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Unit information: Introduction to Digital Humanities in 2018/19

Please note: It is possible that the information shown for future academic years may change due to developments in the relevant academic field. Optional unit availability varies depending on both staffing and student choice.

Unit name Introduction to Digital Humanities
Unit code HUMS20006
Credit points 20
Level of study I/5
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 1 (weeks 1 - 12)
Unit director Dr. Leah Tether
Open unit status Open




School/department School of Humanities
Faculty Faculty of Arts


'There's no Next about it', claims William Pannapacker: the Digital Humanities are no longer 'the next big thing', but 'The Thing'. What are the Digital Humanities though? Who are digital humanists, and do you have to code to join their ranks? How do the Digital Humanities enhance research and practice in humanities subjects such as English Literature, History, History of Art, Classics and Ancient History and Religion and Theology?

This unit will introduce students to the latest digital methods and techniques available for humanities research. Through an overview of key topics, you will gain both the basic skills needed to begin deploying digital techniques and resources in your own work as well as the ability to critically engage with the wider digital cultures shaping these and the confidence to question the assumptions digital humanists make about the texts, images and spaces they encode.

We will cover topics such as how digital resources can provide alternative research and learning environments, the ways in which Digital Humanities projects can help to promote public access to research through the heritage and cultural industries and how digital publishing is developing the ways in which we read and glean information. No prior knowledge of coding or software is required, but we will give you the skills to write and use software capable of mapping thousands of data points to track nineteenth-century crime or 'reading' billions of words to spot trends in twentieth-century political rhetoric.

Unit Aims:

To introduce students to the concepts and technical skills associated with Digital Humanities research methods, as well as to familiarise them with the range of approaches available.

To develop an enhanced awareness of the ways in which Digital Humanities methods are affecting the outcomes of research, and how this is allowing wider audiences to interact with humanities research.

To explore and evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of adopting Digital Humanities approaches, considering ways in which issues might be overcome.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit, students should be able to demonstrate:

1. a thorough knowledge of the range of Digital Humanities approaches available, and be able to discern the appropriateness of given methods in various contexts.

2. appropriate use of digital research and publication tools, as well as the ability to write basic code when required and engage with different forms of data.

3. the ability to analyse and evaluate how Digital Humanities methods and approaches can be employed in the context of your own field of study.

4. the ability to construct a detailed argument in the appropriate register of English (both orally and in written language, using both traditional and social media formats), which balances academic and professional evidence in support, and which is presented it in an appropriate academic form and submitted by a deadline.

5. the ability to present information and arguments on a defined topic to a group of listeners.

Teaching details

1 x 2-hour seminar per week (or workshop for digital training classes).

Supported by screen-casts hosted on Blackboard to support use of digital tools.

Assessment Details


1 x group presentation in final week [ILOs 1-5]


1 x series of six blog posts in which students evaluate a digital humanities technique or resource related to seminars. (30%) [ILOs 1-4]

1 x 3000-word essay based on formative group presentation (see above; 70%) [ILOs 1-5]

Reading and References

Matthew Gold, Debates in the Digital Humanities, University of Minnesota Press, 2012.

Susan Schreibman, Ray Siemens and John Unsworth, eds, A Companion to Digital Humanities, Blackwell, 2004.

Ray Siemens and Susan Schreibman, eds, A Companion to Digital Literary Studies, Blackwell, 2007.

Melissa Terras, Julianne Nyhan and Edward Vanhoutte, Defining Digital Humanities: A Reader, Ashgate, 2013.