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MA Thesis Book and Digital Media studies


Admission requirements

Only open to BDMS students.


The final component of the MA programme consists of writing a Master’s thesis. Once the thesis has been approved, it must be defended orally. The thesis should be based on the student’s specialisation, which is either History of the Book, Publishing Studies, Digital Text and Data Processing, or Digital Access to Cultural Heritage.

Choosing a topic
Students are encouraged to select the topic of their thesis themselves, in consultation with one of the staff members. In most cases, the supervisor (or ‘first reader’) of the thesis will be the lecturer responsible for the course which inspired the thesis topic. Students should approach the relevant lecturer and discuss with him/her the chosen topic and potential research question. If necessary, the supervisor will assist in finding relevant secondary literature. A second reader is chosen in consultation with the supervisor. At the heart of a thesis lies a specific research problem which either addresses a theoretical question or an issue from the extensive domain of Book and Digital Media Studies, which has to be examined in an academic way. Before a research question can be formulated, students should do some preparatory reading. Once the student has selected a topic, formulated a research problem and put together a provisional bibliography, the thesis proposal can be submitted to the supervisor. It should include the title of the thesis, a bibliography and a description of the topic. The proposal must be submitted at the beginning of the second semester.

Research and writing
In principle, students will already have made a start on their research in the course of formulating the research question. They should have a clear time schedule for the research, in consultation with the supervisor. The amount of research should be proportionate to the time available (560 hours). It is advisable to start writing as soon as possible.

Supervision arrangements are made in consultation between the supervisor and the student.

Submission of the final version
Once the thesis is completed, the student hands in a copy of the final draft to the supervisor. As soon as the supervisor has given his/her permission, the student can produce the definitive version and send it (on paper and as a pdf) to the first and second reader. The first reader then contacts the student and makes an appointment for the final defence. The date of the defence will be at least two weeks after submission of the definitive version.

Thesis seminar
Students will participate in a series of meetings to prepare themselves for the Master’s thesis early in the second semester, as part of the compulsory Bridging Theory and Practice course.


A thesis is an academic essay, written by the student in consultation with the supervisor. The thesis must show that the student is capable of critical analysis and reflection, appropriate use of primary sources and secondary literature, and of conducting independent research. The thesis is an academic report of this process.

Time table

To graduate before the end of any academic year, the final draft must be submitted to the supervisor no later than 30 June.

Mode of instruction

Thesis seminar;
Personal supervision.

Course load

560 hours

Assessment method

Thesis of approximately 20.000 words. In the assessment of the quality of the thesis, the following aspects are taken into account:

  • The formulated research problem and subsequent question(s);

  • The research process and use of research methods;

  • Use of relevant concepts or theories;

  • Integration and use of relevant secondary scholarly literature;

  • Originality of the arguments;

  • Innovative perspectives;

  • Scholarly and professional relevance of subject and outcomes;

  • Structure of the thesis;

  • Quality of style and use of language;

  • Quality of the oral defence.



Reading list