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Media are all-surounding. They determine and influence how we understand and interact with the world around us. Media structure and disseminate information and shape our culture with their stories, programmes, performances, exhibitions, collections and data. The Media Studies department at the UvA is a leading international institute in the field of media archaeology, the creative industry, datafication, digital methods and information analysis.

There are two educational programmes: Media and Culture and Media and Information. Each section has a specific medium, medium type or related cultural practice as a starting point for further study. At the same time, they explore objects, methods and concepts across the entire breadth of Media Studies.

Media and Culture

The study of media and culture has two main entry points: it studies the culture of the media, with its production practices, programme formats and cultural forms (such as genres), and the media in culture. Production and consumption culture are examined together and considered from the viewpoint of the spectator, user and navigator. With the advent of new media, media production and consumption are constantly changing and facing new challenges (think of mobile screens, media formats and new users in the culture market). 

The second entry point, the study of media in culture, looks at the content of films, the use of screens in and outside the home and software and apps on mobile devices. As we move from informational to social media, online culture increasingly shapes our social behaviour and tastes. 

The education programme of Media and Culture consists of film studies and cross-media culture. Research focuses on both theory and practice and devotes attention to audio-visual and digital culture. Media and culture tackles broad questions about the cultural origin of media, its effects on the user and the viewer and studies the history and archaeology of media. It also approaches the media from other disciplines such as cultural studies, political economy and critical theory. Media theory, in all its medium-specific diversity, forms an important part of this. 

  • Film Studies

    Film studies is concerned with the philosophical reflection on film and audiovisual art and with media technology and the screening of cinema in different contexts. In the digital age, film studies as an academic discipline is challenged by a continuous transformation of its object of study. The profound changes of its material base (from celluloid to digital) and of its screening practices (from theatre to living room and desktop) call for renewed theoretical and historical frameworks. The aim of Film Studies at the UvA is to continue to deal critically and creatively with such important shifts within film and film culture.

  • Television and Cross-media culture

    Television and Cross-Media Culture studies the rapidly changing media culture and its impact on the creative sector, cultural politics and everyday life. The study takes the medium of television as a starting point for approaching conceptual, social and cultural issues arising from the rise of digital, mobile and social media. 

    Social and cultural practices are increasingly influenced by a mix of different media and the constant innovation of new media forms and technologies. Although television, with its reality shows, spectacular live events and coverage of major disasters, is still very important, its impact is complemented and increasingly replaced by social media, mobile phones and 'second screens'. 

Media and Information

Both in our private lives and in our work, we constantly use and produce information. We live in an information age, we use information technologies and we have an information economy. Information - in digital repositories, in our apps and in user environments - has become central to the arts, humanities, journalism and the creative industries through all forms of media. 

Media and Information gives students the necessary theoretical, historical, methodological and practical competences to solve issues related to the influence of this information on the digital and non-digital social environment. Students also learn to participate professionally and innovatively in this exciting, rapidly changing and growing field.

  • New Media and Digital Culture

    New Media and Digital Culture specialises in the study of digital media in the humanities and addresses issues in digital humanities, information aesthetics and visualisation, internet studies, media art, media history, media theory, social media, virtual ethnography, data cultures and the politics of code. There is a strong practical component where implicit knowledge and up-to-date experience in web culture are considered essential skills. The study and skilful use of web-based applications such as blogs, wikis and software tools are focal points, as are research practices that diagnose online platforms and devices, such as search engines and social media sites. 

    More specifically, New Media and Digital Culture at the UvA is concerned with research strategies for the critical study of Internet culture. The teaching and research team specialises in two lines of research. The first, that of critical digital culture and media theory, focuses on transformations in web and mobile culture, locative media and digital aesthetics, as well as on the relationship between new media and politics. This line investigates widely varying topics such as the consequences of the rise of walled gardens on the open web and the so-called 'new aesthetic', with its new dominant visual language and grammar. The second line of research, digital methods, focuses both on originally digital objects (such as hyperlink, tag, like, tweet) and on medium-specific methods and techniques such as folksonomy and crowd-sourcing. 

    New media and digital culture participates in the current debates on 'big data', 'thick data' and 'long data', focusing in particular on the research potential of online data cultures, with an emphasis on using platforms and search engines as methods for cultural, artistic and empirical research interventions. 

  • Journalism and Media

    Whether it is national and international politics, the tensions surrounding immigration and integration, or issues such as terrorism and the environment, the subjects reported by the media are complex. This places high demands on journalism as a profession. University-trained journalists are able to thoroughly research complex problems, analyse them quickly and translate them into a journalistic quality product.

  • Archival and Information Studies

    Archival and Information Studies focuses on archive formation, archive management and archive use in the broadest sense of the word. Archivists are trained, attention is paid to contemporary archival theory and practice, and insight is provided into the archive of the past and future. 

    The 'computational turn' has led to major changes in the way people and institutions create, use, collect, share and preserve information. Information is the vital fuel for a growing number of applications in daily life and has become a basic necessity of life, just like food, energy or transport. The result is fragmentation and individualisation of data creation and data use. Good data management is essential in order to be able to use it when it is needed. 

    What are the implications of the 'computational turn' for information and archive management? How are data and information used and re-used in bureaucratic practices, decision-making and information processes? What is needed in a data-driven society to be able to account for and reconstruct the actions of people and organisations in the longer term? How can relevant information be kept permanently accessible? How do data-driven applications transform important cultural and social values such as transparency and privacy? How can archives, sometimes formed in the distant past, remain meaningfully linked to the needs of the present? These questions are central to Archival and Information Studies.