The Department of Sociology is offering two scholarships for MA/MSc Digital Sociology students starting in 2013.
This innovative Masters is a collaborative programme across the Sociology and Computing Departments at Goldsmiths. The programme provides a comprehensive introduction to recent developments in digital social analysis, practice and theory, from the rise of 'big data' and social media analytics to digital ethnography and real-time research. It equips you to engage with these developments by combining sociological thinking about technology and social methods with creative computing techniques.
The programme enables you to play a leading role in the emerging field of Digital Sociology, whether you are planning to pursue an academic career or to work in public, private and third-sector organisations. Digital Sociology provides you with a range of relevant skills, teaching you how to design social research projects; to work with and create information retrieval applications; to synthesis, analyse and evaluate social data; and to develop creative and critical forms of sociological analysis.
The Masters is an opportunity to cross perceived digital and analogue divides in the study and elaboration of social life.
The MA/MSc in Digital Sociology is an inter-disciplinary programme taught across the Sociology and Computing Departments, and is based in the Centre for Creative and Social Technology (CAST). This new research centre provides students with access to state of the art facilities and emergent creative and social technologies.
The programme combines a variety of teaching formats, from lectures to lab sessions, and is taught by leading academics working at the cutting edge of sociology and computing, and who are committed to research-led teaching.
The college, the departments and CAST provide a vibrant study environment from which you will benefit as you develop your conceptual, creative and professional skills as a Digital Sociologist.
As you follow this programme, you will learn to think sociologically about digital life and to develop a hands-on, technically informed approach to digital social research and intervention.
The aim of the programme is to enable both serious reflection on the challenges that digital innovation poses for society at large, and to enable you to engage creatively with the opportunities for social research opened up by digitisation.
The programme draws on the reputation of sociology and computing at Goldsmiths as world-leading centres for inventive research, renowned for combining creative and radical thinking with rigorous methods and innovative techniques.
Our programme is very much part of a developing research agenda emphasising methodological innovation at the interface between social science and computing, and offers rigorous, flexible and creative training to postgraduate students.
Digital Sociology at Goldsmiths makes it possible to combine the critical thinking and digital techniques that today are crucial for cutting-edge social research.
The programme consists of courses taught by Sociology and Computing in an interdisciplinary and collaborative style. Current themes in social theory and social research methods are introduced in the core sociology courses and will be complemented in the computing courses, giving the students lots of opportunity to obtain creative computing and technical skills.
Core courses in sociology introduce students to the conceptual and methodological issues opened up by the application of social methods in digital networked media. Students will choose one option course in the second term on a sociological topic or method. Research methods will be taught jointly by the two departments, integrating traditional and emergent digital methods that draw on best practices from both disciplines.
Core computing courses include extensive time in the Digital Sandbox (lab) developing a capability and literacy in computer science, and engaging with current digital case studies from public sector, civil society, industry and academic experience.
In the summer term, students undertake a final project. This project has a written and a digital component, which are developed in consultation with supervisors from both the Departments of Computing and Sociology.
Students have the possibility to participate in a Digital Bootcamp prior to the start of the academic year, which is designed for those who do not have a background in computing.
Students on the MA/MSc in Digital Sociology have the opportunity to undertake work placements, and recently the Department of Sociology has offered two placements on this programme with:
In the summer term students complete a major final project/dissertation which engages with a social digital application, platform or site and addresses a sociological problem. The final project will have both a practical and a written component, and may take a variety of forms. The main focus may be on either tool development, empirical research or the devising of analytic frameworks. The relative emphasis of the final project will in part inform the decision to award an MA or an MSC degree.
If you register your interest in this programme we will keep you informed about open days and send you relevant further information. If you subsequently decide to apply for this programme you will be able to use the same login details to apply.
You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.
You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.
We accept applications from October for students wanting to start the following September.
We encourage you to complete your application as early as possible, even if you haven't finished your current programme of study. It's very common to be offered a place that is conditional on you achieving a particular qualification.
Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.
Admission to many programmes is by interview, unless you live outside the UK. Occasionally, we'll make candidates an offer of a place on the basis of their application and qualifications alone.
You should have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in Sociology, Computing or a relevant/related subject.
Applicants with significant work experience and/or a professional qualification in a computing, digital technology or social science-related subjects are encouraged.
If your first language is not English, you normally need a minimum overall score of 7.0 in IELTS (with 7.0 or higher in the written part of the test) for this programme.
Please check our English Language requirements for more information.
The Department of Sociology is offering two scholarships for MA/MSc Digital Sociology students starting in 2013.
Get in touch via our online form
+44 (0)20 7919 7766
+44 (0)20 7919 7702
The following Goldsmiths staff members contribute to courses on the MA/MSc Digital Sociology:
Dr Brian Alleyne (Sociology)
Prof Les Back (Sociology)
Dr Jenn Barth (Computing)
Dr Chris Brauer (Computing)
For further information on the staff and research profile of the Department of Sociology, visit the Sociology Department staff pages.
The MA/MSc Digital Sociology is a one year, full-time, and two year part-time programme. The programme consists of six course units and a final project, which may include a possible work placement. Part-time students will normally be expected to pass core courses to the value of 60 CATS, including the Digital Sociological Imagination, as well as one 15-CATS option course in their first year before proceeding to the second year.
|SO71101A||Sensory Sociology: Imagining Digital Social Research||30 CATS (offered by Sociology)|
This course investigates the transformation of sociology in the age of digital technologies, and offers an advanced introduction to medium-specific social research. The course introduces students to sociological theories relevant to researching digital social life, and examines problems and opportunities that digital technologies open up for empirical social research. The course places special emphasis on the opportunities that digitisation offers for the re-invention of sociology: its overarching aim is to enable examination of, and engagement with, empirical sociology as an ‘inventive’ research practice, oriented towards the creative deployment of research devices and methods. The course combines advanced training in sociological thinking with practice-based forms of methods teaching, taking an explorative approach to renewing the empirical commitments of sociological research in a digital context.
|IS71044A||Digital Sandbox||30 CATS (offered by Computing)|
The Digital Sandbox is a core course for both the MA and MSc. Students engage with a lecture series form industry experts and are asked to produce workshops, micro-technical projects, and research portfolios. Sample topics will include: software programming of social media, data visualisation, augmented reality, stop-motion animation and video editing.
The Digital Sandbox is both a course and a physical location in the CAST computing labs at Goldsmiths. Students will be expected to work in the Sandbox outside of course hours to practice techniques and to work in groups on projects.
|IS71045A||Innovation Case Studies||15 CATS (offered by Computing)|
The Case Studies lectures set the stage for each week of teaching and encourage student exposure to and interaction with the theory, culture, economics, and emerging technologies of the theory and practices of innovation in management, journalism, sociology, and social media. The case study format encourages active learning and allows the application of theoretical concepts to be demonstrated, thus bridging the gap between theory and practice.
Each week features a different topic so students gain in-depth knowledge of 10 innovation topics through weekly case study demonstration and critical analysis. Topics ranging from digital media, big data, community curation, engaging audiences, investigative techniques, design, and entrepreneurial activities provide the foundation for practice based research in the programme. Each case study features an industry guest speaker at the executive level discussing challenges related to a real world implementation of the particular case study topic. There will be a one hour lecture followed by an industry guest speaking about a specific case study for 30 minutes. There will be time for questions in the last 30 minutes of the class.
|SO71102A||Digital Social Research Methods||30 CATS (offered jointly by Sociology and Computing)|
This course introduces students to social research methods that have special salience in the digital context: ethnography, network analysis and online textual analysis and issue mapping. The course offers an advance introduction to computer‐enabled sociological methods and then proceeds to examine specific methods and their digitisation on a case‐to‐case basis. The course provides an overview of the central principles of these sociological methods, and then offers a hands‐on introduction to correlated online research tools and platforms. The course provides experience of a range of current searching and database technologies, and techniques and commands for the analysis of online social content. Finally, the course explores the sociological implications of the changing status of social research methods in the digital environment, as methods are materialised in search engines, data visualisation tools, and so on.
|SO71114||Sociology into Design||15 CATS (offered by Sociology)|
This course is an introduction to design culture and designerly ways of thinking for sociology students, taught by Nina Wakeford and Alex Taylor (Microsoft Research). In recent years there has been an increasing use of sociological research methods (particularly ethnography and the video interview or observation) in the design world, as designers try to develop products and services that incorporate ‘user-centred’ perspectives. The course will incorporate a ‘live’ design brief, as well as close reading of both texts and design objects. Students will be expected to explore how sociological knowledge can be applied in commercial and non-commercial contexts, such as the development of new consumer devices (eg a new technological product for a particular user group). Particular attention will be paid to the range of translation mechanisms that have been developed to transfer knowledge between researchers and designers, including visual representations, graphic models of human experience, and physical prototypes.
|n/a||Innovation Placement||n/a (offered by CAST and Sociology)|
Students will spend 2-6 weeks working in a content based institution, building on the skills they developed in the first and second term. These will be placements with public sector, industry, NGO and community partners. Many of these projects will provide the foundation for the programme Final Project. Internships will be offered via the CAST Innovation partnership programme as well as the Sociology Department, and arranged via the College.
|IS71048A||Major Final Project / Dissertation||60 CATS|
In the summer term students complete a Major Final Project/Dissertation which engages with a digital research platform, large‐scale website or social digital application and addresses a specific sociological problem. The final project will have both a practical and a written component. Students will produce a written dissertation which reflects on the sociological problem that the project addresses and the digital methods employed. The practical project may take various forms but must include a technical specification of a digital device, digital method or digital research project. All final projects have two supervisors, one from Computing and one from Sociology, with one supervisor taking the lead during Summer Term. Final projects are flexible in form in that the main emphasis rests on either the practical project or the written dissertation, and this will in part inform the decision to award an MA or an MSc degree. Students will submit proposals for their final project at the beginning of spring term, which are to be approved by the programme convenor and course leader.
The Digital Bootcamp is an optional course offered prior to September enrollment for a number of MA programmes. It is aimed at providing an introduction to digital technologies and programming for students that have no prior computing qualifications.
The CAST Digital Innovation Bootcamp aims to promote the kind of computer literacy which allows people working in a whole range of fields to harness more fully the power and opportunities networked computing really has to offer. We seek to unlock the potential of your computer hidden beneath its restrictive graphical user interfaces. We introduce the concepts and skills required to deal with the messy realities of data, especially online data, and data representing the residue of social interaction.
To form a solid grounding in practical computing, we teach UNIX operation and Python programming. These two form a powerful bedrock on which many kinds of data processing task can be implemented. As well as the fundamentals of the Python language, we introduce the rich world of Python libraries which encapsulate solutions to an enormous variety of problems faced in everyday data processing.
The Digital Bootcamp is a practical, hands-on course in which students are given ample opportunity to practice skills and experiment with tools and ideas. Its practicality is backed up by its intensiveness; students on the course are completely immersed in the work for the duration and will emerge comfortable with computing basics and ready to take on your MA/MSc programme. The Digital Bootcamp aims to change the way you think about computing.
MA/MSc in Digital Sociology, (graduated 2012)
I didn’t have any background in computer science. Very little. No computing, just writing scripts for SPSS. My background is in Sociology, so there were a lot of new things to learn for me here. But Computing and Sociology are very much related. With all these new digital devices, you need to know how to approach them, how to understand them, and how to use the data they can provide. If you don’t have those skills, it’s very difficult to take full advantage of the devices in terms of sociological research. The MA introduces you to lots of new things – not just for the computing side but also from the sociology side. Looking at the data from a different perspective and understanding what we can do now we have all these different devices.
MA/MSc in Digital Sociology, (graduated 2012)
"Before I came to Goldsmiths I’d been working in Digital Media for four years. I didn’t have an immense amount of experience of computing. I’d worked on content management systems before and I’d done a bit of HTML but not in terms of Python or any of the new kinds of tools we’ve learned here. I didn’t know anything about Ushahidi or anything like that! It’s been great – it’s been a wonderful learning experience. It’s been really fun learning with a whole bunch of people who are also in the same boat as you are where you don’t really know much about the programs that you’re working with. It’s been a great challenge and an incredibly creative experience. I never thought computing would be creative but it has been."
Student group discussion (Lisa, Sam, Josephine, Esteban, Raman, Chelsea, Ea)
MA/MSc in Digital Sociology, (2012)
"We do a lot of work in groups. When we’re given a project and we work together, all of our strengths come out. We did a project just before Christmas and tried to make it as digital as we could. We had Google hang outs instead of meeting up, we had a blog for our brainstorming so we didn’t need to be together all of the time. We could work on it separately and put up our ideas or our comments – that worked really well. We’re really encouraged to be as exploratory as possible so they’ll say ‘if you have a question, go and research it – go and play - your homework is to play’. So that’s what we do and then we think ‘this is quite cool, we can apply this to our own work."
The MA/MSc Digital Sociology is based in the Centre for Social and Creative Technologies (CAST). There are also other research centres at Goldsmiths which further allow you to participate in the intellectual life of the College, through seminars, conferences and performances/exhibitions.
The following centres host activities and projects that are especially relevant to Digital Sociology:
The Centre for the Study of Social Process and Invention
Employers are increasingly seeking multi-skilled professionals capable of developing lateral roles and taking on a diversity of responsibilities. Our Digital Sociology graduates will be well-suited for a number of professional careers in public, private and third sector organisations, as social researchers, project managers or other multi-skilled consultants, entrepreneurs or inventors.
Those students planning an academic career will break new ground with their ability to integrate and innovate with offline and emergent digital research methods and innovative sociological thinking.
Fielding, N., Lee, R. and Blank, G., (2008), ‘The Internet as Research Medium: An Editorial Introduction to The Sage Handbook of Online Research Methods’, in Fielding, N., Lee, R. and Blank, G. (eds), The Sage Handbook of Online Research Methods, London: Sage: 3-20.
Savage, M. and Burrows, R., (2007), ‘The Coming Crisis of Empirical Sociology’, Sociology, (41): 885-899.
Back, L. (2007) The Art of Listening. Oxford: Berg.
Fuchs, Ch. (2008) Internet and Society: Social Theory in the Information Age. London: Routledge.
Hine, C., (Ed) (2005), Virtual Methods: Issues in Social Research on the Internet, Oxford: Berg.
Law, J, (2004) After Method: Mess in Social Science Research. London and New York: Routledge
Latour, Bruno (2005) Reassembling the Social: an introduction to actor-network theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press
Lury, C. and N. Wakeford (2012) Inventive Methods : The Happening of the Social. London: Routledge
Miller, D (2011) Tales from Facebook. Oxford: Polity Press
Papacharissi, Z. (2010). (Ed.). A Networked Self: Identity, Community, and Culture on Social Network Sites. New York: Routledge.
Rogers, R. 2004 Information Politics on the Web. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Savage, M. (2010) Identities and Social Change in Britain since 1940: The Politics of Method. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Woolgar, S. (2002). Virtual Society?: Technology, Cyberbole, Reality. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
1. Digital Intimacy, a video by Chelsea Green, Sam Martin, Lisa Moretti, and Ea Ryberg Due (2011). This video was developed as part of the core course The Digital Sociological Imagination.
2. In her final project, MADS Student Ea Ryberg Due (2011/2012) examined the affordances of Facebook as a platform for research on social networks. Her dissertation explored the ways in which social networking devices materialize social networks, while her practical project produced an Online Resource on Researching Social Networks with Social Network Sites.
3. Give Me Gluten Free is the final project of Sam Martin (2011/2012). This digital sociology project investigates how the internet and smartphones are used to manage long-term illnesses like coeliac disease and developed the givemeglutenfree.com website and smartphone app to study how these tools could be used as a service to the coeliac community.
4. Just Trust Me, Lisa Moretti’s final project [2011/2012], examined what constitutes trust online. Besides a written dissertation she produced a website and a firefox extension to support online social research on this and related issues.
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