

  • Explore intercultural contact from historical and global perspectives.
  • Investigate the ways in which people develop intercultural competence using the KASA model.
  • Compare different experiences of returning to “home” cultures following periods of absence.
  • Assess the usefulness of Holliday’s notion of blocks and threads to evaluate intercultural contact.
  • Explain how ethnographic study supports the investigation of cultural environments.
  • Investigate an example of intercultural contact using the ideas of critical incidents and rich points.
  • Describe two different models to explain how the process of adapting to a new culture works.
  • Use key concepts of homophily, in and out groups, othering and race to explain how connections and divisions are formed between cultures.

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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