What remains of people is what media can store and communicate.
Friedrich A. Kittler, Discourse Networks, 1800/1900
[M]edia studies [try] to explore … practices that produce meaning….[T]he question of the circulation of meaning almost immediately involves the question of power. Who has the power, in what channels, to circulate which meanings to whom?
Stuart Hall, “Representation & the Media”

“Stop Blaming The Media” read a Huffington Post headline from 2016.
Whilst it cannot be denied that we are almost continuously exposed to a flow of media content in our daily lives, penetrating and saturating our private and public spheres, it also has become somewhat of a platitude to point towards ‘the media’ as this omnipotent, and yet rather abstract culprit.

As Stuart Hall remarked, to investigate the complexities of power within media ecologies is a fundamental task for any media scholar. We look at production practices (who and how?), analyze media texts (what meanings do they produce?) and examine how different audiences (users, spectators) engage with and consume media.

At University College Utrecht, media are explored from a critical, theoretically informed perspective, encompassing the study of visual art and culture (from photography to cinema to gifs), media archaeology, critical data studies, to mediated documentation of ‘reality’.

Media studies is firmly grounded in society and culture, and consequently a multidisciplinary field of inquiry. Imbued by philosophy, history, literature studies, art history, linguistics, anthropology, and sociology, Media Studies at University College Utrecht provides the analytical and theoretical tools for understanding both the forms and conditions of specific media and their embedding in the diverse personal and institutional settings of our lives. 

Media studies can add depth and dimension to virtually any other discipline within the Humanities (e.g. film philosophy or cultural history and media) and the Social Sciences (e.g. the political economy of the media industries or the digital anthropology).

If you are unsure about how Media Studies could possibly intersect with your other curricular interests, do not hesitate to contact the Fellow of the track.

Media studies is a relatively new track at University College Utrecht (since 2018). Currently, we offer the following courses:

  • UCHUMMES11, Introduction to Comparative Media Studies (level 1): This introductory course takes into account archaeological and philosophical notions of media and how new forms of communication exert social, cultural and political influences in a global context. 
  • UCHUMMES21, Visual Culture Studies (level 2): In this course, students will be equipped with the analytical methods and critical tools necessary to tackle some of the central themes in the field of visual culture theory ranging from the politics of representation to questions of materiality. Knowledge-production will include academic ­writing (essay & research paper) as well as creative practices (scholarly video essay). Course teaser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H2sOFilBxGc
  • UCHUMMES22, The Audio-Visual Documentary: Production & Theory (level 2): This theoretical and practical course aims to reflect on current popularisation of audiovisual documentaries and our relationship to these images as producers and as audience. The course introduces critical tools with which the students will analyse documentaries critically and rigorously. The students will also be part of a crew which will produce a documentary short film, under the supervision of the instructor and additional support from Utrecht University’s Media Lab.
  • UCINTMES31, The Digital Citizen (level 3, interdepartmental course): This interdepartmental course is designed to examine digital citizenship from a variety of disciplines and fields of inquiry such as Media Studies, Anthropology, Law, Ethics, Economics, or Criminology. We will begin by tracing the concept of “citizenship” and then direct our attention to what it means to be a digital citizen today. What are the political, social, economic, and cultural implications when citizenship is performed through the Internet and mediated as data via networked technology? Guest talks with scholars and experts in the field will guide students towards developing multi-disciplinary lenses.

If you are interested in taking an off-campus-course at Utrecht University, you are best advised to contact the Fellow of the track.

A Liberal Arts and Sciences curriculum at University College Utrecht, particularly when majoring in Humanities and/or Social Sciences (Anthropology, Sociology, Political Theory), will equip you with the expertise and skills needed for pursuing Master's programmes in or related to Media Studies. Relevant off-campus courses at Utrecht University will strengthen the position of the student in competitive application procedures.

Our graduates have entered the following Master's programmes:

  • Mst in Film Aesthetics, Oxford University
  • MA in Media, Art and Performance Studies, Utrecht University
  • MA in New Media & Digital Culture, Utrecht University
  • MA in Cultural Analysis, University of Amsterdam
  • MA in Filmmaking, The London Film School
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