Below is a list of general questions, which have regularly been asked over recent years during master’s degree mentoring sessions.
1) Who is the programme aimed at?
The programme is aimed at students with a bachelor’s degree in the humanities or cultural sciences who, in addition to the specialist knowledge acquired in their bachelor’s studies, want to equip themselves with the relevant tools for the digital utilisation of their existing skills. Apart from general computer literacy, no specific (technical) knowledge is required and there are no additional entry requirements. However, a certain affinity for IT-supported working methods would definitely be advantageous.
In principle, is it possible for graduates with more technical backgrounds to undertake study on the Digital Humanities Master programme, however they must be able to demonstrate knowledge of the humanities, or they must be willing to acquire this during the course of their studies (for further details, please contact the CuKo chairperson). Whilst experienced applicants with backgrounds in computer science may already possess knowledge of much of the content of the master’s programme, it is only really suitable as a basic ‘catch up’ qualification for study in the humanities.
As the title ‘Digital Humanities’ suggests, this is a master’s programme in the humanities, for which a bachelor’s degree in the humanities or social sciences is a prerequisite. The programme does not teach basic qualifications or skills in the humanities; it is assumed that these are already known. Interested applicants must provide solid evidence that they have the appropriate skills and qualifications. The master’s programme is much more about learning digital methodologies which are relevant for humanities and cultural studies students.
Many elective modules on master’s programmes usually require that students have taken part in specific associated modules on other bachelor’s programmes. Applicants should be able to evidence participation in these modules at time of enrolment. Graduates from technical programmes who want to further their studies in purely humanities-related fields, would be better off looking at humanities bachelor’s programmes.
2) Can I get credit for a relevant internship instead of through elective courses?
Elective modules totalling up to 12 ECTS are provided by the programme. A relevant internship (up to 8 weeks of full-time employment) can be credited instead, however this must be agreed with the CuKo chairperson in advance.
Subject-related internships can also be credited instead of elective courses, but must be presented to the CuKo chairperson and approved in advance! Internships do not necessarily have to take place at the Centre for Information Modelling (ZIM) itself, however internships at other institutions must be discussed in advance so they can be assessed for equivalence and suitability.
3) Does my compulsory elective module for the Master in Digital Humanities have to be the same subject area as my bachelor’s?
In principle, it’s not mandatory, however it’s important to ensure that:
- The subject of the compulsory elective module is included in the list of possible subjects
- The individual concerned is authorised to attend and complete the modules listed for the subject
These prerequisites apply in the case that the baccalaureate is the same. In other cases, you should contact the relevant CuKo representative for additional admission information.
4) How much of a technophile do I need to be for this programme? Is it like studying computer science? Do I need to have studied maths?
That totally depends on what you mean by ‘technophile’ and what you imagine studying computer science is like. You don’t have to be a mathematician either and maths won’t be part of your studies at all.
For comparison, the programme module ‘Fundamentals of Computer Science’ (Grundlagen der Informatik) is largely comparable with similar modules at Graz Technical University (TU Graz), however at a significantly reduced level. Most of the other modules are not at all similar to computer science, although you will of course learn the basics of computer programming. Basic computer literacy (e.g. “how do I zip a document?” etc.) is required for the programme, however you can test whether you have these skills by going through “Worksheet 0” (Übungsblatt 0).
Not being able to answer or solve anything from “Worksheet 0” in advance shouldn’t deter you from the programme, however you should have the motivation to go and gain these computer skills independently. Those who don’t want to do this probably won’t enjoy studying on this programme.
Information modelling in the humanities involves solving ‘annoying’ technical problems that often don’t appear to be directly related to the humanities. Students on the programme should at least have a basic tolerance for this.
5) I’ve read that you need to have your own laptop for the programme? Will an iPad or MacBook suffice? Does the software only work on Windows? Do I need Linux?
Anyone who seriously wants to study for a master’s degree in Digital Humanities should have their own laptop, which they can take with them and for which they have administrator rights to install new software. In some situations, the ZIM can help out with computers.
Using differing operating systems is no problem. Students and lecturers use Windows, MacOS and Linux, depending on their personal preferences. This variety hasn’t caused any problems so far and there is no specific recommended operating system.
Exclusively using a tablet computer isn’t recommended, as not all of the software used during the course of the programme exists for this format. Smaller screens also aren’t as suitable for programming or data modelling.
6) (How) Can I combine my studies with my work?
Work that is compatible with your studies in terms of content (for example, in the field of the digital humanities) is of course easier to combine with the master’s programme. If this is the case, a higher workload could be managed alongside the speedy completion of the programme of study by crediting relevant work hours as internships etc.
However, usually, 30 working hours is quite a lot, especially since the timing of individual modules cannot always be geared towards those who wish to study part-time. With such a high workload, it’s likely that the standard course timings and period of study would become hard to adhere to.
The programme is officially ‘full-time’. This means that the department is not obliged to offer modules in such a way that they are guaranteed to fit around other work commitments. Many of our students work part-time, however this is not a requirement in principle. If you want some further tips about how this would work, it’s a good idea to ask other students who study and have part-time jobs.
For the answer to ‘how’ see question 7.
Those who work a lot alongside their studies need to understand that it may take longer to complete the programme. It may also be worth strategically taking key modules in the study programme which serve as prerequisites for other modules further down the line.
Studying from Vienna
Students who have studied on the master’s programme or have completed their qualification from Vienna have had a good experience finding local accommodation on Airbnb. Booking travel tickets early and being strategic about selecting which days will be spent in Graz and attending as many modules as possible, has also proven successful for Vienna-based students. However, please remember that the programme is not explicitly designed to be part-time.
7) Which modules should I take if I can’t follow the set programme of studies? What’s the best way for me to transfer to the programme in the summer semester?
Anyone who transfers to the programme during the summer semester obviously cannot follow the programme of studies and will have difficulty sticking to the usual timetable.
However, some of the basic modules, which serve as prerequisites for other, more advanced modules, are run both in winter and summer. These are the ‘Fundamentals of Information Modelling’ (Grundlagen der Informationsmodellierung) and ‘Fundamentals of X-Technologies’ (Grundlagen der X-Technologien). Only the introductory module ‘Fundamentals of the Digital Humanities’ (Grundlagen der digitalen Geisteswissenschaften) is offered exclusively in the winter semester. It’s recommended that students complete these three modules first. This applies to those transferring to the programme and those working part-time, as they will be able to complete fewer courses per semester.
Once those three modules have been completed, students can claim the certificate: “Information Modelling”: Information modelling (in the humanities) as a supplementary elective module as part of another study programme. If it turns out that the entire master’s programme is too difficult to reconcile with work, students can complete just the certificate.
8) I already have a master’s degree but I would like to stay in education and get another qualification. What is the most efficient way to do this?
The questions around working alongside studying (6 & 7) are probably relevant for this.
Working towards a master’s degree in the digital humanities as a supplementary qualification certainly makes sense. However, depending on how deeply you want to immerse yourself and how much time you have for work, the certificate module “Information Modelling in the Humanities” (Informationsmodellierung in den Geisteswissenschaften) could be a good alternative to the full master’s programme.
This certificate awards 24 ECTS (attendance of 6 course units) and teaches practical knowledge, whilst sparing some of the detail of more theoretical modules, such as the ‘Fundamentals of Computer Science’ (Grundlagen der Informatik). The certificate is enough to prove basic knowledge in the digital humanities and – in comparison to the master’s programme – can easily be fit around work and completed within the course of an academic year.
Those looking to enrol in the master’s programme are encouraged to take the most unfamiliar modules first, as opposed to those they may already be comfortable with. Those who do not have a basic knowledge of XML and XSL, for example, should concentrate on those areas first. Those who already have a strong IT background should concentrate on more humanities-focussed modules. Those who already know XML should perhaps first attend the introduction to programming.
There’s no point re-doing something you already find easy!
9) I only have a limited amount of time, should I learn programming or X-technologies first?
XML and XSLT (X-technologies) are very important and are focus points in the masters programme. Gaining skills in these areas at an early stage is recommended so you’re not under pressure to learn them fresh towards the end of the programme and you have enough time to develop them accordingly. Ultimately, however, decisions about which modules to take and when, lie with the student themselves.
Of course, however, the curriculum is structured in a sensible and logical order, and it makes sense to follow it where possible. If this isn’t possible for whatever reason, it’s best to complete modules which are prerequisites for admission onto other more advanced modules. In concrete terms this concerns the modules: ‘Fundamentals of Information Modelling’ (Grundlagen der Informationsmodellierung), ‘Fundamentals of X-Technologies’ (Grundlagen der X-Technologien) and ‘Fundamentals of the Digital Humanities’ (Grundlagen der digitalen Geisteswissenschaften). These prerequisite modules are also shown in the sample course of study diagram.
In short: there are no formal requirements for programming, so it’s best to study X-technologies first.
10) Information for international students
It’s particularly relevant for international students to know that apart from the ÖH fee, there are no other tuition fees due if studies are completed during the usual time period. The programme is designed to be taught in German, however there are English modules and some lecturers can conduct their modules in English, by request. In principle, the language barrier shouldn’t be a problem and, if required, further modules can be offered in English too.
The programme is aimed at humanities and cultural studies students who want to learn technical methods (e.g. XML, XSLT, basic programming) to answer their own research questions, brought with them from their original field of study, usually the subject of their bachelor’s. IT graduates must prove basic knowledge of the humanities (methods, for example) and if necessary, make up for them as the programme does not provide any introductions to purely humanities-based topics. The compulsory elective modules are there for this reason, but all the master’s-level modules must be completed at the Institute and may require a completed subject-related bachelor’s degree as an admission requirement.
Those who haven’t completed a relevant bachelor’s degree and want to study on the Digital Humanities master’s programme must contact the relevant CuKo chairperson to see if they are eligible. Applying for non-consecutive enrolment (i.e. from a non-relevant bachelor’s) is very time consuming (it takes several months) and should therefore be discussed well in advance.
12) Master’s thesis
According to the curriculum, completing the master’s thesis comprises 20 ECTS (approx. 500 hours). The thesis is a scientific paper approximately 80-100 pages long, which can be supplemented with digital appendices and other elaborations. In the case of extensive digital papers, which also count as scientific papers, a shorter number of pages (min. 60 pages of text) can be agreed with the supervisor. Generally, a guideline for the length is 80-100 pages, or 144,000 to 216,000 characters. The topic can be taken from one of the various examination areas (modules B – E on the course plan).
Registering: Submitting a topic is done through a form which can be downloaded from the Faculty of Humanities (GeWi Fakultät) website. The title submitted on this form is only a working title and can easily be changed later during the electronic submission process. Fresh, new applications must only be submitted if there is a fundamental change of topic or supervisor.
Information about the submission process can be found on the relevant information page of the Dean’s Office for the Humanities (Informationsseite des geisteswissenschaftlichen Dekanats).
A minimum of 4 weeks must be factored in between submitting the paper and the examination date, and the expert opinion/appraisal must be available 2 weeks before the examination date. It’s not necessary to have completed all modules and examinations when registering for the master’s thesis, however all grades – including the thesis – must be available before the examination.
The master’s thesis is a scientific paper, i.e. a written reflection which follows scientific standards. In the case of the Digital Humanities master’s programme, it is either a theoretical treatise or a combination of theory and practice.
If students already have an idea about a theme, then a specific teacher can be approached. If you don’t have an idea yet, it’s often useful to reflect on the modules you enjoyed the most, or which teacher – or potential supervisor – feels most appropriate and whose research areas complement your own. If an idea emerges from your research, you should arrange a personal meeting to discuss next steps. Please note that not all teachers are obliged to supervise master’s students, so contact them early.
“Who may supervise master’s theses? Any lecturer with teaching authorisation (Venia/Habilitation) who has an employment contract with the University of Graz. In exceptional circumstances, lecturers without teaching authorisations may also act as supervisors – this is decided by the Vice Dean of Studies on approval (exception regulation).
“The Venia can often be viewed in the UGO Profile or CV of the lecturer (“teaching authorisation” “venia docendi”). A concrete study area must be stated on the application for supervision and should be closely compatible with the chosen topic area for the master’s thesis. If there is no venia docendi, the supervision must be submitted as an exception, which can be rejected by the (Vice) Dean of Studies. The supervisor is always the first master’s thesis examiner, however two people with a habilitation are required to be on the examination. With this in mind, selecting a supervisor without a habilitation does affect the composition of the examination board.”
In principle, there is an unlimited amount of time to complete a master’s thesis, however, as enrolment is compulsory, the ÖH fee and, if applicable, other tuition fees, are due as soon as the standard period of study is exceeded. It’s important to remember that the supervisor may also change universities if you take too long, for example.
List of active habilitated persons at the University of Graz - https://gewi.uni-graz.at/de/mitarbeiten/habilitation/
The master’s examination is worth 5 ECTS credits. It can only be taken when all other examination modules have been passed and the master’s thesis has been positively assessed.
The master’s examination is like a public defence of the master’s thesis. It also includes two subject examinations on sub-areas of the module which the thesis is focussed on, as well as an examination on another compulsory module from the master’s programme.
The supervisor of the master’s thesis is automatically the first examiner. In total the examination board consists of three people, at least two habilitated persons and a chairperson (who may be the second habilitated person). The master’s thesis is defended for 20 minutes (10 minutes presentation, 10 minutes discussion) and this is followed by a 20-minute examination per examiner on agreed literature for the other selected modules/examination subjects.
The below modules are possible examination subjects:
B – Data structures and programming (Datenstrukturen und Programmierung)
C – In-depth digital exploration (Digitale Tiefenerschließung)
D – Sustainability and (research) data (Nachhaltigkeit und Forschungs-)Daten
E – Theories and applications of the digital humanities (Theorien und Anwendungen der Digitalen Geisteswissenschaften)
More detailed information on the degree can be found on the information pages of the GeWi Deanery.
14) Project seminar
The project seminar is worth 6 ECTS credits of 25 hours each (i.e. 20 hours of attendance units (meetings etc.) and 130 hours of independent work) and serves to use practical work to consolidate what’s already been learned in other modules. Students are either given a practical task of a manageable duration to complete, or can choose one themselves. Students who already have a master’s thesis topic chosen can opt to use the seminar to do 130 hours of preparatory work, however project seminar topics may not necessarily match the topic of the thesis. Having a master’s thesis topic chosen is not a prerequisite for participation in the project seminar.
Possible tasks can be taken from the below themes:
- Modelling/visualisation: e.g. advanced data modelling, coding, bibliometrics, advanced visualisation, the analysis and improvement of existing models, enrichment with standard data, 3D modelling
- Transformation: e.g. XSLT, web development. Excel to LIDO, Word to TEI, etc.