MA Modules


Introduction to Digital Culture

This module examines the theory and history of the interaction between culture and information and communication technology (ICT). ‘Digital culture’ refers to culture shaped by the emergence and use of digital technologies, their practices and artefacts. This module focuses on the changes wrought by the widespread adoption of networked computing, personalised technologies and digital images and sound, for the way we think about culture and cultural data, the contexts in which digital culture exists and is made, and  their impacts for the creative/cultural industries. You will learn about the characteristics of digital culture including types of cultural forms and experiences, technical processes, and about digital computing as a cultural activity with a history, socio-cultural context, aesthetics, epistemologies, its ethical problems and critical debates. This will enable you to understand current forms of digital culture, critically contextualise your own and others’ digital practice, and anticipate future developments, as appropriate to knowledge-based careers in the cultural sector.

Introduction to Cultural Data

This module examines cultural data, including methods for creating, analysing and communicating data. Cultural data is digital data about human culture and society, past and present: from ancient documents, artefacts and environments to present-day social media, digital arts and virtual worlds. Cultural data also uses a wide range of digital methods for its creation, analysis and communication, such as digitisation, crowdsourcing, AI, data visualisation, apps, digital exhibitions, and user-centred design. You will learn the principles, methods and tools for working with all types of cultural data, preparing you for a career in the media, information and cultural sectors.

Seminar topics:

  • What is cultural data? 
  • Extracting meaning from texts
  • Modelling culture: data models and databases
  • Data analysis: making data visualisations
  • Creating digital texts, databases and visualisations
  • Using digital media assets
  • 3D, virtual worlds and augmented reality
  • Using digital media and virtual worlds
  • AI and culture: using Machine Learning to understand cultural data
  • Created by users: social media and crowdsourcing
  • Analysing social media

Managing Digital Projects

This module examines project management in the context of developing data products and digital performances. Data products might be websites, databases, information services, apps, or virtual environments which use cultural content. Digital performances might include drama, dance, music, art, video or digital exhibitions in which the practices and/or the outputs are digital. The module will teach the skills and tools necessary to manage the design, planning and execution of a digital project, including: developing ideas for products and performances; understanding user requirements; developing specifications for design teams; planning; managing risk; choosing the best design and development methodology. You will have the opportunity to work in groups to invent your own product or performance and develop a project plan during the module.

Seminar topics:

  • What is project management? 
  • Conception methodologies
  • User design, requirements and specifications
  • Designing for your users
  • Planning and resourcing
  • Development methodologies and tools I (cultural data products)
  • Development methodologies and tools II (digital performances)
  • Planning your project
  • Data management, preservation and sustainability
  • Student project presentations

Designing Cultural Data Products

This module examines how cultural data products are designed. Cultural data products might be websites, databases, information services, apps, virtual environments, digital art or digital exhibitions which use cultural content. The module will teach methods, tools and best practices for designing and disseminating cultural data products, including: understanding why good design is important; developing user-led interfaces; understanding how websites, systems, apps and tools are built; user testing; managing IP and data ethics; developing dissemination plans. You will have the opportunity to work in groups to invent your own product and develop a user interface and dissemination plan during the module.

Seminar topics:

  • What are cultural data products?
  • Interface design: history and best practice
  • Initial product ideas
  • User-led design methodologies 
  • Understanding websites, systems, apps and tools
  • Designing your product
  • User testing methodologies
  • Licensing, IP, data ethics and re-using data
  • Planning your dissemination
  • Student project presentations

Language Analysis, AI and Culturomics

This module examines the nature and analysis of cultural data in the form of language, including recorded speech and text, from the past and present. Language data will be in English, but the principles and methods are applicable to any language. You will acquire literacy in comprehending, interpreting, and critiquing research and reports related to text analytics, corpus linguistics, AI and culturomics. You will also be introduced to research design, methods, and epistemologies for working with language data, including digital tools that will facilitate text analysis and the interpretation of data-driven results.

Seminar topics:

  • Asking the right questions: From culture to text analytics
  • Thinking quantitatively about culture
  • Scoping and critiquing project ideas
  • Cultural data preparation: Compiling and cleaning texts
  • Corpus linguistics: Annotation and analysis
  • Practical work building data sets
  • Automatically retrieving meaning from texts: Collocations and keywords
  • Teaching computers to understand culture with Natural Language Processing
  • Teaching computers to understand culture with Machine Learning
  • Practical work analysing data sets
  • Student project presentations

Digital Culture and Data e-Portfolio

This module uses a ‘dissertation by portfolio’ approach in which you are required to undertake independent learning and reflection to address all aspects of the design and use of a digital product, service, performance, installation or artefact which uses cultural data.

The aim is to compile a portfolio that evidences your critical and reflective journey at each stage of the process (such as showing why you consider some techniques to be appropriate and others not), articulates your rationale by drawing on appropriate theoretical and practitioner contexts, and demonstrates application of your learning outcomes from the core and optional modules you have studied. 

Your portfolio will address one of these broad topics: 

  1. Design a digital product or service that uses cultural data. 
  2. Design a digital performance, installation, or artefact that uses cultural data.

The portfolio is expected to include written pieces, drawings, designs, plans, example data, and (optionally) practical execution of any aspects of the project which are within your capabilities (e.g. coding data, composing a musical piece, or writing some software code).

Portfolio topics:

  • Who is the audience (university researchers, students, companies, arts organisations, tourists, media analysts etc)?
  • What is its purpose? For example, what problem or need is being addressed, or what meaning and message is being conveyed?
  • How will the purpose be addressed by your idea?
  • What will the end result look like? How will users be able to use, interact and/or experience it?
  • What data (in its broadest sense)  will be used and how will you acquire it?
  • How will you use the data?
  • What technical methods, resources, specialists etc will be needed to make this happen? 
  • How will it be planned and created in practice?
  • What are the risks?
  • How will it be disseminated, used, and its value assessed?

For further information please contact Dr Seth Mehl.