Bader International Study Centre


at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.



at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.

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BISC 100/3.0 Thinking Globally

Instructor: Dr. Robert Hyland

Course Description

BISC100/101 is our flagship first year course. Its main aim is to give students all the critical skills and basic thinking frameworks that will allow them to move confidently in the rest of their studies. Interdisciplinarity is its core value. Its ‘Thinking Locally – Acting Globally’ framework reflects the castle’s privileged position: a close-knit community, in idyllic Sussex, next to London, just across the European continent.  

BISC100 is about ‘thinking locally’ and focuses on location, identity and boundaries. Travelling abroad and being in contact with other cultures makes us much more aware of the power of identities in our lives. Questions of identity are at the centre of university study of humanities and social sciences. Consequently, the first part of the course looks at a number of traditional forms of identity and locality, focusing on three different space scales and units: (1) NATIONS, (2) small communities – in particular our CASTLE, and (3) CITIES. The second part looks at those key factors which lead to the separation and the transcending of these spaces and identities: (4) ROUTES, and (5) BORDERS. 

Expected Learning Outcomes

The learning outcomes are attained through: (1) lectures, seminars and guests in the classroom; (2) independent blended learning in each student’s own time and space; and (3) experiential learning off and on campus. By the end of the course students will know: 

  • the key principles and methods of a wide range of disciplines (History, Sociology, Geography, Gender Studies, Film and Media) 
  • how to conduct primary and secondary research, from exploring archives and databases to analysing and understanding their findings 
  • the interdisciplinary way of thinking and learning – something that will allow them to make informed and intelligent choices in the next steps of their studies.
  • how to be citizens, travellers, and students in our contemporary globalised environment with confidence, intelligence and ambition.
Field Studies

We start early in the term with a visit to nearby Brighton, the most famous city on the English south coast. The aim of this trip is to start developing the skills of critical observation. Students are invited to explore the city under their tutors’ guidance, discovering and mapping the multiple identities of the place.

The next trip is to different parts of London, with the aim of analyzing urban space as a reflection of socio-political and cultural trends.

Primary Research Expectations

Primary-Research is at the heart of the BISC 100/1 programme. From the start students will be introduced to an intensive primary research environment, under the close supervision of the teaching team, in small seminar groups. Many parts of the course are explicitly focused on primary research: 

  • the field trips: students are coming in contact with the actual places, actors and objects of their research. 
  • skills sessions: throughout the term there will be parallel sessions dedicated exclusively on research skills, from how to conduct an interview to how to read a city. 
  • an essay and a project: they are both geared towards different types of primary research
  • interviews: students will be asked to interview their peer group on the question of national identities and to analyse their findings.
  • documentary sources: all seminar sessions use primary sources (newspapers, songs, TV programmes) that students are asked to engage critically with.

Because of the small size of our teaching groups, attendance and participation counts for at least 20% of the final mark. The rest of the assessment will take place through a combination of the following:

  • a research essay 
  • a group research project 
  • a reflective skills portfolio 

There are no exams at the end.