Course Overview

UK/EU Fees £8,000 *
International Fees £14,500 *
Alumni Discount See details
Duration 1 year

* Price per academic year

Please note that the next intake for the Data, Culture and Society MA will be in September 2020. The course is not recruiting for September 2019.

Course summary

We live in an age where almost everything of what we do is connected to data. Big data and datafication - the increasing transformation of multiple aspects of everyday lives into digital data - pose great opportunities but also risks for contemporary societies. This new MA course addresses, explores and creatively utilises this transformation. We place an emphasis on current and future technologies and practices such as algorithms, artificial intelligence, big data, blockchain, data analytics and data mining, the Internet of Things, and others.

This multidisciplinary course brings together media / communication studies and computer science. It combines hands-on and applied approaches with theoretical learning and critical analysis. It will encourage collaboration, creative practice, group work and problem-based learning. You will apply tools and technologies to your own data challenges and projects, including from your existing professional or cultural, political, social and economic environments. The course also features optional modules from a range of disciplines across the University: Media and Communication Studies, Law, Computer Science, Politics and International Relations, Cultural Studies.

You will be introduced to the tools and approaches that can be used for collection, analysis, management and visualisation of data, as well as to the skills needed to critically think about the ethical, cultural, social and political implications of their practice.

The course combines technical skills, critical use and creative production. It directly addresses graduates who may wish to acquire a set of skills in relation to data analytics, processing and visualisation, while maintaining and furthering a critical mode of enquiry into practices and trends that shape individuals, organisations and societies today. It also speaks to graduates with technical backgrounds and work experience in data-related industries, who wish to develop a more critical and multidisciplinary understanding of the social, cultural, political and economic implications of data-driven societies today.

Course structure

The following modules are indicative of what you will study on this course. 

Core modules, Semester 1

This module is intended to lay the theoretical and conceptual foundations when it comes to investigating and understanding how digital data and society intersect. The main focus of this module is on digital data practices and how they shape and are shaped by socio-cultural, political, economic and subjective factors. You will be introduced to key concepts and theoretical frameworks from a multidisciplinary perspective and engage with those during seminars and independent study. The assessment consists of a creative data project as well as a written essay.

This module introduces you to computer systems fundamentals and data systems fundamentals. The aim of the module is to ensure that you have a deep understanding of the high-level systems and software that support data storage and retrieval to be able to work with such systems and to be able to critically and confidently operate with system stakeholders and technical partners such as data providers, storage, and data processing actors. Concepts of computer systems and data creation, storage, and retrieval systems shall be introduced as well as compliance and security. This knowledge is reinforced by practical sessions where you will create, store and retrieve complex data using standard tools, as well as have the opportunity to analyse and critically evaluate typical real-world data lifecycle scenarios.

Option modules, Semester 1

This module provides you with a theoretical understanding of the development, significance and contemporary uses of social media. It fosters both critical analysis and reflective practice in the networked digital media environment. You will critically engage with key ideas of creativity, sharing and visibility in social media, and will participate in creative and reflective practice using leading social media tools and platforms. This will involve using social media tools to explore course concepts and theoretical materials by, for example, blogging about course readings, making an online video presentation to introduce a weekly seminar discussion, or making a photo essay in response to a key module theory.

This module will introduce you to the political economy approach to analysing the production, distribution and consumption of media content in text and audio-visual form, whether online or offline, as well as the workings of telecoms networks behind online media. It identifies distinctive economic features of media and relates these to trends in the organisation of specific media industries, taking account of ways in which the economics of media have been affected by the spread of digital technologies.

This module will provide an overview of modern techniques in Machine Learning and Data Mining that are particularly customised for Data Science applications. You will be introduced to a range of toolkits, such as R and Python and they will explore the features and strengths of different machine learning and data mining methodologies, using selected data sets related to specific public sector or businesses application domains. Statistical knowledge is required in order to successfully complete this module.

This module introduces you to the theoretical frameworks and practices of the politics of global complexity, the debates that have been triggered, and the way that complexity understandings have developed, especially in the 1990s and 2000s. Emphasis is placed upon the conceptual frameworks deployed in understanding system effects on political, economic and social life and how these enable us to rethink governance, power and agency. While focusing on conceptual frameworks, this module also engages with how complexity is reflected in new approaches to policy, and external stakeholders will provide input to the module (for example, the Social Market Foundation, the New Local Government Network and the Foreign Policy Centre).

This module will provide you with a critical understanding of certain legal aspects of the phenomenon of electronic commerce, with specific reference to the law on on-line contracting. This will include the ability to: examine critically the legal and commercial framework for electronic commerce; examine key aspects of the law of contract; study English and EU legal provisions including on-line data transmission, on-line marketing, electronic payments, data handling, etc..; facilitate your learning of the applications of current law; evaluate areas of reform and change.

Core modules, Semester 2

Building on Data and Society 1, this module places an emphasis on different methods for researching big data, datafication and data practices and applications. This module is intended to provide an introduction at postgraduate level to the methodological tools for collecting, analysing and visualising digital data, both as an object of study and a means for analysis. The focus is on qualitative, quantitative as well as digital data methods. The module consists of a range of lectures and seminars. You will also conduct a small group research project together that will make use of some of the tools and skills taught in the module.

This module consists of a series of lectures and workshops which will introduce you to the research process of your major projects. In Semester 3, individual supervision will guide and support you through the final research project. Building on what you have learned in Data and Society 1 and 2, and all other optional modules of the course, you will conduct your own independent research project under the guidance of a supervisor. This can either take the format of a 15,000 words dissertation, or a creative artefact/project accompanied by a written report.

Option modules, Semester 2

Artificial intelligence (AI) has started to become widely applied, from conversational interfaces such as Siri or Alexa to self-driving cars, from medical apps to policing and even to the prediction of requiring social care. This module delivers a systematic overview of such recent applications and teaches you to critically discuss and assess their ethical, societal, political and economic effects. By mapping a broad range of applications, issues arising and key debates, this module will equip you with a systematic understanding of current developments of AI and the ability to critically evaluate AI applications, their use and impact.

This module addresses one of the most urgent and, at the same time, elusive contemporary issues: the relationship between culture and the rise of digital media. It explores the production, circulation and cultural impact of digital technologies and considers how their emergence influences society, contemporary culture, and the relationship between the two. The module introduces key themes and debates in digital culture and explores ways in which digital environments impact upon how we produce, engage with, and thus understand their cultural formations.

This module provides an overview of the critical and theoretical analysis of how the Internet and social media (Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, WikiLeaks, file sharing, blogs etc.) shape and impact on society. We will break down the mythologies and critically evaluate the political-economy of the internet and technology in general and the impact of social media on politics, race, gender, class and community. This module has a particular interest in the power structures of economic systems and (geo-) politics, and the way they shape the Internet and social media. It examines the role gender and race place in the production and circulation of information while taking a critical approach to the study of technology. Through the practical assignments you will be exposed to the digital landscape and strengthen practical skills.

This module covers the theoretical and practical aspects of data visualisation including graphical perception, dynamic dashboard visualisations, and static data ‘infographics’. Tools such as R and Tableau are used. The aim is to prepare you for becoming a data visualisation specialist. Statistical knowledge is required in order successfully complete this module.

This module studies digital convergence and the role of policy and regulation in facilitating and controlling that process. The focus is on Internet-related policy debates and concepts drawing mostly on developments in the USA, the European Union and Britain but with a critical awareness of the issues facing developing, transitional and small countries. It critically assesses competing arguments concerning the interplay between policy and technology and implications for market structures and business models, as appropriate.

Entry Requirements

You will need an Upper Second Class Honours degree (or above). If English is your second language you should have an IELTS score of 6.5.

View more information about our entry requirements and the application process.

You will need an Upper Second Class Honours degree (or equivalent). If English is your second Language you should have an IELTS score of 6.5.

More information


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The substantial growth in the number of jobs related to the digital and data world will further the need for graduates able to combine creative, applied and theoretical, and critical data skills with an ever wider range of subject areas. Graduates from this programme will be fully capable and confident to combine these skills during their careers. Students who complete the Data, Culture and Society MA can work in a wide variety of sectors connected to data in different ways: media and creative industries, PR & advertising, consulting and think tanks, start-ups, research and development, regulation and policy, data and knowledge-based companies and organisations, data management. Possible roles that graduates can work in may include Digital Campaigning, Marketing Insights; Marketing Data Manager; Archivist; Social Data Analyst; Data Analyst; Data Specialist; Data Strategist, Investigative analyst; Project Manager, Data Policy Advisor; Customer Data Analyst.

The skills provided in this course also enable you to be fully prepared for further study opportunities such as MPhil, PhD or other modalities of research that could also lead to future paths within the academic world.

Fees and Funding

UK and EU tuition fee: £8,000 (Price per academic year)

When you have enrolled with us, your annual tuition fees will remain the same throughout your studies with us. We do not increase your tuition fees each year.

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

Alumni discount

This course is eligible for an alumni discount. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply by visiting our Alumni discounts page.


As well as tuition fee loans, there is a range of funding available to help you fund your studies.

Find out about postgraduate student funding options.


The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

International tuition fee: £14,500 (Price per academic year)

When you have enrolled with us, your annual tuition fees will remain the same throughout your studies with us. We do not increase your tuition fees each year.

Find out how we set our tuition fees.

Alumni discount

This course is eligible for an alumni discount. Find out if you are eligible and how to apply by visiting our Alumni discounts page.


Find out about funding for international students.


The University is dedicated to supporting ambitious and outstanding students and we offer a variety of scholarships to eligible undergraduate students, which cover all or part of your tuition fees.

Find out if you qualify for one of our scholarships.

Course Location

The core modules of the course are taught in Cavendish Campus. Depending on the optional modules chosen, you will also be based at other University of Westminster campuses (such as Harrow Campus, Regent Street, or Little Titchfield Street).

Contact us

Contact the Course Enquiries Team:

+44 (0)20 7915 5511

[email protected]

Opening hours (GMT): 9am–4.30pm Monday to Friday

More information

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