Digital Studies MA Core Courses

The Digital Studies courses provide a solid technical foundation for further humanistic work on digital projects. In addition to the Introduction to Programming September course and the student's chosen electives, the following are required classes in the Digital Studies M.A. curriculum:

DIGS 30000. Introduction to Computer Programming for Digital Studies MA Students. 0 units.
In this three-week course, offered in the September term for incoming students in the Digital Studies MA program, students will learn computer programming and computational concepts using the Python programming language. No prior background in computing is required. This course is a prerequisite for the other Digital Studies (DIGS) courses, with the exception of DIGS 20002/30002. DIGS MA students may be exempted from this course requirement if they can demonstrate sufficient knowledge of computer programming, which will be determined in consultation with the faculty director of Digital Studies. NOTE: All other undergraduate and graduate students at the University have the option of taking the equivalent DIGS 20001/30001 course, which is offered concurrently in the September Session as a Summer course, as well as every Spring as a standard quarter-length course, with priority given to those pursuing an undergraduate minor or BA/MA in Digital Studies.

DIGS 30002. Basic Mathematics and Statistics for Digital Studies. 100 units.
This course covers selected topics in mathematics which are relevant for computing and for the subsequent Digital Studies courses, and it provides an introduction to statistics with emphasis on the analysis of linguistic, cultural, and historical data. No prior background in mathematics beyond the high school level is required for this course. For students who are, or who have been, UChicago undergraduates, STAT 22000 may be substituted for this course. Other prior courses in statistics may also be accepted in lieu of this course, subject to the approval of the faculty director of the Digital Studies program. This course (or an equivalent statistics course) is a prerequisite for DIGS 20004/30004 and DIGS 20006/30006. This course is offered in the Autumn. 

DIGS 30003. Data Management for Linguistic, Cultural, and Historical Research. 100 units.
This course introduces students to concepts and techniques related to the representation and management of digital data, with emphasis on the forms of data encountered in linguistic, cultural, and historical research. The following topics are covered: (1) digital character encoding using the ASCII and Unicode standards and digital typefaces (“fonts”) for displaying encoded characters; (2) the digital encoding of 2D images, 3D models, sound, and video; (3) database models and querying languages, both relational and non-relational, with attention to data-integration methods for combining and querying semi-structured and heterogeneous data; and (4) cartographic concepts (e.g., coordinate systems and map projections) and the basics of geospatial data management using Geographic Information Systems (GIS). DIGS 20001/30001, or an equivalent introduction to programming, is a prerequisite for this course. This course is offered in the Autumn.

DIGS 30004. Data Analysis for Linguistic, Cultural, and Historical Research. 100 units.
This course builds on the introduction to statistics in DIGS 20002/30002 by introducing students to the R language and R packages for data analysis. Topics covered include the basics of data mining, data visualization, and high-performance computing (HPC) techniques for analyzing large datasets. This course provides a high-level conceptual introduction to machine learning, social network analysis, and spatial data analysis. The goal is to make students familiar with these methods and aware of their role in linguistic, cultural, and historical studies, as a basis for further study of these methods. DIGS 20001/30001 and DIGS 20002/30002 (or their equivalents) are prerequisites for this course. This course is offered in the Winter.

DIGS 30005. Data Publication for Linguistic, Cultural, and Historical Research. 100 units.
This course introduces software techniques and tools for building end-user-facing apps that run in Web browsers (via HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript). Students will learn how to use application programming interfaces (APIs) to integrate Web services into their apps, making use of the analysis, visualization, and database services provided by external systems. Attention will be paid to user-interface design for both research purposes and pedagogical purposes. Students will learn how to use GitHub to manage software development. DIGS 20001/30001, or an equivalent introduction to programming, is a prerequisite for this course. This course is offered in the Winter.

DIGS 30006. Natural Language Processing. 100 units.
This course introduces software techniques and tools for natural language processing (NLP). The following topics are covered: (1) textual markup and related software standards such as the Extensible Markup Language (XML), as well as the Text Encoding Initiative’s XML tagging scheme; (2) character-string processing (with or without markup tags); and (3) NLP methods for part-of-speech tagging, lemmatization, morphological segmentation, sentence splitting, named entity recognition, co-reference resolution, sentiment analysis, and topic modeling. This course also provides a high-level conceptual overview of recent work in machine translation via neural networks and deep learning. DIGS 20001/30001 and DIGS 20002/30002 (or their equivalents) are prerequisites for this course. This course is offered in the Spring.

DIGS 30007. Issues in Digital Studies of Language, Culture, and History. 100 Units.
This is a discussion-oriented seminar that introduces students to theoretical debates in digital humanities, broadly defined, with attention to underlying philosophical issues. It touches upon the history and theory of digital computing within its social and institutional settings, as well as the history of the application of digital computing to texts, images, sound, geospatial data, and other information relevant to cultural and historical studies. Among other topics, this course introduces students to debates about the cultural impact of digital media and about ethical issues related to the ownership, accessibility, and legitimate uses of digital data. DIGS 20001/30001, or an equivalent introduction to programming, is a prerequisite for this course. This course is offered in the Autumn.

DIGS 30008. Thesis Preparation. 100 Units.
This course is primarily intended for students in the M.A. in Digital Studies program, for whom it is a requirement. Other students may petition the faculty director of the Digital Studies program for admission to the course. Students in this course are co-advised by a lecturer and a faculty member to do a digitally oriented thesis project. Projects that involve collaborative software development by groups of students are encouraged. In addition to the writing of software, each project will normally entail a written document that explains the work and provides critical comparisons with other similar work, with attention to current debates in digital humanities. Prerequisites for this course include DIGS 20001/30001 and DIGS 20002/30002 (or their equivalents), and also DIGS 20003/30003 and DIGS 20004/30004. This course is offered in the Spring.