Universiteit Leiden

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Book and Digital Media Studies (MA)

About the programme

The Book and Digital Media Studies programme provides you with in-depth knowledge of the history of the book (manuscript and print) and theories and practices within the field of publishing and digital textual media. You will graduate with detailed knowledge of the most relevant issues and important academic skills in the field of Book Studies.

The master’s programme in Book and Digital Media Studies is taught across two semesters and comprises compulsory courses, elective courses and the writing of an MA thesis.

Semester one

The aim of the first semester is to prepare you for the specialisations that you will choose during your second semester. This part of the programme provides a solid basis and introduction to the field, conceptually and practically, via five foundational courses. 

Semester two

During your second semester you will choose two options from the following specialisations:

  • History of the Book;
  • Contemporary Academic Publishing;
  • Digital Access to Cultural Heritage;
  • Text and Data Mining in the Humanities.

The second part of the second semester is spent writing your MA thesis.

The programme offers four specialisations:

Specialisation 1: Digital Access to Cultural Heritage

In Digital Access to Cultural Heritage, you focus on the various ways in which cultural heritage institutions offer access to their digital collections. The course concentrates on topics such as crowd sourcing, digital preservation, support for digital scholarship and intellectual property and how these are transforming textual media. Special emphasis is placed on the interaction between the providers and the users of digital information.

Specialisation 2: History of the Book

In History of the Book, you explore different aspects of the history of textual communication. We look at innovations in how books were made in the medieval and early modern period, investigating the interchange between book and society, developments in the physical appearance of books, and the relationship between the book and its producers and readers. You will conduct research using the rich primary sources contained in the special collections of libraries and archives in Leiden.

Specialisation 3: Contemporary Academic Publishing

In Contemporary Academic Publishing, you will look at the wider role and meaning of academic publishing, a large, international, and technologically innovative business, in society. The course covers the full publishing chain, from the work of authors, via the activities of publishing houses, to libraries and readers Extrapolating findings from academic publishing as a case-in-point, you will study new trends in publishing arising from the introduction of digital technology.

Specialisation 4: Text and Data Mining in the Humanities

In Text and Data Mining in the Humanities, you  will receive hands‑on experience in the most relevant techniques that can be used to extract information from large collections of textual data, and you will be invited to reflect on the methodological implications of these approaches within the context of humanities research.

To get an impression of possible topics, see the recent MA theses listed below.

  • Laurie Bastemeijer, 'Required Listening: The effects of using audio- and karaoke books in fiction education at Dutch VMBO schools' (2021). https://hdl.handle.net/1887/3204761
  • Chelsea Crane, 'A Critical Assessment of the FAIR Guiding Principles in Book History' (2020). https://hdl.handle.net/1887/86173
  • Sana Bardawil, 'Preserving Cultural Heritage Through Digitisation: Lebanon as a Case Study' (2020). https://hdl.handle.net/1887/84782
  • Pranay Parsuram, 'Scientometric indicators and their exploitation by journal publishers' (2019). https://hdl.handle.net/1887/76530
  • Lotte Savelsberg, '"For a Civil Price": Jacobus van Egmont (1686-1725) and the Amsterdam Popular Book Market in the Early Eighteenth Century' (2018).  https://hdl.handle.net/1887/59628
  • Loren Snel, 'Novel Disruption: How Text Mining May Change Literature' (2018). https://hdl.handle.net/1887/65627

For a detailed programme, please check the Prospectus.

Please note that this guide applies to the current academic year, which means that the curriculum for next year may slightly differ.

Fleur Praal

University Lecturer of Book and Digital Media Studies

Fleur Praal

"In this Leiden University MA programme, we examine the textual medium in its historical and current contexts, in its handwritten, printed, and digital forms. Our courses combine training in practical skills in working with texts, such as XML and database technologies, with critical reflection on these practices, and theoretical analysis of the world of the book in past, present, and future. Through this combination of perspectives and approaches, we offer a conceptual understanding of the social and cultural function and position of texts – and, particularly, books – that is absolutely unique to Book and Digital Media Studies."

Paul Hoftijzer

Emeritus Professor of Book and Digital Media Studies

Paul Hoftijzer

"Leiden has fantastic resources available in our field that are all within easy reach: the University Library, the Bibliotheca Thysiana, many museums, and a centuries-long history of renowned book shops and publishing houses such as Koninklijke Brill, which has been in existence since 1683."

Admission and Application

Do you want to find out if you are eligible for this Master's Programme?

Check the entry requirements

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