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Academic Communication Research

Study programme

The curriculum of the Research Master's track in Academic 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 (39 through 51 ECTS)
  3. Research participation (12 through 24 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 (39 through 51 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 (12 through 24 ECTS)

The ASCoR Research Participation and Evaluating Academic Research are a mandatory part of the Research Participation. During the ASCoR Research Participation you will individually participate in an ongoing research project at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research (ASCoR) for a total of at least 168 hours. You can select your own project to participate in from the many ongoing research projects at ASCoR. For instance, you could oversee an international group of coders conducting a large-scale content analysis of the news and help analyze the results. Or, you could design and conduct an experiment together with an ASCoR researcher.

In addition, a maximum of 12 ECTS can be devoted to an academic Research Internship. The internship will substitute a part of your requirement of the methodological coursework. Research internships can take place at ASCoR or another academic research institution in communication science or related field located at a Dutch or international university, or at professional communication and/or social research organisations in the Netherlands or abroad. Previous students have taken research internships at Ohio State University, the University of Zurich in Switzerland, and the University of Lund in Sweden, among others. Other students have conducted research for the Dutch Embassy of Saudi Arabia and for the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam.

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 academic or lay audiences (e.g., an oral presentation for an academic or lay audience, contribution to academic journal manuscript, 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.

Academic track versus Professional track

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


A more detailed description of all courses mentioned above can be found in the UvA Course Catalogue