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New MA programmes to focus on digital media

The Department of Film, Media and Cultural Studies are launching three new MA programmes in the area of Digital Media, with the first intake of students joining this autumn.

FMACS has been tackling digital issues related to film, journalism and the creative arts for many years, but these will be the first MA degrees to focus specifically on the crucial area of digital media. The unique new programmes will provide opportunities for students interested in multiple elements of digital media – digital creation and design; the development and management of digital organisations and projects; and the academic and theoretical study of digital culture – to interact, work together and exchange ideas.

Dr Joel McKim, Lecturer in Media and Cultural Studies and Programme Co-Director said: “The expanded social, economic and cultural presence of digital media in our everyday existence is undeniable and inescapable. We increasingly live, love and work online. A greater amount of our overall communication occurs on or though social media. Previously distinct jobs, from film-making to animation to video game design, are brought together through common forms of image production software. A larger and larger number of our transactions and purchases take place through online platforms. Yet how to think about and create within this changed media environment is far from obvious.

“The philosophy of the new programmes is that thinking about digital media and culture is difficult, if not impossible, without directly engaging with the technologies, software and makers that lead to its creation. But likewise, we believe digital design, creation and management skills are best developed in conjunction with critical thinking about the wider social and cultural implications of digital practice. We’re very interested in what can happen when a very diverse group of people (designers, thinkers, entrepreneurs, organisers, activists) come together to participate in a wide-ranging discussion about digital, where it’s currently going and what we would like it to be.”

The new programmes are designed to fit the interests of different types of students: the MA Digital Media Culture is more academically oriented, whereas the MA Digital Media Design or MA Digital Media Management are more practice-oriented options. But all of these programmes offer opportunities for both ‘hands on’ work and theoretical exploration. The practice-oriented modules build on well over a decade of postgraduate teaching at Birkbeck by industry professionals in web design, programming and digital management, led by MA Digital Media co-director Tim Priestman.

The academic modules draw from the digital expertise of multiple staff members from FMACS, including MA Digital Media co-director Joel McKim, Senior Lecturer in Media Theory Scott Rodgers and newly appointed Professor of Digital Media and Screen Studies, Catherine Grant.  The programmes also take advantage of digital expertise across the School of Arts and Birkbeck’s rich media research culture, which includes the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image, the Vasari Research Centre for Art and Technology and BIRMAC (the Birkbeck centre for Interdisciplinary Media and Culture).

Prospective students who are interested in any of the three programmes are invited to get in touch with McKim, to discuss which is most suitable.

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