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5AAVC200 Digital Methods II: Working with Data

Module convenors: Dr Jonathan Gray and Dr Liliana Bounegru 
Credits: 15
Pre-requisites: only available to BA Digital Culture students
Teaching pattern: Ten one-hour lectures and ten one-hour seminars

Module description:

What are digital methods? How can they be used for social and cultural research? What are their affordances and limitations? How can we reflect on their use in light of leading research on the internet, online platforms and digital culture? 

This module will explore the use of digital methods for social and cultural research. It will provide a conceptual and theoretical introduction to doing research with “born digital” data from the web, social media platforms and other digital devices. Students will learn how to extract, analyse and interpret digital data from these sources, as well as how to critically reflect on the tools, methods and approaches they use.

The first part of the module will focus on situating digital methods, research design and doing research with and about hyperlinks, search engines and web archives. The second part of the module will focus on analysing networks and working with data from online platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

Module aims

The module aims to:

  • Provide a hands-on introduction to doing social and cultural research with digital methods;
  • Introduce conceptual and theoretical approaches to digital methods research;
  • Support students to design and implement their own digital methods research projects.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this module students will be able to:

  • Creatively use and critically reflect on a range of tools and approaches for doing digital methods research;
  • Design and implement research projects with and about digital devices such as hyperlinks, search engines, web archives and online platforms;
  • Understand the main aspects of digital methods research, including how to extract, analyse, interpret and visualise data from the web and online platforms.

Core reading

  • Borra, E., & Rieder, B. (2014). Programmed Method: Developing a Toolset for Capturing and Analyzing Tweets. Aslib Journal of Information Management, 66(3), 262-278.
  • Gray, J., Bounegru, L., Milan, S., & Ciuccarelli, P. (2016). Ways of Seeing Data: Toward a Critical Literacy for Data Visualizations as Research Objects and Research Devices. In Kubitschko, Sebastian & Kaun, Anne (Eds.), Innovative Methods in Media and Communication Research (pp. 227–251). Springer International Publishing.
  • Marres, N. (2017). Digital Sociology: The Reinvention of Social Research. London: Polity Press.
  • Marres, N., & Rogers, R. (2005). Recipe for Tracing the Fate of Issues and Their Publics on the Web. In B. Latour & P. Weibel (Eds.), Making Things Public: Atmospheres of Democracy (pp. 922–935). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Marres, N., & Weltevrede, E. (2013). Scraping the Social? Issues in Live Social Research. Journal of Cultural Economy, 6(3), 313–335.
  • Rieder, B., & Röhle, T. (2012). Digital Methods: Five Challenges. In D. M. Berry (Ed.), Understanding Digital Humanities (pp. 67–84). London: Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Rieder, B., & Röhle, T. (2017). Digital Methods: From Challenges to Bildung. In M. T. Schafer & K. van Es (Eds.), The Datafied Society: Studying Culture Through Data (pp. 109–124). Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press.
  • Rogers, R. (2013). Digital Methods. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Two evaluations (an intermediary and a final one). Each evaluation counts for 50% of the final grade and consists of a project and 1,000-word essay.

 The modules run in each academic year are subject to change in line with staff availability and student demand so there is no guarantee every module will run. Module descriptions and information may vary depending between years.

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