Course concept

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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

English-taught semesters, what are they?

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An English-taught semester is a coherent package of course units which a Howest Bachelor programme offers in English, as an option for semester exchange , to incoming students from its partner universities abroad, and as a study abroad option to other international students.

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Course overview

Cultural and socio-economic introduction to Belgium - 3 ECTS
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 - 3 ECTS
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 – 3 ECTS 
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 - 6 ECTS
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 - 6 ECTS 
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 - 3 ECTS 
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 - 3 ECTS
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 - 3 ECTS
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 - optional evening course - 3 ECTS
This course provides exchange students with an intensive training in speaking, listening, reading and writing skills with the focus on their ongoing or upcoming academic career. The lecturer will aim to take the diversity of academic areas of the participants into account, by addressing a range of topics and choosing subjects relevant to the attendees. The course is provided at the B2 proficiency level and uses the IELTS methodology. We strongly recommended this course to all exchange students who have not fully achieved the B2-level in English at the time when they applied for their mobility project. For the more proficient students, we recommend the course as a useful immersion experience in the English language.

Course Unit Descriptions for All English-taught semester programmes (if not available yet for the upcoming academic year please select the current year)
Next to ‘Taal’ select ‘English’
Next to ‘Opleiding’ select ‘Migration and Refugees – ETS SW MR’

Attending this programme as a (non-exchange) Postgraduate Certificate student

This English-taught semester can be taken as a Postgraduate Certificate Programme.

Here you will find more general information on our English-taught semesters as Postgraduate Certificate programmes, such as eligibility, selection and application.

The tuition fee for this specific Postgraduate Certificate study semester in autumn/fall is €1000, which is non-refundable. If you would like to combine this study semester with an internship during spring semester, the tuition fee is €1.500 for the full academic year.

Please also refer to the specific Prerequisite information linked to this Postgraduate Certificate Programme to be sure you have all of the needed requirements.


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 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 can only attend the international semester as a Postgraduate course ancan 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.

Timing and location

The course takes place in Bruges.

Address of the campus:

Howest Brugge Centrum
Sint-Jorisstraat 71, 8000 Brugge, Belgium

Read more about the timing of our Exchange semesters


Sarah De Vriendt
Coordinator and lecturer Intercultural learning and Identity

Sigrid Van den Branden
Lecturer Cultural Frameworks in Health

Andy De Brabander
Lecturer Global Social Work

Ivo Opstaele
Lecturer Psychological aspects of migration

Johan Bertels
Lecturer Intercultural learning and identity and Project Work

Frank Stevens 
Lecturer International & national policy and (legal) framework

Joni Verstraete
Lecturer Integration in different fields