Minor Digital Humanities and Social Analytics


UvA and VU join forces in the minor Digital Humanities and Social Analytics! By following this minor you will become familiar with a range of digital approaches in humanities and social science research. The sources and objects studied in history, media, literature, linguistics, social analytics and music are increasingly becoming available digitally. You will learn how to create and analyse different types of data collections using tools for text mining, data analysis and visualization. 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. Registration for the minor in the academic year 2017-2018 will start in May.

The digital world Over the last decades, cultural heritage institutions have been digitizing their collections on an increasing speed. The result is an ever-growing digital availability of a variety of sources (archives, literary texts, paintings, films), to both scholars and the general public. So-called digital-born material, such as social media, has become the object of humanities research as well. This material can be used for much more than just searching and finding information on the internet. What do you need for an analytical approach? What do we know about the selection criteria and practical choices made during the digitization process. How do these impact our research results? What tools can we use to analyze and identify patterns in big and fuzzy data? How can we visualize our data and results? What new insights can be obtained through the analysis of ‘big’ data and these new computational techniques? These are some of the important questions driving the Digital Humanities minor.

medieval mapWhy would you take this minor? The Digital Humanities and Social Analytics are a booming field in which computer scientists, humanities scholars and social scientists learn to collaborate. There is currently a strong need for graduates who can think across these disciplinary boundaries. Digital data and computational techniques are fundamentally changing the world around us. As knowledge-intensive jobs have come to depend more on computer technology, university students who are critical users of digital data and technology and who master new, sophisticated analytic skills will develop promising career opportunities. Apart from these long-term perspectives, we predict that taking digital humanities courses will be exciting, challenging and fun for both humanities and computer science students.


For computer science students humanities and social science research provide opportunities to:

  • work with and develop solutions for Big 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

For humanities and social science students the minor will provide opportunities to:

  • enhance your analytical capacities
  • become a critical user of digital data
  • become an interdisciplinary team worker
  • develop basic computational skills
  • widen your career opportunities (think of data journalism, academic research, work in libraries and cultural heritage institutions)

Courses in the minor

The minor Digital Humanities and Social Analytics consists of 5 courses, making up for 30 EC.

Period 1: Introduction to the state of the art in digital humanities and social analytics research: You will learn how physical objects (texts, images, music) are converted into data and how these data are structured as entries in a data collection

Period 2: You will learn how to analyze data collections. You can choose two out of the three courses offered (or, if your curriculum allows, you can follow them all). The courses focus on annotating and labeling data, on coding and programming, or on frequently-used tools in clustering, structuring and visualizing data

Period 3: The minor concludes with ‘collaboratories’ or group-based internships, in which you will conduct your own research together with other students in the context of ongoing projects of researchers and organizations in the field. Everything you have learned in the other courses comes together in this final practical setting. Examples of ongoing research projects at VU and UvA can be found here

The minor Digital Humanities and Social Analytics is an interdisciplinary minor, welcoming students of all disciplines: computer science, social sciences, linguistics, media, communication, history, literature and arts. Preliminary computational skills are not required. Throughout the minor, you will engage in critical reflection on the tools and methods used, and explore the way digital techniques influence current research. All courses are taught in English and focus on collaboration and project-based learning.

Overview Minor 

Semester 1
period 1 period 2 period 3
2x 6EC 2x 6EC* 2x 6EC
Introduction to information and the digital (level 100) Text Mining for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences (level 200) Digital Humanities and Social Analytics in Practice (level 300)
Knowledge of field of Digital Humanities and Social Analytics, history of knowledge classification Structuring and analysing, manually and automatically annotating larger amounts of data Digital Humanities and social analytics projects at research institutes: Integrating and understanding computational tools and approaches in a concrete research project
From Object to Data (level 200) Programming for Humanities & Social Sciences (level 200)
Knowledge of (reliability of) digital archives and sources, practice in working with databases Basic programming techniques for students humanities and social sciences (Python).
Visualizing Humanities and Social Analytics (level 300)
Visualization techniques for the exploration, analysis and presentation of spatial, historical and social data. Critical reflection on methods and implications.
* Students chose two courses out of three in the second period.

Practical Information Since the minor is a collaboration between UvA and VU, you will have to register for courses both at VU and at UvA. Note that registration procedures and deadlines may differ between both universities. For the UvA courses, the programme administration Mediastudies facilitates registration, for the VU courses, you can register here.


Coordinator minor: Erika Kuijpers: erika.kuijpers@vu.nl

For more information about the courses in the minor you can also contact our teaching staff:

  • Kaspar Beelen (coordinator UvA, K.Beelen@uva.nl)
  • Rens Bod (Introduction and from Object to data, L.W.M.Bod@uva.nl)
  • Isa Maks, Antske Fokkens, Henny van der Vliet (Text mining, antske.fokkens@vu.nl  and Programming h.d.vander.vliet@vu.nl)
  • Erika Kuijpers  & Philip Verhagen (Visualising; GIS erika.kuijpers@vu.nl)
  • Victor de Boer & Lora Aroyo (Computer Science, VU: internships, projects v.de.boer@vu.nl / lora.aroyo@vu.nl)