Media Technology MSc

Graduation Lab

Teacher(s) Marcello Gómez Maureira
Course Level -
ECTS Credits -

Old pencil sketch by graduating students on walls of Leiden's Academy building.The 'Graduation Lab' is a weekly two-hour session in which students in their graduation phase discuss recent developments, challenges, and successes in their graduation projects. Every research project comes with a multitude of decisions to make and steps that could be taken. In the Graduation Lab, these steps will be discussed as a group with the goal of strengthening both the quality of the individual projects, as well as the analytical skills of their authors.

Meeting regularly with other graduates has proven to be a strong contributor to graduation success and increases the enjoyment of the process. While the lab is specifically aimed at students in their graduation phase, students who still have ample time before starting their projects are welcome to participate. Although the lab is not compulsory to attend, it is strongly recommended for students in their graduation thesis project.

The Graduation Lab is hosted by graduation coordinator Marcello Gómez Maureira, and scheduled in the Media Technology Calendar.

(image: old pencil sketches and grafitti by Leiden University students awaiting their final exam inside the Academy building; a tradition that is still honoured among Leiden graduates in slightly modified form.)

Research Seminar: Social Technologies

Objective Investigating technologies that support social living in the light of human evolution and exploring novel ways in which technology can create, maintain, or extend social ties.
Teacher(s) Max van Duijn
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 4
Number of Classes ~7
Examination Homework assignments and research project

What have telling stories around the campfire, playing football, dancing on a festival, and spending time on Facebook in common? If we follow our evolutionary lineage back a few million years, we find a social primate that populated parts of the African continent. This primate lived in small-scale communities of around 40-60 individuals, about the same size as the groups formed by present-day chimpanzees and bonobos. Over time, however, our ancestors started living in social environments of ever increasing size and complexity. With groups growing larger, individuals had to spend more time maintaining their social networks and cognitive processing of social information became more demanding. As a consequence, we had to develop bigger and more powerful brains, and find more efficient ways of forming and maintaining social bonds than how most members of the primate family do this: through grooming.

In this research seminar a fascinating, adventurous hypothesis will be worked out: various “inventions” presumed to be characteristic of early human societies, such as the production of art, story-telling, dance, or ritualistic behaviours, can be viewed as social technologies supporting the formation and maintenance of complex social networks. What is the evidence supporting this hypothesis, and what could lead to its rejection? How does it relate to modern media and communication technologies? How can future technological developments affect the deep primate roots of our social structures? And what can the study of social technologies over millions of years teach us about the possibilities and limitations of social life in modern mass-societies?

Through active engagement with scientific literature and hands-on investigation of how people use present-day social (media) technologies, a rich and diverse perspective on this hypothesis will emerge.

(Starting in the academic year 2015/2016, this course replaces the prior course "Image & Vision: Embodied Vision")

Sciences & Humanities

Objective Gaining insight in how the sciences and humanities differ in their research objectives, methods, and approaches to knowledge production, and understanding their distinct roles in modern societies.
Teacher(s) Max van Duijn
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 3
Number of Classes ~6
Examination Homework assignments and written exam
Course Webpage

Most people know Pythagoras, Copernicus, Darwin, Einstein, or Crick, and are probably able to indicate in a few words what their main discoveries are. But who can do the same for Panini, Scaliger, Whorf, Wittgenstein, Chomsky, Propp, or Foucault? First, this course focuses on discoveries across both the humanities and sciences that have impacted on the way we see the world throughout the ages. What were the methods used by the great minds who made these discoveries, and what were their motives and drivers?

Next, the focus shifts to the current divide in the academic world between scientists and humanists. The “two cultures” will be investigated from a historical and science-philosophical perspective, as well as through hands-on experience. Students with a background in the sciences will engage in a small research project using methods and materials from the humanities, and students with a background in the humanities will take up a small scientific research project. The course concludes with a discussion of opportunities and challenges for “consilience” through multidisciplinary and topic-oriented scholarship.

(Starting in the academic year 2015/2016, this course replaces the prior course "Language & Text")

New Media & New Technologies

Objective To understand new media and technologies, and to critically reflect upon them
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 5
Number of Classes 5

In new media one trend, technology or fad quickly follows the next. For anyone with an interest in media technology it is important to be up to date with the latest and greatest, from augmented reality to social networking, and from three dimensional printing to location aware services. However it is equally important to be able to critically reflect on these trends, to identify what is really novel and what is merely a hype. This course covers a range of the latest new media technologies and concepts, organized by more timeless themes such as new media history, social relationships, space and intelligent perception and action, so that these technologies can be placed into perspective.

The course is a mix of lectures and practical assignments, and students are asked to create a product that incorporates a new technology or concept and motivate why it is not just a gimmick or hype.

For examples of past edtions see NMNT2017NMNT2016NMNT2015, NMNT2014, NMNT2013, NMNT2012, NMNT 2011.

Essentials in Art & Music

Objective Extend student knowledge about art and to create a foundation to approach their work from an artistic perspective
Teacher(s) Edwin van der Heide, Taco Stolk
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 2
Number of Classes 5
Examination To be announced in class
Course Webpage

This course focusses on a number of important developments through the history of all art disciplines. This ranges from realized and unrealized artworks to concepts and artistic approaches. These developments will be studied in order to get a better understanding of creative thought in past and present, and to be able to connect those to personal points of view.

The aim of the course is to extend your knowledge about art, to build a foundation to approach your work from an artistic perspective, and to develop your creative research capabilities regarding various cultural contexts.

Graduation Project

Objective To develop, research and describe a complete scientific project, preferably alone.
Course Level 600
ECTS Credits 30

Each student must choose an individual topic or theme on which he/she would like to graduate. To complete the graduation project, a students must formulate her/his own scientific question and setup a research to answer it. Personal inspiration can play a large role in coming up with a research question, and creativity is often required to answer it.

Graduation project output

The research motivation, context, method and outcome are described by the student in a scientific style paper, that in principle could be submitted to a peer-reviewed journal or conference. Such a paper is typically 10-15 pages. However, other thesis formats are allowed, such as books, columns, and popular science works. Most graduation projects create some product to answer the research question: something that can be "experienced" -- seen, smelled, tasted, touched or heard.

Are you planning to graduate?

Then read the detailed Graduation Project Procedures.

Semester Project

Objective To learn how to develop a concept from a theme, and realize it in an exhibition context. The concept development is by far the most important aspect in this.
Teacher(s) Various scientific staff members
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 20

Throughout every student's third semester in the programme, a project is scheduled in which groups of students must work towards realizing an actual product or installation. However, the process of researching while creating the product is as important as the product itself.

Themes and coaches

All projects start from their own theme, and students can also suggest new themes. A coach (scientific staff member) assists every project team. The final product must be experiencable in a public exhibition and critically challenge its audience. It typically includes a media component as well as a technical component.


The project ends with an exhibition in a gallery that is open to the general public, and in which all products are exhibited. This exhibition may be part of a city-wide cultural event. Many interesting projects that resulted from the Media Technology programme were created within the Semester Project.

Language & Text

Objective Comprehension of the complexity of language generation and hands-on experience with applications.
Teacher(s) Crit Cremers
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 3
Number of Classes 10
Examination Assignments and written exam

Speech and text are very special media because they enable to express relatively complex information. Therefore, the usage of speech and text is a privilege to humans. This course discusses the structure of language and how this structure plays a role in the automatic generating of speech and text. Topics that are dealt with are amongst others state-of-the-art language regenerating systems and their diverse applications.

During lab-time students will experiment with software that automatically generates poems.

Meta Media

Objective Enabling students to decide which medium is the most representative for their goal, but is not necessarily the easiest solution.
Teacher(s) Taco Stolk
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 2
Number of Classes 5
Examination Final project

The creation of a piece of art implies the choice of the medium, which already is an artistic choice. In the Meta Media classes students learn to integrate this choice in the artistic process. To achieve this, a theoretical framework is presented in which (cultural-) philosophy, conceptual art and the possibilities of the new, digital media is discussed. Furthermore, a wide range of old and new, simple and complex, conventional and unusual media is studied from the point of view of applicability for the arts.

Hardware & Physical Computing

Objective To understand processors, sensors, and actuators. Having hands-on experience with building a small computer and using this in a physical installation.
Teacher(s) Paul Jansen Klomp, additional class by Maarten Lamers
Course Level 400
ECTS Credits 3
Number of Classes 8
Examination Final project

This course is about connecting computers to the physical world. We are used to connecting ourselves to computers, for example via keyboard, mouse, monitor, and touch screen. However, many creative computing applications require a computer to connect to the physical world via other sensors (buttons, dials, thermometers, distance sensors, gps, pressure sensors, accelerometers, light sensors, ...) and actuators (motors, steppermotors, servo's, leds, lcd's, electrical appliances, ...). Typical application domains where computers sense and act in the physical world are experimental devices, robotics, tactile interaction, home automation and interactive installations.

This course is available ONLY for Media Technology MSc students.


This course introduces physical computing and interfacing via the Arduino open-source hardware platform. Arduino's are inexpensive and popular micro-controller boards. Students learn to build their own Arduino board and must then apply it in a creative computing project — they must build an interactive installation or robot. Read more about Arduino.

The course takes a very hands-on approach. Examination is through project work. Reading materials are supplied in class.

Web Technology

Objective Introduction to various basic internet and web technologies and enabling design of alternative technologies/solutions
Teacher(s) Enrique Larios Vargas
Course Level 400
ECTS Credits 4
Number of Classes 8
Examination Assignments and written examination

Web Technology is a course about several Internet-related technologies. It teaches the basic workings of the web. Why the basic workings? Because understanding them enables students to come up with alternative strategies to solve web-problems and achieve new web-goals. Students will be encouraged to find their own solutions, e.g. come up with alternative and new web-protocols.

Topics include

internetworking - protocol stacks - IP, TCP, UDP and HTTP protocols - Open Sound Control (OSC) protocol - semantic web - streaming media - MP3 encoding - peer-to-peer file sharing - BitTorrent protocol - TOR Onion Routing - "Is there a future for the world-wide web?"

This course specifically does not cover web-design issues, and does not teach you HTML (those skills are assumed). It is about how the Internet works, how the World Wide Web functions and what you could add to this.

Course format

The format is interactive and kaleidoscopic, integrating lectures, guest lectures, and programming demonstrations. Examination is through a final exam. Full class attendance is compulsory. Reading materials are distributed electronically in class.

Sound, Space & Interaction

Teacher(s) Edwin van der Heide
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 4
Number of Classes 7
Examination 1 presentation day
Course Webpage

This course will focus on many topics in parallel: basics about sound and timbre, basics about acoustics, communication models incorporating space (and distance) and interaction models based on sound.

The assignment of the course is as follows: students are supposed to make an interactive application that communicates with the audience/participant(s)/user(s) solely by means of sound. In order to achieve this you have to design your own communicating sonic language. The assignment has to be realized with the Pure Data programming environment. Basics about Pure Data will be addressed both in the classes and in the labs.


Objective Gaining insight into perceptualization of information via theory, discussion and examples.
Teacher(s) Edwin van der Heide, Maarten Lamers
Course Level 400
ECTS Credits 3
Number of Classes ~7
Examination Homework, projects and presentations
Course Webpage

The term "perceptualization" was coined specifically for this course. It describes the translation of signals and information to modalities that appeal to any of the human senses. As such, it generalizes the terms "visualization" and "sonification" to include all other senses. We study such perceptualizations, with particular focus on how properties of a perception systems can be used to optimally convey information.

Course format

In this course, history, theory, practice, and examples of information perceptualization are studied and discussed. Lectures are combined with reading homework, student presentations and a student project. Full attendance is compulsory.

If you have questions, or want to attend the course as a guest student, contact the teachers via

Study Trip to Ars Electronica Festival

Objective Offer a source of inspiration and knowledge for new Media Technology students, and a basis for discussion and critical thought
Course Level 400
ECTS Credits 1

At the start of each academic year, all new Media Technology students go on a study trip to the Ars Electronica Festival in Linz, Austria. Since 1979 Ars Electronica has been the world's most outstanding forum of electronic art. State-of-the-art works of hundreds of artists from dozens of countries are presented in a festival that consists of exhibitions, demonstrations, performances, lectures, conferences, films, outside events, meetings and parties of all kinds.

Over four days students are faced with many sides of the electronic arts: creative aims, technological means, scientific consequences, artistic qualities, ecological and ethical questions, and the social consequences of the spread of new media. It offers a source of inspiration and knowledge for new Media Technology students, and a basis for discussion with which to start their studies.

Incidently, the study trip is a great way to meet your fellow students. Ask our alumni and second year students about their experiences.

To join us, a minor fee for travel and stay must be paid by students. The Media Technology office arranges travel by bus, stay at a youth hostel, and substantial discount on festival passes. International students must themselves take care of appropriate visa (travel is through Germany and Austria). The visit is shared with new students of the ArtScience and Interactive Media Design programs. Students unable to join the study trip can submit a petition to do an alternative course or project instead.

For information about the festival, see Show Linz on Google Maps.

Introduction to Programming

Objective To learn computer programming in such a way that technology will not be a holdback for executing a project.
Teacher(s) Ben Ruijl
Course Level 400
ECTS Credits 4
Number of Classes 10
Examination Assignments and a written exam

The Introduction to Programming course deals with the basic principles of programming: what is programming and how to write a program to achieve a task? The objective of the course is to get familiar with programming technology in order to prepare students for later projects in which computer technology is employed.

The fundamentals of programming are discussed by means of the relatively easy language Processing, that is similar to Java. The Processing language simplifies programming of visual programs, and yields immediate graphical output. It is ideal for understanding the basics of computer programming. Additionally the basics of Max/MSP/Jitter are included in the course.

Small assignments help students apply the topics discussed in class and larger assignments on which they can release their creativity. During lab time there is assistance present to help students with specific aspects of the assignments.

Elective courses

Objective To deepen the student's knowledge of specific scientific topics, in preparation of the individual graduation project.
Course Level 400+
ECTS Credits 13

Part of the curriculum is reserved for elective courses. This enables students to gain deeper insight into scientific topics of their choice and prepare them optimally for the individual graduation project. Elective courses can be for instance in the fields of Computer Science, Psychology, Art History, Linguistics, Philosophy, etcetera.

The Media Technology programme does not compile lists of available courses. Elective courses offered by Leiden University can be found in the E-studyguide. Elective courses may also be followed at other universities.


Students applying for elective courses should carefully read:
How to apply for elective courses, and other rules.

Image & Vision: Embodied Vision

Objective Film history (illusionism) and study of film
Teacher(s) Dan North and other lecturers
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 4
Number of Classes 8
Examination Essay and final project

Overall structure

The course consists of 8 sessions in total. Four sessions are classical lectures (hoorcollege) by Dan North, collectively discussing a topic.
Three other sessions will be a workshop by Robin de Lange, with the last session as presentations. 
All sessions have compulsory attendance.

The connecting threads between the four classes will be special effects and illusionism, either in the service of narrative, spectacle, or affective responses from viewers (as in the 'effects' of experimental cinema), and editing, which can be used to effect a transformation, construct spatiotemporal continuity, or create associative montages. This is thus a set of classes that take an angle on film history (illusionism), and also introduce some of the key concepts underpinning the study of film.

Course work and grading
To successfully complete the course, students must:
1. Attend all sessions (attendance is registered). Failing to attend sessions may affect the final grade.
2. Write an essay about the topic of the 4 collective classes.
3. Complete a project about a topic of the workshops.
Details about the assignments will be communicated by the lecturers during the course. Separate submission dates are scheduled for the essay assignment and project assignment.

Scientific Narration & Visualization

Teacher(s) Bas Haring
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 4
Number of Classes 10
Examination To be announced in class

Starting in the academic year 2016/2017, this course replaces the prior course “Cool Science”.

Learning goals

This course focuses on the last part of a scientific project: presenting results and explaining insights. Hence, it can be seen as an extension of the course Creative Research. As that course deals with unconventional scientific questions and research methods, the course Scientific Narration and Visualization deals with unconventional ways of conveying scientific insights. I.e. all forms besides scientific articles and scientific posters. This course is different compared to e.g. data visualization as it deals with conveying understanding instead of data. The main learning goal of this course it to make students aware of the drawbacks and advantages of the various forms, such that they will be able to use the most appropriate form for their case. My goal this year is to get input for a textbook on this matter.

Structure of lessons

Each lesson consists of three parts. In part one we discuss the assignments of the previous week. Starting from lesson IV as only after lesson III the homework assignments start. I will select three works that we will discuss in class. So be prepared to present your assignment. In part two we will discuss the reading material of that week. And in part three, I will present series of examples that illustrate the reading material of that week.

Mode of Instruction

Lectures, self study

Assessment Method

There is a weekly assignment running five times, starting after lesson III. And there is a larger assignment to end this course with. Both assignments count for 50% of the final grade. The weekly assignment has the following form: select the form that was discussed in class, and combine that form with a scientific topic, in order to explain (part of) that topic. You can use the suggestions from the following table, but you may also try your own topic, as long as it belongs to the natural sciences. I won’t provide reading material for the underneath topics; it is your responsibility to study the topic of your choice.


Not applicable

Reading List

Understanding understanding:

  • Metaphors we live by, G. Lakoff & M. Johnson (1980), p1-55.
  • Understanding by design, G. Wiggins & J. McTighe (2005), p35-55.
  • Understanding needs embodiment, K. Niebert, S. Marsch & D. Treagust (2012).


  • The Oxford book to modern science writing, R. Dawkins (2008), p232-266.
  • Using narratives and storytelling to communicate science with nonexpert audiences, M. Dahlstrom (2014), PNAS, Sep.16, 2014, Vol. 111, p13614-13620,
  • Storytelling, M. Krzywinski & A. Cairo (2013), Nature methods, Vol 10, No. 8, p687. Plus comments in the same journal! (Against storytelling & Should scientists tell stories?)
  • The Role of Narrative in Communicating Science, L. Avraamidoua & J. Osborne (2009), International Journal of Science Education Vol. 31, No. 12, p1683-1707.


  • Aristotle’s ladder, Darwin’s tree, J.D. Archibald (2014), p1-21.

Graphs & infographics:

  • Envisioning information, E.R. Tufte (1990), ch4&6.
  • The Visual Display of Quantitative Information, E.R. Tufte (2001), p40-43.
  • Trees, Maps & Theorems, J-l Doumont (2009).

Film, play & animation :

  • Dynamic visualizations and learning, R. Ploetzner et al. (2004), p235-240 & p343-351.
  • Animation: can it facilitate? B. Tversky & J.B. Morrison (2002).

Experiments & objects:

  • Experiments in science and science teaching, D. Hodson (1988), Educational philosophy and theory, 20:2, p53-66.
  • Wandering seminar on scientific objects, S. Vackimes & K. Weltersbach (2007), p19-34 & p129-139.

Via program coordinator Media Technology: Nanda Milbreta:, 071-527 6994

Research Seminar: Artificial Intelligence

Objective Goal of the course is to learn studying, processing and presenting scientific material, and to learn about artificial intelligence.
Teacher(s) Maarten Lamers
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 6
Number of Classes ~15
Examination Homework tests, student presentations.
Course Webpage

This course studies the topic of artificial intelligence, in its broadest sense. It covers various sexy topics from the field of artificial intelligence, to the level that should enable students to discuss AI comfortably with other scientists. The topics include the question of whether machines can think, evolutionary computation, neural networks, computing with DNA, computers and emotions, biological computations, artificial creativity, and more. The selected topics were chosen to be practically applicable, or to make students think about future directions of artificial intelligence.

Seminar-style course

Seminar-style imples that presentations are mainly held by the students themselves, with much plenary discussion and interaction. Active participation and full class attendance are required to pass the course. Examination is based on student presentations, homework tests, and attendance. Reading material is distributed electronically in class. The course is open to students from other programmes and institutes also.

Human Computer Interaction

Objective Knowledge of theory and underlying mechanisms of interface design, combined with hands-on experience.
Teacher(s) Fons Verbeek
Course Level 400
ECTS Credits 6
Number of Classes 26
Examination Assignments, final project, paper and written exam
Course Webpage

This course covers theory and underlying mechanisms of human-computer interface design and implementation. The theoretical part deals with topics such as human perception, cognitive processes, limitations of human memory, metaphors, icons, widgets and user-centered design. During lab-time the underlying implementation of interfaces is discussed. Topics covered are (amongst others) object-oriented interface design, basic computer graphics, event handling, windowing systems, toolkits and cut/copy/paste techniques.

The course is very much hands-on oriented; the results of the lab assignments play an important role in the determination of a students’ final result. This course is also being attended by Computer Science students. Media Technology students are expected to actively participate with them.

Creative Research

Objective Understanding the principles and organization of science, and understanding the importance and possibilities for being creative in scientific research.
Teacher(s) Maarten Lamers
Course Level 500
ECTS Credits 6
Number of Classes ~12
Examination Final project, written paper, presentation, homework assignments, student participation in class, attendance.
Course Webpage

"To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advances in science." — Albert Einstein

Creativity is an important factor in scientific innovation. In this course, principles and organization of scientific research are presented, and through examples the concept of "creative research" is introduced. With that we mean actual scientific research that was brought about in unconventional or creative ways, in order to come to results that could otherwise not be envisioned or achieved. Topics of the course are principles of science, organization of the scientific world, scientific publication, creative and unconventional research, asking the right questions, finding the right data, and creative scientific output.

Student participation is high, with multiple homework assignments, a final research project and presentations. Class attendance is compulsory. Participants must do a final research project and write a paper about this.

If you have questions, or want to attend the course as a guest student, contact the teacher via