A Quick Word About the NMDC Master Programme
At this point, you are probably wondering two things: one, have I made the right decision and, two, what things can I expect this year? Concerning the first, you have made an excellent decision if you are someone that is eager to learn all about technologies and their entanglements with society, culture, and politics. Concerning the latter, I hope that these words can help you create an image of things to come.
Dear upcoming NMDC students,
If you are reading this it means that you have chosen to attend the master programme New Media and Digital Culture at Utrecht University this year. At this point, you are probably wondering two things: one, have I made the right decision and, two, what things can I expect this year. Concerning the first, all I can say is yes; you have made the right decision. In fact, you have made an excellent decision if you are someone that is eager to learn all about technologies and their entanglements with society, culture, and politics. Concerning the latter, I hope that the following paragraphs, in which I describe my experience with the NMDC master programme, can help you create an image of things to come.
Approximately three years ago I was an upcoming graduate, en route to complete a four-year long study in multimedia design. On the one hand, I felt I was ready for the working life, as I had gathered four years of hands-on experience designing for new media. On the other hand, there still was this unfulfilled desire to learn more about the complexities of the new media I had learned to design for. Currently, I am again an upcoming graduate. This time around, however, the nagging feeling I might miss the opportunity to learn more about the promiscuities of new media has lost its predominance. This change can be entirely attributed to the master programme New Media and Digital Culture, which offers a well-varied and in-depth curriculum that helps you to obtain the tools to critically approach and reflect on the role of new media in our present-day information society.
Two and a half years ago, I started the NMDC programme as a premaster student. If you are a premaster yourself and think that it something you can do on the side, you are mistaken. The premaster year requires all of your attention, as it is a period in which you are moulded into an academic student. You will be pointed – occasionally in a less subtle way – to the importance and necessity of academic thinking and writing. From my experience, the premaster year is the final test you take to see whether you are really up for the challenge that lies ahead. When you pass this test – either in the form of a premaster or an academic bachelor’s degree – it is, indeed, crucial to realise that the true work still needs to be done. New master students will quickly experience how the difficulty and amount of work is turned up a notch. When you are prepared for this you do not have to worry. When you underestimate the level of the master programme, my advice is to adjust rapidly in order to prevent falling behind.
When you manage to complete the first half of the master, which consists of four different courses, you enter the individual part of the programme. In this individual part you do an internship and write your master thesis, whilst guided along the way by your tutor. Regarding the internship, I recommend you read my report about the internship I did at STRP Festival in Eindhoven in 2011. In this report I point towards the necessity to make proper arrangements on forehand and to try to get you finger behind as many expectations the internship company has of you as you possibly can. The clearer the arrangements and expectations are, the smoother the internship will run its course. I have also written this article in which I discuss the so-called “gap” between academia and practice and the importance of trying to force yourself to translate your knowledge into crystal-clear, understandable terms. I hope both articles help you on your way by the time you have to find an internship.
Finally, as the ultimate test, you write your master thesis. Although it is perhaps more obvious to combine your thesis with your internship (which indeed is possible), I chose to separate the subject of my thesis from my internship research. When you think of your master thesis, in a way, it is a pre-eminent opportunity to create something you can be proud of – to show the world what you are made of. This is how I approached my master thesis, anyway. Think about it; you are given the freedom to conduct research on any subject or at any company you desire. This research, subsequently, can be your business card – the stepping-stone towards your professional career. Your thesis is what you make of it – it is all up to you. It is hard work, certainty, but when you approach your thesis as an opportunity to create your masterpiece, it will be worth all the effort you put into it.
With these words, together with the information handed to you during the introduction and the information that is available at this site, I hope you are able to create somewhat of an image of what to expect as a NMDC student. If you have any questions regarding the master programme, feel free to comment below.
I wish you all the best of luck!
Upcoming NMDC graduate