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Research Master
Communication Science: Research Master's (Professional)
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Study programme

The curriculum of the Research Master's track in Professional Communication Research is largely tailor-made by the student in consultation with the study adviser. It consists of 120 ECTS in total and is structured as follows:

  1. Substantive coursework (36 ECTS)
  2. Methodological coursework (33 through 39 ECTS)
  3. Research participation (24 through 30 ECTS)
  4. Dissertation Module (21 ECTS)

1. Substantive coursework (36 ECTS)

Of the substantive coursework, 6 ECTS is dedicated to the mandatory course Advancing and Building Communication Science Theory, which lays the foundation for advanced understanding of theory building in communication science. The remaining 30 ECTS can be chosen from our four substantive domains: Corporate Communication, Persuasive Communication, Political Communication and Entertainment Communication. You can specialize in one of the domains, but you can also create your own individual profile by selecting any combination of substantive theoretical courses.  

2. Methodological coursework (33 through 39 ECTS)

In order to ensure that you have extensive knowledge of the dominant research methodologies in the field of Communication Science, 21 ECTS consists of mandatory core methodological coursework. These mandatory courses are: Experimentation in the Social Sciences, Content Analysis and Survey Design. A course element on Research and Data Ethics is also mandatory. Besides this, you need to complete at least 12 ECTS from a selection of elective courses concerning the statistical analysis of empirical data.

You can choose the remaining ECTS out of all methods electives mentioned in the programme according to your own interests and profile. Elective courses include Big Data and Automated Content AnalysisIntensive Interviewing and Focus Groups or Structural Equation Modelling, among others. It is also possible to select methods courses offered by other departments at the UvA’s Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. Do note that each department states their own rules and regulations for course registration and that courses outside the Research Master's programme need to be approved by the Examinations Board.

3. Research participation (24 through 30 ECTS)

Evaluating Professional Research is a mandatory course in the Professional Communication Research track. This course will introduce and sensitize you to the critical aspects of the conduct of research within the context of professional organizations. The two other mandatory elements are the Professional Research Participation (6 ECTS), and Professional Research Internship (12 ECTS). During both these elements you will intern as a junior researcher in one or more professional organizations. These professional organizations can be located in the Netherlands or abroad, and can be either organizations that specialize in communication and media research for diverse clients, or the research departments of media and communication organizations.   

As an option, you can expand the Professional Research Internship with 6 ECTS, which results in an 18 ECTS internship. This extension will substitute a part of your requirement of the methodological coursework.

4. Dissertation Module (21 ECTS)

The dissertation module consists of two parts. The largest part is the mandatory Research Master’s Thesis. This involves an 18 ECTS empirical research project, individually supervised by a senior ASCoR researcher, resulting in a written thesis. Next, there is a mandatory Thesis Communication module, where the thesis research findings are presented to professional or lay audiences (e.g. an oral presentation for a professional or lay audience, contribution to professional magazine, a blog etc.).

The Master’s theses from two of our alumni have been shortlisted as the Top-5 theses of the year at the University of Amsterdam, while the Master’s thesis research of our students has been published in international top-ranked journals such as the Journal of Advertising, Public Relations Review, and the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication. You can find some example theses here.

Individual study plan

Before starting the programme, you fill out an individual study plan which needs to be approved by the study adviser. More information about this study plan can be obtained from the study advisement team.

Professional track versus Academic track

Would you like to know more about the differences and similarities between the Research Master's track in Professional Communication Research and the Research Master's track in Academic Communication Research? Download the slides from our recent information session.


A more detailed description of all courses mentioned above can be found in the course catalogue.