Professeur associé
  • Department Culture and Contemporary Issues
  • Teaching fields Intercultural Management, Intercultural Communication, Geopolitics & the Economy of Latin America


Born in Portugal, and having grown up in an international environment, Dr Maria Belhaj has been passionate about travel, cultures and languages since early childhood, and is fluent in French, English, Portuguese and Spanish. In 1991, she was awarded a Master degree in International Business from Rennes School of Business, and six years later, she obtained her Doctorate from the University of Poitiers in Latin American Civilisation, after having been a Spanish teacher in secondary education.

She joined the world of higher education as a teacher of Spanish language and culture for a School of Tourism in La Rochelle, and joined Excelia Business School in 1998 focussing on the same areas of work whilst conducting research in intercultural management over several years.

Dr Maria Belhaj set up and, for almost 10 years, managed the Languages, Cultures and Personal Development Department, whose objective was to implement and coordinate the teaching of languages, cultures, civilisations and personal development across all the Group's programmes. Following this, until 2012, she held the position of Director of Academic Studies and Personal Development for the BBA International programme. She continued her professional career as Assistant Head of International Relations to develop international academic partnerships and qualification-awarding short study programmes for international students.

Since the creation of Excelia Academy in October 2018, she has been Head of qualification-awarding Programmes (Business Foundation Programme, Bachelor First Year, Summer & Winter Schools) and of the French Language Institute. Curious by nature, observant and entrepreneurial at heart, she is particularly interested in educational engineering and has designed and developed numerous programmes for students of all nationalities. When developing programmes, she ensures that differentiating and innovative pedagogical approaches are used, such as an international Bachelor degree programme which is totally project-based, placing a strong emphasis on Learning by Doing.