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Introduction to Belgian Society and Politics

Introduction to Belgian Society and Politics

6 ECTS credits
150 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 1020438AER for all students in the 2nd semester at a (A) Bachelor - preliminary level.

Information about this course is applicable on academic year 2017-2018.

2nd semester
Enrollment based on exam contract
Grading method

Grading (scale from 0 to 20)

Can retake in second session
Taught in
Partnership agreement
  • Under interuniversity agreement for degree program
Faculty of Economic & Social Sciences & Solvay BS
Political Science
Educational Team:
Activities and contact hours
  • 39 contact hours Lecture
Course content

This interdisciplinary course will focus on the political, social and economic past and present of Belgium, thus providing students in the domain of the social sciences with a fascinating case which exemplarily illuminates the extent of current challenges faced by the member-states as well as by the EU itself.
It will explain how Belgium's history is defined by the presence of three cleavages: that between Catholics and non-Catholics, between labour and capital and between Dutch-speakers and French-speakers. It will also discuss how these cleavages were pacified by consociational traditions and institutions and on the strong pillarization that was the result of this.
An important focus will be on the Belgian federal system: its complex institutional architecture combining two types of federated entities on the same territory, its system of linguistic territoriality, its division of competences and its political decision making procedures. It will also give a historical overview of the federalization process and the most important conflicts surrounding Belgium's linguistic diversity.
A historical overview of the construction of national identities in Belgium will also be offered, detailing construction and representations of Belgian, Flemish, Walloon, francophone and Brussels identities from 1830 till present, as well as their political and social meaning.

Course material
  • Course text (Required): Introduction to Belgian Society and Politics
Additional info


Programme Objectives

General Competences

LO2: is familiar with the historical developments that have occurred in the fields of sociology, political sciences and communication sciences over time.
LO3: recognises the cross-sections, the intersections and the cross-fertilisations that are noticeable amongst the different social sciences.
LO5: knows the historical, political, juridical and socio-economic structures that shape the activities and define the agency of the European political institutions, private and public social organisations and media-organisations.
LO11: has an investigative, problem-oriented and critical attitude towards social, political and media-related phenomena and scientific research results with regard thereof.
LO12: recognises the multilayered and complex character of social, political and media- related facts and phenomena.

Students will gain insight in the complex Belgian history and the cleavages that determined Belgium’s political, social and economic past. The focus on the federal system and the federalization process as well as an overview of national identities in Belgium will further enhance students’ knowledge of Belgium and its complex reality.


The final grade is composed based on the following categories:

  • Written Exam determines 100% of the final mark.

Within the Written Exam category, the following assignments need to be completed:

Written Exam with a relative weight of 100 which comprises 100% of the final mark.

Additional info with regard to grading

Formative evaluation:

1. Interactive lectures with group discussions: enable the lecturer to draw an interim evaluation of student comprehension.
2. Audiovisually supported lectures: the audiovisual display of topics increases the intelligibility of the course content, allows the lecturer to ask specific question in order to test course comprehension. When possible, the uses of the digital learning environment to stimulate student self-study of course content.

Summative evaluation:

Written examination in which factual knowledge, analytical skills and critical analysis skills will be tested.