Bader International Study Centre


at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.



at Herstmonceux Castle, U.K.

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BISC 101/3.0 Acting Globally

Instructor: Dr. Robert Hyland

Course Description

BISC 100/101 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.  

BISC 101 continues from the ‘thinking locally’ framework of BISC 100, and centres on ‘acting globally’, looking at the centrifugal forces of mobility, exchange and action. In particular its first part focuses on a selection of the most important processes through which localities interact: (1) WARRING, (2) COLONISING, (3) TRADING, and (4) CONNECTING. At the end it asks students to reflect on how they can see themselves (5) LEADING within this wider global scale. 

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

There are two field trips in the course:

  • We start with a visit to Mass Observation – Britain’s largest archive on modern popular opinion and everyday life. We will look at diaries of ‘ordinary’ British people, from the 1930s to today, on a range of topics, from food and music, to foreign affairs and race relations.
  • In the middle of the term we will go to Paris, where student will visit in small groups different neighbourhoods of the French capital, exploring how global identities are constructed and how communities interact.
Primary Research Expectations

Primary-Research is at the heart of BISC 100/101. 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.