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EXC 9401 Business Communication - Culture and Ethics

EXC 9401 Business Communication - Culture and Ethics

Course code: 
EXC 9401
Communication and Culture
Course coordinator: 
Maria Norenberg
Course name in Norwegian: 
Business Communication - Culture and Ethics
Product category: 
Bachelor - Common Courses
2024 Autumn
Active status: 
Level of study: 
Teaching language: 
Course type: 
One semester

The course is a pilot at BI Bergen in the autumn of 2024 with compressed delivery over 3 - 4 weeks, with learning activities every day. There will be more and longer lecture sessions per week than usual, and the course will be completed in a shorter time. The number of hours of lectures, syllabus and exam format is identical to EXC 3401, i.e. 100% overlap between the courses.

This course is relevant for people who plan to do business in an international and/or multi-cultural context and who would like more insight into the ethics of business.

Learning outcomes - Knowledge
  1. Intercultural awareness. Students will acquire knowledge of a broad portfolio of theoretical ideas within the field of intercultural awareness. These are presented in detail in the required reading list (see below). Using these ideas and through a process of self-reflection, students are expected to acquire an awareness of how cultural patterns of thinking can influence one’s experience of a given, business situation. Students are also expected to acquire a critical awareness of the scientific challenges in the field of intercultural awareness. 
  2. Ethical awareness. Students will acquire knowledge of a small number of ethical ideas which provide alternative approaches to making decisions on ethical as opposed to self-interested grounds. Students will acquire some understanding of stakeholder theory and the identification of stakeholders. More detail of these ideas can be found in the required reading list (see below). 
Learning outcomes - Skills
  1. Intercultural awareness. Students will be able to apply intercultural theories to specific communicative situations. They will identify evidence in the communicative situation that supports the relevance of a particular theoretical idea. Further, they will combine evidence with theory to make plausible interpretations of what participants may be thinking. 
  2. Ethical awareness. Students will apply ethical theory to practical business situations and challenges which require more complicated decision-making criteria than that of simple self-interest. Key skills are the identification of the most relevant stakeholders to the decision-making process and the ability to systematise, explore, and present the likely consequences of a proposed course of action. 
  3. Writing business English. Students will be able to use various electronic tools to aid them in the task of producing English text of a sufficient quality of accuracy and formality that it communicates meaning effectively to a reader. Students will practise writing in the following formats: (1) essays, (2) a short business report, (3) a business letter, and (4) a formal business email. For further information about the level of skill in writing English, students are referred to the EXC 3401 examination general grading guidelines.
General Competence

Students will be able to demonstrate an ability to work scientifically, distinguishing between categories of knowledge such as theory, empirical knowledge, classifications of (cultural) behaviour, culture as patterns of thinking, and interpretation. Consistent with the limitations of this branch of science, students should be able to demonstrate a cautious attitude to their own interpretive processes, both in the application of intercultural and ethical theories.

Course content

1. Intercultural Communication

The syllabus materials present students with a portfolio of theoretical ideas within the field of intercultural awareness which are presented in detail in the required reading list (see below). The supplementary reading list (see below) provides students with an opportunity to acquire an awareness of the limitations of interpretive science.  

2. Ethical awareness

The syllabus materials (details below) will present students with a selection of ethical decision-making tools. Students are expected to learn these ideas and to then practise using them in business situations in which simple economic models of utility maximization are not sufficient.

Teaching and learning activities

The course has no formal requirements in order to take the exam.

The course provides a variety of different learning opportunities to help students make progress in their learning journey. Students should acquire an overview of the learning opportunities available at the start of the course. They will then be able to plan which of these resources they wish to use.

One of the most important factors in supporting student learning is being able to give students timely feedback on their attempts to learn. In addition to lectures, there will be workshops every week, in which the students are expected to apply theory to business practice. Feedback is provided directly in workshops. However, for students learning in their own time there is also a digital guide - normally a video – on how to solve the task. 

In addition to these tasks, the course has three voluntary writing assignments. One of the assignments is a full trial exam which is offered during the latter stages of the course and which students can complete on their own.

Software tools

The exam (see details below) is a digital, home exam and students submit their written, English examination script in pdf format through the BI exam portal. Reflecting their future working situation, students are expected to learn how to take advantage of software tools that can help them improve the accuracy and quality of the written English they submit to examiners. Tools such as Google translate and the functions in Microsoft Word help students to choose vocabulary and identify mistakes in their texts. Examiners will expect students to make use of these tools and will, for example, be critical of simple spelling mistakes.

Software tools
Software defined under the section "Teaching and learning activities".
Additional information
  • The examiners have a set of general grading guidelines for the exam. These will be made available for the students when the course starts.
  • The course has compressed delivery (very intensively) over 3 - 4 weeks and ends with an exam shortly after the last lecture.

Re-sit exam

Students who do not pass the written exam, or wish to improve their grade, are offered a re-sit exam in spring 2025 and last time autumn 2025.

After autumn 2025 students who do not pass the written exam need to attend the course EXC 3401. This means they have to retake the entire course.

Required prerequisite knowledge

English from upper secondary school or equivalent.

Exam category: 
Form of assessment: 
Submission PDF
Exam/hand-in semester: 
First Semester
8 Hour(s)
The exam takes place on a single day at the end of the teaching course. Students are free to take the exam from anywhere they wish to be on that day. At a pre-arranged time decided by the BI exam office, the exam paper is made available to all students electronically through BI’s exam system. Students write their answers on a PC. Students must prepare their scripts according to the standard BI guidelines for digital submission. These can be found at: Students must limit the number of words in their scripts to the amount stipulated by the examiners in the question. Students are required to submit their written exam script in pdf format within the 8-hour deadline set by the BI exam office.
Exam code: 
EXC 94011
Grading scale: 
Examination every semester
Type of Assessment: 
Ordinary examination
Total weight: 
Student workload
26 Hour(s)
Ordinary classes
Feedback activities and counselling
26 Hour(s)
Problem solving with professional support in class
Prepare for teaching
40 Hour(s)
Writing assignments & checklist assessment
Group work / Assignments
35 Hour(s)
Writing assignments & checklist assessment
Student's own work with learning resources
65 Hour(s)
Contextualization of feedback
8 Hour(s)
Contextualization of feedback
Sum workload: 

A course of 1 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of 26-30 hours. Therefore a course of 7,5 ECTS credit corresponds to a workload of at least 200 hours.