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Seminar Current Issues I

Seminar Current Issues I

6 ECTS credits
150 h study time

Offer 1 with catalog number 1020442ANR 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
Communication Sciences
Educational Team:
Course content

In this seminar, factual knowledge treated in the introductory courses of sociology, political sciences and communication sciences as well as insights and skills acquired in the methodological courses, will be integrated. The seminar entails a multi-disciplinary component, which will be rendered visible for the student through the exploration of one current issue related to the European Society from the point of view of three academic fields, namely, a sociological, a political and a communication science perspective. This seminar aims to develop the ‘multi-disciplinary awareness’ of students when studying contemporary European societal challenges. It emphasizes the uniqueness of each academic discipline, addressing societal issues through the perspective of each academic field separately.

More specifically, in this seminar we will, every academic year, select a specific overarching theme closely linked to current challenges faced by the European Union, which touches upon the three domains of social sciences. The selected topic will serve as the point of departure for the whole course and for a series of written and oral exercises / assignments. In the academic year 2016-2017 the central overarching theme concerns the Brexit. Appearing to be a fundamental contemporary challenge to the project of European integration, this current issue is rife with complexity to say the least. The general theme of Brexit allows articulating a set of interlinked topics via fields of tension, prone to various angles of investigation, theoretical frameworks and methodological approaches from political sciences, sociology and communication studies perspectives.

The general topic and practicalities regarding this seminar will be outlined in the first week, after which three blocks will follow a similar structure, and approach the topic from a political science, sociology and communication science point of view respectively.

In each block, each student will:

  • attend introductory lectures, as well as one guest lecture, on how within each discipline the topic is/could be tackled and analysed;
  • read and prepare theoretical and empirical academic articles and/or book chapters that are discussed among students in seminars;
  • prepare and hand in a written assignment (e.g., an academic essay) on a subtopic of Brexit from a political sciences, sociology, and communication sciences perspective respectively.

In the final phase of the seminar, a number of students work together in group to reflect upon how from a multidisciplinary perspective a specifically defined topic and research question related to the seminar’s overarching issue can be addressed, including on what the strengths and weaknesses of each discipline are, as well as their differences and points of contact in terms of both theory and methodology.

Course material
  • Digital course material (Required): Powerpoint slides to accompany the introductions of concepts and debates
  • Practical course material (Required): Text material to support lecture content, provide examples and illustrations of presented content, and initiate debate among the students
Additional info

Presence of the students is required in case of a guest lecture and during the debate seminars.

Programme Objectives

General Competences

This course contributes to the following learning outcomes of the Bachelor of Sciences in Sociale Sciences, as a student ater following this course

LO3: recognises the cross-sections, the intersections and the cross-fertilisations that are noticeable amongst the different social sciences.

LO4: is able to apply social theories and concepts on a well-delineated, socially and scientifically relevant research topic that relates to the European Union or other (international) institutions.

LO6: can formulate a valid scientific research question on a topic that relates to the social sciences.

LO7: can identify, gather and critically process the relevant sources and literature on a specific social sciences research topic.

LO8: knows how to set up a scientific and methodologically correct research design.

LO9: possesses the methodological knowledge and skills of data selection and data processing that prevail within the domains of the social sciences.

LO10: masters the techniques of good and accurate research reporting in oral and written form.

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.

LO16: prioritises scientific integrity and honesty in his or her scientific research activities.

LO18: has awareness of the social role and function of social scientists.

LO19: has knowledge of and insight into the main institutions, actors and processes of decision-making and policy-making of the European Union.

Setting out from the overarching theme, through collective introductory sessions with the lecturer and the assistants, the students will be informed of the most important authors, theories and concepts prevalent in sociology, political sciences and communications sciences on the topic.

  • Students will be able to identify the methods used in the empirical papers/materials, what the advantages and disadvantages are and how methods complement each other.
  • Students will be taught collectively and individually on how to conceptualize key terms and how to read and evaluate valuable scientific literature and empirical data. They will also learn how to define a small research question from the insights provided by the exploratory reading phase, how to gather and process scientific data and how to report the results in a written and oral form.
  • With regard to scientific attitude, the student is challenged to critically investigate and problematize current issues in the European context in the concrete field of political science, sociology and communication sciences.

The final grade is composed based on the following categories:

  • Practical Exam determines 70% of the final mark.
  • Other Exam determines 30% of the final mark.

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

Practical Exam with a relative weight of 70 which comprises 70% of the final mark.

Note: The following assignments need to be completed:
- Individual written assignments per disciplinary block (45% of the final mark),
- Integrated group paper (25% of the final mark).

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

Other Exam with a relative weight of 30 which comprises 30% of the final mark.

Note: The following assignments need to be completed:
- Reading notes and preparation of guest lectures (15% of the final mark),
- Presentation on integrated paper (15% of the final mark).

Additional info with regard to grading

In case a student fails this seminar in the first session, each element that has been graded and for which the student failed needs to be redone individually. The procedure will be outlined in the Seminar’s outline document that is distributed on Pointcarré during the second semester.