Interdisciplinary Studies

Humanities Computing

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Engage with peers from around the world, creating friendships that will last a lifetime.

Explore New Media Forms

Dr. Scott Smallwood (left) and Simeon build digital interactive devices for live musical performances.

Create Innovative Projects

John and Dr. Geoffrey Rockwell (right) explore new visualisations techniques for complex datasets.

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Dr. Mo Engel (left) and Aiden discuss concepts related to technology as it relates to teaching and research in the liberal arts.

Game Studies at UofA

Professor Sean Gouglas (right) plays David's new game, which forms part of his thesis on historical accuracy in video games.

Innovative research projects

Andrea and Joyce helped develop and implement new ideas for Understanding Video Games, a massive online open course.

The Humanities Computing Program offers three unique programs:

1) A 2-year Master of Arts (MA) degree pursued as an individualized program within the Office of Interdisciplinary Studies

2) A 2-year Master of Arts (MA) degree with a specialization

Students may pursue the degree with a specialization in a specific field. Currently, the programs of specialization include:

  • Anthroplogy
  • Art & Design
  • Comparative Literature
  • Drama
  • East Asian Studies
  • English & Film Studies
  • History & Classics
  • Linguistics
  • Modern Languages & Cultural Studies
  • Music
  • Philosophy
  • Political Science
  • Religious Studies
  • Sociology

3) A 3-year MA/MLIS program which gives you a dual degree: a Master of Arts (MA) in Humanities Computing and and a Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) from the School of Library and Information Sciences. For more information, please see the Masters in Humanities Computing/Master in Library and Information Studies page here.

Program Requirements

In all three programs streams (MA Individualized, MA with Specialization, combined MA/MLIS) students must complete each of the following:


MA (Individualized)

Coursework for the HUCO MA (Individualized) consists of nine 3-credit courses: four required courses in Humanities Computing (HUCO 500, HUCO 510, HUCO 520 and HUCO 530) and five optional courses. Of the optional courses, a minimum of two must be in Humanities Computing.

MA (with specialization)

Coursework for the HUCO MA (with specialization) consists of nine 3-credit courses: four required courses in Humanities Computing (HUCO 500, HUCO 510, HUCO 520 and HUCO 530) two optional courses in Humanities Computing, and three courses approved by the students' participating department in their area of specialization. It is the student's responsibility to be aware of the requirements for their specialization.

Ethics Training Requirement

Ethics and academic integrity training is mandatory for all graduate students who started their program on or after September 1, 2004.

The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research requires that each student complete the equivalent of at least eight (8) hours of structured academic activity to fulfill this requirement.

HUCO students will:

  1. Complete the online Graduate Ethics Training (GET) course offered by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research (equivalent to five hours of training). The course is available on the FGSR website
  2. Attend at least and additional three hours of training on academic integrity, research ethics, and/or digital ethics via sessions and/or seminars offered by individual departments or FGSR.

N.B. Some courses offered by FGSR as part of the Graduate Teaching and Learning Program can be used to fulfill requirement #2. Such courses will be publicized on the HUCO listserv and will be listed here. Students are also invited to find courses or sessions which they feel can fulfill this requirement. Any course or session you wish to use for this purpose must be approved by the graduate co-ordinator.

Supervisory Committees

Students are responsible for establishing their own supervisory committees. Normally, this means circulating an informal proposal outlining the key ideas for the thesis, and having conversations with various faculty members. Once a student has decided on the right fit, they then invite faculty member(s) to serve on their committee. Occasionally a faculty member may be over-committed and may need to refuse a request, so students consider alternatives as they weigh their options. The composition of the supervisory committee, and the deadline for its establishment are slightly different for HUCO students and combined HUCO/SLIS students.

HUCO students are required to have a supervisor and first reader in place by April 30th of their first year. Of these two people, at least one must be HUCO affiliated faculty (i.e. regular faculty or adjunct faculty). When the student is ready to defend, a second reader is brought on to the committee to serve as an arm's length examiner.

N.B. Students with a specialization should check with their departments to see if there are additional requirements for the committee's composition.

HUCO students must complete and return the Approval of Supervisor and Supervisory Committee Form to the OIS Office by the deadline noted above.

Thesis Proposal

Thesis Proposal Requirements and Deadlines

HUCO Students (including specialization)

Thesis proposals are 10-15 page documents. The supervisory committee, in consultation with the student, establishes the requirements for the proposal, but it will normally include at least the following sections:

  1. research overview (including research questions or central argument);
  2. literature review / theoretical framework;
  3. methodology;
  4. proposed timeline;
  5. appendices as necessary (e.g., survey questions).

The thesis proposal must be formally approved by the supervisory committee by Sep 30 of the student’s second year. Please complete and file the Approval of Thesis Proposal Form in the OIS Office by that deadline.

Course Listings

Course offerings and scheduled meeting times are subject to change. Please consult Beartracks for the most up-to-date information about courses offered.

HUCO 500 Survey of Humanities Computing

This course will provide students with an overview of the discipline of Humanities Computing and its varied applications across the program's participating Departments. Topics covered will change according to movements and trends within the discipline but the course should enable students to situate their own research interests within the broader framework of Humanities Computing and to make informed choices about how they structure the rest of their program. Existing research methodologies and projects will be showcased and critiqued. Topics could include but are by no means limited to: digitization of text, sound, and image; hypertext design and delivery; databases; text-analysis; statistical methods and analysis; knowledge representation and markup languages; electronic publishing and dissemination; and computers and culture. Upon completion of the course students will be able to situate their own research interests within the larger context of humanities computing, evaluate existing methodologies and projects, consider the ability of computer systems to represent knowledge, and analyze the impact of technology on research in the humanities. HUCO-500 is designed to be accompanied by HUCO-520, a more technically oriented course.

HUCO 510 Theoretical Issues in Humanities Computing

This seminar course will provide students with the opportunity to investigate the theories that underpin the relationship of computing methods to humanities research. Students will deepen their understanding of communications theory, information systems, knowledge representation, and related social questions. Humanities computing can be understood as having three main branches. In the first branch, computing is used to facilitate research on humanities questions, in some cases by providing better access to materials, in others by providing software tools through which the analytical processes used by humanities scholars can be supported. In the second branch, computing itself serves as the object of study, and the physical, cognitive, technological, interpersonal, and cultural aspects of computing are subjected to analysis. In the third branch, humanities computing is generative, and scholars produce and disseminate new materials in electronic forms. Topics for this course may be drawn from any of these three branches, and may therefore include but are not limited to such areas as the history and philosophy of science, epistemology, art and design, online education, interface design, text visualization, and cyberculture.

HUCO 520 Technical Concepts & Approaches in Humanities Computing

This course will provide students with an understanding of the technical aspects of Humanities Computing and an introduction to underlying computer methods - it is the companion course of the more theoretical HUCO-500 course. Students will gain technical skills that allow them to assess the nature of research problems in the Humanities and learn either to address these problems themselves or to discuss design issues with computer specialists. Whereas HUCO-500 has readings associated with each week's meeting, HUCO-520 will have weekly assignments.

HUCO 530 Project Design & Management in Humanities Computing

Humanities Computing research is unlike traditional humanities research in many respects: the scope of projects usually extends beyond the single-scholar research model, the computer tools needed for research are expensive and the technology changes rapidly, electronic publishing is a largely unknown and expensive undertaking rarely tackled by conventional print publishers, and electronic research requires updating and maintenance beyond project funding. This course will prepare students for the various aspects of designing, implementing, managing, and maintaining a Humanities Computing research project.

HUCO 616 Multimedia in the Humanities

This course will explore the cultural, social and technical significance of multimedia as an expressive medium. The course will explore the range of media types: text, images, animation, sound, and video; digital imaging and design, encoding, compression, etc.; politics and economics of access to multimedia; computer gaming and on-line gaming communities; and multimedia research and teaching.

HUCO 617 Topics in Humanities Computing (Fall 2014 Topic "Big Data: Ethics and Analytics" taught by Geoffrey Rockwell)
HUCO 620 Research Methods in Humanities Computing