IKF301 Intercultural theories

All versions:
IKF301 (2024—2025)
IKF301 (2023—2024)
IKF301 (2022—2023)
IKF301 (2021—2022)
IKF301 (2020—2021)
IKF301 (2019—2020)
IKF301 (2018—2019)
IKF301 (2017—2018)

Course code: IKF301

Course name: Intercultural theories

Semester: Autumn

Location: Bergen

Academic year: 2020–2021

Language: English

Credits: 20 ECTS Credits

Available for course students: No

Required prerequisite knowledge

Admission to the Master of Intercultural Studies program is based upon completed bachelor–s degree/cand. mag. with a minimum of 80 ECTS in Intercultural Studies or equivalent specialization, and with the average grade C or better in this field of study. Admission to this master course IKF301 is based upon completed bachelor's degree/cand. mag. with a minimum of 80 ECTS in Intercultural Studies, in social sciences, cultural studies or religion studies, and with the average grade C or better in this field of study.

Relevance within study programme

Compulsory course in the Master programme of Intercultural studies.


The aim of this course is to present varied but in-depth perspectives on intercultural theories and to provide students with a theoretical tool case applicable in different cultural/regional and occupational contexts.

The course is based on and enhances students´ competences from the bachelor–s studies in Intercultural Studies. The theoretical foundation is in socio-cultural anthropology, religion studies and intercultural communication, and the main focus will be on basic problems and dilemmas in intercultural understanding and cultural theories. The students will improve their knowledge of relevant literature at the research frontier as well as their familiarity with classical texts.

Learning outcomes descriptors


The candidate has

  • thorough knowledge on the theoretical and fundamental research discussion concerning cultural encounters, cultural interpretation, intercultural understanding and representations and on the basic principles, challenges and dilemmas in intercultural analysis and praxises
  • advanced knowledge about a variety of important theories on culture and intercultural communication and current research debates on intercultural communication and interaction

More specifically, this includes:

  • thorough knowledge on questions of cultural relativism and cultural criticism.
  • thorough knowledge on challenges of stereotyping, racism and anti-semitism, xenophobia and fear of cultural differences and diversity (heterophobia), and knowledge of different kinds of tolerance programs and their impacts.
  • thorough knowledge on how identities are articulated in diverse communities and societies and knowledge of conditions for inclusion and exclusion, identity formation, identity politics and stereotypes, differentiation and recognition.
  • thorough knowledge on the Human Development and Capability Approach (HDCA), different perspectives on glocalisation, and the interplay between people and their social and psychical environment, the quality of life and subjective well-being. This also includes how to deal with cultural change and natural, climatic and demographic challenges.
  • knowledge of intercultural challenges in development cooperation and North-South relations
  • thorough knowledge on how different worldviews and religion set conditions for everyday life, rituals and new forms of interactions.
  • insights into how trust, belonging and support of key societal values are created, sustained and changed in culturally diverse societies.
  • insights into the significance of language for thought and world views
  • insights into the role worldviews and religion can play in identity, belonging and value formation, conflicts and peace making.
  • knowledge about current research on new forms of interfaith engagement, the impact of religious diversity in civic life, and ability to contextualise these findings within a global framework.


The candidate

  • can assess and apply a variety of intercultural theories and to make valid theoretical choices to analyse intercultural situations and different cultural contexts.
  • can analyse barriers and obstacles to intercultural dialogue and inclusive participation.
  • can analyse fundamental principles, problems and dilemmas in intercultural theory and praxises.
  • can analyse ethical dilemmas related to justice and inclusion vs inequality and difference, power and violence vs disempowerment and silence.
  • is able to acknowledge and tolerate  plurality through being able to value diversity and express a differentiated, well-grounded ethical stand in dialogue and debate.

General competence

  • Students can use and communicate knowledge on intercultural theories, current research discussions on intercultural communication and interaction, and show ethical awareness, cultural sensitivity and consciously search for human commonalities across cultural differences.


The course will examine the elements that affect communication and interaction across world view boundaries. During the course, students will investigate those effects in different contexts such as conflict development, intercultural mediating, inclusion and diversity management. The course participants will discuss challenges of social justice and cultural recognition, intercultural dialogue, reconciliation and tolerance education with human rights as a point of departure. The course also give insights into a variety of perspectives on inter-ethnic and inter-religious interaction, cultural pluralism, worldviews, social differentiation and power.

Teaching and learning methods

Several forms of teaching will be employed, including lectures, seminars and workshops with opportunities to train oral presentation and communicative skills. The combination of teaching, seminars and assessments during course are aimed at assisting the student–s acquisition of the various theories and train them in how theories may be applied to analyze intercultural cases and suggest solutions to intercultural challenges or dilemmas. The compulsory work requirements are also designed to train the student–s skills in group-cooperation and prepare the students for the final assessment.


600 workhours

Coursework requirements

Each student has to:

  • Participate in at least three theoretical seminars
    • Present a central intercultural theory in a theory seminar, and participate actively in the group discussion. The presentation is assessed to approved / notapproved
  • Participate in at least three case-seminars
    • Write three short reflexive logs, one for each case-seminar, where he/she describes and evaluates what he/she learned about the theme, the work-method, the group-dynamic and his/her own role and contribution in the group.
    • One of the above mentionedreflexive logs has to be handed in for evaluation
  • Oral group exercise  with three days preparation. The students are set in groups of 2 or 3, and are given three days to prepare an analysis and proposed solution on an intercultural case provided by the teacher. After the three days of preparation, the group presents their case, their analysis and proposed solution, followed by a reflective discussion with the teacher(s) and co-students

Grading, coursework requirements

Approved / Not approved

Final assessment

  • Individual paper. The student has to write an academic text on a given topic.

The length of the assignment shall be approx. 4000 words.+/- 4000 words.

Permitted aids under examination

All aids permitted.

Grading, examination

The assignment will be graded according to the normal ECTS grading scale from A to F, in which E or better is necessary in order to pass.

Assessment language

Scandinavian or English



Course evaluation

Annually course evaluation in accordance with the quality assurance system for NLA University College. Students may also give their feedback on the course in the student group/ in class.

Available for Course Students



Syllabus approx. 1500 pages. 

NOTE: Books to be purchased or borrowed are marked in bold. Articles that can be accessed on the internet have e-references. The remaining curriculum can be accessed in the BOLK-compendium available in its learning.

Abu-Lughod, L. (2013): Do Muslim women need saving?  Harvard University Press. (228p)

Banting, K. and W. Kymlicka (2003): Multiculturalism and welfare. In Dissent. Fall 2003: 59-66. (7p)

Bauman, Z. (2003): From bystander to actor. Journal of Human Rights, 01 June 2003, Vol.2(2), p.137-151. (16p)

Bourdieu, Pierre (1989): Social Space and Symbolic Power. In Sociological Theory, Vol. 7, No. 1, pp. 14-25 (11p)

Brah, A. (2000): Difference, diversity, differentiation. Race and racism. In L. Back and J. Solomos (eds): Theories of race and racism. A reader.  Oxford-New York, Routledge, 503-518. (15p)

Buber, M. and R. G. Smith (2004): I and thou. (transl. R. G: Smith). London, Continuum. (90p)

Chambers, I. (1996): Signs of silence, lines of listening. In I. Chambers and L. Curti (eds): The post-colonial question: common skies, divided horizons. London- New York, Routledge:47-62. (15p)

Clarke, K. (2006): Emerging cultural diversity in the Nordic Welfare State. In N. Aalto and E. Reuter (eds): Aspects of Intercultural dialogues. Theory, research, applications. Køln, Saxa verlag:121-129. (9p)

Comaroff, J. and J. Comaroff (2009):Ethnicity, INC. Chicago - London, The University of Chicago Press. Ch. 1, 2,3 6 and 7. (92p)

D–Andrade, R.G. (1984): Cultural Meaning Systems. In R.A. Shweder & R. A. Levine: Culture Theory. Essays on Mind, Self, and Emotion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 88-119 (31p)

Ferguson, J. (2006): Global Shadows. Africa in the Neoliberal World Order. Durham and London, Duke University Press. Introduction (1-23), ch. 7 and 8 (176-210). (57p)

Fricker, M. 2007. Epistemic Injustice: Power and the Ethics of Knowing. London, Oxford University press. Utvalg (85p)

Gullestad, M. (2007) Picturing pity: Pitfalls and Pleasures in Cross-Cultural Communication: Image and Words in a North Cameroon Mission. New York, Berghahn; 1-33. (34p)

Hall, B. J. (2005):Among Cultures. The Challenge of Communication. 2. ed. Ch.3, 5,6, 7, 8, 9, 11 (63-97, 129-298, 329-366)(261p)

Hall, S. (1994): Identity and Diaspora. In P. Williams and L. Chrisman: Colonial discourse and post-colonial theory. A reader. Harlow, Pearson Education Limited; 392-403 (11p)

Hamelink, C. (2008): "On being critical", in Communication, Culture and Critique no 1, 2008;3-7. (5p)

Holma, K. (2011): The Epistemological Conditions of Moral Education: The Notions of Rationality and Objectivity Revisited. In Educational theory vol. 61, no 5; 533-548. (15p)

Hughey, M. (2010): The (dis)similarities of white racial identities: the conceptual framework of –hegemonic whiteness. In Ethnic and Racial Studies vol. 33 no. 8; 1289-1309 (20)

Kinnier, R.T., A. L. Dixon, T. M. Baretti and E. L. Moyer (2008): Should universalism trump cultural relativism in counceling? In Counceling and values. January 2008, vol 52; 113-124. (11p)

Kymlicka, W (2003): Immigration, citizenship, multiculturalism; Exploring the links. In The Political Quarterly vol.74; 195-208. (14p)  

Melkote, S. R.  and H. L. Steeves (2015): Ch. 1 Development, Communication, Empowerment and Social Justice in the Globalization Epoch, p. 3-36, Ch. 5 Deconstructing the Dominant Development Paradigm, p. 181-236. In Communication for Development. Theory and Practice of Empowerment and Social Justice. 3 ed. New Delhi: Sage publications (88p)

Moore, H. L. (1994): A passion for difference. Cambridge, Polity Press. Ch. 3, (49-70). (22p)

Moschel, M. (2009): Race in Mainland European Legal Analysis: Towards a European Critical Race Theory. In Ethnic and Racial Studies Vol. 34 No. 10 pp. 1648-1664 (16p)

Piller, I. (2011):Intercultural communication. A critical introduction. Edinbourgh University Press (179p)

Robbins, J. (2004): The Globalization of Pentecostal and Charismatic Christianity. In Annual Review of Anthropology 33:117-143 (26p)

Robeyns, I (2009): Equality and justice. In S. Deneulin and L. Shahai: Introduction to Human development and capability approach. Freedom and agency. London, Earthscan; 101-116. (15p)

Robinson, J. Witenberg, R. And Sanson, A. (2001): The socialization of tolerance. In M. Augoustinos and K. J. Reynolds (eds) Understanding prejudice, racism and social conflict. Thousand Oaks - London, Sage: 73-88 (15p)

Rytter, M. (2010): In-Laws and Out-Laws: Black Magic among Pakistani Migrants in Denmark. In Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (N.S.) 16:46-63 (17p)

Scheff, T.J.: A Concept of Social Integration. In Philosophical Psychology Vol. 20, No. 5, October 2007, pp. 579-593 (14p).

Sclack, A. (2009): The Role of Religion in Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation. Frankfurt: VDM Verlag. (76p)

Scott, J.W. (1986): Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis. In The American Historical Review, Vol. 91, No. 5, pp. 1053-1075 (22p)

Spivak, G. C.(1994): Can the subaltern speak? In P. Williams and L. Chrisman: Colonial discourse and post-colonial theory. A reader. Harlow, Pearson Education Limited: 66-111. (45p)

Sullivan, W. M: and W. Kymlicka (2007): The globalization of ethics. New York, Cambridge University Press. Ch. 1, 11 and two optional chapters.  (75p)

Todorov, T. (2000): Race and racism. in: L. Back and J. Solomos (eds): Theories of race and racism. A reader.  Oxford-New York, Routledge; 68-74. (6p)

Tuastad, D. (2003) Neo-orientalism and the new barbarism thesis: aspects of symbolic violence in the Middle East conflict(s): Third World Quarterly; 591-600.  (9p)

Ulin, R. C. (2007) Revisiting cultural relativism: Old prospects for a new cultural critique. In Anthropological Quarterly 80 (3); 803-820. (17p)