Our culture is increasingly computational. Digital technologies are deeply implicated in the ways we produce knowledge, analyse older cultural forms, and make new ones. Computational technologies and techniques are central to the way we live now. They are embedded into bodies and environments, re-organizing scale and distance, re-wiring social divisions and inequalities in unexpected ways. They are also central to what we know and how we know it – the digital constitutes a radical shift in the forms of knowledge production, circulation, and exchange. It produces new possibilities for scholarship – and ushers in new epistemic culture. There is a need for the humanities to grapple with emerging forms, practices, social formations and epistemic cultures shaped in this digital age.
Our new MPhil in Digital Humanities responds to this. The course explores ways in which the humanities can engage with digitally enabled research approaches, it considers the impact of digital innovations on cultural forms and practices, and it explores digital futures. The course is designed to be inter-disciplinary and caters for different skill levels in DH methods and approaches.
About the Course
The course delivers a series of practical engagement with digital methods, tools, and approaches and also provides an orientation in a range of critical and theoretical approaches necessary to grapple with key issues in digital humanities – these include questions of the ethical or politics of digital culture, environmental load, surveillance and personal freedom, data neutrality issues, algorithmic analysis, machine learning, open access, platform politics, ethics of automation, virtual cultures, data sharing, intelligent agency and creativity, archival justice and digital histories, collections and heritage issues.
The course is designed to offer a structured engagement with a range of methods and critical/theoretical approaches and also to enable the development of specialisms. It will enable humanities or social science trained students to develop the critical literacy and practical skills and knowledges to understand and engage with digital materials and digital methods for the study of matters relevant to the humanities.
Students take two core courses – Digital Humanities Approaches and Methods, and Data and Algorithmic Analysis – and choose two courses from a basket of more specialist options undertaken in the Lent (second) term. These vary from year to year but may include options on Digital Forms, Automatic writing, Cultures of AI, Global Digital Humanities, Digital Approaches to the Past.
Students also develop a year-long dissertation or portfolio project exploring a chosen area with an appropriate supervisor. You will also acquire a critical and well-informed understanding of the stakes of digital transformation in contemporary society and participate in the advanced research culture of the DH community at Cambridge and beyond by attending and contributing to research seminars, practical and methodological workshops, and reading groups.
The course is assessed through shorter essays and through the dissertation or portfolio project.
The MPhil will enable students to demonstrate an advanced general understanding of digital humanities and related topics at both practical and theoretical levels. This MPhil will benefit students seeking to stay with the field of DH at doctoral level and beyond by enabling them to hone their critical and methodological skills, develop new approaches and test them out, and specialise. It will also benefit students wishing to take their learning back to ‘home’ disciplines, as they will have gained the critical and practical digital literacy to inform future research.
Other careers which may follow an MPhil in DH could include those in galleries, libraries, archives, museums, creative industries, digital media industries and media arts – as students will have gained the critical perspectives, practical digital literacies, and methodological insights to pursue these pathways.
MPhil students may apply to continue to a PhD with a relevant Faculty at Cambridge. The academic condition for continuation at Cambridge is normally an overall mark of 70 or more for the MPhil course, and a mark of 70 or more for the dissertation/portfolio. Other conditions may also be imposed. (there is currently no PhD in Digital Humanities at Cambridge but topics of relevance to DH may be supervised through relevant faculties).
The course is directed by Cambridge Digital Humanities, a research centre with links across a wide range of faculties and units at Cambridge. It is administered by the Faculty of English.
We do not know yet what the world will look like in October 2022. The default for this course is in-person attendance in Cambridge. However, circumstances beyond our control might mean that the University has to move to remote learning if there are further local restrictions. Please see the following pages for more up to date information on the situation: