Below you find the course descriptions of New Media & Digital Culture. The programme consists of compulsory courses, electives, an internship and a Master's thesis. Read more about the curriculum.

Research Lab 1: Situating Research (compulsory)

This module will re-introduce students to the methods and methodologies that are viable in the field of new media studies in the humanities at Utrecht University. On top of this, students wil engage in meta-reflection about the conceptual underpinnings these methods; ie. they will learn about the traditions, assumptions and the explicit or implicit connections with certain new media theories in the humanities that are taught in the concomittant New Media Theories module. In connection with learning to identify the assumptions and traditions behind these methods, students will learn to assess the possible ethical issues involved in the application of each individual method and the justification in light of research ethics when formulating a methodology or research question.

Career orientation:
This module aims to teach students advanced academic professionalisation skills, and therefore will incorporate many key examples and case studies from the academic working field.

New Media Theories: Thinkers, Debates, and Questions (compulsory)

This module will get students acquainted with the state-of-the-art controversies, insights and debates around the cluster of new media theories in the Humanities taught at Utrecht University. Such controversies may involve the tensions between issues of representation and/or processuality/functionality; technological determinism and the social construction of technology; and media as potential instruments of empowerment and oppression, but may also segue into other points of philosophical or epistemological debate. The module will delve into the various traditions of thought that underlie these new media theories, and help students to determine which theories are appropriate for their own research project that they will further develop in the Research Lab 2 module. The module will also, when relevant, draw connections to the academic research skills and methods taught concomitantly in the Research Lab 1 module.

Career orientation:
As a predominantly theoretical module, this course will incorporate mostly case studies and debates from the academic working field in its curriculum; present-day cultural and social media phenomena and issues will act as 'objects to think with'.

The Ludification of Culture

The course provides an overview of how game and play studies can be used in and are linked with digital media practices, such as the design of games and play, the ecology of the (Dutch) gaming industry, and the practice of research we conduct at Utrecht University. Examples of topics explored within this course are: ludification and gamification of practices, organizations, products, and services; serious gaming in social, educational, and political settings; and playful identity construction. All these aspects will be approached both through critical engagement with the on-topic literature and through practical assignments that require students to work creatively with these scholarly perspectives.

Career orientation:
Design-based research that connects theory with practice; guest lecturers; in-course critical engagements with current issues and debates in the working field. 

Research Lab 2: Designing Research (compulsory)

This module will focus on the development of the academic competencies related to methodologies and level of professionalisation for any starting academic researcher. In this module, students will learn how to write an individual research proposal which can serve as the foundation for their internship and/or thesis research. The module will teach students to formulate appropriate research questions, methods and methodologies; combine such methods with the appropriate theoretical framework, as well as think through the ethical implications of such methods, for their own personal research projects. It will also incorporate various forms of academic professionalisation like editing a graduate journal, pitching a paper for a journal, and setting up a conference or workshop with external specialists in the field of new media studies.

Career orientation:
This module aims to teach students advanced academic professionalisation skills, and therefore will incorporate many key examples and case studies from the academic working field.

The Datafied Society: Networks, Software, and Politics

In almost all areas of our contemporary society and culture, data collection, databases, algorithms and software emerge as crucial actors in processes of social (inter)action, cultural production and decision-making. This profoundly affects our understanding of authorship, consumption, cultural participation and political agency.
Existing approaches to digital phenomena including software studies, platform studies, critical code studies and game studies provide theoretical framing and place related research endeavours in the broader field of science & technology studies. Within the humanities, the computational turn labeled as 'digital humanities' builds on that foundation: it expands the research abilities by valorizing the existing debates in combination with novel, genuinely digital methodologies.   

Career orientation:
The course  refers explicitly to practical cases from the fields of software development, public administration, the app ecology, and policy-making. The focus of the course will be on conducting digital humanities research and applying appropriate methods for researching digital phenomena.

Mobile Media Studies

In a relatively short timespan our communication patterns and computing habits have been ‘mobilized’. Mobile and social media have rapidly become part and parcel of urban life. They shape how we live, work, travel, spend leisure time, and meet. This has profound consequences for our sense of place, social relationships, and our sense of self.
Moreover, digital media technologies today are part of the infrastructures, practices, and institutional arrangements on which urban life itself is based. So-called “smart cities” experiment with digital media, like sensors, data, the internet of things and social media dashboards, to help improve urban life. In this course we focus on this amalgamation of telecommunications devices, portable computational devices, and smart and connected objects in urban settings. We investigate how the social is mobilized, and at the same time how mobile media are tied to urban places, situations and developments.
Students develop an in-depth understanding of the ways mobile/social media technologies shape urban life. They become familiar with main themes, concepts and approaches in the multidisciplinary field of urban new media research, and with adjacent fields of research.

Career orientation:
The course will invite guest speakers, stimulate visiting  relevant cultural events, and train professional communicative skills during assigments.

Cultural Analytics: Data Mining of Cultural Corpora

This course provides an introduction to cultural analytics, which concerns the usage and questioning of data and digital methods for the inquiry of cultural corpora. Students are introduced to text mining and statistical analysis with R, exploratory programming and digital methods. The objective is to develop skills in data analysis of cultural corpora in a student's own field of study, and gain an understanding of what the implications of and interplays between these digital methods and the larger field of media studies in the humanities are.

Career orientation:
Through an introduction to emerging data practices in media industries and the acquisition of currently much needed skills (data practices, programming, statistical analysis), students will become ‘data-stewards’ who can mediate between management and data-scientists, and outline new datafication projects for organisations.

Transmedia

This course investigates transmedia phenomena like transmedia storytelling, world building, cross-media circulation, multi-platform distribution and second screen applications. They will be discussed in relation to distinct media and approached, amongst others, from media-industrial and political economy perspectives. 

Career Orientation:
The course familiarizes students with industrial practices related to transmedia phenomena. Students solidify  professional research skills and train communicative competences to communicate their knowledge to specialist and non-specialist audiences.

Master's Thesis in New Media & Digital Culture (compulsory)

The MA thesis is a scholarly text in which you are expected to contribute, on the basis of independent research, to a debate within the field of new media and digital culture. It should be structured around a central research question which is clearly formulated in the introductory chapter and has a strong relevance to active scholarly discussions. The body of the text should show the methodology you employed to answer this question, the theoretical considerations you have made, and what your findings were. In your conclusion you should analyze your findings in the light of your original question and explain the broader implications of your conclusions.

Career orientation
The MA Thesis is a scholarly work that adds to the academic debate on new media and digital culture; as such, it showcases the student's ability to (largely) independently report on research findings, a professional skill that is highly valued within the working field.

Research Internship New Media & Digital Culture (compulsory)

The MA internship gives you the opportunity to test actual new media practices against new media theory. During a period of three months you will work within a company, a governmental, educational, cultural organization, an NGO or any other place where new media play a significant role, and you will be asked to reflect upon your activities by producing an internship research report, based on a carefully designed research proposal. This report should be the result of a critical analysis of the working experience from an academic perspective.

Career orientation:
The research internship provides you with with opportunities par excellence to get acquainted with the processes and discourses of the working field of new media; it is where you test your academic and professional skills, and where you build networks that help you find a job after you have graduated.