What is the English-taught semester on Migration and Refugees?

The English-taught semester on Migration and Refugees takes place in autumn as a block course with a wide range of modules. The modules include lectures, field trips, group works, testimonies of experts from the field and contact with people displaced due to conflict, war and persecution.

Our Social Work Programme affords you access to large network of NGO’s and government departments, so you can be in contact with experts from different fields. This is also helpful if you are interested in voluntary work as an international student of Howest.

As an international student in our Social Work Programme, you will notice how we value cooperation through strong communication structures. We will do our utmost to promote positive learning environments that foster sharing and understanding of different realities to improve the lives of people migrating throughout Europe.

Through this programme you will deepen your knowledge and competences in interactions with people by enhancing your understanding of the methods and approaches used in practice.

The English-taught semester on migration and refugees is available for exchange and non-exchange students - postgraduate applicants.

You wish to combine this semester with more practise experience? Then definitely enquire about our one-year “Migration & Refugees IN ACTION” programme and combine your international semester with a three month placement during spring time!

This English-taught semester is organised by our Bachelor of Social Work (SW).

This programme is only available in English!

Studenten aan de slag in marketing en communicatie.
What makes this semester unique?

The Social Work Faculty’s international semester is designed for bachelor students in humanities.

We welcome expressions of interest from students keen to engage in core themes of migration embedded within the human rights framework and rights-based approaches. Are you keen to learn about migration - about what drives people to move across the world? For example, twenty-first-century transportation and communication technologies make mobility easier but this also means some uncertainly regarding the social transformations produced by vulnerable people moving from one geographical location to another. When people are in situations of vulnerability this can result in human rights violations.

This block study programme focuses on Belgian and European legislation by contrasting the developments and responses, to the opportunities and challenges, connected with migration today.


Minimum 2 successfully completed semesters or an equivalent of 60 ECTS in a Bachelor of Social Work, Applied Psychology, Social Cultural Work, HR, Orthopedagogics, Youth Work, Social Pedagogy. This will need to be confirmed by means of an official certificate, a survey of completed courses, or a signed letter from the sending university.

Click here for Howest language expectations.


All Howest and exchange students

All Howest and exchange students should bring their own laptop, with all necessary and officially licensed software. The course overview above mentions the specific software (if any) necessary for the course unit. Howest applies a very strict policy on the use of legal software.


Non-exchange students

Non-exchange students can only attend the international semester as a Postgraduate Certificate course and need to have completed at least a full Bachelor degree programme in the field of Social Work or Humanities (Psychology, Pedagogy, Sociology, Education, …) – and/or a proof of experience via reference as a volunteer, in youth work, … - at the time they start the international semester course at Howest.

Course overview

Cultural and socio-economic introduction to Belgium (3ECTS)

In this module you will learn about Belgian and Flemish politics, culture and socio-economic data, all in comparison to the socioeconomic data of your home country. This module includes a survival course Dutch and visits to several important Belgian cities.

Intercultural learning and identity (3ECTS)

Working with Refugees and Migrants means working with people with another cultural background. Social Workers need to be aware of their own cultural identity to be able to overcome the differences. In this Module we will see frameworks to understand group cultures, especially their values and standards. As every human is unique and can make choices in their life, we’ll focus also on personal cultural identity. We will use Non Formal Education methods to work on issues such as stereotypes, prejudices and discrimination. We will work in interaction with migratns, refugees and Belgian students.

Global Social Work (3ECTS)

The international semester is developed based upon the Social Work program. A clear framework and vision of Social Work is necessary to be able to work within the Migration domain. Basing ourselves on the universal human rights and the global definition of Social Work, we will approach migration from an ethically point of view.

Integration in different fields (6ECTS)

Introduction of the history and demography of migration in the Europe and worldwide . We will present an overview of integration projects in Flanders in the form of case studies. We will also conduct several field visits in multiple domains (housing, employment, culture, sport, youth, education, …). The result of this module will be comparative learning by analysing the situation in your own country and comparing it with the Flemish situation and other European countries.

Project Work (6ECTS)

This module contains experience-based learning. We will organize a placement for you (eventually in pairs) in an organization that works with migrants or refugees.

International & national policy and (legal) frame work (3ECTS)

In this module we will discuss the vision of international policies, treaties and institutions at European and global level. 
The legal policy and human rights for migrants in the Flanders and within Europe will form the basis of discussions in the work field.

Cultural Frameworks in Health (3ECTS)

This module is organised together with our “Applied Heath Sciences” program and includes an introduction into health literacy. Together with Belgian students you will learn how to expand your cultural references. We will focus on cultural patterns in Health and Intercultural communication and disturbances, both in theory and practice (through organisational visits, guest speakers and case studies).  You will also learn about Health Promotion with people with a migration background.

Psychological aspects of migration (3ECTS)

In this module we will explore the impact of migration on the mental health of people. We will learn about trauma with the aim to understand the psychological impact of the painful experiences of refugees. We explore techniques used in the psychological counselling of children, adolescents and adults who have migrated to the Flanders.

English for Exchange Students (3ECTS)

This English course provides exchange students with training in speaking, listening, reading and writing skills, all focused on their ongoing or upcoming academic experience. The lecturer will take the diversity of academic areas of the participants into account, by addressing a range of topics and choosing subjects that are relevant to the attending students wherever possible. 

The course aims at the B2 proficiency level. We strongly recommended it to all exchange students who have not fully achieved the B2-level in English at the moment of application for their mobility project. For the more proficient students, we see the course as an interesting immersion experience. 

This course is optional. Classes take place in the evening. 

Welcome international students!
Welcome international students!

Discover everything you need to know about Howest.

Read more

How to apply
How to apply

Procedures, deadlines and tuitions: you will find all the information here. 

Read more

Programme in pictures


Sarah De Vriendt
Sarah De Vriendt

Coordinator and lecturer Intercultural learning and Identity

Sigrid Van den Branden
Sigrid Van den Branden

Lecturer Cultural Frameworks in Health

Andy De Brabander
Andy De Brabander

Lecturer Global Social Work

Ivo Opstaele
Ivo Opstaele

Lecturer Psychological Aspects of Migration 

Johan Bertels
Johan Bertels

Lecturer Intercultural Learning

Frank Stevens
Frank Stevens

Lecturer International & National

Joni Verstraete
Joni Verstraete

Lecturer Integration in Different

Register now!

Have you decided? We look forward to welcoming you to our Howest community! 
You can find all information about registering via the link below.

Apply now

Studenten in pauze met koffie op de campus