Call for Applications – International M.A. in New Media 2014-2015

On: December 4, 2013
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About Bernhard Rieder
Assistant Professor at UvA Media Studies, researching on the history, theory, and politics of software, more particularly on the role of algorithms in social processes and the production of knowledge. Has worked as a Web programmer on various projects and is currently writing a book on the history and cultural significance of information processing.


International M.A. in New Media ­at the University of Amsterdam
Call for Applications for­ Fall 2014, rolling admissions open on December 15, 2013 and close on 1 April 2014
One-year and two-year New Media M.A. Programs available. For the two-year “Research Master’s Program: New Media Specialisation,” see below

International M.A. in New Media & Digital Culture (one-year program)


The M.A. in New Media & Digital Culture is a one-year, English-language degree program in the Department of Media Studies, Faculty of Humanities, University of Amsterdam.

The MA Program in media studies New Media and Digital Culture offers a comprehensive and critical approach to new media research and theory. It builds upon the pioneering new media scene that Amsterdam is known for, with an emphasis on the study of Internet culture. Students gain an in-depth knowledge in new media theory, including perspectives such as software studies, political economy, and other critical traditions, and applied to such topics as social media, data cultures, and locative devices. They engage with the emerging area of digital methods, an ensemble of Internet research approaches and techniques that are specific to the new media and the study of natively digital objects. Additionally, students can choose to train in the areas of issue mapping, information visualization, digital writing and publishing, or social media research. The MA program combines a variety of teaching formats, ranging from lectures and group projects to lab sessions. Interested students are also supported in undertaking research internships. Students produce a wide portfolio of work, including theoretically engaged essays, empirical research projects, new media experiments, blog and wiki entries, in addition to organizing symposia. The program thereby enables students to contribute to timely discourses on digital culture, to conduct innovative research projects, and to critically engage in new media practices. The International MA in New Media and Digital Culture is an up-to-date digital humanities study program.

Students maintain a new media issues blog, recognized as among the leading academic blogs on the subject of digital culture, where they critique and discuss books, events, and new media objects. Students also get involved in a lively new media culture, both at the university, where internationally renowned speakers present their work and collaborative research projects are developed, and beyond. Cultural institutions, such as the Waag Society, the de Balie Center for Culture and Politics, and Mediamatic regularly host inspiring events. The Institute of Network Cultures, initiators of such events as UnlikeUs, Society of the Query, MyCreativity, and Video Vortex, regularly collaborates with the program. Digital media practitioners, such as Appsterdam, various Fablabs, and hacker festivals regularly open their doors to interested audiences. Finally, students are also encouraged to participate in PICNIC, the creative industries festival.


The New Media and Digital Culture program is a one year MA (60 EC) that begins in early September and ends with a festive graduation ceremony at the end of August. It is divided into two semesters:

First Semester 2013/2014 (September – January)

Students follow a course in New Media Research Practices, which addresses doing research in and with new media. It engages with recent methodological debates around big data, realtime research, and software analysis. As part of the course, students conduct experimental new media projects, run a wiki,, and the Masters of Media site,, regarded as a top blog for new media research and nominated for a Dutch award for best educational blog.

Concurrently, the New Media Theories class introduces students to major theoretical frameworks in new media studies, including cybernetics, software studies, digital labor theories, network criticism, media ecology, and cognitive/communicative capitalism. An important aspect involves reading influential texts on media forms and digital networked technologies, addressing key thinkers such as Marshall McLuhan, Norbert Wiener, Vilem Flusser, Friedrich Kittler, Alexander R. Galloway, N. Katherine Hayles, Matthew Fuller, Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, and Jodi Dean. Through a variety of individual and group assignments, including a symposium presentation, students gather the relevant skills and resources for writing a critical research paper that concludes the course.

The final first semester class, New Media Research Methods, taught by the program Chair, Richard Rogers, trains students in digital methods research, a set of novel techniques and a methodological outlook and mindset for social and cultural research with the web. (see Students use “natively” digital methods to investigate state Internet censorship, search engine rankings, website histories, Wikipedia, Twitter, Facebook, and other web platforms by collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data through various analytical techniques.

New Media Research Practices – 6 EC, week 1-8
New Media Theories – 12 EC, week 1-16
New Media Research Methods – 12 EC, week 9-20

Second Semester 2013/2014 (February-June)

In the second semester, students have the opportunity to further specialize by choosing between theme seminars on issue mapping for politics, information visualization, social media and value, the digital book, new media literary forms, and other courses offered outside of new media. Issue Mapping for Politics is concerned with mapping online discourse, and is a member of the international network of mapping courses following, amongst others, Bruno Latour’s methods. The finest student work is entered into the annual controversy mapping award in Toulouse. New Media Project: Information Visualisation is a joint theoretical-practical collaboration between designers, programmers, and analysts, where the product, showcased in the annual ‘show me the data’ event (, is an online tool, digital visualization or interactive graphic. The Value of the Social – Studying Social Media is a theoretical/empirical module which addresses the valorisation of social life in digital media, including concerns around data mining, platform politics, the numerification of affect, and digital economies. The Digital Book investigates how the concept of the ‘book’ is translated into new media forms that coincide with transformations in the contemporary publishing industry. The subject contains both theoretical and practical components. New Media Literary Forms explores new forms of writing for and in digital media and practically engages with the production of creative, interactive, or collaborative texts.

The program of study concludes with the MA thesis, an original analysis that makes a contribution to the field, undertaken with the close mentorship of a faculty supervisor. The graduation ceremony includes an international symposium with renowned speakers.

New Media Project: Data Visualization – 12 EC, week 1-8
MA Theme Seminar: Issue Mapping for Politics – 12 EC, week 1-16
MA Theme Seminar: The Value of the Social: Studying Social Media – 12 EC, week 1-16
MA Theme Seminar: The Digital Book – 6 EC, week 1-8
MA Theme Seminar: New Media Literary Forms – 12, week 1-16

New Media M.A. Thesis – 18 EC, week 1-20

Career perspectives

Graduates in New Media and Digital Culture will have gained the critical faculties, skills, and outlook that will enable them to pursue a career in research as well as in the public and private sectors, ranging from NGOs, government, and cultural institutions to online marketing and the growing field of creative industries. Various alumni have also started their own successful new media businesses. As the exposure to the Internet and related technologies continues to grow, new media researchers are in demand in a variety of sectors. With digital technologies becoming the preferred platforms for business, information exchange, cultural expression, and political struggle, research skills focusing on these complex and dynamic environments are becoming central to working in these fields. In addition, advanced students can pursue academic careers in research and teaching.

Student Life

The quality-of-living in Amsterdam ranks among the highest of international capitals. UvA’s competitive tuition and the ubiquity of spoken English both on and off-campus make the program especially accommodating for foreign students. The city’s many venues, festivals, and other events provide remarkably rich cultural offerings and displays of technological innovation (see The program has many ties to cultural institutions and companies active in the new media sector, where internship opportunities and collaborations may be available, in consultation with the student’s thesis supervisor. Students attend and blog, tweet or otherwise capture local new media events and festivals, while commenting as well on larger international issues and trends pertaining to new media. The quality of student life is equally to be found in the university’s lively and varied intellectual climate. New Media and Digital Culture students come from North and South America, Africa, Asia, and across Europe; they draw from academic and professional backgrounds including journalism, art and design, engineering, the humanities, and the social sciences.

Additional Information

Research Master’s in Media Studies, New Media Specialization (two-year program)


The New Media Research Master is a specialization within the Media Studies Research Master’s Degree Program, and focuses on the theoretical, artistic, practical and methodological study of digital culture. The New Media Research Master has two ‘routes,’ the theoretical aesthetic and the practical empirical ones. In the theoretical aesthetic route, students focus on contemporary media theory, with a concentration on critical media art, including areas that have been pioneered in Amsterdam (tactical media, distributed aesthetics). The other route is the practical empirical, which is the other specialty of new media research in Amsterdam: digital methods and information visualization. Students also may combine coursework from each of the two routes, putting together a course package that treats aesthetics and visualization, on the one hand, or media art and digital methods, on the other.

As a crucial component of the Amsterdam New Media Research Program, the New Media Research Master encourages fieldwork and lab work, which result in a ‘new media project’ and also provide materials for the thesis. In undertaking fieldwork, students are given the opportunity to spend a period abroad for structured data collection and study, doing either a ‘research internship’ or an independent project, supervised by a staff member. For example, in the past students have studied ICTs for development in Africa, and electronics factories in China. The lab work, which fits well with the practical-empirical route, would result in a research project that combines web data collection, tool use and development as well as visualisation. It often addresses a contemporary issue, such as Wikileaks Cablegate, and brings together a group of researchers in a data sprint, hackathon or barcamp, intensively working to output new info-graphics, blog postings and research reports on the state of art of the subject.

Outstanding New Media research master graduates are expected to compete favorably for PhD positions nationally and internationally, and have skill sets enabling new media research in scholarly and professional settings.

The New Media Research Master Specialization has as its target 15 students annually.


Year one

1st Semester: students follow courses in new media research practices and digital methods, which provides in-depth training in Internet critique and empirical analysis of the web. The research practices course is an introduction to and overall resource crash course on searching & collecting, social media data, journals in the field, blogging, the Amsterdam Scene, new media events, academic writing, (data) collections, data tools, data visualisation, new media methods, key works, collaboration & coordination. Concurrently students take new media theories, a course that introduces students to some of the major theoretical traditions in new media, including perspectives such as software studies, political economy, and other critical traditions, and applied to such topics as social media, data cultures, and locative devices. (For more details on these courses, see the one-year MA description above.)

2nd Semester: the student follows media & politics, which places both historically crucial and contemporary political manifestos in relation to media analyses, encouraging a consideration of concepts such as labour, spectacle, the machine, identity and affect. Students also have an elective, and may choose between theme seminars on issue mapping for politics, information visualization, social media and value, the digital book, new media literary forms and other courses offered in the research master’s. (For more details on theme seminars, see the one-year MA description above.)

Year two

1st Semester: students may pursue a “research internship” or a study abroad program with partner universities. They may undertake fieldwork for a research project, or join a digital methods lab project. Students also may follow an elective course, taken from the broader Media Studies offerings.

2nd Semester: students follow an elective course, where again the choice is between theme seminars on issue mapping for politics, information visualization, social media and value, the digital book, new media literary forms and others. Students also write the thesis, which is expected to be original and make a contribution to a discourse in the field. The research master’s degree program concludes with a presentation and defense of the thesis.

Additional Information

Faculty and staff

Richard Rogers, Professor and Chair. Web epistemology, digital methods. Publications include Information Politics on the Web (MIT Press, 2004/2005), awarded American Society for Information Science and Technology’s 2005 Best Information Science Book of the Year Award, and Digital Methods (MIT Press, 2013). Founding director of and

Bernhard Rieder, Associate Professor. Digital Methods, software theory and politics. Current research interests include search engine politics and the mechanization of knowledge production.

Jan Simons, Associate Professor. Mobile Culture, gaming, film theory. Publications include Playing The Waves: Lars von Trier’s Game Cinema (AUP, 2007). Project Director, Mobile Learning Game Kit, Senior Member, Digital Games research group.

Carolin Gerlitz, Assistant Professor. Digital research, software/platform studies, social media, economic sociology, topology, numeracy and issue mapping online.

Niels van Doorn, Assistant Professor. Materialization of gender, sexuality, and embodiment in digital spaces.

Thomas Poell, Assistant Professor. Social media and the transformation of activist communication in different parts of the world.

Yuri Engelhardt, Assistant Professor. Computer modeling and information visualization. Publications include The Language of Graphics (2002); founder and moderator of InfoDesign (1995-9); co-developer of Future Planet Studies at UvA.

Cornelius Puschmann, Visiting Lecturer. Computer-mediated communication and the Internet’s impact on society, especially on science and scholarship.

Erik Borra, Lecturer. Data science, digital methods, issue mapping online. Digital methods lead developer.

Esther Weltevrede, Lecturer. Controversy mapping with the Web, temporalities and dynamics online, device studies.

Marc Tuters, Lecturer. New media literary forms, avant-garde media history, locative media.

Michael Dieter, Lecturer. Media art and materialist philosophy. Critical uses of digital and networked technologies such as locative media, information visualization, gaming and software modification.

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