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A pilot project: The Digital Competences Certificate at the Department of History

Establishing and certifying digital competences in historical studies

(Double-subject Bachelor Degree and Single-subject Master Degree)

The reality of working is digital – the historical sciences are no exception

In addition to websites and bibliographic databases, new opportunities arise for historical scholarship:

  • Linked Open Data leads to big data repositories 
  • Programming platforms for open source software provide new technologies that were unaffordable until recently
  • Interdisciplinary cooperation with Computer Sciences facilitates the development of innovative tools and new questions

The amount of digitally available source material increases on a daily basis. Distant reading software and machine learning applications create new options for insights into historical processes and contexts.

These new possibilities require new skills!

Basic skills for history degree programmes

In accordance with the ‘Working Paper on Digital Education’ of the University of Cologne, the Department of History defines digital education for history degrees within the framework of the five components Data Literacy, Digital Literacy, Digital Responsibility, Digital Teaching and Learning, and New Work Methods and Practices. During the pilot project ‘Digital Certificate’, a range of subject-specific, digital skills have been identified and assigned to the five components. These skills are enlarged upon within the history degree programmes with regard to historical research and the non-academic job market in cultural institutions or media.

In the areas of …

  • Data Literacy, students acquire the ability to digitally research, manage, archive and network literature and sources and to critically evaluate digital objects.
  • Digital Literacy, students acquire skills in the confident use of subject-relevant software for the analysis of historical sources and data as well as publication and visualisation.
  • Digital Responsibility, students acquire the ability to critically reflect on the impact of digitisation on the study of history, historical research and the presentation of historical topics.
  • Digital Teaching and Learning, students acquire the ability to actively use virtual services for courses and self-study.
  • New Work Methods and Practices, students acquire the ability to effectively use digital applications for collaborative work and academic communication.

What is the Department of History working towards?

In order to optimise the existing range of courses, a pilot project is underway to better prepare our graduates for the realities of academia.

The goal is to develop subject-specific and epoch-spanning skills in a systematic and structured way. We do this in two consecutive courses which take into account the demands at the various stages of the degree programme.

Why does it have to be a certificate?
  • to prove the digital skills which have been acquired in a structured programme
  • the knowledge and skills taught in the four courses meet the needs of academic training
  • the profile for your postgraduate career is improved
  • digital skills are required in academia affiliated fields
  • in addition, the certificate offers graduates better opportunities in non-academic job markets
  • certificates improve the visibility of the digital focus of the studies undertaken at the Department of History
  • the certificate bridges the gap to the IT certificate of the Faculty of Arts and Humanties and enables interested students to develop a comprehensive profile of digital skills