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Learn to analyse media and data with digital technologies

Digital Humanities and Social Analytics

Digital Humanities for the future

The courses include hands-on training, research internships in ongoing research projects, as well as theoretical reflection on the promises of ‘the digital’ for your own discipline. Practical computational training will sharpen your analytical skills and enhance your job opportunities in the future.

To organize this minor, VU Amsterdam works closely together with the KNAW Humanities Cluster in Amsterdam, where students participate in cutting edge digital humanities projects. 

Humanity students

Humanity students do not need preliminary computational skills but will enhance their career opportunities by:

  • becoming more familiar with computational techniques and software;
  • exploring a whole new world of e-resources and e-data;
  • acquire skills for data modeling and analysis;
  • train hands-on useful basic programming skills;
  • use advanced visualizations in research and presentations;
  • participate in ongoing research projects in the booming fields of Digital Humanities and Social Analytics.

Computer Science students

For Computer Science students, humanities and social science data sets are excitingly complex and also a chance to explore innovative digital technologies. This minor offers the opportunity to

  • work with and develop solutions for complex and linked data sets;
  • expand on state-of-the art natural language processing tools and methods;
  • investigate and develop innovative visualization and analysis methods;
  • embed your computational research in multi-disciplinary and socially relevant projects;
  • develop your own reading and writing skills, and critical thinking about your role in other research fields and society at large.

Social Science students

Social Science students will realize that social behaviour (searching, shopping, travelling, dining, dating, discussing politics, social networking) increasingly can be studied through digital data. This minor gives them the opportunity to:

  • use data analytics to study public opinion, social behaviour and communication;
  • learn how to scrape, create, interpret, analyse and visualize different types of data;
  • to explore the challenge of working with big data and computational methods.

Throughout the minor, you will engage in critical reflection on the tools and methods used, and explore the way digital techniques influence current research in your own discipline.

The Digital Humanities and Social Analytics minor consists of 5 courses, making up for 30 EC. If you already have programming skills (students from the Bachelor’s programme Computer Science) you can choose an alternative course from a selection of Humanities and Social Science courses, after consultation with the coordinator of the minor. The last course in period 3 entails a short internship.

Overview courses

  • Introduction to Digital Humanities and Social Analytics

    This course consists of three modules:

    • Study of current developments in the digital humanities and social analytics through reading, evaluation and discussion.
    • Knowledge of (reliability of) digital archives and sources, data curation and modelling and practice in working with structured data.
    • Introduction to hermeneutics, data criticism and tool criticism.
  • Introduction to Python for Humanities and Social Sciences

    Students and scholars in the humanities generally rely on prefabricated applications to do their research. Creating your own research tools allows for more flexibility and more control over your data and queries. Python is the coding language widely used in the Humanities and Social Sciences.

  • Interpreting information in text by humans and machines

    You will learn how to, both manually and automatically, annotate larger amounts of textual data. Then, you will analyse the results and reflect on the implications and promises for your own discipline.

  • Data Science: Visualization & Analytics in R

    You will learn to apply various visualization and analysis techniques for exploring, modelling, and presenting data, including texts and networks. In terms of critical reflection and theory, this is a more advanced course: how do we represent uncertainty and different perspectives? What are the implications of our methodological choices? Students will write a research paper.

  • Digital Humanities and Social Analytics in Practice

    Through an intensive internship at an ongoing research project of your own choice, you can put your new theoretical knowledge and skills into practice. You will be guided by a tutor from VU Amsterdam and one cultural heritage professional.

    Internships included projects at the Rijksmuseum, the Amsterdam Town Archive and KNAW Humanities Cluster. A fantastic showcase is this search application created by Hedwig Overwater and Tomas van Dalen: connecting collections of topographical drawings to a clickable street map.