MSc Digital Scholarship: Curriculum

The course comprises the following curriculum:

  1. Elements of Digital Scholarship: a presentation-based overview of key topics (Michaelmas and Hilary Terms) arising in the ‘data life-cycle’ which structures most leading projects in the field.
  2. Methods of Digital Scholarship: offering students the choice of two Technical Options Papers which provide the hands-on training needed to equip students with specific methods relevant to their project (Michaelmas Term).
  3. Subject-Specific Paper: providing graduate-level work of a more traditional kind in each student’s ‘home discipline’, selected from a list of existing Master's papers in other Faculties which can be studied in Hilary Term.
  4. Practicum placement: offering students immersion in one of Oxford’s vast array of flagship Digital Humanities projects and/or the Bodleian’s technical departments in preparation for their dissertation project (Trinity Term). 
  5. Dissertation



Elements of Digital Scholarship

This core paper provides a systematic overview of every stage of a digital project and its data life-cycle. Each topic is illustrated by ongoing work in one or more of Oxford’s flagship digital scholarship projects, the key problems they have encountered and the solutions they have developed. As such, the series also serves to introduce students to the Division’s major projects in the field, with a view to choosing the Practicum Placement and the dissertation topic.

The paper is taught for 8 weeks in each of Michaelmas and Hilary terms (16 weeks total). It is delivered via a two-hour session per week comprising a lecture from a guest speaker and a seminar discussion of assigned readings led by the MSc course director, thereby ensuring continuity across topics.

The paper is assessed by 2 x 2000 word essays, one due by the start of Hilary Term and the other due by the start of Trinity Term.

The outline of the sessions is as follows: 

Michaelmas Term Hilary Term
Week 0 Introductory meetingOutline of the course / Requirements and assessment.  
Week 1 Digital Scholarship and the Data Life CycleWhat is digital scholarship? Week 1 Analysing dataPeople: Network and prosopographical analysis.
Week 2 Project PlanningCollaboration and credit / Building and sustaining a community / Modes of interaction / Project management Week 2 Analysing dataPlace and time: Geospatial and chronological analysis.
Week 3 Data ModellingPlace, Time, and People / Texts, Topics, and Images.  Week 3 Analysing dataVisualization / Working with algorithms and machine learning
Week 4 Data Collection & Assembling Metadata.  Modes of data capture / Collaborative data collection.  Week 4 Sharing dataExchanging metadata / Crowdsourcing / Communication of Data
Week 5 Assembling TextRepresenting documents / Generating text / Intellectual Property, copyright, and licensing of data / Ethics Week 5 Sharing dataEngaging with the Public / Gamification / User Interfaces / Social Media and Podcasting
Week 6 Processing Text and Digital Editing. Standards, tools, and problems / What is a digital object? / Genetic editions


Week 6 Digital Preservation, Sustainability, and Archiving.  From data life cycle to data life cycles
Week 7 Processing MetadataReconciliation and disambiguation / Correction. Week 7 Open Access and Reproducibility.
Week 8 Biases and Ethics in Digital Scholarship. Week 8 ConvergenceGeneral principles / practical initiatives




Methods of Digital Scholarship

Each student chooses two technical papers from the list of possible options below, each to be taught for 4 weeks in Michaelmas Term. Each paper will normally be assessed at its conclusion by a practical test. It is anticipated that a selection of the following papers will be available in 2022-23:

  1. Introduction to Python
  2. Introduction to R
  3. IIIF
  4. Advanced Imaging
  5. Network Analysis
  6. Text Analysis
  7. Data Visualization
  8. TEI
  9. Linked Data
  10. Spatial Mapping and GIS
  11. Digital Musicology
Subject-specific paper

To enable each student to remain rooted in their 'home discipline' and develop a research area in that discipline which will feed into their dissertation, in Hilary Term each student will take a Subject-Specific paper delivered by one of the faculties in the Humanities Division.

The paper will normally be assessed by a 5,000-word essay due by the start of Trinity Term.

Practicum Placement

Each student spends a minimum of 20 days of Trinity term as a research assistant on one of Oxford’s flagship digital projects. The placement will be assessed by submission of a digital asset  and 1,000-word report due by the end of this term. Most, if not all, of the following projects will be able to host a student placement.


Each student writes a 10,000-12,000 word dissertation on a topic approved by their supervisor, due by the first Friday in August. In some cases it may be appropriate for the wordcount to be reduced if a practical component is included.