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.

Admission and Application

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

Check the entry requirements

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."

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: Research Seminar;
  • Dynamics in Scholarly Publishing;
  • Digital Access to Textual Heritage.

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

The programme offers three specialisations:

Specialisation 1: Digital Access to Textual Heritage

In Digital Access to Textual 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 – Research Seminar

In this research seminar on the 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: Dynamics in Scholarly Publishing

In Dynamics in Scholarly Publishing, you will look at the wider role and function 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 dynamics between stakeholders in in publishing, arising from the introduction of digital text technologies.

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

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.

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