This course is only available for students in the BA International Studies programme.
The number of participants is limited to 24.
Please note that passing a Thematic Seminar (10 EC) in the second year, second semester, is an entry requirement for starting your thesis in academic year 2023-2024. You need to have passed a minimum of 100 EC of year 1 and 2 of the International Studies programme as well in order to start your thesis.
It is the 2nd of February 2004, the day after the Superbowl, and you pick up an American paper. “Justin Timberlake tears off part of Janet Jackson’s bodice!”, says the headline. Does reading this kind of coverage of the event lead you to believe that Justin Timerblake is responsible for the famous ‘wardrobe malfunction’ that occurred during the controversial half time act of this sporting event? Does it make you think he should receive a hefty fine? According to linguistic research (Fausey and Boroditsky 2010), the answer to these questions is yes. You are more inclined to consider Justin Timberlake to be the perpetrator if you read a description of the event that uses agentive language (identifying Justin Timerblake as the agent, as in the example above) than when non-agentive language is used (“Part of Janet Jackson’s bodice was torn off!”), even if you have already thought about your position on the issue before you read the description.
In this course, we will take a closer look at phenomena like this in order to better understand how language influences people’s perception of the world. In the first part of the course, we will look at the interrelationships between language and thought in a general sense: how does the acquisition of language influence development? Do people who do not share the same mother tongue differ in their perception of the world? And how does the acquisition of more than one language influence thought? The second part of the course will look at how language might be used to engender changes in thought and behaviour. In this light, we will look closer at phenomena such as linguistic framing effects, politically correct language, euphemisms and propaganda. This section will also look at how narratives can be used to change people’s beliefs, attitudes and behaviour. In the final part of the course, you will form small groups with other students to conduct your own small-scale research on how language influences us, thereby providing you with some hands-on experimental research experience.
The Thematic Seminars for International Studies are designed to teach students how to deal with state-of-the-art literature and research questions. They are chosen to enhance the students’ learning experience by building on the multidisciplinary perspectives they have developed so far, and to introduce them to the art of academic research. They are characterised by an international or comparative approach.
Academic skills that are trained include:
Oral and written presentation skills:
1. To explain clear and substantiated research results.
2. To provide an answer to questions concerning (a subject) in the field covered by the course:
in the form of a clear and well-structured oral presentation;
in agreement with the appropriate disciplinary criteria;
using up-to-date presentation techniques;
using relevant illustration or multimedia techniques;
aimed at a specific audience.
3. To actively participate in a discussion
1. To provide and receive constructive criticism, and incorporate justified criticism by revising one’s own position.
2. To adhere to agreed schedules and priorities.
Basic research skills, including heuristic skills:
1. To collect and select academic literature using traditional and digital methods and techniques.
2. To analyse and assess this literature with regard to quality and reliability.
3. To formulate on this basis a sound research question.
4. To design under supervision a research plan of limited scope, and implement it using the methods and techniques that are appropriate within the discipline involved.
5. To formulate a substantiated conclusion.
The timetables are available through My Timetable.
Mode of instruction
Seminars are held every week, with the exception of the Midterm Exam week. This includes supervised research.
Assessment and Weighing
|Oral presentation (group)||20%|
|Final Research Essay - 5,000 words (between 4,500 and 5,500)||50%|
To successfully complete the course, please take note that the End Grade of the course is established by determining the weighted average of all assessment components.
Students who score an overall insufficient grade for the course, are allowed resubmit a reworked version of the Final Essay. The deadline for resubmission is 10 working days after receiving the grade for the Final Research Essay and subsequent feedback.
In case of resubmission of the Final Research Essay the final grade for the Essay will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Students who fail to hand in their final essay on or before the original deadline, but still within 5 working days of that deadline, will receive a grade and feedback on their essay. This will be considered a first submission of the final essay, however, the grade will be lowered as a consequence of the longer process of completion.
Students who fail to hand in their final essay on or before the original deadline, and also fail to hand in their essay within 5 working days of that deadline, get 10 working days, counting from the original deadline, to hand in the first version of their final essay. However, this first version counts as a resubmitted essay with consequential lowering of the grade, and there will be no option of handing in a reworked version based on feedback from the lecturer.
Retaking a passing grade
Retaking a passing grade is not possible for this course.
Please consult the Course and Examination Regulations 2022 – 2023.
Exam review and feedback
How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organised.
All reading material will be made available via the course Brightspace page. It will not be necessary to purchase any reading material for this course.
Additionally, the students will work through:
W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, fourth edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2016, or;
W.C. Booth et al., The Craft of Research, third edition, Chicago/London: University of Chicago Press, 2008.
Registration occurs via survey only. Registration opens 16 December 2022:
- On 16 December 2022 you will receive a message with a link to the survey.
- Indicate there which are your 5 preferred Thematic Seminars, in order of preference.
- Based on preferences indicated by 2 January 2023 the course Coordinator will assign you to one specific Thematic Seminar by 23 January 2023.
- Students will then be enrolled for the specific groups by the Administration Office.
Students cannot register in uSis for the Thematic Seminar courses, or be allowed into a Thematic Seminar course in any other way.
For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.
For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Student Affairs Office for BA International Studies
The deadline for submission of the Final Essay is Friday 9 June 2023.